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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Nearly three weeks ago I gave up work to give myself a bit of time to rest, catch up on those chores that never seem to get done and swot up on what has already been covered by my soon to be fellow students at cookery school. I thought I’d have plenty of time in which to get everything done and to post more regularly. Yet, I seem to have been busier than ever. After a longer than intended period between posts I give you a Christmas recipe that will give you the energy to get though the festivities.

Mr W and I started making our own granola years ago, chucking in whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit we have in the cupboard. Friends and family often ask for the recipe and while there are some key ingredients the beauty of homemade granola is you can put in whatever you want.  You also know what is in your morning bowl of cereal. Have you looked at the obscene amount of sugar in breakfast cereals, even the good ones? If you don’t like walnuts leave them out. Don’t have any honey? Use golden or maple syrup or even black treacle. Adjust the sweetness according to your tastes.

It’s also really good for you giving you a slow energy release because of the oats, nuts and seeds. Inspired  by Ellie of Nutmegs, seven we recently replaced oil with pureed apple for an even healthier alternative. You don’t just have to save it for breakfast. It’s great on it’s own as a snack, over ice cream or in a crumble topping.

Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg – all smells of Christmas. Well not just Christmas, I’ll happily use them all year round but having decided to make a Christmas inspired granola gift these warming spices seemed the most appropriate accompanied by orange and cranberries evoking fragrant memories of mulled wine and gingerbread. The ingredient list is pretty long but you can leave out or add whatever you like. I used three different syrups but one, or honey or brown sugar would work just as well.

Christmas Granola
makes about 2kg

600g porridge oats
100g golden linseeds
100g sunflower seeds
150g pumpkin seeds
150g sesame seeds
200g flaked almonds
100g hazelnuts
150g walnuts
100g desicated coconut
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
zest of 2 oranges
juice of 1 orange
200g pureed apple (cook an apple in a splash of water until it breaks down)
100ml maple syrup
50ml golden syrup
25ml ginger syrup from a jar of stemmed ginger
500g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, seeds, coconut, orange zest and spices together. Whisk the apple puree, orange juice and syrups together in a small bowl. Pour oven the oat and mix together. Hands really are best here.

Spread the granola over a shallow tray to depth of about 1 cm and bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way through until golden. For this amount you will need to do this in several batches unless you have an enormous oven.

Once cooled stir through the cranberries and store in an airtight container.

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Perfect Porridge

Porridge, king of the winter breakfast – filling, wholesome and insulating. Yet, a divider of people. No two recipes are the same. Do you add salt or sugar? Do you make is with milk, water, or a bit of both? Cook it for 5 or 30 minutes?

Whilst I get a little annoyed at his style of delivery I must admit a liking for many of Nigel Slater’s recipes and it was while catching up on an episode of Simple Cooking last week that I learnt how to make my perfect porridge. Not from Nigel Slater himself, but from Ian Bishop, a world porridge making champion!

I love porridge. When I was little it was a treat always and only made by my dad who adds a touch of nutmeg. I’ve always used a mixture of water and milk but this recipe uses water only and it is just as creamy if not more so. I never added salt -apparently a Scots thing – those that do, say that adding salt at the correct time is very important, yet a bit of internet research shows that few agree when this is. As instructed by Ian Bishop I added salt to my porridge when it began to boil and I do think it helps to bring out the flavour of the oats.

Both my dad and I always insist on topping our porridge with some cold milk. The contrast between steaming hot porridge and cool milk seems to bring out the creaminess of both the porridge and the milk and I love the texture the porridge takes on when the milk is added. This was not lost on Nigel or the porridge champion.

I was also surprised by how little time it took to cook compared with what I have been doing, which makes this a quick, easy and insulating breakfast for a cold day.

This recipe uses 1 part oats to 3 parts water. I always make my porridge using the same glass instead of weighing out the ingredients. This makes it even quicker to make when you are bleary eyed in the morning. However, I’ve added measurements according to the glass I use below.

Perfect Porridge (based on a recipe by Ian Bishop)

Serves 2

75 g porridge oats
500 ml cold water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp honey
2 tsp of your favourite jam
cold milk

Pour the oats and water into a small pan and heat gently. As the porridge reaches boiling point and starts to ‘blurp’ add the salt. Gently stir for 5 minutes and it is ready.

Pour into 2 bowls, sprinkle over the cinnamon, a teaspoon each of honey and jam, and top with a little cold milk.

The amount of cinnamon, honey and jam suit my tastes though this tends to vary from morning to morning. Experiment according to your tastes. Play with flavours, omit the jam, add nutmeg instead of cinnamon, one of my favourites and definitely a healthier start to the day is sultanas and mashed banana. Top with a fruit compote, use brown sugar or golden syrup instead of honey. Breakfast will never be boring.

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