Bon Appétit (January 2014)
We need to talk to you about the oatmeal at Le Diplomate, a French restaurant that opened in D.C. this past year.
Okay, allow us to back up. When we go out for brunch, we aren't the kind of people who order oatmeal. Steak and eggs? Yes. Omelets? Eggs benedict? Right here. Hash? Absolutely.
We love a savory brunch dish. But those yogurt parfaits? The fruit cups? The oatmeal? They're for chumps.
Well, when we go to brunch at Le Diplomate, consider us chumps. Because we never miss the oatmeal.
Their take on the dish features steel cut oats, pistachio milk, and fresh citrus. And it is divine -- sweet and rich and hands-down the best oatmeal we've ever had. And that's saying something, because since we learned to shortcut the process for making steel-cut oats in less than 10 minutes, we have eaten our fair share of oatmeal, dressed up more ways than a Barbie at a daycare.
We've toyed with the idea of trying Le Diplomate's pistachio oatmeal at home. But we never had, mostly because we don't have ready access to pistachio milk.
But Bon Appétit has solved that problem for us, with their January feature about making homemade nut milks. We took one look at the recipe and immediately started making a batch.
Before reading this recipe, if you'd asked us how nut milks are made, we would have assumed that actual milk is involved. We would have assumed wrong. To make a nut milk, all you need are the nuts of your choice, water, some sweetener and salt.
The method is extremely simple: Soak the nuts in water for at least 12 hours, purée them with salt, agave syrup and hot water, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. And that's it. If the nut milk is too thick, you can thin it with water.
We had no problems making our pistachio milk, except that our sieve is perhaps not quite fine enough, and we ended up with a slightly gritty milk. But that was no problem -- the milk was mostly smooth, with a light pistachio flavor. (We would have welcomed a heavier pistachio taste.)
For the oatmeal, we made steel-cut oats, then dressed them with the pistachio milk, and segments of grapefruit and blood orange. The result was not as good as the Le Diplomate oatmeal. Theirs is so much richer and more comforting. We suspect that's due to the restaurant world's secret weapons: ample doses of sugar and butter.
So this was a somewhat disappointing attempt for both the milk and the oatmeal. But we'll gladly try our hand once more at making nut milks at home.
Have you ever attempted nut milks at home? If not, pick your favorite nut, give it a try and let us know how it turns out.
1 cup raw almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, cashews, or peanuts
4 teaspoons agave syrup (nectar)
⅛ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Place nuts in a large bowl and add water to cover by 2”. Let stand at least 12 hours (this is key for silky, nongritty results; the longer the nuts soak, the smoother the milk will be).
Drain nuts; discard soaking liquid. Purée nuts, agave, salt, and 4 cups very hot water (but not boiling; hot water yields creamier milk) in a blender on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on solids; discard nut pulp. Thin nut milk with water as necessary to reach desired consistency. Transfer to airtight container and chill until cold.