I only had time to try 4 different porridges this week. I'm going to be away on Friday so won't have chance to make anything.
Monday: Bacon and Syrup
Yes, you read that right. I don't like mixing sweet flavours with meat and consider pineapple with gammon or on a pizza to be a very poor choice. I decided to be adventurous and try a sweet bacon porridge. Mistake. I could still taste it even after a cup of tea and brushing my teeth.
Tuesday: Apple and Blackberry
After last week's Apple and Cinnamon porridge, I decided to try an Apple, Blackberry and Cinnamon porridge, using extra cinnamon. This was better than the plain apple one, although the blackberry seeds added a bit of a crunchy texture.
Wednesday: Lemon Berry Porridge
This was inspired by a recipe from the World Porridge Making championships. I used a mixture of frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries and red gooseberries) which were mostly picked in our garden, with about a tablespoon of added lemon juice. I cooked the porridge in water instead of milk then added the fruit.
I tried the porridge first, before adding any extra sugar. I don't think it needed any. The fruit were quite sweet and the lemon juice balanced it out with some added sharpness.
Thursday: Chocolate and Coconut
This was inspired by the flavours of the Bounty chocolate bar. Since dessicated coconut can be quite 'bitty', I microwaved some in water last night then added it to the porridge this morning, along with some drinking chocolate. The coconut still had a bit of bite to it. I have tried coconut in porridge several times before and there are always some hard bits so I probably need to boil or simmer it for quite a long time to stop that happening.
I have porridge for breakfast fairly often but now that the weather is starting to get cold, it's probably time to make it my regular breakfast now. Most mornings I just add some dried fruit and sometimes some honey but this week I thought I would try a different flavour each day.
Monday: Peanut butter and Cranberry
Since it is World Porridge Day, I decided to do a different porridge each day this week. I only decided this after I had already left for work so this morning I used what I had available: a tub of dried cranberries and a small pot of peanut butter.
Tuesday: Dried raspberry
While I like raspberries, the taste didn't get into the porridge and they were very 'bitty' to eat.
Wednesday: Apple, cinnamon and brown sugar
I have mentioned before that most cake recipes don't use enough cinnamon. Unfortunately I made the same mistake myself and didn't add enough to the oats. Next time, I will add more and possibly use sweetened cooked apple instead of chopping a fresh apple into the porridge.
Thursday: Strawberry Porridge
We have a bag of frozen strawberries so I put some in a tub to defrost in the fridge overnight and added them to the porridge after I had cooked it. I then gave it another 20 seconds in the microwave to make sure the strawberries weren't too cold.
Fresh strawberries don't always have much flavour and I could probably have added more but this was ok.
Friday: Nutella and Peanut Butter
This used to be a favourite of mine but I hadn't had it for a while. We recently bought a jar of nutella so I made it again today. This was possibly my favourite of the week.
We had a roast chicken tonight and I decided to attempt some home made stuffing. Instead of a classic sage and onion breadcrumb based recipe I adapted a cheesy oat recipe.
The original version is a potato toppped cheese, onion and oats recipe, which we normally do with leeks to give extra flavour. It's made by frying the onion or leek, along with some garlic, in a mixture of oil and butter. It's then allowed to cool and then herbs, toasted oats, grated cheese and beaten eggs are added and mixed together. The base of a tin is lined with sliced potato and the mixture is spooned on top. It's baked for half an hour and then turned upside down to serve, so the potatoes are on top.
Tonight I started off with the same ingredients but added some home-made kale pesto which was leftover from yesterday. I formed the mixture into balls and added them to the roasting tin which already had roast potatoes cooking in it.
We liked the original oat bake but the potato topping is always a bit disappointing so doing a stuffing version means you get the flavor and a crunchy coating so I think it's an improvement and worth doing again.
I bought some semolina flour a few weeks ago when I saw a bag on offer in the supermarket. I originally bought it because I had read a few recipes which used it in combination with plain flour but the bag remained unopened until recently when I started using it instead of cornmeal to coat loaves or when rolling out pizzas.
Once I had opened it I intended to try a semolina pudding. I can't remember when I last ate this but back in primary school it was occasionally offered as a hot pudding with tinned prunes.
I started looking up recipes then found that a friend of ours had beaten me to it and had already blogged about it.
Since my 'new thing' is microwave porridge (more of that later) I tried making semolina in the microwave. I took 2 cups of milk, whisked in ⅓ cup of semolina, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla essence. I cooked it at full power for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. I stirred in a tablespoon of jam to give a marbled effect. Since this makes quite a lot, there's no way I could eat that quantity all at once so I ate some while it was still hot then put the rest in a tub to set.
Getting back to the microwave porridge, since I don't like having to stand in front of the microwave making sure something doesn't boil over, I have started cooking the porridge on medium for 6 minutes. At this setting I can go away and do something else and it will cook on its own, without needing stirring.
Rustic Spanish Bread revisited
I have been baking a lot of bread recently and have been getting through a bag of bread flour in a week, when previously a bag would last for a month or more. My latest loaf was a sourdough version of the Rustic Spanish Bread I made last week. The starter was made using sourdough but the main dough used regular yeast, following their recipe.
I first grew salsify a couple of years ago. The roots were quite small and by the time I had peeled them there wasn't much left to cook. The ones I planted last year did better but I only got around to harvesting them a couple of days ago.
After peeling the roots, I tossed them in olive oil and lemon juice then sprinkled them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. They were roasted at gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes. The thick ends came out ok but the tapered ends were a bit over-cooked and had blackened.
The flavour was quite mild and there was only enough for a snack but I'll probably have another go at growing them this year.
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Now that we are approaching winter, I have started making porridge for breakfast. My usual approach is to put 1 cup of oats in a jug, add any dried fruit or other flavours (such as flaked almonds or shredded coconut), followed by 1½ cups of milk. I then leave this in the fridge overnight, ready to cook in the morning.
The porridge takes about 3 minutes to cook in the microwave. I don't add any sugar but I sometimes add a bit of honey.
I had spare porridge left over today (dried mango and coconut flavour). I thought I'd have a go at making a cake from it, following the same idea as the rice pudding cake. I had some 'cereal dust' from the bottom of a couple of boxes of cereal so I put that in too.
The end result was surprisingly similar to the rice pudding cake, with a moist, chewy and cakey texture. It's a good way of using up leftover porridge.
The second recipe this week was a Cauliflower Pizza. My version was topped with bacon, black pudding, baked beans and cheese (using up some kitchen leftovers). I used half a cauliflower to make the base and I didn't really measure anything, I just mixed it together until it looked right.
Making the base was a bit long-winded because our food processor is a bit small and it took several batches to break up the cauliflower and grate the cheese. This is a novel way of serving cauli, a bit more original than cauliflower cheese (which I do like - that's how I'll probably eat the other half).
This is based on another recipe from the Oat Cuisine book. Again, I followed the recipe fairly closely but ended up increasing the amount of spice since the meal tasted a bit bland using the original amounts. I cooked it in a pressure cooker since whenever I cook lentils, they don't usually cook down soft enough for my liking.
I started by frying 2 diced red onions, 2 chopped peppers, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I then added 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
I then added 50g of porridge oats, 175g of pinhead oats and 1 litre of water, and simmered for half an hour. Next I added 225g of lentils (a mixture of red and green), a teaspoon of stock granules and a teaspoon of chilli flakes, and put the lid on the pressure cooker and cooked for a further half an hour.
The original recipe called for raisins and nuts to be stirred in just before serving. We decided to leave out the fruit but to add mixed seeds instead of the nuts. Unfortunately I forgot to add the seeds but the end result was still good. The lentils had cooked down soft and the pilaf had a slightly porridge-like texture. We served the pilaf with a piece of seeded breaded fish.
I might use a similar technique the next time I try to cook tarka dahl but I will probably need to buy the right kind of lentils first.
The inspiration for this meal came from a book called Oat Cuisine, published in 1985. The pancakes batter was made using a mixture of plain flour and rye flour with porridge oats added. The original recipe called for skimmed milk but I used semi-skimmed with some chicken stock added. A couple of eggs went into the mix too.
The pancakes were fried for a couple of minutes on each side and put to one side until they were all cooked. Then we filled them with a mixture of shredded chicken and cream cheese, with parsley, paprika and cayenne pepper. The pancakes were filled and rolled up before being sprinkled with grated cheese and popped in the oven for a few minutes.
While we were eating them I thought they were a bit similar to Staffordshire Oatcakes. I looked up a few recipes and there are a few differences (no eggs in the Oatcake recipe and the oats were more finely milled) but the basic idea was the same.
Oat pancakes stuffed with chicken, with melted cheese on top, served with potato wedges.
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Put 175g porridge oats, 200ml milk and 200ml of chicken stock in a pan and bring to a simmer. Add 100g of grated cheddar and stir in.
Thinly slice and fry 1 medium sized leek, 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Stir into the cheesy porridge. Season if required. Mix in 1 tin of tuna (drained).
Pour into a non-stick baking tray and bake at gas mark 4 or 5 for about half an hour.
The recipe was made up as we went along but the end result was good. It was a bit sticky but adding some flour to the mix might help there. We were originally going to make a thick oat based stew but when the mixture became very thick we decided to bake it to see if it came out solid. As you can see from the photo, it did.