Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Scotsman

The Scotsman is one of my absolute favourites, perfect bliss on a murky winters day or when you're coming in with rosy cheeks from a full day of snowshoeing. The recipe is based on a basic rolled oats porridge but if you're planning to have it as a warm snack when you come back from the outdoors you can put the oats in a small tub of water to soak before you go out - it cut's down on cooking time and you can have your porridge ready in 20min after coming home. (If you use quick-oats you don't have to soak them)

What you'll need for 2 portions of the basic porridge:

2 cups (amount before soaking) of pre-soaked rolled oats 
1 cup of water
1-1,5 cups of milk
pinch of salt 

a non-stick pan
something to stir with (like a wooden spoon)

What you'll need to make 2  portions of the Scotsman:
ca 0,5 dl double cream
ca 2 tbsp whiskey (more on whiskey type below)
some honey

Pour out any excess soaking water from the oats, otherwise your porridge might get a bit watery with the amounts described above. Put the oats, the water, the salt and about half of the milk into a non-stick pan and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add more milk depending on the texture you want the porridge to have, some like it thicker, other's smoother. After about 20 min or when you're porridge is about the right consistency for you, take the porridge off the heat and leave it to rest for 2-3min, which allows it to fill out and get just a little bit creamier.

Then to the special ingredients that make this such a to-die-for great porridge. The better the whiskey and honey, the more luxurious the taste. Finding a good combination of whiskey and honey can turn into a lifetime project, moving to ever more wonderful and exciting palatal experiences, but for starters I would recommend a good honey in liquid form and a whiskey that isn't peaty (but preferrably Scottish - it's the Scotsman, after all, not the Canadian Club porridge..). Using very expensive whiskey is a bit of a waste, since the honey gives the whiskey a smoothness that whiskies otherwise aquire with aging. I used Tomatin Legacy, a surprisingly good easy-drinking, affordable whiskey, and some wild flower honey from Wales that was a gift from my mother-in-law (thank you Sue!). So, this time I had some great stuff, but really, you can probably do just as well with whatever honey you have lying around and whichever miniature bottle of whiskey you can find in you're local liquor store. The cream is just ordinary double cream.

So, once the porridge has rested just ladle out the portions onto deep plates or into soup-bowls. Spoon over some cream, honey and a splash of whiskey and you're ready to go. Amounts are completely according to taste, and you can mix it all in or leave the "spices" more separate. My winning combination is something along the lines of 2 tbsp of cream, 1tsp of honey and 1 tbsp of whiskey.


Taster set of different combinations of honey, cream and whiskey amounts

Friday, 24 January 2014

Hotel porridge

We went to Långvik Congress Wellness Hotel last weekend to celebrate my grandmothers 80th birthday. We had a wonderful time and after an afternoon of watching people soak in the pools (at 38 weeks of pregnancy i had to make do with the sauna) and an evening of really good food, it felt good to have something healthy for breakfast.

In Finland porridge is considered a standard part of a hotel breakfast, so it was no surprise to find it this time as well. The really nice thing with a well equipped hotel breakfast is that there are so many different things you can add to your porridge. I chose to go for some blended berries as well as some nuts and seeds.

A good start to the day!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fridge porridge!

Sounds crazy, maybe even weird. But really it's just a really smart idea: instead of just soaking some oats, you soak the whole recipe and just heat it up (or don't) in the morning. I found this idea on a great blog called The Oatmeal Artist. This girl is  p a s s i o n a t e  about oatmeal. She makes it in classic and wacky combinations, hot and cold, and takes stunningly beautiful pictures of her creations.

During the last couple of weeks I've tried a bunch of her fridge recipes (because that was such a great idea, I'm still going to try her regular ones too). I especially liked the Banana Cream Pie and the Lemon Drop. The first one I cooked on the stove for about 5 min and the other one I had cold. I recommend letting it stand for just a bit though, even if you're eating it cold, because at least for me it was a bit too well chilled to have straight out of the fridge.

Here's a copy of The Oatmeal Artists Banana Cream Pie Overnight Oatmeal:

"Ingredients (serves 1)

1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup milk of choice
1 tsp chia seeds
1 overripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, such as SoDelicious (optional)
pinch of salt

Add the first three ingredients to a mason jar.

Mash up 2/3 of your banana and add to the jar. Slice the remaining 1/3 into the jar.

Add vanilla extract, optional yogurt, and salt. Put the cover tightly on the jar and shake, shake, shake.

Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you will have a delicious, dessert-like oatmeal ready and waiting for you!"

Now, whenever I find an exciting new recipe, two things play a big part in whether it'll become a favourite:
  1. Can it be tweaked according to whatever ingredients I happen to have at home?
  2. Is it EITHER so easy to remember OR so forgiving that I don't always have to look the recipe up?
For these recipes, the answer to both is yes. Yesterday I threw together a fridge porridge in a small container and it went pretty much like this:

some oats
some organic shredded coconut
two dried dates, chopped up small
sprinkling of a mix of chia, buckwheat and hemp cereal*
a pinch of salt
--> mix it all together, put in fridge overnight
in the morning, just warm it up in a pan and sprinkle som apple and basil on top (if you, like me, think that basil goes with everything), add milk if you feel like it

I call it The Coconut Date Throw-Together Overnight Oatmeal

The result was great. This type of recipe is definitely staying in my repertiore. Check out The Oatmeal Artist for lots of great recipes and ideas.

*yep, well, Vancouver is like the yoga capital of Canada so things like this make their way into your home almost on their own.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Why such slow recipes?

As you might have noticed many of our recipes take quite long to make. All our recipes can be made with quick oats, crushed or pearl barley or rice flakes instead of rice, depending on how much time you have to spare and what you want to get out of the porridge. The reason we tend to use the wholegrain versions is simple: 

whole grains taste better, get creamier when cooked and are more nutritious. 

The more you process the grain, the more you loose of the most nutritious parts of the grain.
The processed grains have a higher starch content as compared to other nutrients, which is part of why they've become such a no-no for a lot of carb-conscious people. Real whole grains have a rich amount of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, as well as protein and fats. Also, the complex structure of the carbs in unprocessed grains make them slow for the body to take up. This means that instead of the quick peak in blood sugar you get from sweets and highly processed foods, you get a more modest blood sugar rise that is easier for the body to handle. If you cook your porridge using milk the end product has a surprisingly high protein content, and if you're still not sure, go ahead and throw in some nuts and seeds or, as my body-building friend does, mix in some cottage cheese after the cooking is done.

Heres a comparison of a bunch of different whole grains and their nutritional contents from the Whole Grains Council. Looking forward to blogging about lots of these grains in the future! Linn-Sofie is just finising up a delicious barley oven porridge recipe, should be up here shortly.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Barley porridge with prune sauce

It's a new year and i bet you've made some sort of resolution to eat healthier this year. Well, here's something to try. You wouldn't think it when you eat it but there is no butter in this recipe and even made with skimmed milk you get a really creamy, velvety porridge that you could well make for a luxurious sunday brunch or as lunch for your family.

The prune sauce is not something that has to be made with this porridge, but they go well together. 

Barley porridge

1 1/5 dl wholegrain whole barley grains (soaked overnight)
1/2 l water
1 l milk
1 1/2 - 2 tsp salt

Put the barley grains to soak in some water the night before you're making your porridge, or in the morning if you're making it in the evening. This way you shorten the cooking time somewhat.

Put the water and the milk in a pot and bring to the boil. Add the barley. Let simmer on low heat for about 2 hours until it is thick and creamy. Stir now and then.

For the first 90 minutes it pretty much takes care of itself but for the last half hour it needs more attention so it doesn't burn. Just remember to check that it doesn't boil over. You might need something to put between the pot and it's lid so it doesnt's close completely. A wooden spoon for example.

Prune sauce

75 g pitted prunes
5-6 dl cold water
1 1/2 tbsp potato flour
2 tbsp sugar (optional)

Mix the potato flour and the cold water in a pot. Add the prunes. You don't have to cut them, they will brake into pieces when cooked. Add the sugar if you want. The prunes are quite sweet in themselves so you don't necessarily need it. Let simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Ready.

Are you thinking: 2 hours is a long time to make porridge? When would i ever have time for that? Well you're right. It is a long time. But it doesn't need your attention all the time. It just needs you close by so you notice if it starts to boil over, milk is tricky that way. But while i was making todays barley porridge i emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up in the kitchen. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down and drank it. I saved my son who had gotten stuck behind a chair. At this point i realised i still had an hour left of the cooking time so i decided to make some super easy oat cookies.

And at the end of it we got a super delicious lunch with cookies for dessert. And the best part is that it's healthy and very rich in fibres, which is good for both little boys and their pregnant mothers.

Happy New Year!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Easy Sunday Oatmeal

Celebrated the fresh new year with an easy sunday morning organic oatmeal in a local bakery café. Dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and brown sugar on the side, and nice idea with the steamed milk on top!