Recipes: Stirring start to a cold day – a bowl of porridge

The clocks have gone back and the days are getting shorter. Autumn has arrived and our thoughts are turning to hot rather than cold breakfast, particularly as the chilly weather begins to bite. But what are the options for a warm, wholesome breakfast to set you and your family up for the day ahead?

York-based business partners Elaine Wilson and Pat Richardson have come up with one solution. A range of porridge mixes called More than Oats which contains oats, oat bran, flaxseeds, quinoa and a delicate blend of spices perfectly formulated to jump start the body’s metabolism after its overnight fast.

“It is easy to make and ready in just five minutes,” says Elaine, a nutritional therapist.

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Award-winning chef Tim Bilton, proprietor of The Butchers Arms in Hepworth, near Holmfirth and a fellow judge at this year’s Deliciously Yorkshire Awards was bowled over by the porridge mix which has made it through to the finals of the awards.

According to a report porridge eating has experienced a renaissance. Since 2007, British winters have become progressively colder and 2010 had the coldest December since 1910. These harsh winters have driven up sales of porridge and other hot cereals by 12 per cent last year. People have got used to eating porridge and it is now regarded as a healthy all-the-year-round dish, says the report.

“Porridge has impeccable health credentials,” says Elaine. “There is a very good fit between the nutrients contained in porridge and the needs of the body. Our porridge mix is also high in soft, soluble fibre which helps to keep the digestive system moving.”

Other flavours and textures can be added to porridge. Once you have got the hang of making a standard porridge recipe, try adding a grated apple, a few sultanas and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can also use fruit juice as the cooking liquid: orange for example, if adding berries or apple juice if mixing in dried fruit. Although porridge is intrinsically associated with breakfast, some chefs have celebrated it in other meals. Heston Blumenthal makes snail porridge, a recipe containing over 20 ingredients at The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire. Today, porridge has celebrity fans with Madonna, Gordon Ramsay and Blur bassist and farmer Alex James stirring the pan for porridge. Even Prime Minister David Cameron said he regularly starts his day with a bowl of porridge. Perhaps this bodes well for the economy. There seems nothing this superfood can’t do.


Every day porridge

1 cup rolled oats, 2-3 cups of water or semi-skimmed milk, depending on how thick you like it, 1 pinch salt

Place oats and salt in a saucepan and add two cups of milk or water. Stir well over a gentle heat until the porridge reaches a simmer. Cook gently for five minutes stirring continuously with a spurtle if you have one, otherwise a wooden spoon will do. Add more liquid if you like your porridge a little more runny.

To serve

Add a grated apple or chopped banana to sweeten your porridge. Try adding a pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg to add a spicy flavour.

Bircher muesli

The original concept for muesli was devised by Dr Bircher-Benner in Zurich in the late 1880s for patients in his diet clinic. It is like a blank canvas to which you can add any nut, fruit or seed you can think of – fresh or cooked. I think of it as a kind of cold porridge.

150g rolled oats, 2tbsp runny honey, 30g dried cranberries, 25g sultanas, 25g dates, chopped, 25g dried apricots, chopped, 25g ground hazlenuts, 1 English apple, grated, 1 English pear grated

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least two hours and preferably over night. Oats absorb a lot of moisture and so you may need to add more milk to serve.

This muesli will keep in the fridge for two to three days. More milk or yogurt may need to be added as the oats are very absorbent.

Winter fruit compote

Compotes are dishes of fresh or dried fruit that have been briefly cooked or steeped in light syrup. They make a lovely accompaniment to a bowl of plain porridge or simply served with thick creamy yogurt. Dried pears, apples and dates can be substituted for any of the fruit listed below.

8 servings

100g dried apricots, preferably the dark orange organic ones, 100g dried mango, 100g dried figs, 100g dried prunes, juice of 1 large orange, zest of 1 lemon, pared with vegetable peeler, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise

Pour 500ml warm water into a large bowl, tip in the dried fruit and leave to soak for an hour.

Place the dried fruit together with the soaking liquor into a saucepan together with a further 300ml of cold water, orange juice, lemon zest, cinnamon and star anise.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the fruit has softened and the liquid has thickened slightly. Serve warm or cold.

Pineapple, banana and orange smoothie

Serves 2

200g pineapple, roughly cut into chunks, 1 medium sized ripe banana, Juice of 1 large orange, 100-200ml cool water, carbonated or flat

Place the ingredients in the goblet of a liquidizer and process for 30 seconds until smooth. Pour into two glasses and enjoy this nutritious smoothie.

This smoothie is the closest thing to sunshine in the cold winter months. Pineapples are great value for money throughout the year. One pineapple can yield up to eight portions of fruit.

To prepare the pineapple – peel the thick skin with a sharp knife. Gouge any remaining “eyes” from the pineapple but don’t worry too much if you miss any. Cut the pineapple lengthways into four and remove the fibrous core. Extra pineapple can be cut into chunks and stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen.