Brrr. The Three Bears were onto something. When the morning air nips at your nose, who can go past porridge? Porridge itself should be a simple enough affair. Rolled oats simmered in water, milk or both until creamy. Yet if you want to get precise about it, you can.
Some ardent chefs like April Bloomfield will insist on a combination of rolled oats and hardier steel cut oats, simmered and stirred for 20 minutes before being seasoned generously with flaky Maldon sea salt, check it out here. Some devotees toast their oats first in a dry pan to deepen the flavour. Others lean on a combination of oats, seeds and other ancient grains for a motley muddle of textures and crunch. You can take plenty of short cuts (or slow cuts) along the way, either by giving them a head start with boiling water from the kettle or setting them in a slow cooker to simmer overnight. You can even bake them in a casserole dish. The only real decision left is what to top them with. Is it going to be a Goldilocks classic with a crest of cream and brown sugar, will you lean on some of winter’s prized fruits and some spices, or maybe it’s worth branching out and attempting some savoury options (trust us, it works). Roll on morning and give one of these a stir. You never know which one will be a perfect fit until you try it.
Baked Porridge with Rhubarb and Pear
Porridge doesn’t have to be babysat on a stove. Baking it allows for an easy make-ahead, hands off, serve-a-crowd option that can also double as dessert if needed. This version is packed with rhubarb and pear, but you can easily swap it out for any stone fruit, berries, apples or poached quinces. A drizzling of brown butter over the top of the almonds, adds an indulgent nuttiness (and makes the kitchen smell irresistible while it’s baking). Try serving this with a drizzling of cream, coconut cream a dollop of yoghurt or marscapone if you really feel like pushing the boat out. Click here to get the recipe.
Three Seeds and Salted Date Caramel Porridge
Why not add some chia, sesame and sunflower seeds to your oats for a porridge with texture and added nutrients. Top it off with a dollop of salted caramel – made from steeping dates with boiling water, a little butter and a sprinkling of sea salt – and you’re in porridge heaven. (This recipe will make more caramel than you need, but never fear, this caramel also works brilliantly over ice cream or winter puddings). You might want to think about adding some stewed fruit to this bowl to help it really blossom; both pears and apples will shine. Click here to get the recipe.
Mushroom and Spinach Savoury Porridge
Savoury porridge? Yes, it’s really a thing (just ask London’s 26 Grains café, whose savoury oat bowls contain the hipster golden trinity of kale, avocado and Sriracha hot sauce). If you need further convincing consider the great traditions of congee, or Southern grits. These are also just grains that are cooked in water or broth until they’re plush. Think of this version like a swift risotto, which can be on the table in half the time with a fraction of the effort. Toasting the oats first in a dry pan highlights their natural savoury flavour. You can then cook them in boiling water or stock, with a little milk for richness. Folding through sautéed mushrooms and wilted spinach makes for a hearty vegetarian option that sits just as happily at the breakfast table as it would for dinner. If you wanted to make it even more indulgent, feel free to top it with a poached egg, a dollop of ricotta, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (or all three). Click here to get the recipe.
About Tori Haschka: Tori is a food writer and published cook book author. She’s the author of two books – 'Cut the Carbs!' & 'A Suitcase and a Spatula', the app ‘Poppyseed to Pumpkin’ and the blog http://eatori.com.
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