Winter breakfasts: Porridge
It’s been years since I ate porridge regularly for breakfast. Lumpy and overboiled, it was always a one of the foods that I hated as a child – unless it was made in the Aga at Oldcastletown by my grandfather. Put into the bottom oven the previous night, his porridge was one of the highlights if we stayed overnight. I went through a porridge phase at college as it was cheap and seemed to be filling. It was then that I discovered how digestible oats actually are, as I would end up being hungry about half way through my first lecture.
Since then the only reason I’ve had porridge oats in the house is to make Anzac Biscuits, Oaty Apricot Biscuits or to experiment with a few more Flapjack recipes until a few weeks ago when we met a couple of the Boyfriend’s friends for early brunch on a Sunday morning. It being rather earlier than my normal Sunday rising time, I decided that I was too delicate for the more robust items on the menu (Eggs Hollandaise, Savoury Muffins, a fried breakfast) and instead went for the Porridge with Boysenberries and Greek Yoghurt. What arrived was a creamy concoction spiked with sunflower seeds, coloured a delicate pink from the boysenberries, and topped with a great dollop of Greek yoghurt. A most delicious and comforting bowlful.
I had no sooner scraped the bowl clean, than I was thinking of variations to try at home. Sunflower seeds seem to prevent hunger pangs from settling in too soon so they would have to be added. Toasted walnuts, cinnamon, Greek yoghurt and maple syrup, perhaps? Obviously frozen boysenberries would have to be purchased for my own experiments and what about chopped dried apricots, yoghurt and toasted flaked almonds?
Porridge is a true weekend breakfast as I have neither the time nor inclination to go fiddling around with pots and pans in the morning before work. Not to mention cleaning of the porridge pot, never an altogether pleasant job. I use a small red cast-iron saucepan for the cooking, which is a good defence against letting the porridge burn. Make life easier for yourself by always soaking the pot in cold water immediately after you serve your porridge. The variations are endless although I must admit to a weakness for the chopped dried apricots, yoghurt and toasted flaked almonds combination, especially when the apricots are stirred through the porridge and the yoghurt is floated on top beneath the almonds. Every mouthful thus brings a taste and texture contrast between the hot porridge, cold yoghurt, sweet apricots and crunchy almonds. Yummy!
All amounts are per person
Porridge oats – 1 cup
Sunflower seeds – 1 tablespoon
Salt – a pinch
Milk – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup
To serve: natural or Greek yoghurt; milk or cream; chopped dried fruits eg figs, apricots, apples; toasted nuts eg walnuts, almonds or pecans; maple syrup; brown sugar; frozen soft fruits, added in at the cooking stage; fresh fruit…
Put the porridge, sunflower seeds and salt into a heavy-based pot. Add the milk and water and cook over a moderate heat. When bubbling, turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for about five minutes or to taste.
Decant into a bowl and add desired toppings.
Serves one very hungry person.