Making porridge is a bit of an art form – porridge aficionados will want to equip themselves with a ‘spurtle’, a15th-century kitchen tool that looks like a piece of wooden dowel; the rod-like shape is perfect for stirring porridge. Traditionalists are firm on what makes porridge: only untreated pinhead oatmeal – coarse-, medium- or fine-textured – water and salt. We are all for tradition, but also happy to experiment so our morning porridge keeps our taste buds on their metaphorical toes. Whether traditional or a little left-field, here are a few simple rules to help you make your porridge memorable every morning
Slow, even cooking is required, so porridge must be made in a
pan; please no microwaves that can create uneven heat spots.
Stir continuously for up to 10 minutes, watching for the texture
to become thick, but still pourable (spurtles at the ready).
Add salt halfway through cooking: adding it too early can toughen
the oats; too late can result in a thin ‘afterthought’ taste.
For a truly authentic porridge, only pinhead oats will do. But we
quite like a mixture of equal parts of coarse pinhead with jumbo
rolled oats: toothsome but not a grind. Standard rolled oats give
a very sloppy, poor relation to the real thing.
Use water as your main liquid and add whole milk, soya, coconut
or nut milk – milk should make up somewhere between one-third
and one-half of the total liquid – to give you something satisfying
and flavoursome without being overly rich.
Soak your oats overnight if you want to cut down on cooking time
in the morning; this will probably save you five minutes or so. We
sometimes soak our oats with some whole nuts in the water.
These give off their milk overnight, creating light nut milk to add
a subtle richness to porridge.
Weekend Breakfast – Navel oranges are at their best
right now – sliced segments dressed with warmed
London Honey and thyme leaves make a lovely light
weekend breakfast added to thick River Cottage yogurt
HONEY SAGE DRESSING
Infuse 75ml light olive oil by gently frying several sage leaves and a
few slivers of garlic in it until they impart their flavour. Pass through a
sieve and whisk in 25ml of sherry vinegar, 2 tsp of good flavoured
honey and sea salt. Use over roasted roots.
HOW TO: ROAST VEG
How to Roast Vegetables -Preheat the oven to 200°C /400°F /gas mark 6. Line a roasting tin with baking parchment. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Dress in a few tablespoons of light olive oil, just enough to coat. Cover the vegetables with any robust herbs or garlic and season well. Place in the hot oven and reduce the temperature to180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Move the vegetables every 10 minutes, until caramelised on the outside and softened on the inside, but holding good shape. Remove and adjust the seasoning. Splashing a tray of roast pumpkin with sherry vinegar halfway through cooking will add to its caramelisation and depth.
(excerpt from Good Food For Your Table: A Grocer’s Guide)
EAT IN SEASON: JANUARY
January might seem like a bit of a lean month, but there are a few seasonal delights to keep your taste buds interested through the coldest of months. Look out for beautiful brassicas and sweet roots including; kale, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, leeks, celeriacs, beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and swedes. January is citrus season – look out for: blood and navel oranges, marmalade favourite’s Seville oranges, Italian lemons, late orchard fruiting apples and pears, bright pink forced rhubarb and jewel like pomegranates.