Roasted Pork Apples Fall Slaw Shaved Brussle Sprouts Chef Ninamarie Fall Recipes Pulled Pork The Taste Ooh La La Catering

I officially made my first fall meal of the year this weekend and had to share.

What can be better than some perfect Roasted Pork, [which happens to be so simple to make, it's a one pan situation], with fresh chunky Apple Sauce, then topped with crunchy shaved deliciousness.

I’m calling it ‘Fall Slaw’.  We’re taking shaved Brussels Sprouts [instead of cabbage] and tossing it with a bunch of cozy ingredients.  The mustard, citrus, and tang of the slaw balances out the rest of the dish—falling-off-the bone pork with spice, and sweet brown sugar cinnamon apples.

FYI- all three of these items can be made separately and mixed & matched for all types of autumn meal combos.  They can stand on their own.

Here it is.  ROASTED PORK, APPLES & FALL SLAW.  Happy Fall!   - Ninamarie 

For the Pork:

3.5 LBS Pork Shoulder or Butt [boneless or bone in- weight doesn't have to be exact]
4 TBS Chili Powder
1 TBS Salt
1 TBS Brown Sugar
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Dry Oregano
1 TSP Garlic Powder
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon

Mix spices together and sprinkle all over pork.  Refrigerate spiced pork for at least 3 hours; preferably, overnight if time allows.  Preheat oven to 300F.  Place pork in deep baking pan and cover with foil.  Cook for 6 hours [flip the pork over once, and baste with the liquid fat on bottom of the pan halfway through cooking time].  When pork is done, it should be falling apart.  If you would like shredded pork, go ahead and shred!  Or, just portion nice chucks or thick slices.

For the Apples:

8 Apples, peeled & cut roughly into 1 inch pieces [I did a mix of Granny Smith & Gala]
2 TBS Butter
2 TBS Brown Sugar
Ground Cinnamon, to taste
1 Lemon, juiced

As you peel and cut the apples, place them in a bowl of cold water with the lemon juice [to avoid the apples from turning brown].  Melt butter in a medium pan with a lid, over high heat.  Add the apples and brown sugar.  Stir, cover, and let cook for 2 minutes.  Remove lid, lower heat to medium, add desired amount of cinnamon and stir.  Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes until apples are tender and soft [avoid over cooking them to mush.  A little crunch is nice].  Remove from heat.  Just reheat right before serving. 

For the Fall Slaw: 

3.5 Cups Shaved or Thinly Sliced Brussels Sprouts
¼ Cup Candied Walnuts, lightly chopped
4 TBS Dried Cranberries, lightly chopped
4 TBS Lemon Juice
3 TBS Whole Grain Mustard [I really like this one Guinness]
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
½ Cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Shaved Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese, for garnish

To shave the brussles sprouts, carefully slice them on a mandolin.  To slice them with a knife, cut each sprout down the middle, lengthwise, then thinly slice each half widthwise. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard seeds and Dijon mustard.  Then, slowly stream in the oil while whisking.  Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Toss together brussles sprouts, walnuts, dried cranberries and desired amount of mustard vinaigrette in a bowl.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

To Plate:

Divide roasted pork and apple portions amongst plates.  Top pork with a nice amount of Fall Slaw, garnish each with some shaved cheese, and serve!

 

Peeler Grill Lighter Best Efficent Kitchen Tools Catering Chef Ceramic Butane Outdoor Utility

Efficiency is key.  Sometimes you just have to take a step back, look around, and ask yourself if your tools are doing their job to the best of its abilities—and it’s the little things that really count, like peelers and lighters.

THE PEELER:  Silly me.  For some reason, I became loyal to a certain type of peel.  I adopted it may years ago just because it was available, typical, and cheap.  I would grab a bunch when doing my semi-annual pick up of new tools.  I would use them, they would rust, and then I would dispose.  A new peeler fell into my lap recently and now I live in regret.  I could have been in peeling bliss for all of these years instead of settling on those dull Swiss things.

This Kyocera Peeler is literally an absolute pleasure to use.  It produces smooth and silky strokes that’s easy on the hand.  No more stopping between strokes to clean and pull the strings and strands left behind.

Normally peeling cases and cases of asparagus is a dreaded task on the prep list – this time, I was excited to peel the asparagus.  It was a breeze and the time was cut in half.  Love it.

It’s dishwasher safe + it’s ultra-sharp advanced ceramic blade won’t rust, pit or corrode.  

THE LIGHTER:  As a caterer, chef, or really any human being that entertains or cooks needs some fire.  Light a candle, light a grill, light a sterno, etc.  Instead of having a bunch of the plastic multi-purpose lighters laying around [some work, some don’t, some got rained on, some burnt out, etc.], I decided to purchase one really good refillable lighter that I would make a conscious effort to not lose, keep in the same place, and carry with us to every event.  Now we aren’t running around at sunset to find a pack of matches to light the candles, or shaking and flickering a busted lighter over and over to light the deep-fryer.

This Zippo Utility Lighter is chrome, reasonably priced, wind resistant, refillable and has a dual flame.  It’s hot. 

- Ninamarie Bojekian

 

Wedge Salad Grilled Romaine Lettuce Spring Recipe Radish Blue Cheese Tomatoes Healthy Chef Ninamarie Ooh La La Catering

We have a perpetual weakness for the wedge salad over here at Ooh La La. You can commonly find me ordering it when having a casual meal at a bar [likely to be accompanied by martinis & oysters].

First off, I love the fact that I get to use a steak knife to cut into crispy compact lettuce. The wedge salad excites me. It fills me. And most importantly, I get to eat blue cheese. Simple. Retro. And in a peculiar way, chic.

This is my version of the classic wedge – and it’s become a favorite among my family, friends and clients [this salad looks and serves beautifully on an Ooh La La style buffet—just imagine a bunch of these little bundles all lined-up on a large gorg platter].

Instead of using iceberg lettuce, try it with romaine. Then, grill the romaine. Which yields such a nutty enchanting hint of flavor. It’s so simple, but I find it so magical. Instead of dousing it with a thick blue cheese dressing, try it with a little crumbled blue cheese. Then, top it with a fresh lemon Dijon dressing. Which yields such a light savory zing [plus a lot less calories].

This time of year always makes me want to ‘nosh’… to prepare a spread, a schmorgesborg. Or as they say in my house “meze”. Maybe it’s my excitement for the better weather on it’s way. Maybe it’s because there is a lot of great produce coming into season. Rather than working around a main protein/entree, try preparing a couple of fun, healthy and seasonal dishes to be served all together. It makes for a special supper and creates an interactive meal.

**This time, I served it with some quick Scallion Pancakes. **See recipe & steps for these hot cakes below**

Here are some other ideas to serve the wedge with to create an all vegetarian spread: chilled soups [i.e. vichyssoise or yogurt soup], bean or lentil salads, tabouli, deviled eggs [or a fancy version], grilled pita & tzatziki sauce, grilled or steamed artichokes, grilled zucchini, etc.

GRILLED ROMAINE WEDGE SALAD
Serves 4-6 [depending on how many hearts each person wants]

3 Romaine Heads, washed & cut in half lengthwise
1 Large Lemon, juiced
¼ Cup Olive Oil [plus a tad more]
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper, to taste
4-6 TBS Blue Cheese, preferably maytag
5 Radishes, thinly slices
Tomatoes, your pick, just slice some up
1 Small Onion, your pick again, just thinly sliced

Grill them—heat your grill on high. It can be an outdoor grill or stove top grill [if you don’t have a grill on hand, you can just use a griddle or pan if need be]. Brush the cut side of each romaine wedge with a little olive oil. Place cut side down of wedge on heated grill. Let romaine grill until a nice char is achieved; about 1-2 minutes. Remove & set aside.

For the dressing—this is such a versatile dressing. If you have a little left over after this recipe, then lucky you! Add the lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper in a small container with a lid, such as tupperware. Cover then shake well. That’s it. There you have it.

Now assemble—divide desired amount of grilled romaine on each plate. Top each wedge with desired amount of radishes, tomatoes, blue cheese and onions. Drizzle over appropriate amount of dressing and serve!

Scallion Pancakes Puff Pastry Dough Rolling Frying Recipe

Scallion Pancakes [a quick version made w/ store bought puff pastry dough]
Makes 8 Pancakes

1 Package of Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets, such as puffpastry
8 Scallions, thinly sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
Oil for frying, such as canola or vegetable
Flour, for work surface

Defrost pastry sheets.  Then do steps following steps:
(1) Take 1 sheet and sprinkle half of the scallions and garlic on top. Then roll up.
(2) Roll the log in a tight crescent spiral.
(3) With a rolling pin, roll out tight crescent spiral to a flat dough. Then repeat steps 1, 2 & 3[minus adding more scallions].
(4) Divide dough into four separate balls. It’s ideal to let dough rest for at least 30 minutes [if you can’t wait, then by all means, roll a head]. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a flat pancake [the thinner the better].
(5) Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Make sure it’s nice and evenly hot. Place the rolled out pancake in the oil to fry. Cook until crispy brown, then flip; about 1.5 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt & serve!

Sandwich Challenge The Taste ABC Anthony Bourdain Ninamarie Bojekian Beef Carpaccio Tartar Fried Green Tomatoe Nigella Lawson Episode 5

This challenge was a challenge to say the least.  Making a sandwich is a simple enough task at face value, but when you’re cooking for your life, simple isn’t simple anymore.  I must say that I have no idea how this sandwich initially evolved for me, but it did.  The second we were faced with this challenge, my mind went right to ‘fried green tomatoes’ and I have no idea why.  I never made a fried green tomato and I only ate one once before.  I loved the movie, though.

Here is how I came up with the sandwich that earned me another gold star.  Here is how I came up with the sandwich that would make Nigella Lawson very happy while drinking a cold beer.  Thank you Ms. Lawson [I'm making up for all of those gold stars I didn't get in elementary school].

Now that I decided that I must have a fried green tomato in my sandwich, I had to figure out what type of protein to serve with it.  I already did chicken and pork in my previous dishes, so those were out for me.  I wanted to expand myself and show range.  I wanted the meat in the sandwich to give the feel of ‘deli meat’—thinly sliced, moist, and layered.   So I choose to do a beef carpaccio, which would in a sense, would represent roast beef.  Roast beef always has that pink color to it, and so does freshly sliced raw beef tenderloin.

I reduced some beef stock while simmering it with a little crush garlic, sliced pepperoncinis and butter—then let it cool a bit.  Right before serving the sandwich, I tossed the sliced beef with the reduced liquid, pecorino cheese and arugula.  This method worked out perfectly because it allowed the meat to heat up just a tad without cooking it through, while marrying it will all of those great flavors.  Sort of like a French dip sandwich.

Now that I had my 2 main components in place, I had to choose what else to serve it with.  It takes constraint.  Having constraint and editing any dish is a common task for chefs.  There are thousands of flavors and ingredients I could have thrown at this, but I held back.  I wanted the other ingredients to make perfect sense, have a reason for being there, and be solid.

So I went for pickled cucumbers & a fresh aioli.  I love doing a quick pickle on some sliced cucumbers.  It’s something I picked up during my Aquavit days.  The Sweds know how to pickle.  It’s called ‘1-2-3 pickling liquid’ [1 part sugar, 2 parts white vinegar and 3 parts water].  These numbers add up to a versatile liquid that has the perfect balance for a sweet bite.

For the aioli, I went with using champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard because those are classic combos to accompany beef tartar [either mixed with the beef or in a champagne vinaigrette on the side with some greens]. I picked that up from the French.  The French know how to tartar.

I wanted to achieve a sandwich that had balance, and that would stick out from the crowd.  It had southern charm, Swedish pickles and pseudo roast beef [we’ll call it tartar for the French and carpaccio for the Italians].

Check out my winner recipe here & tell me what you think!

Follow me on twitter for live tweets during tonight’s episode @ChefNinamarie

-Ninamarie Bojekian

 

The Taste Daring Pairings Barolo Wine Chef Ninamarie Bojekian ABC Anthony Bourdain Nigella Lawson Episode 4 104

I had the time of my life during the Dairng Pairings episode of “The Taste”.  This particular challenge really allowed me to show off what I got, while further strengthening my dedication as a wino.

For the elimination challenge, I decided to choose the wine I wanted to work with first and then build a dish around that.  I believe this was a better plan then coming up with a dish I wanted to cook first, then trying to make it work with the wines we had to select from.  So I worked backwards, which fit after drinking a few glasses.

Barolo:  sweet dark cherry scented, smoky, licorice, cinnamon like, earthy and complex tend to be the deal with barolos.  Its packs a pow!  It’s a big wine full of tannins, so you need to pair it with big flavors that can carry it.

I wanted my dish to hit a few key notes.  I wanted to create something smoky, deep and with rich flavors [which would match perfectly with the basics of this wine], while also makings sure to include buttery and creamy factors to cut the strong tannins of the wine.  I knew that the balance of these 2 elements would be vital.

The Smoked Tomato Jam gave me the smoky, deep and rich flavors I needed [as well as sweet & spicy].  I have to say, I was so so so thrilled with the complex flavors that this jam gave.  Barolos go well with a strong, nicely reduced tomato sauce—and this jam was that X10.  After cooking down all of its ingredients together, I hit it with the smoking gun for about 10 minutes.  Then I tasted the jam’s finished product.  I was shocked.  I knew it could be a super winning dish if all of the other elements came together.

Now for the Braised Cream, Lemon & Sage Pork Shoulder. The main character in this dish had to provide a nice balance for all of the others to shine.  The neutral heartwarming ingredients were simple—and it translates well [in Italian or English].

Now that I had the perfect smoked tomato jam and braised pork, I added 2 more elements to put this spoon over the edge.  First was the Chanterelle Mushrooms with Crème Fraîche.  Or as the French would say Girolles à la Crème.  This is my favorite way to prepare chanterelles.  I love love love it—it’s perfect in creamy soups, or on top of salads, risottos or polenta dishes.  It was the perfect direction for this dish, plus it would provide the fresh minced garlic and parsley punch this dish needed.

Lastly, the Brussels Sprouts.  I topped off each spoons with some of these chard, shaved and lemony sprouts.  I have nothing more to say about this.

As I was running around and hustling in “The Taste” kitchen, I thought to myself, if I had to name this dish, I would call it “If Italy had a Thanksgiving”.  I pictured myself sitting outside a café in Italy on a cool day, with a big sweater, and fur hat and a big glass of Barolo wine, eating up the flavors in this dish.  Lucky for me, Anthony felt the same way.  Not only did he say this dish looked horrendous [oops], he also said it made him want to jump on a plane to Italy and continue eating.  His strong reaction to my spoon earned me a gold star as he selected me as his favorite.  I was so thrilled he felt a similar connection to my dish.   It just so happens to be that this spoon had a similar effect on Nigella Lawson too.  She picked my spoon as her favorite, earning me 2 gold stars for this episode.

After being revealed as the person responsible for my dish, Judge/Mentor Ludo Lefebvre expressed that he was surprised a women cooked this dish.  “I do tend to cook a little on the masculine side” I proclaimed.  “She’s challenging your sexist preconceptions, man” Bourdain said.  I don’t have enough time or space in this blog to get into the sexist issues in the kitchen and what female chefs face, etc., etc., etc. [that’s a whole different conversation].  But what I can say is that I know exactly what Ludo was trying to say.  I like to have a presence of masculine and feminine when creating a dish. It’s the ying and the yang for me.  It’s a pretty subjective topic, I know [who defines what tastes like masculine or feminine? and so on.].  It’s not so much black and white, cut and dry.  It’s more so my personal perspective and where I draw up inspiration from.  It’s my scale of heavy and delicate, hard and soft, spicy and smooth.  It think all well-thought out dishes should have some sexy and seductive factors in it, and what better way to play around with that then working off the cultural male vs. female ideologies.

Check out my winner recipe here & tell me what you think!

Next up, the “Sandwich Challenge” [Tonight on ABC 8/7c].  Oh and trust me, the sandwich may seem so simple, which makes it that much harder.  Follow me on twitter for live tweets during tonight’s episode @ChefNinamarie

-Ninamarie Bojekian

 

Chef Chic Kitchen Fashion Isabel Marant Sneakers Nixon Watch Uniqlo Pants Houndstooth Leather Knife Doctor Bag Ninamarie Bojekian

As well as always being on the hunt for awesome olive oils, bright produce and quality meats, I also keep an eye out for cool clothes, shoes and accessories that I can wear in action. 

If you find something with style that can also assist in a functional way, then go for it. 

Here are some of my favorite finds:

1) These awesome printed legging pants by Uniqlo are my #1. I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally find ‘chef pants’ that didn’t look like government issued slacks that made me look like I had tree stubs for legs.  These pants come in a bunch of different colors and prints.  Several of the prints are cool plaids and checks, which is perfect for a chef– including the classic black & white houndstooth.  Very affordable, lightweight and formfitting with a delicate drawstring.  Easy to wash too.  I have several pairs for kitchen and street wear.

2) Check out this cool watch by Nixon. I always prefer a rubber band watch over a metal link while working.  The price point is nice and I like the black & white color– sticking with the houndstooth look.  The fun function on this watch for me is that it tells the temperature (this way you can really confirm how hot it when you are sweating your ass off), and the countdown timer for obvious reasons.  Being that it’s digital is a plus for me because when I need to know the time while I’m running around at an event with my mind all over the place, I don’t need think *too hard about it.

3) I take footwear very seriously, and when I’m not working, comfort and function tends to be low on the list.  However, when I am working, I need a shoe that will be comfortable and functional.   With that said, sensibility doesn’t have to equal dowdy.  It can be fun, chic and playful too.  I love love love wearing my Isabel Marant Bobby suede sneakers when in the kitchen and at events. This sneaker has a built in concealed 3.5” heel.  Wearing this wedged sneaker gives me that little height I desire and the femininity I like to carry when cooking.

4) And finally, the knife bag.  I have carried around my knife roll for years and years.  I loved all of the memories it carried with it as well– the melted velcro, the burnt hole on the lower left side, the torn shoulder strap.  It was time for an upgrade and I’ve had my eye out for something other than the typical polyester knit.  I figured that why shouldn’t my professional bag that I lug around all over be just as important as my handbags.  After searching and searching for unique knife bags, I came up with this idea of using a doctor bag instead.  The functionalities of the 2 are one in the same for the most part.  You can find some beautiful leather doctor bags– classic styles yet modern sleek.  This style bag is big right now as is, so it’s perfect.  I needed to make sure to find a bag that is at least 15” long, in order to fit my longest knife.  Just make sure to buy knife covers.  A perfect bag to fit your blades and favorite little gadgets on the go.  These bags scream professional chic.  I will be carrying around this lovely Italian on my arm.

- Ninamarie Bojekian

The Taste ABC Ninamarie Bojekian Anthony Bourdain

The blind auditions are over, and the teams have been picked on ABC’s “The Taste”. We are ecstatic that Ooh La La’s Ninamarie Bojekian was one of the four selected by Anthony Bourdain during the blind auditions. Bourdain chose Ninamarie after tasting her Spiced Chilean Sea Bass with Spicy Corn Porridge, Butterscotch, Pickled Apple Cilantro Relish & Bulgarian Feta. Check out the recipe that landed her a spot on his team.

Tune in next week to watch the all-female team in action and cheer her on! Tuesdays on ABC 8/7c

For more information

Spiked Punch Holiday Drink Cocktail Pear Cirtus Ice Block Flowers Roses Rosemary Party Ideas Chef Ninamarie Recipe

Everything comes back in style—and as it seems, the punch bowl is back. But instead of serving red fructose corn syrup, sitting sadly in the corner of the room, next to the ambrosia salad, step it up a with a craft cocktail. Make your punch the center of attention by displaying your liquid in an inspired way.

Make ‘hanging around punch bowl’ cool again at your next party. Take advantage of the punch bowl not being a fashion faux pas at the moment and prepare your alcoholic beverage of choice in a large batch.

For this recipe, we created a drink with warming seasonal notes, like pear juice and whiskey. Making it perfect for Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I like my family a whole lot better after a few. The fresh grapefruit and lemon juice will keep it light and refreshing so that it keeps the palate wanting more. The ginger and rosemary will give a natural flavor depth with a cool hint. Lastly, vodka has been added because, well, it’s vodka. This fits the bill for the bolder drinkers, the wimpier drinkers and everyone in between.

Making a large custom ice block will keep your punch colder for longer and won’t water it down like regular ice cubes. We added fresh roses and rosemary to ours for a glammed up look.

SPIKED PEAR CITRUS PUNCH
roughly 20 servings

8 C Water
¾ C White Granulated Sugar
5 Sprigs Rosemary
2 TBS Freshly Grated Ginger
4 Grapefruits, juiced & strained
3 Lemons, juiced & strained
2 C Quality Pear Juice (can be found in the organic section of most grocery stores)
300 ML Jack Daniels, or similar
400 ML Vodka

In a large pot, bring water, sugar, rosemary and ginger to a boil. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes to dissolve sugar and infuse flavor. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain water to remove rosemary and ginger (now you have flavored simple syrup). Add the grapefruit and lemon juice to the simple syrup. At this point, you can either refrigerator until you’re ready to serve, or move forward with finishing off the punch. *this can be made 1 day prior.

Mix the simple syrup with the remaining ingredients in a large serving/punch bowl,  then add your large ice block. *taste the punch as you add the alcohol to make sure it is not too strong {or weak} for your taste.

To make an ice block:  fill a bowl or plastic container with water and freeze. Make sure it will fit nicely in your punch bowl. If you want to add some swag to your ice block, use distilled water, so it’s not cloudy. Fill up your bowl or container half way with water and add the flowers (or herbs, lemon slices, berries, etc.). The flowers will most likely float on the top, having only half of the flowers below the water line. Place in freezer to freeze. Once frozen, add more water to cover the remainder of the flowers and return to freezer to freeze the rest of the water. Once everything is fully frozen, now you have your ice block. *If you’re having trouble removing your ice from the mold, just run a little warm water under it to loosen it up and it will slide right out.

When you have no electricity during a power outage, it can get a little tricky finding something good to eat.  You may need to be a little resourceful.  Just as I was about to put my freshly made lasagna in the oven the other day, our power failed.  Luckily we had a generator, so I cooked it in a toaster oven.   The next day, we ran out of gas, so we grilled our frozen pizzas outside. 

Make sure to stock up on items with a shelf life, and fresh produce that doesn’t need refrigeration—like tomatoes, oranges and apples.  Bread, butter and hard cheeses can survive without  refrigeration.  Hunger can sometimes hinder you from thinking straight… here are some points to keep in mind for food safety during the loss of electricity at home:   

  • An empty unit can hold its temperature after power is lost for up to 3 hours.  If your refrigerator has food inside, it can maintain its temperature longer.  More food equals more time.  Keep the door closed as much as possible and you can retain it’s cold temperature for roughly 4 hours.
  • A full freezer can keep its temperature for about 48 hours.  If you only have it half full, it should stay for 24 hours.  If you have only a few items, move it all in one corner.  Keep door shut.
  • When power returns, discard any perishables that have been above 42F for over 2 hours.  If it doesn’t smell right, it’s not right.
  • If you have unpleasant odors in your refrigerator or freezer, SUB-ZERO recommends the following:

Remove all products from your refrigerator and/or freezer and use bleach and water solution to thoroughly wipe the internal cavity. Immediately after cleaning, place crumpled-up newspaper in the unit (even before power is restored). Once your power has been restored, the unit will return to the last stored settings. We suggest you run the unit at regular temperature settings with the newspaper for one week’s time to absorb any remaining odor. The default, recommended temperature settings are 38 degrees for refrigerator units and 0 degrees for freezer units.

 

 

national oatmeal day savory chef ninamarie cooking unique oatmeal recipe smoked mozzarella muchroom fricassee

Oatmeal, a breakfast staple, takes its place at dinner table

The Record, October 29, 2012
Better Living,
By Elyse Toribio

Link to full article

Local chef Ninamarie Bojekian often turns to the whole grain to make a quick and hearty meal for herself after a long day of cooking for others.

“Adding a little salt, pepper, stock and olive oil can completely transform the flavor profile of oatmeal from sweet to savory,” said Bojekian, the owner of Franklin Lakes-based Ooh La La Catering. She has topped oatmeal with a steamed egg and arugula salad, and recently whipped up an oatmeal dish flavored with smoked mozzarella and mushrooms.

“Oatmeal has a lot more going on for it than just brown sugar and breakfast,” Bojekian said. “It can be used as a great platform to let other ingredients shine. I’m always surprised at how versatile it is.”

* CREAMY SMOKED MOZZARELLA OATMEAL WITH MUSHROOM FRICASSEE

Chef Ninamarie Bojekian, the owner of Ooh La La Catering and Events in Franklin Lakes, puts a spin on a classic breakfast staple with this original recipe. “This is a versatile dish that can be served at any time,” Bojekian said. “It’s perfect as a savory breakfast or brunch option, or as a hearty fall side dish.” To make it a complete meal, she recommends serving the dish with a fresh salad and crusty bread.

3 cups chicken stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups oatmeal

1 tablespoon butter

1 3/4 cups water

2 cups Baby Bella mushrooms (or any assortment of preferred mushrooms), thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons marsala

1/3 cup smoked mozzarella, grated

2 tablespoons cream or milk

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a small pot, and then turn down heat to a simmer. Simmer chicken stock for about five minutes, to slightly reduce the volume.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat.

Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until softened, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the oatmeal and stir to coat. Turn heat to high and add 1 1/2 cups of the hot chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups of the water to the oatmeal; stir.

Adjust heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring for five minutes. Remove oatmeal from heat and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter to pan. Add mushrooms and let sit without stirring for two minutes.

Toss and season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and two tablespoons of Marsala to mushrooms, toss.

Remove mushrooms from pan and transfer to a small bowl, leaving behind any juices in the pan.

Add the remaining chicken stock and wine to pan, and simmer for about 4 minutes, until it is reduced by half.

To finish the oatmeal, add a little more water to loosen it up a bit, about 1/4 cup. Add the mozzarella and cream. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and the oatmeal is creamy. Adjust seasoning if needed.

To serve: Divide oatmeal into desired portions. Top each with mushrooms and then sauce from pan. Serve immediately, while piping hot.

Serves: 2-3