Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Roulade a la Ultra Wife

I really can't complain these days. I work long hours at a job with sweet coworkers that I happen to really like. The bigger half likewise has a job with coworkers that he thinks are pretty chill. These are all good things. Jobs are a blessing these days. Unfortunately for us, the one minus is that I've got long hours, and he works a whole bunch of nights and weekends, so our time together is limited. He's actually working a double right now, and I'm spending a Sunday watching a Cops marathon, though I can't imagine why... that show sucks. So, I decided that when he gets home late tonight, I'm going to have a hell of a feast waiting for him, featuring a Soused Blueberries original. I think he'll be pretty darn happy with me... or so I hope.
Pounded out chicken breast
Today, I'm making a chicken roulade with a sweet/savory goat cheese filling. 
Start out with 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap onto a cutting board, and one of the chicken breasts on top of the wrap. Lay the palm of your hand on top of the chicken breast, and with a knife, cut through the chicken breast lengthwise, gingerly and gently so that you're basically cutting the breast into a book-like piece of meat with an hinge left on one long side. After successfully reducing the width of the breast by half, open up the two halves, and proceed to put another piece of plastic wrap. Then, tap the chicken repeatedly with a meat mallet so that the breast is thinned to about a quarter of an inch. Repeat this process with the other chicken breasts and you have your "wrapping" for the roulade. Set the four breasts onto a plate (still in the plastic wrap) and throw them in the fridge to avoid germage while you prepare the filling.
Filling ingredients
This filling is solely based on what I had available and what I found at my local grocer, Milk and Honey of Salem. I started out by dicing a half of a red onion, and leaving the bits to sweat out in a little skillet with a tablespoon of butter. I also took this opportunity to roughly chop about a cup and half of baby spinach, and a few nice looking leaves of Italian flat leaf parsley. The market, to my surprise, had some really pretty little figs available, so I took the dried sweet morsels and roughly chopped approximately seven of those. I also had about a quarter cup of pine nuts, and let those toast up in a skillet on the stove for a few moments. When all of this was prepped and the onion and pine nuts had cooled a bit, I threw all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, added a 5 oz package of softened goat cheese, and about three tablespoons of ricotta. After stirring for a few minutes until all the cheese, greens and nuts were evenly distributed, I took a taste and added couple dashes of salt and a bit of cracked pepper. This one is going to be good. The filling then went into the fridge for about twenty minutes to firm up a little bit so everything is easier to roll up in each chicken breast. 
Time to roll
It's roulade time. This is perhaps the most intimidating part of the whole process, but it's simple. Think burrito. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from your squished chicken. Take about three tablespoons or so of the filling, and dollop into the center of the flattened meat. To wrap, tuck in the ends, and roll up. The most important part of this is to try to seal up the filling the best that you can. After you've rolled each chicken roulade, go ahead and wrap with plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge to further firm up until it's time to dredge, brown and bake.
Ready for the stove
Browning on the stove
So, it's time? First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, dredge each roulade in a bit of flour, and heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, go ahead and brown each roulade on each side, ensuring that the roll is sealed and the filling isn't leaking out all over the joint. After browning, remove to a baking sheet and throw everything into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and let rest so that, again, the filling doesn't ooze out all over the joint.
Post baking, ready for slicing
And that's it. Chicken roulade. The filling was creamy and sweet, a nice kiss of flavor from those delicate figs. The spinach served as a nice filler, and your daily dose of veggies, not to mention there was the lovely toasted textural element of those earthy pine nuts. For classic presentation, you can slice into evenly sized rounds. I chose to also prepare a simple mustard and shallot lentil side dish and some roasted asparagus to round out a decadent dinner. 

Chicken roulade with spinach,
goat cheese, fig, and pine nut
filling with lentils and
4 chicken breasts, pounded out
1/2 of one red onion, diced
1 /2 cups baby spinach
7 figs
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley
5 oz goat cheese
3 tablespoons ricotta
salt, pepper
flour for dredging
olive oil for browning

Friday, February 17, 2012

Portland, Maine: Pai Men Miyake

Pai Men Miyake
The world has of recent sung the praises of one Miyake restaurant in Portland, Maine. Unusual, even my own gastronomic utopia of this little city, the restaurant boasts having authentic sushi worthy of other more distinguished food centric cities. I've heard it's as good as Japan, and it's all about the rice. I'll confess at this time that I've never eaten at Miyake, and that nothing would bring me more joy. Almost nothing.
The story gets a little more interesting when we learn that the owner of Miyake opened a second restaurant. Now, for me, this was a tremendous disappointment. Expansion, once you have reached a level of caring so deeply about one type of art, often can mean the dropping of ones standards. I was heartbroken, feeling like I would never get to try Miyake at its finest before that precious care in washing and rewashing the rice was passed over. But then I started reading about this second restaurant, and the addition of a farm to the Miyake undertakings. So the second restaurant has a pretty short menu of noodles, and various maki rolls. The website features a single picture of a young woman walking through a longish restaurant with a bowl of noodles. While I find it hard to believe that any restaurant in the US can make the same ramen that I've had overseas, this was intriguing. Also very intriguing... after 5:30, they fire up a yakitori grill with binchotan charcoal. Have you ever had yakitori over in Japan? My bigger half, a child of the Navy, spent a number of his formative years at Yakosuka where he ate chicken bits on skewers to fuel each of a seemingly endless series of growth spurts. Knowing this, it is not unusual that he would choose a dinner at a restaurant in Portland specializing in yakitori over other opportunities to eat sushi or roasted rabbit or wonderful seafood. Our excitement was propeled forward by the knowledge of a sushi master who felt the need to open a yakitori restaurant, who loved yakitori so much he needed to seek out the proper charcoal, who loved yakitori so much that he bought a farm and raised animals for his yakitori. God damn. Off we go.
Seated across from the kitchen
Unfortunately, the troubling bit about all this is that we couldn't find all that much information about the yakitori of this restaurant. Maybe there just isn't that much excitement about yakitori in the US? There's certainly at least the wonder of Yakitori Toto in New York, but why no recognition about Pai Men Miyake? Could it be bad? I find it hard to imagine that a restaurant driven by what I could only conclude as an obsession with a lack of good yakitori restaurants could possibly not live up to the memory of deliciousness that I, and more importantly the bigger half, had experienced back in Japan. This lack of reviews is troubling. Therefore, I'm going to focus on the incredible skewers of meat we had at this place, and hope you are willing to make the journey.
Miso ramen
So, we were seated at a tall table at the back of the restaurant. Owing to my personal obsession with ramen, we had to order a bowl of the miso ramen. When it arrived at the table, it was piping hot. The noodles had the correct amount of spring and chew, and the pork (chashu) was delicious. Unfortunately, as I suspected, the ramen was a bit of a disappointment, as the broth itself tasted overly sweet. This is all a matter of personal preference, and if you have never had ramen, I insist that you try this version. Likewise, if you're a fool for these noodles, you should also try them, because I'd love to hear the assessments of others. But owing to the sweet broth, if you don't really give a damn one way or another, I'd say you can skip it.
Uni special: amazing
What you cannot skip is the uni special if they happen to be serving it on any given day. At $10 dollars, this is an incredibly generous appetizer portion of uni, with about ten or so little morsels of orange creamy goodness artfully stacked into a wooden box, and accompanied by a little wakame salad and a few lemons. The Maine sea urchin is firm and sweet. It has that musty sumthin' sumthin' that should be gross, but at one point you'll find yourself driven by the umami, earthiness of it all. Of course, it's also a touch briny, but just overall creamy and unctuous. Again, the uni appetizer is an excellent way to open your meal at Pai Men Miyake.
But soon after these two dishes were consumed, we were all in, ready to sample nearly a full tour of their yakitori menu. I will recommend that you adopt an ordering strategy when coming here, only because we failed in this respect. Yakitori is best when it is piping hot, straight off the grill. If the skewers are left for a moment to cool, then the special flavors and intent of the owner, I think are somewhat lost. So our mistake was to order a shit ton of the skewers at one time, and have them arrived nearly all at once. Some grew cold, and we were sad... not because they were bad, but because we should have known better. So take it from this glutton. Order about four at a time, and inform your server that you'll more than likely be ordering quite a bit more as the night progresses but want to pace yourself. There, I said it. Profit from my mistakes.
Bottom to top: Ebi (shrimp),
 kamo (duck breast),
tebasaki (chicken wings)
The first plate that arrived at the table were the ebi (black tiger shrimp), kamo (duck breast), and tebasaki (chicken wings). Piping hot, the plate of three skewers gave clue into what we were in for. The shrimp, perhaps the least exciting of all of the items, was perfectly cooked, and touched with the salty sweetness of a sauce used for all of the yakitori offerings. There was no scent of charcoal; just the bite of a lovingly grilled wonderful piece of sweet shrimp. The duck was tender, and pink on the inside, savory and a bit gamy, as you would expect with any fine piece of duck breast. Again, it was complemented wonderfully with that salty sauce. The third skewer of two chicken wings was something I was a little surprised that the bigger half wanted to order. But in fact, the charcoal-grilled wings, again with the special sauce, is my paragon of a perfect teriyaki chicken wing. The skin is slightly charred, and has a hint of crispness. The meat underneath is juicy and moist, and of course the whole lot is a joy to eat, sticky fingers and all.
Bottom to top:
Motsu (pork intestine),
butahoho (jowl),
butabara (belly), bonjiri
(chicken tail), kawa (skin)
The second plate was chock full of items, a few of which we would have to order again.
The butabara (pork belly) and butahoho (jowl) were both heavenly. The pork is sweet. It's clean, and undeniably delicious. The fattiness of it is evident, but not over powering, mainly because the time and care has been taken to properly char the meat on the grill. The sauce, which by now I am convinced I could spread it on construction paper and have a wonderful snack, complemented both items perfectly, bringing out the wonderful flavor of pork that has been raised in fresh air on a happy farm.
But then there were other items on the plate. Let's consider the bonjiri (chicken tail). Now, I am not quite as fond of the pope's nose as my bigger half. Usually, it's just a big mouth full of fat, and a reminder that cholesterol is going to play a major part in my later years. However, this was delicious. Perfect parcels of flavor, stacked one on top of another, we were told is an item that quickly disappears as the night progresses. And I can understand why.  They are sweet. They are charred to give you more of a flavor of crispy chicken skin than you would normally experience if you were to pull the butt off of a roasted bird. On first bite, you enjoy that charred outer bit, and then progress to a burst of warmed saltiness in the middle. Order this.
The next item, again focusing in on a chicken item, was a single skewer, with chicken skin, accordioned down the stick. Who does not love chicken skin? We choose not to eat it due to the cholestorol monster or something called "a diet." I think you owe it to yourself. The carefully winded skin is crisped on the outer edges, dipped in the sweet sauce, and gives you the greatest feeling of eating the crisped bit of a wonderful piece of bacon. This is a treat, if ever there was one. It is decadent, and you deserve it.
Motsu (intestine), modeled
by the bigger half
The gem on this plate, however, was the motsu (intestine). Despite being a tremendous fan of intestines in general, I cannot say that I've enjoyed finer chicken bits. They were cleaned perfectly, sliced thin, and stacked on that skewer. There is the wonderful kiss of the charcoal, and what you are left with is the perfect bar snack. It is, again, fatty. But it's more than that. It's tender and meaty, and perhaps the most gentle push that anyone might need into the world of the nasty bits. Imagine for yourself a perfect stack of little circles of sweet and salty, deeply flavored, squeak-between-your-teeth bliss. I think you will love the motsu. And yes, we ordered a second round of this item near the end because it was so good.
The last plate that we had also had some heavy hitters.
Left to right:
Kokoro (chicken heart), kimo (liver),
negima (leg and scallion)
The chicken thigh is your classic yakitori. Do you like dark meat? I do. It's minerally. The poultry flavor comes through to let you know what you're eating... and I would consider a poultry spectrum to span from chicken breast to thigh to duck breast to pigeon. Just saying, when sampling the chicken thigh skewer at this restaurant, you're hitting a quality marker in that spectrum where the delicate flavors are still very easy to detect. I would order this and recommend that you use it as your one item to really appreciate how fine the chicken that they raise on the farm is, and how wonderful that frigging sauce is. We also ordered the chicken leg interspersed with thick spring onion, another classic yakitori offering. Again, the thigh meat was incredible. But you'll understand at Pai Men Miyake why the Japanese love this combination of onion and chicken meat so deeply. The grilled onion really brings out the sweetness of the vegetable, with a charred outer layer that would be difficult and damn near impossible to replicate at home without the use of that wonderful, scentless binchotan charcoal.
Our final three items were excellent.
Chicken thigh (left),
beef tongue (right)
Do you like beef tongue (gyu tan)? Have you ever had it? It's wonderful in a sandwich, like the most succulent slice of roast beef when done properly. But have you had think chunks grilled up on a yakitori grill and dipped in that same salty, sweet sauce? The meat was rather lean, and wonderfully prepared to give it that ever so tender and delicate bit of chew. I highly recommend the beef tongue skewer.
Kimo (chicken liver)
While I was terribly disappointed that Pai Men Miyake was all out of sunagimo (gizzard), they did have kimo (liver). I was impressed again by the cooking technique of the small restaurant. I happen to love liver a little too much. Unfortunately, I think older generations tend to order a big portion of liver and onions and it's just too much. It usually arrives overcooked and with a concentration of minerals that I don't find all that appealing. Now I know that the super-smooshed-on-the-flat-top-grill liver and onions is beef liver, and should not be compared to the delicate chicken livers we ate here, but I think that we can all agree that liver in general has a very distinct taste. It's earthy and rich, and with a bit of a grainy texture if cooked for too long. The liver that arrives on a skewer at this restaurant is left with a pinkness in the center of each morse, clearly a welcome sight from a chef with a delicate hand. The liver is juicy and again, because it has been raised in a properly environment and watched over by a skilled chef at the grill, it is wholesome and the ideal of clean healthy chicken flavors. You may think me insane, but there is a linkage between the flavor of the chicken thigh and that which was experienced in the chicken liver. For lack of better description, imagine a wonderful sweet and buttery chicken liver mousse, but in a more solid form and given a run on a fantastic grill. The chicken liver was flawless, and yes, we went in for a second order after the first was consumed in seconds.
Kokoro (chicken heart)
Kokoro. Say it with me. Kokoro. It's fun to say and now you're sophisticated. Kokoro, kokoro, kokoro. You've just ordered the skewer of chicken hearts, and these were my favorite of the evening. Just like the liver, they had the same flavor of healthy and happy and (dare I say) more muscle to fat ratio chickens. They hearts were delivered with a proper char of that sauce on the outer more chewy bit of each piece. The inside of the chicken hearts were perfectly rosy and tender. Hearts, as many of us know, can turn into 25 cent bouncy balls out of a grocery store machine if cooked too long. Likewise, if not cooked enough, the retention of blood in the vessels can scare the crap out of you. These were timed perfectly. The chew, the savory, fill-your-mouth essence of each heart was incredible. They were less minerally than the livers, and therefore tasted a bit more like a fine piece of meat.
So that was our tour of the yakitori at Pai Men Miyake. I think it's the best yakitori that I've had in the Northeast, and not all that harsh on the wallet either. It would be perfect to visit with friends, or even to sit by the bar by yourself, with the entire restaurant exuding a sort of chill, just be yourself vibe. I have to commend the chef, and thank him for his obsession to make something that was not available without a train or plane or hours long car ride years prior, now only a short while away in Portland, Maine.

Pai Men Miyake
188 State Street
Portland, Maine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Portland, Maine: Novare Res

New England has it's ups and downs as far as food culture. We do cheap food really well in the bigger cities, and I think for the nosebleed expensive stuff, it can be very good, but also teeters on dull and kind of WASP-rific cuisine. But then there is Portland, Maine. I honestly couldn't tell you why such a fantastic and flawless food-centric culture has grown in this small city in the Northeast, but it is undeniably amazing and always a great time. They have everything from fantastic beer, to incredible seafood, to cutting edge molecular gastronomy, and even a very legitimate ethnic food scene. Plus, everyone there just seems to have such a chill disposition. If I had to move anywhere, I'd move there and be proud to call it home.
So, as it happens, the bigger half's birthday was this weekend, and as we tend to celebrate with special edibles, he wanted to make a little jaunt up to Portland. I thought this was a fantastic idea. Since we would only be making it a day trip, the places to visit needed to be carefully selected. But there is always one gimme when making the trip up to Maine... the first stop needs to be Novare Res.
Novare Res
Novare Res is one of the best beer bars I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, and like I said, we always go when in Portland. It has none of the superficial, sports bar, 1000 bottle gimmicky nonsense that tends to accompany franchise beer bars that pop up in major cities. This place is downright spooky perfect. It's kind of located behind a large brick bank and creeps up on you from around a corner. After spotting a sign out by the street, you're led through a parking lot, and there it is, iron gate, and little outside seating area. Walk into the brick building, and there you are, a few long shared tables, one long bar, and then a smaller one. Then there is the Chalice Room, reserved for those who over time have done a tour of all the offerings carried by Novare Res. The general space is dark, but warm and inviting on a winter's night. Every man and woman in the bar at first glance is either a regular, or a beer-loving pilgrim.
Our view
Fortunately for us, on this occasion there were two stools at the end of the main bar. We seated ourselves next to a gentleman with a gnarly beard and infinite knowledge of all things malty, and settled in. And now for our beers and snacks.
LoverBeer Madamin
LoverBeer Madamin: My first choice of the afternoon was a beer from Italy, which is unusual since I don't normally associate beers from Italy as being all that renowned. But this was one hell of a dry, oak aged bruin. With a fruity, crisp aroma at first whiff, you'd think that this beer would be a little sweet. And while it was a touch sweet and had nice cherry notes, the beer itself was crisp tart, and exceptionally dry making this a delightfully different example of a nice sour, funky beer.
Schlenkerla Kraeuse
Schlenkerla Kraeuse: The bigger half went for a smokey helles beer. This golden beer had a vigorous carbonation with a hint of smoke resulting from the use of smoked wort during brewing. It also had a slightly spicy, hoppy taste that hit you at the back of the throat at the back end of each sip. This was another very interesting beer, and a nice one to be able to try on tap.
Mahr's ETA Hoffman
Mahr's ETA Hoffman Dunkel: The next choice for us was this dark, malty, chocolaty dunkel. The beer was smokey, a little bit sweet, but a perfect beer for anyone who really needs to have something smooth, kissed by mocha and smelling of a wonderful breakfast oatmeal throughout.
On cask! Castle Rock
Harvest Pale
Castle Rock Harvest Pale: An on cask offering for the win! The blond ale, served slightly below room temperature, was crisp and refreshing, just like a great beer should be. Brewed with British hops, the beer had an unexpectedly woodsy flavor, detected with each sip. It kind of had the umami flavor of a delicate mushroom broth, and as odd as as that sounds, it only made the beer more delicious throughout the entire pint. I certainly hope that I run into this beer again.
Cuvée De Ranke
Cuvée De Ranke: Well, it was a birthday wasn't it? So for our last beer, we sprang for a fantastic bottle of Cuvée De Ranke, paper-wrapped bottle and all. In the world of tasting interesting beers, I almost always begin with my favorite category, and then likewise try to end with a different offering of my favorite category. And my favorites are always sour and funky. What a clean bit of tartness on the nose! What a wonderful, funky, yeasty depth of flavor! I would be amazed to find any beer drinker who did not find this as an interesting, complex beer to share with a friend. To be clear, the beer is orange color, and has a lovely fluffy head. It is sour, but simultaneously fruity with a little bit of honey sweetness, and the slightest hint of bitterness that only helps to round out every sip. This is a very balanced beer, and I hope you have a chance to try it.
So amid our beer tasting, I must also point out that it is important to ward off the evils of the wasty pants monster. And luckily for us, Novare Res has some exceptional offerings appropriate for snacking while sipping. I highly recommend the following:
Mediterranean plate
The Mediterranean Plate: This plate is chock full of items that serve as palate cleansers, and salty tid bits that you might crave while drinking excellent beers. There's house made hummus, which is so creamy that it borders on cheesy. There's also a handful of salty olives, ranging from meaty large green to the smaller salty black. Then there's pickled fennel, so sour and tasting of liquorice that you wish you could order a plate full of these alone. A few marinated beets and artichoke hearts, and of course, the pita bread slices that make a perfect vehicle for dispatching hummus and pickles from plate to mouth, and this antipasto of bites is the perfect item to share.
Finochetta and pork pate
Meat!!!! At the bottom of the food menu, you have a variety of meats and cheeses that you can pick from to assemble your own cheese plate. Since we had already ordered the Mediterranean Plate and were pretty satiated, we nearly didn't order a couple items from the meats listed from the pick and choose section. But I can't resist a few slices of cured sausage, and a bit of pate. If you have the chance, definitely go for the finochetta, a sweet, smokey fennel flavored pork salami. You can also opt for a serving of their pork pate, which was sweet, deeply savory, and I could have sworn that there are bits of mushrooms throughout the pate. With slices of salami and smears of pate on little slices of baguette, this was another wonderful food offering from Novare Res.
I hope you have the chance to make the journey to Novare Res. Unfortunately, at this junction in my life, it doesn't look like I'll be living close enough to try my hand at running the full tour of the beer offerings and having a key to the chalice room. But maybe you will? Good luck!

Novare Res Bier Café
4 Canal Street
Portland, ME

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mushroom Barley Risotto

So back in November, the bigger half and I had drove up to Montreal for a memorable weekend of gorging on some of the finer things in life. Having no foie gras on hand (as if I ever have it on hand... the Queen of France I am not) I took a little trip down memory lane the other day, and longingly stumbled upon one of the dishes that we had enjoyed at Restaurant DNA. This particular dish was the in your face halibut head presented over little ruby red morsels of beet barley risotto. Since I am also not fortunate enough to have a halibut head on hand, a barley risotto would have to do for dinner that night.
I will disclose at this time that I've never cooked barley before. I've enjoyed it in many a soup, and of course in the above mentioned risotto, but being an expert in enjoying does not make one an expert in preparing. Still, I had bought some pearl barley a while back with the intention of throwing it into this, that or the other thing at one point in the future. I have also seen a few people preparing barley risotto dishes on television as of late, and it looked so close in preparation to a regular arborio rice risotto, that I figure I can't screw it up too badly. And as it turns out, the dish was pretty easy.
This is the recipe that I used, pretty much verbatim:
Sweating onions and shallots
After defrosting some homemade chicken stock, and setting it to the boil, I covered and let it simmer on low heat to keep warm. At the same time, I went ahead and melted the two teaspoons of butter on low heat in a nice big sauce pan, and sweated some onions and shallots as prescribed for a about seven minutes or so. When the onions looked nice and translucent, it was time to add the barley, chopped thyme, and the bay leaf.
Toasting the barley
Now in keeping with the way that I know how to make a risotto, I waited a bit before adding the initial cup of stock, and allowed the barley to be coated with the butter, and toasted a bit. As with arborio rice, I'm told that this gives the dishes texture a bit more appeal, so that it falls as intended without being too toothsome.
Adding stock little by little and
stirring frequently
Toasting complete (maybe two minutes and a couple big stirs), I added about a cup of stock, and continued to stir pretty frequently until the liquid was absorbed. As with regular risotto, when the barley took in the stock, I went ahead and added more stock, about a half cup, stirring and waiting for the liquid to disappear each time before adding a bit more. So it goes with risotto until the barley looks plump and full, and either the delicious stock is no more, or it just seems like those little pearls won't take a bit more liquid.
Sauteed mushrooms
In the meantime, before the risotto had taken all of the stock, I took a moment to saute sliced mushrooms and minced garlic in olive oil, with a pinch of salt and a little cracked pepper. As soon as the mushrooms started smelling good and savory, and had shrunk up, releasing their own precious liquid, I took the opportunity to add them to the finished barley risotto. I gave a quick stir to incorporate all of the mushrooms, and added a squeeze of lemon juice, and the diced parsley just to brighten up the dish.
Finished Mushroom Barley Risotto
In all honesty, I'll probably use this exact recipe when making an arborio rice risotto in future. It was a really solid recipe, with the later adding of the mushrooms adding wonderful texture and flavor to a nice creamy dish. The barley was also delightful, especially with that great texture that you can only really get with barley, each bite giving way to a satisfying chew. I was surprised at how creamy the dish became throughout, and thought that by the appearance that maybe it would be too heavy, but due to the use of barley, it was actually kind of light, almost like you were eating oatmeal, but savory, delicious oatmeal. I highly recommend this recipe... also heats up well for lunch the next day.