Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Semolina with blackcurrant and ginger

Plain white semolina, so simple but oh, so good! It takes about ten minutes to make and you can have it for breakfast, lunch, evening snack or even dessert. Here i made it with some blackcurrant that i stuck in the fridge after i picked them in the summer for instant summer taste in cakes, müesli or porridge. And it worked.

You can find different kind of semolina in the store. I usually use the darker kind which is rich in fibers, but this time i didn't feel like choosing the healthiest alternative and went for the white one instead. I have also seen chocolate semolina in the store which i might have to try someday. That is of course made from the chocolate wheat plant.

Semolina porridge serves 4

1 L milk of choice
1 1/2 dl semolina grains

Bring the milk to the boil. Whisk in the semolina. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt.

Blackcurrant with ginger

1-2 dl frozen blackcurrant berries
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Put a spoonful of the mix on your  hot porridge.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Millet porridge with a coconutty twist

Charlotte was back home for a week so we took the opportunity to make something together for the blog. This time we found this delicious looking creamy millet porridge on pinterest. I've tried millet porridge on the blog before. That was with whole millet grains but this is a quicker version as you begin with grinding the millet.

I happened to have an old coffee grinder standing on the shelf that we cleaned by first grinding some millet and emptying it out. That got all the coffee residue out so we didn't get coffee tasting porridge (hmm, that doesn't sound so horrible actually. I'll have to try that sometime.) Anyway, here goes:

Millet porridge with a coconutty twist serves 4

1 cup raw millet
3 tsp coconut oil
2 cups milk of choice
1 1/2 cup water

Toppings (nuts, fresh or dried fruit, berries, cinnamon, coconut oil, maple syrup or whatever else you can think of)

Grind the millet in a clean coffee grinder or a food processor. Melt the coconut oil in a small pot. Add the ground millet and toast lightly for a couple of minutes. Pour in the milk and water and let simmer while the texture gets thicker. Stir every now and then.

Cook the porridge on low heat about 8 minutes with a lid on top without stirring. If it feels too thick when you take the lid off, add some milk or water. Get your toppings ready and the porridge is ready to serve.

Our choice of toppings: blended nuts, dried apricots and dates, coconut oil and cinnamon

This was a very good lunch for four and nice with different toppings so everyone could make their own serving. Afterwards we all felt like taking a nap.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Savoury Oatmeal - the Breakfast of Champions!

This article opens up whole new horizons for how to think about oatmeal, showing 12 recipes for savoury oats, including coupling it with egg, asian spices, kale, avocado and bacon. Barley and rice have always been something that kind of bridges the gap between porridge and other food, but I have never really seen oats as that versatile.

This is turning into a busy fall for me but I'm really hoping I'll have time to try some of these recipes. I like having porridge for lunch anyway, and I don't always want the sweeter versions. Let us know if you've tried one of them and tell us about it :)

Follow this link to read the full article. The picture is from the recipe for Sauteed Mushroom, Onion and Thyme Oatmeal by food blogger David on "A Bachelor and his grill

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Velvet porridge

I took a trip down Memory Lane with this velvet porridge. This was my favourite when i was little. I used to ask my mom to make it for me because i didn't know how to make it myself. This was actually the first time i tried, but it was pretty good.

Velvet porridge is a strange porridge because it doesn't contain any grains or seeds. Here's what you need:

Velvet Porridge (serves 2)

A big knob of butter (about 40 g)
2 tbsp wheat flour
3 dl milk
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour. Add the milk little by little, whisking in between. Throw in the salt. Let it cook for a few minutes until it gets thick, whisking every now and then. Take it off the heat and add the egg, immediately whisking it into the mix. Eat with some sugar on top, or fresh berries. We had it with some fresh plums, picked from the neighbour's tree (with permission).

I picked quite a lot of the plums. See what else i made, on my personal blog (in swedish).

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Baby's first porridge

Cliché of the day: Time flies when you're having fun. Well it flies whether you're having fun or not, but mostly we've had fun. What am I talking about?

Baby Erika turned 6 months already. I don't know how it works in other places but in Finland you go for monthly check ups the first 6 months. And now that it was time again, the nurse told us that now that Baby Erika has started tasting vegetable purees the last few weeks, it would be a good time to start with morning and evening porridge as well. I told her i have a porridge blog and this would definitely get to be a blog post. She commented that it's actually a very good idea because she's always surprised by how many phone calls she gets about how to cook food, porridge included, for babies and toddlers. People who have never cooked are suddenly expected to make healthy, nutricious, home cooked, versatile food for their children.

So here is what i know: Depending on how old your baby is when you start with porridge, you might want to begin with something really mild, like rice porridge. Don't confuse this with the delicious creamy christmas porridge that you make with rice grains. These are rice flakes that make a really soft baby friendly porridge. You can find it on the shelves with baby food, don't go looking where the normal grains are. This is because no one but babies would eat this since it is essentially tasteless.

Since Erika is already over 6 months i decided to start with oatmeal. That's what we had at home anyway. Here you can use the normal kind, it doesn't have to be special baby oatmeal although I'm sure you can find that on the baby food shelves as well. What i did first was to put a couple of deciliters of normal wholegrain oats in the mixer and mix it to almost flour. For the first portions i made the porridge only from the crushed grains and after making that for a few days i started mixing in some normal grains as well. When these crushed grains have all been used up i think she will be ok with only the normal grains from then on. She seems to be more particular on the amount of fluid in the porridge anyway than the consistency of the grains. She likes her porridge quite thin, this girl.

Normal oats in the big jar and a mix of crushed and normal oats in the small one. This way i don't have to take out the mixer everytime i make porridge for the baby.

Baby's first (ever) porridge
serves 1 baby, with lots left over to massage into baby's face and hair, baby chair, bib, baby's clothes, mom's clothes and whatever else you can find close by.

1 tbsp crushed wholegrain oatmeal grains
3 tbsp water (can be substituted with breast milk or formula)

Mix together in a microwave safe bowl and cook at 600W for under a minute. Keep your eyes on it, it boils over really fast. I usually put it back in and bring to a boil one more time before i take it out to cool. Be sure to let it cool enough, i bet you will not get more than one spoonful in if the porridge is too hot. Good luck!

Here we go! She ate about a third of what's in the bowl. Quite a lot that is :)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

End of Summer - Start of Something New

It's popular to lament the end of summer, and I feel it too - there's something easy about summer, things seem less serious. But to me there's always something appealing with the start of fall. The air is fresh, the evenings get cosy and you can wrap yourself up in blankets and watch the rain falling outside. Or you can be outside and get rained upon, sometimes that really works. And, (bet you couldn't see this one coming) fall is the perfect season for porridge. Hearty, warming and full of taste. So welcome back after a long hot summer! We will be trying lots of new recipes and researching traditional ones. This season we're also hoping to check out some porridge recipes from different cultures and Linn-Sofie will be coming up with easy and healthy solutions for families with kids and precious little time and free hands. This sounds like a grand plan that will probably end up being a mix of everything in a more or less sensible order. Oh! And we're also bringing in some guest writers! If you have a great recipe that you want to share let us know!

R and I celebrated the last days of summer holidays with a trip down to Snohomish, a sweet little town outside Seattle that specializes in antique stores. We tried very hard to distinguish just old stuff from very awesome design features and useful retro but I'm still not quite sure what kind we ended up bringing home... The picture above is from lunch found at the First and Union Kitchen. Pretty basic but well made from scratch and not too heavy on milk. The oatmeal was served with dried cranberries and brown sugar, accompanied by some fresh fruit and jam on toast. Their pancakes are great too.. 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Porridge by the sea

The big Finnish Midsummer holiday is here. The holiday when the whole Finnish population moves out to their summer homes to celebrate the time of the midnight sun. For us this means a long awaited reunion out on a little island where our family has a selection of haphazardly arranged little wooden cottages, complete with a wood warmed sauna, outside privies and only cold running water. All four generations in the same place. And here we are, the porridge sisters together at last.

One legend that is part of the midsummer celebration is for young unmarried women to collect seven different flowers and put them under their pillow when they go to sleep. If this is done on Midsummer's Eve then you will dream about the man you will marry. Since we are neither very young nor unmarried, we decided to honor the tradition in a different way. Here is the recipe for our

Midsummer seven grain porridge (serves 4)

3 dl grains (oats, rye, linseed, wheat, buckwheat, millet, barley)
6 dl milk or water or mix of both
pinch of salt
fresh blueberries and wild strawberries

Serving suggestion: by the sea

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Porridge elsewhere on the web!

"Traditionally the English enjoyed their porridge with milk, buttermilk, butter and salt. In Scotland, they preferred butter, cream or beef broo' (the skimmings of beef fat from the cooking pot). In Asia, rice porridge (congee) is still eaten with a base of rice cooked in chicken stock and topped with lean pork, pig's liver and raw egg yolks." A. Forge

Found this great article by dietitian and columnist Arabella Forge. It covers lots of basic cooking and soaking tips about porridge, has a couple of great-looking recipes and is a short and easy read. 

Rolled Rye (front), Spelt (back) and Buckwheat (right)
Photo: Simon Schluter

Spelt, Rye and Cinnamon Porridge with a Pear and Prune Compote
Photo: Simon Schluter
"The preparation of grains prior to cooking can make a huge difference to their taste and flavour. Pre-soaking grains shortens cooking time and improves the creamy texture of the grain. It also makes the grains easier to digest and helps the body absorb nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals." A. Forge

"While there are plenty of “quick” porridge mixes available in the shops these days, porridge is best when it's cooked slowly, with lots of stirring. Adding the right amount of liquid is also essential to ensure the porridge is not fibrous or gluey. A good rule is to add a little water at a time and continue to stir. A generous-sized, sturdy wooden spoon is essential.A. Forge

Have a look at the article here , and if you want a detailed basic recipe for great-tasting rolled-oats porridge, look no further than to the very first post on this blog!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Overnight Slow Food Barley Porridge

I wrote about barley porridge in the oven on the blog before. I've now tried a new way of making the same thing. Even easier. You just put the porridge in the oven overnight. In the morning you wake up to the smell of delicious barley, just take out a bowl and breakfast is served.

Overnight barley porridge serves 4

2 dl whole barley grains (preferably wholegrain)
1,1 L milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
a couple knobs of butter

Heat the oven to 100°C. Put all the ingredients in an ovensafe dish. Leave the porridge in the oven overnight (8 hours). Eat with a little cinnamon and sugar and some milk. Or with fresh berries, yum.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Lemony millet porridge

I was browsing through porridge pins on pinterest and i came across a delicious looking recipe for millet porridge. So here it is, pretty much as i found it.

Millet porridge with lemon curd and sunflower seeds (serves 2)

1/2 cup millet
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

To serve: 
2 tbsp lemon curd
2 tbsp sunflower seeds

Warm the millet in a pan for a couple of minutes. Add the water and then the vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Let simmer for about 30 minutes stirring every now and then. When the water is absorbed take off the heat and add the milk, a little at a time until you have the consistency you want. Divide the porridge into two bowls and eat with a tablespoon of lemon curd and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds on top of each serving.

I'm doing a two-week food diary project where i try to keep track of everything i eat so for this recipe i can actually give you accurate nutrition facts. One serving of this porridge is about 250g and the nutritional values for 100g are 119kcal, 3,3g protein, 17,9g carbs, 3,7g fat and 0,9g fibres.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Chocolate Banana Pecan Porridge with Rye and Oats

Todays recipe tastes like dessert but is as healthy as anything. How can you say no to that? Bananas are great sources of potassium and vitamin C and dark chocolate has a high level of iron. I used Green & Blacks organic 70% chocolate, which is really good and not too sweet.

I like mixing grains. I rarely make porridge just with rye (the Rye, Walnut and Date Porridge being a delicious exception), but mixed with regular oats, rye gives the porridge a deeper, nuttier taste. I like this especially when making a sweeter porridge recipe like todays recipe.

Chocolate Banana Pecan Porridge with Rye and Oats

Cooking time: 30min (10min if pre-soaked)

Ingredients (serves 1)

1/3 cup regular oats
1/3 cup rye flakes
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup of milk or almond milk
pinch of salt
2 pieces of dark 70% chocolate, chopped
1/2 banana, chopped
small handful of pecan nuts, chopped

Mix the rye and oat flakes, the water, milk and salt in a non-stick pan, bring it to the boil and let simmer under a lid. Mix with a wooden spoon every now and then and add a little water or milk if the porridge gets too thick to your liking or starts getting sticky. Slice the banana lengthwise into four and then chop it chocolate and pecan nuts. After about 25 minutes, move the porridge off the heat and let stand for 5 min. Mix in half the chopped banana, pecan and chocolate, pour the mix into a bowl and top with the rest. Enjoy!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Porridge on the go!

Spring is here and summer is on the way and porridge needs are changing with the seasons. I will be doing a bit of traveling and camping, and I hope to be able to share some of the recipes that can be good to have on the go. Just last weekend I found myself in a car, driving down to Portland for a mini-holiday, and while I'm a big fan of picking up a muffin on the go AND of having great meals out when travelling, every now and then I just want something simple and warm - like, you guessed right, porridge.

Having porridge on the go is much easier than it sounds. I had a camping mug and spoon with me on the trip and thats' pretty much all you need, the rest you can pick up in a supermarket on the way. Here's a quick tip for getting an easy, healthy meal wherever, whenever.

Ingredients (serves one, as a snack - double it up if you want to make a meal of it!)

1 portion pack of regular instant oatmeal
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt (if you can find some!)
1 handful of trailmix 
(I used one with dried cranberries, walnuts, sultanas, raisins, sunflower seeds & cashews)

If you're in a hotel, you're likely to have a kettle in the room to boil water. If you don't (which was what happened during this trip), all you need to do is stop by a coffee-shop or restaurant and kindly ask for some hot water for your mug. Mix in the instant oats and a small pinch of salt and let stand for a couple of minutes, covering it with your hand or a guidebook or whatever you have lying around in the car or your pack. Add the trailmix and enjoy! Of course you can add fresh berries, some banana or anything else you can easily pick up int a store along the way, but the trailmix and instant porridge are both dry and easy to store, whereas other ingredients would need to go into a coolbox if you don't want to use them all at once.

Now I didn't actually have any salt with me this time and it bugged me a bit because without that tiny bit of salt you don't get the balance and contrast between the porridge and the trailmix, or any other sweet things you might add to your porridge. When I got back home I dug out a little tin I got once as a  taster package of tea, and filled it with salt. It's the perfect size to pack for travel, so from now on I'll be okay. Something I've done before is also to keep the little salt packages you get in fast food restaurants, but they wear out and tend to break in your bag at some point. Also, they can't be resealed so it's always all or nothing. 

In the next couple of weeks I'll be making my own instant porridge mixes. I'm not a big fan of the ready mixes you can buy in the store, as they're usually drowned in sugar and all kinds of unnecessary added ingredients. It's still great to have ready made mixes that you can just add water to, so stay tuned for some ideas, and if you have any good tips for porridge on the go please share them by commenting below!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Two in one

Around christmas we wrote a couple of posts about rice porridge: a basic recipe and a rice-cooker version. Well here is another one. I was inspired when my son watched a children's tv-show where they made Ålandian* oven pancake, and one of the ingredients is leftover rice porridge.

When we wrote the posts about the christmas porridge, i got a comment that it's really easy to make it in a steaming pan. Since i actually own a steaming pan i have been wanting to try it, and now was a perfect chance.

Rice porridge in a steaming pan

The ingredients are almost the same as the basic recipe only I substituted the water with more milk. I made half a batch because my steaming pan is not big enough for a whole one.


1 dl round porridge rice
6dl milk
a pinch of salt

Fill the lower part of the pan with water so that the upper part doesn't touch the surface. When the water is boiling, put the butter in the steaming pan and let it melt. Add the rice and salt. After a couple of minutes, pour in the milk. Let the porridge steam for about an hour, stirring every now and then.

Ålandian oven pancake

If you don't finish all of your rice porridge you can use the leftovers to make ålandian oven pancake. It is a local dish from the island of Åland in the Finnish archipelago.

3 eggs
1/2 dl sugar
2 1/2 dl rice porridge
1 dl flour
1/2 l milk
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cardamom

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Pour the mixture into a pan you have covered with oven paper. Bake for 30 minutes in 225°C. Serve just like that or with some strawberry jam and whipped cream.

*Åland is an island between Finland and Sweden. It belongs to Finland but is self-governing, and the majority of the people who live there speak Swedish. It's absolutely gorgeous in the summer, a big island with lots of small, smaller, and tiny islands sprinkled around, and little boats scooting back and forth between them.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spelt porridge with honey roasted nuts

Meet my new aquaintance, the protein rich spelt grain:

Spelt is a relative of old wheat

Spelt comes in many forms - grains, pearls, semolina, flour etc. so expect more recipes in posts to come. In this recipe i have used large wholegrain spelt grains.

Spelt porridge (serves 4)
1 L milk of choice
3 dl large wholegrain spelt grains
1/2 tsp salt

Bring the milk to the boil. Add the spelt and the salt. Let simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring every now and then. The longer you let it cook the better the spelt flavour will emerge.

Honey roasted nuts
Two large handfuls of nuts of your choice. I used cashews and walnuts.
1-2 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp honey

Roast the nuts in a small dry frying pan til they're hot and have some colour. Put them in a bowl. Put the butter and honey in the pan and mix to a sauce. Add the nuts and cook for a few minutes.

I used 1 tbsp of both honey and butter on the nuts and that turned out delicious. However, there could have been a little more of the "sticky stuff". If you are also a fan of "sticky stuff" try using 2 tbsp of each.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Finnish Easter Mämmi

If you have ever been in Finland around Easter you might have seen it in the store, but then again, you might have missed it. Among all he colourful Easter candies, eggs and chocolates the small white box filled with black goo can't easily compete for attention. But many Finns - including me - don't feel like it's Easter without it. I dare you to try this.

The product is called Mämmi, or Memma in Swedish. It's made out of rye flour and malt, takes about 6-7h to make, and it's eaten with milk, cream and sugar. I've never made it myself but obviously you can't find it anywhere outside Finland so I went for it and was surprised at how easy it was. I had a hard time even finding ingredients, but thanks to the great guys at Dan's Homebrewing Supplies I got lots of good stuff to tinker with and the result was surprising. It was, against all odds and my cautious expectations, a great success, super yummy, and really makes Easter feel like Easter, even far away from all my own folks and traditions. The recipe is a mix of Finnish and Swedish ones I dug out from the internet, adapted to suit the ingredients I found.

Ingredients (serves 8 if they're all crazy about it, 15 if they just eat it because it's Easter)

2L water
8 dl rye flour
3 dl roasted malted barley*

3,5 dl malt extract*
1 tbsp ground bitter orange peel*
peel of 1/2 orange peel (fresh, grated)
1 dl molasses
1tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar

for serving:
double cream
white sugar

Heat the water to about 60oC (this is according to the recipes but I actually used water that I'd just boiled - worked fine) and pour it into a large bowl. Add the barley and the rye flour and let stand, covered, in the oven for 3h at a fairly low temperature (my oven doesn't do lower than 70oC so i turned it off a couple of times because you don't want it to start simmering). You can use the stove too on the lowest setting, in that case just give it a stir every now and then. The mixture will be quite watery at the start but get a bit thicker in the oven - not much thicker than pancake batter though, don't worry if it seems a bit thin.

Take the bowl out of the oven and raise the temperature to 150oC. Add all the other ingredients and stir until they are well mixed. Transfer the batter into an ovenproof dish (I used a rectangular oven pan about 15x30cm) and put it back in the oven. It now stays in the oven for another 3h, but you need to stir it every 15-20min to ensure that it gets evenly baked. A film will form on top of the batter and this needs to be mixed back in every now and then, hence the stirring. When it's done the consistency should be like treacle ("like proper treacle", my British husband adds, "like the kind that a spoon will stand up in"). After the 3h are up, or when the consistency is right, take the mämmi out and let it cool down. It will have become even thicker now it's cooled down, like mudcake. Serve the mämmi with milk and a bit of cream (or just cream, I guess, I think some people eat it just with cream, others just with milk) and some white sugar. Enjoy your Finnish Easter!

* Some notes on the ingredients: After lots of searching, I finally found the malted barley, malt extract and bitter orange peel in a homebrewing supply store. I don't know how important the roasted malted barley is in the recipe because in the end all the malty taste came from the extract. The barley did provide the right colour, though. It came in whole pearls but they ground it for me in the store, as fine as they could but it was still much coarser than flour. As for the bitter orange peel, it's an important part of the taste, but before I stumbled upon it in the beer brewing store I had planned to use fresh orange and lemon peel and a splash of angostura bitters, to get that slight bitter tinge that bitter oranges have. I might try that anyway next time as it took me like half an hour to grind the bitter orange peel with pestle and mortar - it was like trying to grind stone!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Cinnamon Bun Oatmeal in a Cup

I've got a sweet tooth. When i saw this recipe of porridge disguised as a CINNAMON BUN i knew i just had to try it.

My problem with this idea was i wanted to make it for breakfast, but with a baby and a toddler, mornings are quite packed with things that have to be done as it is, without adding something more complicated than cereal and sandwiches to the mix. So what i did was i made everything ready the night before and put it in the fridge. In the morning i just mumbled to my husband who always gets up before me to put the oven on. When i finally couldn't convincingly tell myself i was still asleep i got up, put everything together in three cups and stuck them in the oven. 25 minutes later breakfast was served, and a very nice one it was.

Baked Cinnamon Bun Oatmeal (Single Serving)
1/3 cup Oats
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 pecan half, chopped fine

Sugar mix
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 Tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp maple syrup
splash vanilla

1 pecan half, chopped fine

I made a double batch and then put it in three cups. That way one serving was enough for breakfast since we also had sandwiches with it. 
The night before you want to have this, mix together the ingredients for the oatmeal in a plastic container. Do the same with the sugar mix and the icing. Put them in the fridge. The next morning preheat the oven to 175°C. Put the porridge in one or several cups that are suited for oven use. Drizzle half of the sugar mix on top of the porridge and put it in the oven for about 25 min. When the porridge is done add the icing. You can just use a spoon or then you can pipe it on if you want it to look fancy. Drizzle the rest of the sugar mix on top and finally add the chopped pecan. Ready to serve!

This was a really fun porridge to have for breakfast and i just thought how cool it would look if you had some friends over for brunch and you would make a couple of batches of this and divide it into espresso cups. Because the best part of brunch is to have all sorts of stuff on the table and a whole serving of porridge leaves little room for anything else.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Quinoa porridge with almond and cocoa nibs

Two weeks ago I put up my first quinoa porridge recipe, and here's another variation. I can't say which one I like better but I think maybe this one. I love the way the almond and cocoa nibs work together. The combination is a bit of a new find for me and I'll probably put almonds and cocoa nibs in everything for the next couple of weeks because that's what I do when I find a taste that I like. Then I forget it for a while and later when I rediscover it I'm just as wildly happy about it as the first time.

Quinoa Porridge with Almond and Cocoa Nibs

What you need (one serving)

1/3 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 mashed banana
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 handful roughly chopped almonds

Put the quinoa, water, milk, coconut oil and salt in a non-stick pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 15-20minutes under a lid. If needed, add a little more water. When it's done, turn off the heat and mix in the mashed banana. Pour the contents into a bowl and mix in the almonds and cocoa nibs. If you feel daring, try adding a dollop of plain youghurt on top for a great contrast in taste.

While I've been experimenting with quinoa I've come across some really great-looking recipes that I hope to try at some point, like Princess Misia's "Apple quinoa porridge" and the "Quinoa breakfast bake" on the Greatist food blog. Can't wait to try them!!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Good News About the Health Benefits of Oats

Last week there were some good news for porridge lovers, specifically concerning oats and oatmeal. Oats have long been recognized for their ability to lower levels of harmful cholesterol. Research has also shown that oats can produce a lowering of glycemic response, body weight, and blood pressure, as well as increasing satiety. In many countries products containing oats are allowed to be marketed as health products because the link to improved health has been sufficiently well researched. The main benefit comes from the beta-glucan that oats contain, but research that was presented last week suggest that there might be other components in oats that add to the health benefits. Here's The Telegraph reporting from the Annual Conference of the American Chemical Society in Dallas:

"Researchers said studies suggest that a bioactive compound called avenanthramide could stop fat forming in the arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes.
Dr Shengmin Sang, from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University said: “While the data to support the importance of oat beta-glucan remains, these studies reveal that the heart health benefit of eating oats may go beyond fibre.
“As the scientific investigators dig deeper, we have discovered that the bioactive compounds found in oats may provide additional cardio-protective benefits.”
Researchers believe that the bioactive compounds in oats could stop fat formation in the arteries, which can become a condition called atherosclerosis."
Oatmeal is not just healthy, but delicious! Check out our easy beginner's recipe for Basic Rolled-Oats Porridge that you can  eat as such or spice up with nuts, berries and whatever else you find in your cupboard; the Fridge Porridge that you make overnight and don't even need to cook; and, for the connoisseurs or on a rainy day, the fantastic Scotsman (oatmeal with whiskey, cream & honey).

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Strawberry Quinoa Porridge

The last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with Quinoa porridge. Unlike rice, I don't think quinoa "just becomes" porridge by cooking it. I think it needs some extra ingredients to become a dish in it's own right and not just feel like you're eating a side dish. This recipe was inspired by a recipe I originally saw on Pinterest, which looks delicious but I haven't tried it yet because it seems more like a dessert. Here's my take on strawberry quinoa.

Strawberry Quinoa Porridge

What you need (one serving)
1/3 cup of quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 dollop or small teaspoon of coconut oil (not absolutely 
necessary but gives a fuller taste)
pinch of salt
1/2 small mashed banana
2-4 chopped strawberries (depending on size and 
taste and whether fresh or frozen)
1 tsp brown sugar (and some extra to sprinkle on top)

Put the quinoa, water, milk, coconut oil and salt in a non-stick pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 15-20minutes under a lid. If needed, add a little more water. When it's done, turn off the heat and mix in the mashed banana. Pour the contents into a bowl and mix in the strawberries and brown sugar. Just before eating, add a sprinkle of brown sugar on top.

The mashed banana and strawberries add sweetness to the porridge, and I've made the porridge both with and without the added sugar. Both work, but some days I just really love that extra bit of sweetness, and brown sugar has such a great taste. When me and my sisters were little we used to add syrup (the kind that would be called molasses in Canada, is it a North American thing?) to all our porridges if our mom would let us, and as much as she'd let us, and I still just love it. Brown sugar has that same particular taste and I love it. Did I say that already?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Rye, Walnut and Date Porridge

Rye porridge is almost as common as oatmeal in Finland, which means you can find rye flakes right next to the oats in any Finnish supermarket. Not so in Vancouver - I had to go out to Whole Foods to get me some.

Rye is a good source of nutrients and, according to the Worlds Healthiest Foods website, can even help stabilize menopausal symptoms, so it has a lot going for it besides the great taste.

The basic recipe for rye porridge is really simple. Take 1 part rye flakes to 3 parts water (for some reason rye porridge is almost never made with milk where I come from, it really works better with just water), bring it to a boil and let simmer for about 10-20minutes depending on what consistency you like. Soaking the flakes overnight shortens the cooking time considerably so you almost just need to heat it. Throw in a pinch of salt to taste and add a small knob of butter and some sugar when it's in the bowl, and add some milk on the side if you want to.

Now, although I've never disliked rye porridge, I also never got very excited about it. That's why I'd like to share a recipe that came about as a consequence of my recent discovery of the food processor. It makes the porridge creamier, fuller, and gives it a sweetness that I think works better than added sugar, and I love it! It's delicious.

Ingredients for 1 portion
1/2 a cup of rye flakes
ca 1 1/2-2 cups of water (less if you've soaked the rye flakes)
pinch of salt
a handful or about 1/4 of a cup of walnuts
3-4 dates

Bring the water to a boil (leaving a little bit to the side to add if needed), add the rye flakes and a pinch of salt, and then let it simmer under a lid for about 15 minutes (if you don't use a lid you just need to add more water). While the porridge is simmering, put the walnuts in the food processor (I use a small Braun one, it holds about 2 cups). Using a sharp chopping blade, give them a twirl for a couple of seconds, then add the dates and chop them down almost to a paste. They can't really get too small, but if the pieces are too big they won't mix perfectly with the porridge and will be more like add-ons. When the porridge has simmered about 15 minutes (it's good if it's still a tiny bit watery), take it off the heat and mix in almost all of the walnut-date paste. The porridge will instantly turn a bit lighter and creamier. Sprinkle the rest of the paste/mix on top and serve.

Rye, walnut and date porridge. Yumyum!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Slow and lazy

If you fancy something delicious but you really don't want to work for it, go for barley porridge made in the oven. The only thing you need is time.

Ok, you also need 2 dl of whole barley grains, 1,5 litres of milk and 1 tsp of salt. You can also throw in a knob of butter, if you want. And you need an oven dish with high edges.

This is what you do: Preheat the oven to 150°. Butter your oven dish. Put the ingredients in the dish and put it in the oven, on the lowest level. Take it out 3 hrs later and let it sit for a while. Eat with some fresh berries or throw some frozen ones in a blender..

So good! And very different from the stove top barley porridge I wrote about a while ago. Not creamy and thick, but with a really nice roasted flavour.

When I told my dad that I had made this kind of porridge, he got nostalgic and told me his grandmother used to make it when he was little. He also recommended that you fry any leftover porridge in butter the next day and you'll get a nice treat.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Whipped lingonberry porridge

Whipped porridge is typically something you would make in the fall when there are lots of fresh berries around. But you can just as well use frozen berries so it can absolutely be made all year round. Whipped porridge can be made using different kind of grains or flour. The recipe presented here is an easy version using regular wheat semolina.

Whipped lingonberry porridge (serves 4-6)

1 L water
1 1/2 dl regular wheat semolina
4 dl lingonberries
1 1/2 dl sugar
a pinch of salt

Bring the water to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 5-10 minutes, while stirring. Let the porridge cool completely.

Whip the porridge with an electric whisk or in a food processor, until it gets a clearly lighter color.
The lighter whipped porridge to the left.

Serve with milk or cream (or a mix of both) and sugar on top.
This is a sweet porridge so it maybe isn't best suited as breakfast but can be a really good snack or dessert.

  • You can boil the berries in the water first and pour it through a sieve so you don't get the actual berries in the porridge, just the taste. This makes for a fluffier texture.
  • You can use other berries, blueberries, raspberries, black currants or whatever you want. Just remember that lingonberries are really tart, so if you use sweeter berries, put in less sugar. 

Our great grandmother was from Karelia in Eastern Finland. She used to make whipped porridge using rye flour. I remember this from my early childhood. She made a huge batch and we ate it for days or even weeks. As she got older the porridge got lumpier, but we still ate it because she worked so hard to make it. When she died there was no-one left to make her traditional rye-flour porridge. So of course now it is on my list to make and share with you!  Look out for that recipe coming soon ;)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Time moves faster than you can say PORRIDGE

What a crazy couple of weeks it's been. Linn-Sofie had her baby (and was served porridge in the hospital - as you would expect in Finland) and (slightly less monumental but still quite intense) I got a new job AND finally finished my master's thesis. We've both been eating porridge but it's been challenging to find time to write. We're still here though, and will be posting more recipes sooner than you can say… supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with porridge, please ;)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Porridge and family news

I finally got to meet the new addition to our family face to face. A healthy little baby girl came into the world two weeks ago. It feels strange to be a family of four, but we're off to a pretty good start.

I spent two days at the hospital where i was of course served porridge for breakfast. It was the kind of porridge served in institutions where there are people of all ages and in all kinds of health, including small children and people without teeth. Still, it was one of the tastier dishes served.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How to avoid sticky porridge

Sometimes porridge can be really icky. In Swedish we have a word - "klister", meaning glue but with connotations of being very sticky - this word describes very well what porridge can be like at it's worst. If this is the kind of porridge you've been served there's no wonder if you're not a big porridge fan.

If you're porridge comes out gluey, it can be be because the oats are from the end of the bag and contain lots of "oat-dust" which is essentially flour, and works the same way as when you use flour as a thickener. Adding more liquid will make it less sticky, but because of the flour content it will be less textured than porridge and more like gruel. So here are the top two things you should do to avoid sticky porridge:
  • use oats that are in good condition, avoid the dust in the bottom of the package
  • use enough liquid (with porridge there's always the option of adding more liquid at any time)
Good luck!

written by Charlotte

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.