Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Much has happened since my last post!  I played a monster solo recital last week, featuring a program that was the musical equivalent of an ironman triathlon.  My wonderful mother flew into town for the occasion, and I was delighted that she could share in the big night and visit with all of my friends. Mom made the most delectable Lavender Shortbread Cookies for the post-recital reception, and it is my pleasure to share these little beauties with you today.

My post-recital parties are usually fairly simple affairs, usually with a few beautiful cheeses, olives and grapes set out alongside some wine.  But Mom wanted to make these lavender cookies that my Aunt Barbara had baked on a recent visit, and I certainly wasn’t going to say no.

Mom and I have a long history of planning post-recital parties together.  In fact, I got my start in the kitchen because of the parties Mom threw for her piano students after their monthly class recitals.  I remember marching into the kitchen during one of her pre-recital baking flurries when I was six years old, announcing that I needed to learn how to bake and that I would help her get ready for her party the next day.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad (a la ABC Kitchen)

I am totally obsessed with this Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad from ABC Kitchen. In fact, this post should really be entitled “Go Make This NOW!”  I haven’t actually been to ABC Kitchen myself, but if the rest of their food is anything like this brilliant carrot concoction, I want to have lunch there as soon as possible. 

It’s been a while since a dish grabbed my attention so insistently.  Ever since finding this recipe two weeks ago in the New York Times, I’ve made this salad nine times and for five different friends. Everyone flips when they taste it, and I think you will too.

At first glance the roasted carrots, avocado slices and sprouts seemed a slightly incongruous combination, or at least something reminiscent of my ultra-healthy 1970s California childhood.   However, I was intrigued enough to try it immediately, making the whole recipe so that I’d have leftovers for the next day or two. It turns out that the combination of the fragrant roasted carrots with velvety avocado slices is an inspired one, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate the entire thing in one sitting.

These are no ordinary roasted carrots. Normally I’d be happy drizzling a bunch of carrots (or almost any vegetable) with a liberal dose of olive oil, salt and pepper before popping them in the oven.  But these carrots go to a whole new level when covered with a garlicky paste, enlivened with cumin and fresh thyme as well as lots of salt, pepper and hot chile flakes. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kitchen Fiddler Turns Five

Today is Kitchen Fiddler’s 5th birthday!  If I could make one giant birthday cake to share with you all, it would be this Black Pearl Cake.


Five years ago I had no idea what I was getting myself into, only that I knew a blog would provide a way to share recipes and stories beyond my immediate circle.  I couldn’t have imagined how much joy I would find knowing that family, friends, friends-of-friends, and even strangers truly enjoy the recipes they find here.


I’m grateful for this little space in the cyber world, for it has challenged me in so many creative ways.  My cooking has improved over the past five years, and my writing and photography skills definitely have as well. I almost cringe at some of those earliest posts that rambled on at great length, yet as much as I’ve wanted to go back to edit them or retake the photos in natural light, I’ve left them alone.  They represent where I was at that time, and there’s something heartening about being able to trace one’s creative journey, with both stumbles and successes along the way.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chile-Lime Popcorn

I have three words to say this evening: Chile Lime Popcorn.  You heard me.  Be prepared to be astounded. 

After a long-time addiction to Newman’s Own microwave popcorn, I’ve recently started making popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove in a heavy pot with a little oil.  It’s easy, inexpensive, and it tastes like the popcorn of my childhood.  Stove-popped pocorn is also a versatile canvas for letting your flavor imagination run wild.

I’ve had fun seeking out different kinds of popcorn kernels, and this organic multicolor blend from Fairway is particularly festive.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cherry Stracciatella Ice Cream

Cherries are my favorite fruit, and I can’t eat enough of them in the summer when they’re at their peak. My neighborhood fruit stand vendors know me so well that they automatically hand me a bag of cherries before I even ask.  So you can imagine how my taste buds went into a tizzy when I saw a recipe in the latest Bon Appetit for a cherry-bourbon vanilla ice cream.  I started doing mental variations on the recipe, imagining it with brandy instead of bourbon, or plumping the cherries in amaretto and topping it with toasted almonds. But last night I started dreaming about drizzling in melted chocolate at the end of the freezing time to make a Cherry Stracciatella ice cream.  And that version galvanized me into ice cream-making action this afternoon. 

You know you want this.  Think of it as a sophisticated riff on the popular B&J’s Cherry Garcia flavor.  However, it is so much more than Ben or Jerry could have ever dreamed.

The ice cream custard base is a straightforward vanilla one, an excellent backdrop for wherever your culinary imagination leads you. I like the roundness of flavor that vanilla bean specks add, but you can flavor your ice cream simply with pure vanilla extract if you don’t feel like splurging for the vanilla bean.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shaved Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Pine Nuts and Parmesan

After my wordy protestations this past month about wanting to be back in my kitchen after weeks away, I haven’t actually turned on the stove very much.  When I’m not making vast quantities of green juice, I’m content to find whatever produce looks freshest and assemble a simple huge salad with it.  If I add fresh herbs, some toasted nuts, a few shavings of a pungent cheese and a drizzle of great olive oil, I'll call it a meal.  This Shaved Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Pine Nuts and Parmesan definitely follows that formula with very happy results.

This is the time of year when zucchini is growing out of control, overflowing in the gardens and in the markets. When I walk by the farmer’s market stands in my neighborhood and see these perfect specimens at the peak of their season, it’s very hard for me to pass them up. Not to be confused with much paler yellow summer squash, I love the robust yellow variety as well as their darker green counterparts too.

Zucchini is very versatile, lending itself well to being steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted, baked into quick breads or cakes, or simply eaten raw. I can happily eat my Quick Sauté with Mint and Almonds on a daily basis without growing tired of it, but lately I don’t feel like turning on my stove even for the 60 seconds required for this recipe.  Instead, it’s been fun to put my vegetable peeler to work and make this raw salad on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Making Green Juice In The Vitamix

After weeks of touring and eating only in restaurants, it’s really good to be home for a few days.  I’ve been cooking very simply, and my refrigerator is full of all things green and leafy.  And I have been enjoying a daily large dose of fresh vegetable juices, thanks to my trusty Vitamix blender.  This Kale-Cucumber-Ginger-Mint Juice is the perfect way to energize your body, whether or not you need to detox after a month of late night eating and drinking on a tour bus!   

I really missed my Vitamix this last month.  This kick-ass blender immediately became the MVP in my kitchen upon its arrival this spring.  It is a wizard at pureeing soups, transforming them into a puree so silky smooth, you’d swear someone added a cup of cream while you weren’t looking.  But I bought this machine primarily for making vegetable juices, as a way to incorporate more fresh produce into my daily diet. 

For ages I’ve wanted a juicer but couldn’t justify the counter space for another appliance.  However, after doing some research online, I found that you could get similar results by blending fruits and vegetables with a little water and ice in the ultra-powerful Vitamix.  The motor in this machine is a force to be reckoned with, capable of pulverizing anything to a liquid, and that was enough to convince me to splurge. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Produce Daydreams

I’ve been on the road for 36 days and counting, and I still have more than a week to go before I am back in my apartment again. I am having a fantastic time, between the exciting concerts that keep me on my toes, traveling to great cities and enjoying some excellent hotels along the way.  But I miss my kitchen terribly.


Yes, you heard me.  I am homesick for my cramped little Manhattan kitchen, the same one that often makes me feel like I’m cooking in a straightjacket with its limited storage and counter space.  But I miss it nonetheless.  While I love certainly exploring great restaurants in new places, sometimes I just need a home-cooked meal. 

I’m daydreaming about my favorite recipes that take advantage of the summer produce bounty, as well as a few other perennial favorites.  Until I can get home again, perhaps I can entice you to make some of these dishes in your own kitchens.  Happy cooking!


This Quick Zucchini and Mint Saute comes together on the stove in less than a minute.

But if you don’t mind a little heat in the kitchen, you can make a whole meal out of these Arugula-Stuffed Baked Potatoes.  They're also the perfect accompaniment to your next grilled steak.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meals On Tour: Part One

Greetings from a tour bus in the middle of Pennsylvania!  I’ve been away from my kitchen for weeks, first performing at the OK Mozart Festival and now playing with this man on a 5-week tour.  I had grand plans to cook and photograph many summery dishes in early June so I could write periodic blog entries from the road, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.  I was overwhelmed by the preparations for these 7 weeks away from home, so until I am back in my kitchen, here’s another series of Meals On Tour.

I love being “the string boss” for this band, and the concerts have been a total blast with a mixture of songs from the new album as well as classic standards, gospel tunes and New Orleans jazz.  A typical day on this tour focuses on an evening concert, followed by a several-hour drive and arriving at the next hotel in the middle of the night. Sometimes we only have a day in each new city, but I always try to explore a bit and seek out an excellent lunch, no matter what.

The first big travel day was rough, leaving late after the first concert in Baltimore and rolling into Providence at 7 am.  At least our hotel was around the corner from Local 121, so after sleeping a solid four hours in the hotel, I treated myself to lunch. This white pizza with smoked mozzarella, sautéed kale, oven-roasted tomatoes and topped with a fried egg totally hit the spot, and I can't wait to recreate it at home.

We followed the brief stint in Providence with several days in Boston, my old college town.  I was thrilled to play at Symphony Hall for the first time, and my inner 19-year-old was turning cartwheels with the excitement of it all.  I was deliciously happy wandering around all weekend, revisiting my first two college apartments and other favorite places.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Heavenly Flourless Chocolate Cake With Rose Whipped Cream and Raspberries

It takes very little to prompt me into celebration mode with my friends.  In addition to birthday festivities, I am always ready to rejoice over creative milestones, finding new jobs and fantastic new apartments, not to mention new loves in one’s life.  Whether it happened to me or to one of my friends, I’ll also happily mark the anniversaries of any of these events with an appropriate beverage, no matter how many years ago the original event was.  A bottle of bubbly lends a particularly festive note to any occasion, but the more significant celebrations call for cake.  Especially when we're talking about a four-layer Flourless Chocolate Cake with Rose Whipped Cream and Fresh Raspberries.

I’m salivating again just looking at this.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I made this heavenly chocolate beauty last week for my 17-year anniversary of moving to New York City.  June Fourth was the very significant day in 1996 when I arrived in town with nothing but a violin, a suitcase of clothes, less than $300 in my bank account, and the invitation to crash on a friend’s couch for the summer. (Thank you forever for that, Lara!) I knew very few people and had no employment prospects lined up, but I knew that I had to stay no matter what it took.  I felt I was truly HOME for the first time in my life. 

New York is undeniably an amazing city, pulsing with a vibrant energy all its own.  I have had creative opportunities while living here that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined once upon a time, and I am forever grateful. But it is the amazing friends who have come into my orbit throughout these past 17 years who have truly made my life so indelibly rich.  This colorful cast of characters has filled my heart with laughter and great joy, and how could I not throw a party for at least a handful of them each June 4th?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Black Bean & Blue Corn Chopped Salad

I often get in a major rut with particular recipes, repeatedly making a certain dish well beyond the point where most people would get sick of it and move onto something else.  Case in point: I have made my Black Bean & Blue Corn Chopped Salad four times in the past five days.  But I can't seem to get enough of these flavors, so it seems silly not to prepare yet another bowlful of it when I already have the ingredients on hand.

Seriously, what’s not to love? Crisp hearts of romaine provide a base for a colorful riot of diced peppers, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, pepperjack cheese, scallions, and avocado.  A zingy chile-lime vinaigrette ties the ingredients all together, while a handful of crumbled blue corn tortilla chips push this salad over the top.


This has been a long-time favorite salad of mine, and I’ve foisted it on at least twenty different people this week.  It makes a satisfying solo meal, but I think it’s especially perfect for a big crowd of people, especially when that party takes place on the most stunning late spring night on a beautiful roof top.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Panko-Crusted Chicken Cutlets With Dijon Mustard

I have written several crappy drafts of this post for Panko-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Dijon Mustard, only to roll my eyes in exasperation and vow to write something better before I publish this recipe here. But the more I let my perfectionism get in the way, the longer I am depriving you of this dish. And I can’t do that to you anymore. 

I will get straight to the point: This chicken totally rocks. And you really need to make this for yourself as soon as possible. 

It’s quite simple. Start by pounding chicken breasts till very thin, or save yourself a step by buying thin-sliced chicken to begin with. Spread the cutlets with Dijon mustard and coat them in seasoned panko crumbs, those airy Japanese bread flakes that are so much lighter than regular breadcrumbs. Cook the cutlets quickly in shimmering olive oil till they turn golden brown, and serve them immediately. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Comfort Food Links

What a week.

I have been sick at heart watching the news unfold in Boston this past week, as I’m sure you all have too. Words usually fail at a time like this, and I’ve started this post many times only to delete it, feeling that anything I say is woefully inadequate. 


I’ve always had a particular fondness for the Boston Marathon, having gone to school in Boston years ago. I always loved hanging out at the marathon expo the day before the race, which brought back happy memories of going to races with my dad during his marathon-running days. It was inspiring being in the energetic company of these impossibly fit runners who exuded super-health and joyful anticipation of the upcoming big race. As I wandered around the expo sampling various sports drinks and energy bars, surrounded by the runners picking up their official racing numbers and commemorative t-shirts, I wanted to be one of them: capable of going the distance and doing super-human feats too. 

It seems particularly unthinkable that an event meant to be a celebration of monumental endurance and physical achievement could end in such an unspeakably horrifying way. My mind was reeling as I watched the news, recognizing those familiar Back Bay streets where all the chaos was breaking out. I knew that friends of mine were among the spectators or working very nearby, and I have never been more grateful for their Facebook updates letting us all know they were shaken-but-safe. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Minted Sweet Pea Mash

There are certain culinary duos in which the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.  Fried chicken&waffles, for example, are positively divine any time of day or night.  Apple pie on its own doesn’t interest me, but pair it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and I am totally enthused.  Chocolate-plus-peanut butter is one of the joyful pleasures in life.  (Oh come on, who am I kidding?  Chocolate and almost ANYTHING are great together!)  On a less decadent but equally satisfying note, peas and mint are one of my inseparable combinations, and they join together beautifully in this Minted Sweet Pea Mash.

The recipe for this springy green mash was inspired nearly a decade ago by a fabulous bruschetta I had at Otto.  I would never have thought to bind tender baby peas and fresh mint with olive oil to make a silky puree, but I’m so glad that Mario Batali did so that he could put it on his menu.  It truly is a most delightful thing to enjoy atop grilled bread.

The only problem with the Otto version is that it’s only available on Wednesdays, for their bruschetta special changes from one day to the next.  But once I tasted that minted pea puree, I knew my craving wouldn’t be confined to Wednesdays alone.  Sometimes you simply have to take matters into your hands and recreate a favorite dish for yourself at home.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring-Cleaning For Kitchen Fiddler

Kitchen Fiddler has a new look!

Tis the season for major spring-cleaning, and I’m happily getting rid of anything in my apartment that is dingy or drab. I want to fill my home with fresh tulips and vibrant greens, breathing new life into my sunny little corner in the Manhattan sky. And this springtime purging has also extended to my website.

I’ve wanted to overhaul my blog for a while now, even though I knew it would be a substantial undertaking for me.  We're talking about a serious PROJECT, in bold capital letters.  (Hello, I'm a violinist, not a web designer!  I can't tell you how many times this week I've asked myself, "How do I change this design element/blog feature/social media icon when I hardly know what HTML code even is?!!")  But when there's a will, there's a way.  And after untold hours of tweaking and Google-searching—not to mention much gnashing of teeth and banging my head against the proverbial wall—I am excited to launch this redesigned site.

There are new features, such as a box where you can sign up for email updates, thereby never missing a new post on Kitchen Fiddler. You can become a fan of KF on Facebook and/or follow me on Pinterest. Twitter may come later; I don’t know that I’m ready to commit to tweeting just yet, but that could very well change!

There are now a few extra tabs where you can read more about me and my other culinary endeavors. I’ve also tried to make the recipe index more accessible so you can easily find your favorite dishes on this site.  And after using the same trusty-but-limited camera for all of my photos these past 5+ years, I know it is time for a photography upgrade.  This is a work in progress as I explore new camera options, but I am really excited about these new possibilities.

Since I think of this blog as an extension of my kitchen and my table, I’d love to encourage more conversation with those of you who check in here. I’m always happy to know your thoughts and reactions, especially if you’ve particularly enjoyed certain recipes on this site. Comments and questions are always welcome, so please feel free to leave a comment on the blog itself or email me at kitchenfiddler (at) gmail (dot) com.

Since I feel like I just did major de-cluttering and gave everything a fresh coat of paint, I think the occasion calls for celebratory bubbles. Happy spring to all of you!

Recipe for a beautiful April afternoon:
fresh pink&white tulips for your table and
an effervescent glass of Punkt Sparkling Gruner Veltliner

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kale Salad With Peanut Vinaigrette A La Houston's

I got knocked out with the flu this month, which was a major shock since I have the hearty constitution of an ox and rarely get sick. (My last cold was so long ago that George W. Bush was president at the time, the economy hadn’t tanked yet, and Daniel Day-Lewis only had one Best Actor Oscar instead of three!) I was in bed for a week and had no appetite whatsoever, but towards the end of that week I began craving kale in the worst way. I didn’t want just any kale dish; I wanted the Houston’s kale salad with peanut vinaigrette that my friends and I have recently become obsessed with. 

I found this baby red kale at the farmer’s market. Isn’t it gorgeous? It was worth the effort of getting out of bed for the first time all week. 

I know that everyone has a kale salad recipe these days, so much so that it’s a food trend in danger of overkill. I’ve even posted two different kale salad recipes here on Kitchen Fiddler in recent years, but I’m going to give you one more, regardless. And you won’t be sorry that I did, once you taste it for yourself. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Matcha Green Tea Truffles

My Cocoa Roar truffle kitchen closes up shop after Valentine’s Day until Thanksgiving each year. It makes sense to go on hiatus during the warmer months, not only for a whole slew of practical purposes but also in the interest of the chocolatier’s sanity. However, the response to this year’s Valentine’s truffles was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to ride that momentum with a round of St. Patrick’s Day truffles.   How could I possibly deny my chocoholic customers, after all?

Many enthusiastically put in their two cents about which flavors I should do, and it was unanimously agreed that several flavors should be appropriately boozy. Guinness! Jameson! A green crème de menthe! Guinness again! Bailey’s! One friend said quite frankly, “I think you should just make whatever you want, and we’ll buy them!” 

Mini trial batches: Guinness bittersweet ganache and
swirly green tea&white chocolate ganache
I couldn’t resist doing the obvious flavors such as Bailey’s and Guinness for St Patrick’s, but I also wanted to do a token green truffle for the occasion. I figured that matcha green tea powder would fit the bill, naturally tinting the white chocolate a beautiful green without any artificial coloring. And it worked like a dream.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Perfect Milk Frother

I’d like you to meet my new BFF: the Bodum Brazil French Press. As you can see from the photo, I’m not making coffee with it but instead am using it for exuberantly frothed milk for cappuccinos.  Since it’s Tax Preparation Season, meaning that I have permission to drink as many cappuccinos as I need to get through it, this little Bodum is getting a major workout these days. 

My cappuccino obsession was fueled last fall when I was on tour for two weeks in Philadelphia.  Our hotel was around the corner from the original La Colombe, and I was there averaging two coffee drinks a day. The baristas took great pride in each espresso drink they poured, and I was fascinated watching their ritual. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Culinary Time Travel: February 27, 1990

I don’t have a recipe to share with you today, but I’m thankful for this little blog space where I can sit and write.  I realize that I’ve enjoyed writing about food for a long time, starting with a prize-winning essay in fourth grade detailing my disastrous attempt at making breakfast for my family when I was six years old.  (It involved my cooking oatmeal to within an inch of its life, stirring the porridge so insistently that it went far past the point of creamy until it was fried beyond recognition, setting off the smoke alarm in the process!) We could write on any topic we wanted for this district-wide contest, but even as a kid whose age was still a single digit, I found myself choosing to write about food.

I was thinking about previous February 27ths today, and I was laughing to myself while remembering the dinner I’d attended on this day in 1990.  It was a memorable evening if only for the reason that I tasted all kinds of food I’d never tried before, and I felt like I had been introduced to this whole new culinary world.  I was a particularly obsessive journal-writer as a teenager so it's not surprising that I felt compelled to process the entire evening in one of my many cloth-covered notebooks as soon as I got home, scribbling late into the night.

I had been asked to perform at a LA-area fund-raising dinner for the Interlochen Arts Camp (formerly known as the Interlochen National Music Camp), the magical place where I’d spent several formative summers.  This event was held in downtown Los Angeles at the California Club, a very exclusive social club that provided my first encounter with valet parking, an old-fashioned elevator operated by a tuxedo-clad gentleman, and a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres passed on silver trays.  I was sixteen at the time and proudly wearing my favorite green-and-purple plaid Laura Ashley dress for the occasion, a detail I cannot write with a straight face now, and I was thrilled to be there.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Salt-and-Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies

I’ve been very excited to share these Salt-and-Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies with you. I meant to post this in time for Valentine’s Day, knowing it would be a fabulous treat to make for your loved ones. However, I was up to my eyeballs making Valentine’s truffles for all of my CocoaRoar customers, so I’m only getting around to this now. I’m sorry. But these cookies are so marvelous that I think you’ll want to make them year-round anyway.

I have a confession to make. By the time I got through making the recipe to photograph it for the blog, there almost weren’t any cookies left to show for my efforts. I don’t mean that I snarfed most of the cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. They nearly didn’t get BAKED, for the raw dough was that good.

(Another confession: this is certainly not the first time I’ve had this happen with a batch of shortbread cookie dough. I admit I have a problem.) 

Buttery with a fine sandy texture, these tender cookies melt in your mouth. Velvety cocoa makes these shortbreads dark as midnight while a generous hit of sea salt intensifies the chocolate flavor, creating the ideal juxtaposition of salty-and-sweet. And don’t be shy about adding the freshly ground pepper, for it adds a beguiling flavor note that makes your taste buds sit up and pay attention. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Savory Steel-Cut Oatmeal With Sesame and Scallions

We are definitely in oatmeal territory here in New York.  There is a serious cold snap happening yet again, making it perfect weather to be cozy inside while catching up on episodes of “Downton Abbey” and “Boardwalk Empire”.  It’s impossible for me to watch these favorite shows without craving some kind of winter comfort food to enjoy along with the new episodes, though I’m trying hard to avoid inhaling large quantities of cheesy pasta or roasted potatoes these days.  Since I don’t have the patience for a slow-simmering soup, Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Sesame and Scallions really fits the bill these days.  Healthful yet satisfying, it comes together quickly and is ready for its close-up. 

I love how oatmeal acts as a catchall for a wide variety of toppings.  My family has been known to top their breakfast oatmeal with any combination of brown sugar, bananas, berries, dried fruit, toasted nuts, protein powder, wheat germ—you name it.

For years I’d regarded oatmeal as strictly morning food, but I was happily surprised to discover that my beloved steel-cut Irish oatmeal is a versatile backdrop for savory ingredients as well.  I wrote that post about the joys of savory oatmeal more than two years ago, and since then I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve topped my nutty Irish oats with salty shards of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of liquid gold olive oil. 

But sometimes I need to mix it up, and lately I’ve been going for a soy-and-sesame flavor profile.  The tamari soy sauce and toasted sesame oil create unexpected layers of flavor when stirred into the cooked oats, while scallions add bite and a welcome pop of color. I sometimes add a few toasted sesame seeds if I have them on hand, as I like the way they add crunch while highlighting the sesame notes of the oatmeal in a different octave.