Pick Me Up Porridge

Pick-Me-Up Porridge

So it would seem that with the onset of summer, the weather has taken a turn for the wetter, which has come as a bit of a disappointment after such a glorious May Bank Holiday weekend.

However, such situations should not always seem to be viewed negatively. There’s always a silver lining, and in the case of The Pinny Project, an opportunity in the kitchen.

When I wake up to a dull and dreary day, there’s only one pick-me-up on my mind…and that’s a bowl of sweetly satisfying porridge, served steaming hot alongside a comforting cup of tea. Heavenly!

I find it sets me up for the entire morning…and it tastes mighty fine to boot! And with no added unnatural nasties and plenty of flavour packed in for good measure, you could do a lot worse than a bowl of this hearty helping to kick start your day.

porridge1

porridge2

Pick-Me-Up Porridge

To serve one, you will need:

A teacup of oats

A teacup of organic soya milk (or any other milk of your choice)

A teacup of water

A handful of blueberries (frozen are as fine as fresh)

A tablespoon of honey (I like heather honey)

In a small saucepan over a medium heat, place the oats, milk, water and blueberries. Stir from time to time until the oats begin to swell and the mixture becomes thick and gloopy (in a satisfying way!) – it usually takes about 5 minutes. As the berries melt into the oats, the porridge takes on a marvellous bluey-purple colour, which is a delight to behold! Feel free to add a little more milk to reach the consistency of your liking.

When you’re ready to serve, pour it into your favourite bowl, spoon over the honey and tuck in until your heart (and your tummy) is content.

The most wonderful thing about porridge, is that once you have the basics of oats, milk and water, you can customise it to suit your exact tastes. Anything goes, so be experimental!

Why not try these suggestions of how to ‘pimp’ your porridge:

  • Add in any soft fruit during the cooking stage to make a meltingly delicious fruity version – try chopped banana, strawberries, raspberries or blackcurrants – they will give your breakfast a fantastic colour, too
  • Add a little spice by popping a teaspoon of cinnamon or a grating of fresh nutmeg in with the oats and milk before cooking
  • Be indulgent and add a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the oats, or even a tablespoon or two of desiccated coconut, and then cook as normal
  • The choice of toppings is almost endless and you can play about with textures too. For a spot of crunch, try adding pumpkin seeds or nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pecans or hazelnuts. You can also throw in a spoon or two of seeds into the oats before cooking, too
  • Porridge tastes delicious without anything added to sweeten it up, but if you feel like it, try a drizzle of maple syrup, a flavoured honey such as heather or eucalyptus, or even a spoon of home-made jam. If you fancy sugar, go for the unrefined, golden variety
  • For a fruity topping, try stewed rhubarb, chopped bananas, berries or even dried fruits such as figs, dates, raisins and cranberries
  • For a different taste altogether, you could try a range of milks, such as oat milk, soya milk or rice milk – or you could just use water on its own

Here are some combinations you could try, from the classic to the Caribbean, via the Black Forest:

  • Cinnamon-spiced porridge topped with sliced banana and honey
  • Cocoa porridge topped with blackberries and home-made cherry jam
  • Banana porridge with sultanas and maple syrup
  • Creamy coconut porridge with fresh or dried mango
  • Linseed porridge with a stewed rhubarb topping

Here’s to a happy, healthy start to the day for all.

Friday 17th May: All tarted up

Spinach, thyme and goats' cheese tart2

Alas, the Riverford Farm organic veg box arrived today, and after a short trip to the local shops for a few bits and bobs, it came to be that a cornucopia of ingredients sat expectantly in the fridge and larder, waiting to be whipped into something delicious.

Three items didn’t have to wait long.

This week’s seasonal surprises were as follows: carrots, cherry tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, courgettes, aubergine, squash, peppers and a bag of mixed salad leaves.

I supplemented this with a few fresh herbs (dill, thyme and basil), baby spinach, spring onions, leeks and broccoli, alongside goats’ cheese, Roquefort, mozzarella, natural yoghurt, crème fraiche, eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, best-quality puff pastry, bulgar wheat and dried green lentils.

Total cost of the weekly shop, including veg box: a few pence over £51.

I do love the fact that I choose not to hop online and discover the delights that will be delivered in the box beforehand…I instead prefer the sense of spontaneity that comes with its arrival – a bit like diving into a fairground Lucky Dip…(and much less of a chance of getting covered in candyfloss, too!)

So with the week’s bounty purchased and stowed, it was time for a spot of supper, followed by my favourite bit…meal planning. Throw in a few cookery books and I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening, quite frankly.

Now, let it be said that I’m not averse to getting tarted up on a Friday night – in fact, that’s exactly what I did. It’s at this point that I should throw in the words ‘puff pastry’ and ‘spinach’, in the hope that it clarifies the true essence of ‘tart’ – in this case, that of the edible variety.

Tonight’s supper was taken from a recipe I spotted in my trusty River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook by Hugh F-W (aka my bible of all that is naturally delicious) – although of course, I couldn’t help but tinker about a bit with it (well, what’s a bit of experimentation between food lovers?!). Cue Spinach and Thyme Pasties. Which I turned it into a tart. And it was delicious.

On top of an all-butter puff pastry base (which had been baked for 5 minutes beforehand to develop a crispy edge), I placed chopped, wilted spinach, which had been combined with softened onion and garlic, a handful of thyme leaves and a generous wedge of goats’ cheese. Sprinkled over which, I added a pinch of nutmeg, some parmesan shavings and salt and pepper. Into the oven it went for around 10 minutes (180 deg/ gas 5), after which it was served on a plate with a handful of salad leaves. You can’t get anything more satisfying that.