Marmalade is for Porridge, not just for toast!

Marmalade PanI am a a big fan of marmalade, love making it, love eating it. Each year I look forward to January when Seville oranges arrive in the country and I can get the pot out and get the marmalade simmering away. However I’d always felt a bit hard done by on marmalade eating opportunities as I’m a Porridge eater and not much of a toast eater. That is until I tried marmalade on coarse oatmeal Porridge, delicious! Since then there has been no going back and marmalade Porridge is a firm favourite for Sunday along with a good pot of hot strong tea.

Choosing marmalade for Porridge is a bit different to choosing it for toast. I feel it needs to be a bit more robust, bit more flavoursome, than a delicate marmalade you would put on lightly toasted bread. So in the quest for the perfect Porridge accompaniment I have tested and tasted marmalades from Perthshire to Piccadilly and here are my top 5 recommendations;

Marmalade RupertNumber 5 Highgrove Organic Orange Marmalade with Scotch Whisky

I’m starting with a traditional marmalade from the truly traditional home of the preserve; Fortnum and Mason. I’ve visited many shops, delis and on-line retailers in my quest for the perfect Porridge marmalade and no one comes close in the range or quality of marmalades stocked at Fortnums.

This marmalade takes no prisoners, strong bold and the shot of whisky keeps a hearty bowl of coarse oatmeal Porridge true to it’s Scottish traditional oatmeal past. 

Number 4: Galore! Foods – Blood Orange and Raspberry

Moving quickly away from convention comes ‘Galore Foods’ marmalade made with blood oranges, and as if that wasn’t unconventional enough, they’ve added raspberries for good random measure!

I bought this marmalade as a bit of a stocking filler gift for Christmas but as it turns out it was so well received it’s found it’s way to my Porridge too. Give it a go and see what you think, yes or not to fruit marmalades?

Number 3: Perthshire Preserves Sweet Orange Marmalade

Now remember what I said about Porridge needing a potent marmalade? Well this marmalade, made with regular oranges, not Seville’s, turns that on it’s head! The flavoursome preserve is light, bright and fabulous with oats. I tried it for the first time on my Perthshire travels and now I’m back I’m buying it on-line. Lovely :-)

Marmalade Rupert DalemainNumber 2: Friends ‘First Timers’ Marmalade

Whilst my marmalade making is mediocre my friend’s has come on leaps and bounds! So much so that I encouraged him (arm twisted) into entering the Dalemain Marmalade Awards.The annual competition sees a wide variety of marmalades entered by home cooks, professional chefs and artisanal producers.

The event has top-notch marmalades from really serious competitors and people who make marmalade for a living. To limber up for such a prestigious event my friend entered the ‘First Timers‘ category and got a bronze award. He was robbed! (I am biased and I have to say that if I want my larder to be filled each year with marmalade!) he should have got gold with his deliciously dark and chunky marmalade, made with Demerara to produce a dark coloured marmalade with a real depth of flavour.

If you are a budding marmalade maker I would encourage you too, to enter. With my friends certificate he received notes on his marmalade and how it was scored, which has given him great tips for improvement. Obviously not that he needs to <cough> 😉

Drum roll please… my Number 1 marmalade for Porridge is…..

Miss Gladstone’s Seville Orange and Lemon Marmalade

Double gold winning at the 2015 Dalemain Marmalade Awards this marmalade, made with honey, is my absolute favourite. Light yet still with enough bitter marmalade taste, this preserve is perfect for Porridge.

Available from the Dalemain on-line shop and Fortnum & Mason, I cannot recommend this marmalade enough to you :-)

Whichever jar you choose, happy marmalade Porridge eating!

Miss Gladstone Marmalade

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Grape Porridge to prevent weight gain?

Grape PorridgeI’m a big fruit fan so I was pleased to read last week that flavonoids, the naturally occurring compound found in fruits, can help to prevent weight gain.

Research published by Harvard and East Anglia Universities suggests that;

Higher intake of foods rich in flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers may contribute to weight maintenance in adulthood and may help to refine dietary recommendations for the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences.

(Source BMJ Journal http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i17)

One of the star players in flavonoid fruit line-up are grapes, which made me really happy as I love them, not just as a fruit snack but on Porridge too. In fact ‘Grape Porridge‘ is my favourite Friday recipe so if you want to get healthy why not join me this week with my simple recipe and get that Friday flavonoid feeling!

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‘Beremeal’ a delicious new Orkney Island oatcake

Stockans BeremealA couple of years ago I went on a wild goose chase across the Western Isles in search of an ancient grain known as ‘Beremeal’. The goose chase turned out to be a chicken chase as the mill I had been searching for had long since been taken out of production and was instead being used as a chicken shed!

Saddened I resigned Beremeal to the long list of lost UK foods. That is until last week when a photo on Twitter caught my eye. The pic was from Stockan’s Oatcakes who were publicising their new product; Beremeal Oatcakes. Now I got very excited, Stockan’s already produce my favourite oatcakes (the super thick and chunky oatcake) but were they now actually producing cakes from the long lost grain Beremeal? 

Stockans Beremeal 2It turns out that the answer is yes and after tracking down Moira Cairns, Business Development Manager from Stockan’s, Moria explained why;

  • Beremeal oatcakes offer significant nutritional benefits,
  • Including a useful range of micronutrients; vitamin B1, folate, iron, biotin, phosphorous, magnesium and iodine,
  • and a  high fibre content.

You can read more about the grain and it’s nutritional benefits here, but what are they like to eat?

Beremeal Oatcakes 1I got hold of the oatcakes in time for Burn’s Night so I served them with Scottish smoked salmon, crowdie cheese and a good hearty salad as the first course to a Burn’s Night supper. Perhaps a bit of a traditional way to try them, but a delicious way to eat them. The cakes are just thick enough to be satisfying to eat but also thin enough to grace a dinner party. 

Flavour wise I found them full flavoured, a toasted taste but with a good oat flavour too, which is my only criticism of the cakes, that they only contain a small amount of the actual Beremeal compared to the oat content. However they get a full thumbs up from me and if you want to try them a slightly different way, put a little, rich, dark chocolate spread on them, for a Beremeal take on a chocolate digestive 😀

Note: This post is not sponsored by Stockan’s Oatcakes. I did not receive payment for writing this post, instead I  had to ask them very nicely to even let me try this product!

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Top Porridge Tip: Ratios, how to make perfect Porridge every time

Bain Marie Steam 4In this post I’m continuing the series of ‘Porridge Frequently Asked Questions’ with the issue that vexes most new Porridge makers; how much water or milk to add? To little and your Porridge will have the consistency of a dry flapjack and too much will end up in a bowl of soupy gruel. So here goes…

Question No. 2 Ratios

As a rule of thumb, to make perfect Porridge I always use a 2:1 ratio. That’s two parts fluid to one part oats. That can be two parts water, milk or milk substitute, to one part oats. I use this ratio for all oats; quick cook, jumbo or rolled oats. I even use the same for oatmeal.

My favourite ways for making Porridge are;

  • Jumbo or quick cook oats: 1 part water, 1 part milk to one part oats.
  • Oatmeal: 2 parts water to one part oats, with a pinch of salt!

Porridge Mug sml (2)What do I mean by a ‘part’? To get my ratio right I use a cup, not just any cup but my red squirrel Porridge measuring cup! So…

  • Jumbo or quick cook oats: 1 cup water, 1 cup milk to one cup oats
  • Oatmeal: 2 cups of water to one cup of oats, with a pinch of salt!

Using the same cup everyday also helps me to get my oat quantities right. On a normal day I have one cup full of oats, on a hungry day, especially after swimming, I go with a cup and one quarter.

Quick, easy and no need to weight I get my perfect Porridge everyday.

I hope this post has helped you if you are new to Porridge making.

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Happy New… Spurtle?

Spurtle 7

I love this time of year. Whilst most people loathe January; the cold, the diets and the post-Christmas austerity, I love it! Why? Because the start of a New Year brings new people to Porridge eating.

The New Year also brings lots of Porridge questions via Twitter and over the next few weeks I will be blogging on key Porridge topics, which I hope will answer your oaty questions. So whether you’ve started eating Porridge to save money, as part of a healthy eating New Year’s resolution or because you’ve realised it’s the best breakfast 😉 welcome!

Seafoam Spurtle smlQuestion No. 1 The Spurtle

Some of the most frequently asked Porridge questions I receive on Twitter are about Spurtles. What is a Spurtle? How do you use a Spurtle and what are the benefits of using one to make Porridge? To provide a definitive answer to these questions I wrote quiet a long and I hope comprehensive post on Spurtles, which you can read here. However one question which I struggle to answer each New Year is “Where can I buy a Spurtle?”.

Over the last few years I’ve gained quiet a few Spurtles on my Scottish travels and have been given several as presents. So whilst I am a user of Spurtles I’m not the best person to tell you where they can be bought. So if you have bought a Spurtle recently please can you tell me where from. Or even better if you make Spurtles let me know and I will blog about you.

So for now please keep an eye on my blog for Spurtle updates!

Seafoam Spurtle Handle sml

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Sky Garden, a Porridge bar in the sky

Sky Porridge Bar ii

I was excited to read this week that London now has a Porridge bar in the sky! Not science fiction 😉 The ‘Sky Pod Bar’ is the latest London eatery to enter the ever-growing, ever competitive London breakfast scene.

36 floors up, the ‘Pod Bar’ serves a range of oatmeal Porridge breakfasts including; Blueberries and Manuka honey, orchard fruits and honeycomb and Pomegranate, raspberry and coconut.  With Porridge prices starting at £6.50 and high rising to £10.50 I hope the sky high prices are matched by the quality of Sky Gardens Porridge. One way to find out… a review 😀

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Travelling Porridge at Hogwarts!

Travelling Porridge Oxford

Now Christmas is over I’m back on my travels. However when I packed my bag at the beginning of this week I did not expect to be arriving at Hogwarts!

This week I have been in Oxford, the city of ‘dreaming spires’. Attending two conferences in the city I was billeted at Christ Church College. Colloquially known as “the House,” the college is world-famous for its Cathedral Choir and Picture Gallery containing an important collection of Old Master paintings. Before arriving I knew the colleges grand reputation and prestigious alumni roll call but I did not know that it was also a backdrop for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

Travelling Porridge Oxford2

Eating my Porridge whilst being loomed over by Henry the VIII is a little intimidating first thing in the morning! 😀 However eating breakfast at high table, next to roaring open fires was rather nice on a chilly winters morning.

Porridge at Christ Church is good, the kind that sticks to your ribs and keeps you going until afternoon tea (with scones, jam & cream). Just one little complaint, why wasn’t it served in this; 😉

Travelling Porridge Oxford3

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Don’t tea and type!

Tea & Type 3

My blog has been a bit quiet of late due to a ‘perfect storm’ of IT problems. First was a problem with the site hosting, then with my internet provider and then… well ‘something funny happened’ to my computer. By something funny, I mean tea was spilt into the keyboard, and by ‘happened’ I mean me. Oopps :-(

Thanks to my technical support I’m back up and running in time to say that I hope you had a lovely Christmas. With the midnight hour approaching it’s also time for me to wish you a happy, healthy and Porridge filled New Year, I hope 2016 brings great things for you.

I have lots of new recipes to share with you in 2016 and lots of tea reviews too (cups of which I will definitely be keeping away from the keyboard!). Until then I hope enjoy your New Years Eve :-) 

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Persimmon Porridge, serve hot and spiced for a winters day

Persimmon 2Finally winter has arrived, or so it felt when I was wearing layers of woollens, cooking up Sunday morning’s Porridge. It’s not set to last, as these lovely crisp mornings are to be replaced by rain :-( but you can make the most of this first winter spell with my new recipe!

I’m making the most of my favourite fruit of the new season in this recipe for Persimmion Porridge. My passion for Persimmion’s developed during my stay in Frankfurt last winter, where the vibrant orange fruit took centre stage in every greengrocers display across the city. I loved my Frankfurt winter and I’m enjoying putting some of the cities flavour into my Porridge with my new recipe.

Frankfurt market

Nutmeg Spiced Persimmon Porridge

(made better with cream)

Ingredients

2 cups of coarse or pinhead oatmeal

2 cups of cold water

Pinch of sea salt

2 ripe Persimmon fruits

Nutmeg

Double cream

Serves: Two

Method

I like to cook coarse oatmeal in my bain marie. I soak the oatmeal overnight which both reduces the cooking time and I believe brings out the flavour of the oats.

In the morning place the bain marie over a high heat and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the sea salt to the cooking oats and stir thoroughly.

The cooking oatmeal may look a bit dry at this stage. I add less water in this recipe as Persimmon fruits are very juicy and if you’re not careful you can end up with a Persimmon Porridge soup!

Wash and peel the Persimmons. Slice one fruit to garnish the Porridge and set aside, and chop the other and add to the cooking oatmeal.

Stir the fruit in well and continue to stir the oats frequently for approx 15 mins or until the oatmeal has formed a nice thick Porridge consistency.

Spoon the Porridge into two bowls.

Garnish with the Persimmon slices.

Grate plenty of nutmeg over the bowls.

Liberally pour double cream and enjoy a hot, spiced, Persimmon Porridge on a cold winters morning.

Persimmon Porridge

 

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Best Porridge in London? Three restaurants reviewed

Recipe for sustainable Porridge

One of the main topics I have been blogging on this year is breakfasting out. I have been travelling a lot for work which has meant breakfasting from Aberdeen to London. Whilst this might sound like a dream come true for a Porridge Lady it has actually been a real disappointment. Cheap oats make poor Porridge is all I have to say!

In an attempt to find Britain’s best Porridge breakfast I have been asking for your recommendations on social media. For this post I’ve rolled up my sleeves, tucked in my napkin and well tucked in! At three of London’s top recommended breakfast spots.

St John Porridge 1St John Bread and Wine, Spitalfields

Best for: Venue

It was an early weekend start when I visit St John’s and the restaurant had a lovely lazy Saturday morning feel to it, as though the city hadn’t woken up.  Famous for it’s nose to tail eating and legendary for it’s Eccles cakes, St John’s Restaurant is not best know for Porridge. However I’d received several recommendations so I was ready to give it a go.

In short there is only one Porridge option at St John’s; milky, served with prunes, demerara  sugar, and sometimes cream, and it’s good. The Porridge is well cooked, pan not microwave, and just enough. I also ordered freshly made piklets which arrived hot and with an array of restaurant made jams, and a really good pot of strong loose leaf tea.

What did I think?

  • Pro’s: Delicious Porridge
  • Con’s: Lack of toppings choice, restaurant breakfast means restaurant, rather than cafe, prices.

Le PanLe Pain Quotdien, various locations

Best for: Gluten Free Porridge

‘Daily Bread’ is the literal translation of this rapidly growing chains name. So it’s no surprise that it’s famed for it’s staple turned into toast or sandwiches rather than Porridge. However being one of the few places in the whole country that actually serves gluten free Porridge, well I was there! 

With a great selection of toppings; honey, honey & banana, omega boost, stewed fruit, Vegan option also available, there is something for everyone. However too much choice seemed to cause confusion, causing me to initially get the wrong breakfast. Once rectified I tucked to the ‘omega boost’ Porridge accompanied with Matcha tea (a big plus for me as it’s hard to come by). The Porridge was ok, ok but not great. I wonder if the confusion meant that I had ended up with a microwave zapped Porridge rather than the chef starting from scratch and cooking again.

What did I think?

  • Pro’s: Gluten Free, good topping options
  • Con’s: Not great Porridge, expensive for a chain cafe.

Claridges PorridgeClaridges, Mayfair

Best for: The glamour

If you are going to have breakfast out, have it in style. That seemed to be the mind set of the PR who took me for a business breakfast at Claridges and I wasn’t going to complain 😉 Now Let’s get one thing straight Porridge at Claridges is not, and is never going to be a budget breakfast option but then neither should it be. The glamour of an era you think has passed is alive and well at this luxury London hotel. So is the impeccable service that has disappeared from other eateries.

Breakfast at Claridges isn’t a simple affair. The menu offers up an endless selection of options from the classic ‘English’ to ‘Continental’, ‘Chinese’, ‘Japanese’ and even ‘healthy’ breakfast platters. This globe trotting menu reflects the array of breakfast diners who kept me enthralled and entertained throughout my morning in the foyer and reading room restaurant of the hotel.  Anyway to the Porridge, I opted for the ‘Quinoa & flax seed’ Porridge, just because its completely different from what I usually have. It was interesting, in a good way, and topped with delicious nuts and seeds. However my portion was far too small for my rumbling stomach, which was a disappointment. 

What did I think?

Pro’s: Ambience, service

Con’s: Small portion.

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