Barley & oat, banana & walnut; my new multi-grain Porridge recipe

Barley & Oat Porridge 1I love oats, from making Porridge to an array of breads, cakes and biscuits, oats are a staple in my recipe repertoire. However recently I’ve become interested in making Porridge from a variety of different grains. From buckwheat to barley, adding different grains to your morning Porridge not only adds texture, flavour and a splash of colour, different grains bring different minerals and nutrients to your breakfast.

My new favourite grain to add to my morning Porridge is Barley. Very yellow and slightly thicker than the oats that I use, jumbo barley flakes add a nice bit of chew to my Porridge. Barley is also high in selenium, magnesium, Iron, fiber and is a low GI food (even lower than even oats) and has shown to reduce insulin response after eating. And all importantly barley flakes are really tasty too!

Because I am enjoying barley & oat Porridge so much I thought I would share with you my favourite breakfasts of the moment….

Barley & Oat Porridge 2Barley & Oat, Banana & Walnut Porridge


1 cup of rolled barley flakes

1/2 cup of jumbo oats

2 cups of full cream milk

1 cup of cold water

1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 ripe banana

handful of walnuts

Serves: Two

Cooking time: 8 mins


Place the barley and oat flakes into a deep saucepan.

Add the milk and water, and stir thoroughly.

Place the saucepan over a high heat and cook for 2 mins stirring constantly.

Then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the vanilla.

Cook the oats and barley slowly, stirring regularly for 5-6 mins. The barley flakes take a little longer to cook than the oats so take your time.

Once you have a nice thick Porridge consistency, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a separate pan gently warm a good glug of maple syrup, at least two generous table  spoonfuls.

Whilst the syrup is warming, pour the Porridge into two bowls, garnishing with banana slices and a good sprinkle of walnut pieces.

Finally pour the hot syrup over the Porridge and enjoy all the benefits of a multi-grain Porridge.

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Values, Spending Power & Supporting Local Traders; my post on the Fox & Monkey site

Fox & MonkeyLast week I wrote for the Soil Association blog on the welfare of chickens within the British agricultural system. My post got picked up by an organisation called ‘Fox + Monkey’ as part of a piece they posted on the ethics of where we spend our money. It’s always great to see one of my posts re-cycled as the whole point of campaign blogging is to get the word out!

My post was picked up thanks to Sheepdrove Organic Farm who had retweeted it to highlight the excellent work on their farm. Sheepdrove raise organic livestock through the highest welfare practices, resulting in quality products. You can now try the farm products for yourself as the Sheepdrove Christmas shop is now open. You can order one of their organic meat hampers on-line, which also include treats like farm honey and on-farm baked mince pies. So get your fingers clicking for a high welfare, delicious Christmas!

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Do you know where your chicken comes from? My new post for the Soil Association blog

Free-ranging chickens 1A couple of weeks ago the BBC published an in-depth article into the UK chicken industry. The article raised a lot of issues for me on animal welfare and our responsibilities as consumers. As a response I have written a new post for the Soil Association blog on why choosing high welfare foods makes such a difference in the rearing of animals. 

You can read my post here and find out more about the work of the Soil Association and RSPCA Freedom Foods to develop the Assurewel scheme.

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Pineapple Chatni Porridge; a recipe inspired by ‘Pop-Up Dinners Reading’

Pineapple Chatni1Yesterday I blogged about Berkshire’s newest supper club ‘Pop-up Dinners Reading’. I wrote about the fantastic food, the lovely evening, and I also promised a new Porridge recipe. The inspiration for my new recipe came generally from the Hindustani themed Pop-Up menu and specifically from the pot of ‘Anarosher Chatni’ –  spiced Bengali chutney that hosts Anu & Laura kindly give me to bring home.

The sweet chutney, with a warming heat, was a perfect starting point for a creamy, spicy, warming autumnal Porridge. The recipe is in two parts, the first supplied by Anu; her family recipe of Anarosher Chatni, the second part for the Porridge. It’s one of the most involved Porridge recipes that I have ever posted but please do give it a try as Anu’s recipe is superb! The chutney can be made ahead of time, in fact the recipe will make up a batch big enough to store in the fridge for several breakfasts.

 “Anarosher chatni”-  Spiced Bengali Pineapple Chutney


2 fresh ripe pineapple, diced (core removed)
A handful of raisins
1/2 teaspoon mustard oil (you’ll get this at any Indian store. It imparts a smokiness. If you don’t have it, use any oil)
1.5 teaspoons Panch Phoron (A spice unique Bengal made of equal parts: cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek & nigella seeds).
2 dried red chili pepper
3-5 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet the pineapple is & how sweet you want it)
3/4 cup water
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & grated
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp lemon juice

Bhaja Moshla- For tempering the chatni after:

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 peppercorns
3 cloves
1 stick cinnamon


Heat a pan and add the mustard oil. Let the oil get to smoking hot. Switch off the heat and let it cool down. (If you’re using normal oil, you don’t need to do this.)

Switch on the heat and add the Panch Phoran and the red dry chili pepper in the oil, and GENTLY fry them till they are turn a shade darker and start to get fragrant, for about a minute. Do not let the seeds burn as then they go bitter. If they do burn, start over.

Combine sugar and water. Lower the heat and pour the sugar water into the pan/pot and bring it to a boil. Add the lemon juice, salt and the ginger, diced pineapple and raisins to the pan and cook till the pineapples soften (they will still hold their shape) and the water gets syrupy and thick enough to coat the pineapples. This should take about 30 – 45 minutes.

Half way through cooking, lower the heat and partially cover the pan. The consistency should be like a preserve, but the diced pineapples still holding their shape. Any liquid left should be thick enough to coat a spoon.

To prepare the spices for tempering:

In a skillet, dry roast all the spices above (for tempering), till they are fragrant and a shade darker in colour. It should not take more than 2 minutes of using whole spice. If using powder, then barely a minute.

Cool and bash them to a powder using a mortar & pestle. This is called the Bhaja Moshla (Roasted Spices).

Add about 1 tablespoon of this ground spice to the cooled chutney and stir to combine. (If there are any leftover spice powder, store in a container in a cool place for later use).

Store the cooled chutney in an air tight jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for 2 weeks.

The pineapple chutney can be made ahead of time, ready to make the Pinapple Chantni Porridge.

Pineapple Chatni2

Pineapple Chanti Porridge

Serves: Two


1 cup of jumbo oats

1/2 cups of chopped (quick cook oats)

2 cups of coconut milk (canned cococnut milk used for curries, not coconut water)

1 cup cold water

1 tablespoons dessicated coconut

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 tablespoons Anarosher Chatni


Place the oats and water into a deep, heavy based saucepan and stir thoroughly.

Place the saucepan over a high heat and then stir in the coconut milk.

Stirring continuously bring the oats to the boil.

Then reduce the heat to a simmer and stirring regularly cook the oats for 3-4 mins or until you have a nice thick Porridge consistency.

Remove the Porridge from the heat and set aside.

Place the dessicated coconut in a dry frying pan and lightly toast.

Then pour the Porridge into two bowls, swirl the coconut oil through the oats, top with generous spoonfuls of the delicious Pineapple Chatni, garnish with the toasted dessicated coconut and serve hot.

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Pop-up Dinners Reading; a review and a story of Hindustani inspired Porridge

Pop-Up Reading DinnersI’m a big fan of pop-up restaurants, I’ve cooked at, reviewed and written extensively on them. However I’ve never come home from a night with ingredients to make a new Porridge recipe, until I’d been to ‘Pop-up Dinners Reading‘.

‘Pop-up Reading’ is the brain child of Anu Haran and Laura Gonzalez who after meeting on a train decided to set up a supper club that would “brighten up the food scene in Reading” and take diners on “on a trip around the world” with their menus.

A trip around India was promised on the ‘Hindustani Night’ that I attended, which would take me on a “flavour journey across India”. In truth I was mostly looking forward to eating Indian food that people regularly ate at home, rather than the standard fare served up in British curry houses.

Pop-up menuThe evenings menu was a map that toured us round the food hotspots of India. We were introduced to regionally renowned dishes and told tales of childhood secret street food eating, family recipes and celebration foods. All the food was good, and I mean ALL the food! From the Paani Puri that started the night with salty flavours of recreated street food through the creamy and rich Cashew-Coconut Curry, to the Patishapta pudding. I was transported.

With wonderful food and chatty company I felt like I had spent an evening with old friends in a top notch restaurant in India, rather than Anu’s front room! Anu, Laura and two sort of ;-) willing husbands, set the scene with music, a well arranged table, warm hosting skills and plenty of stories. You see each Pop-Up Reading night has a personal theme or connection to the cuisine. From home countries and prized family recipes to travel inspired cuisine.

It’s the eye to detail on the little things, that sets Pop-Up Reading’s food apart. Like the gorgeous tamarind sauce that turned Dhokla from spongy breakfast slices into a delicious dish that I could have happily sat and eaten all night. Or the jaggery unrefined sugar used in the Patishapta that gave the dessert depth rather than just the sweetness of pudding. However my favourite food of the night was Anarosher Chatni- spiced Bengali pineapple chutney. With sweetness and a gentle heat the ‘chutney’ was more like a fruit compote than a relish that accompanies savoury food. The Chatni was so good that it got me thinking, thinking of Porridge recipes and when Anu the gracious host, offered me a pot to take home and experiment with, I could not resist.

The next morning I got cracking with a big pan of oats to come up with a truly Hindustani inspired Porridge recipe. I will share this recipe with you tomorrow in my next blog post. Until then I whole heartily recommend booking into the next Pop-Up Dinners Reading night and join Anu & Laura on their flavour journey.

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Pogo your oats! The new Porridge measure

Pogo3I received an e-mail last week asking me if I would like to review ‘Pogo’ the new Porridge cooking aid. With a great name like Pogo I was tempted and agreed. A few days later Pogo bounced through my letter box (sorry can’t resist a pun) and I got cooking….

Pogo ‘the perfect Porridge measure’ is essentially a plastic measuring beaker for oats and milk/water to make Porridge. Follow the instructions on your Porridge packet, measure the oats and water in Pogo and away you go.

Pogo has a nice little design. I like the fact that you can measure all types of oats, including oatmeal and even oatbran.

Pogo2Getting oat to fluid quantities right, It’s one of the most FAQ’s I get on Twitter. The ratio and measuring correctly is something that I rely on ‘Porridge Mug‘ for. If you haven’t already got a PM then this may be the device for you!

So after plenty of Pogo Porridge practice what did I think about it?

  • Pogo is clear and easy to use, and comes with a great little info card with lots of handy tips on how to make the best Porridge.   
  • However I didn’t like that the ‘oats’ measuring rule on Pogo didn’t differentiate between jumbo oats and quick cook oats. In my opinion because of the different surface area of the two types of oats, the measure was out.
  • Pogo It’s light and portable BUT
  • Pogo is not dishwasher safe and for me this is a huge downside to the product.

So who is Pogo for?

A Porridge making newbie who wants to move away from individual sachet Porridge to making their own.

A keen cook who wants to get the essentials of Porridge making right.

A great Xmas present for a Porridge fanatic .

Pogo1* This is an independent review of Pogo. I do not work for ‘Human Needs’ the owners of the Pogo TM. I did not receive any fee for writing this post. My review reflects my own personal opinion and should be a substitute for yours.
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Date & Coconut Porridge: A recipe for a warming Autumn breakfast

Date & Coconut PorridgeiThe leaves are changing from green to red, the morning lawn is wet with dew and a touch of frost, Autumn is here.

Autumn is my favourite month, after the heat and energy of summer and before the cold hard days of winter, comes the brief respite of Autumn. It’s a beautiful month for walking and enjoying the leaves changing colour and the crisp days. Autumn also signifies the start of ‘Porridge Season’ a time when people put their muesli and fruit salad breakfasts aside and come back to Porridge. To celebrate the return to hot oats I have written a warming recipe to start your day…

Date & Coconut Porridge

Date & Coconut Porridge

Serves: Two

Cooking & Preparation time: 7 mins


1 1/2 cups of jumbo oats

2 cups coconut milk

1 cup cold water

4 Medjool dates

2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Optional – garnish with nutmeg or warm maple syrup.


Place the oats, coconut milk and water into a deep, heavy based saucepan and stir thoroughly.

Place the saucepan over a high heat and cook the oats for 2-3 mins.

Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 2-3 mins or until you have a nice thick Porridge consistency.

Remove the saucepan and pour the Porridge into two bowls.

Take the Medjool dates and cut into thin slivers.

Garnish the Porridge with the dates slices, sprinkle on the dessicated coconut and finally drizzle with a little maple syrup or grate a little nutmeg over the bowls.

Enjoy your warming breakfast and Autumn.

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Causing a stir on Marys Meals World Porridge Day

Press WPD2014iiWow what a busy day it has been and that’s thanks to you! A big thank you to everyone who tweeted me a photo of their Porridge breakfast and all of you who got involved in making #WorldPorridgeDay trend on Twitter.

There were lots of successful Porridge mornings across the country, Porridge fever even spread to Jersey where over a £1,000 was raised for Mary’s Meals. 

Whilst Porridge has been a social media trend for the day, the star of World Porridge Day is Mary’s Meals and the work they do everyday. From Malawi to the Ebola affected areas of Liberia, school children are being fed every morning thanks to the donations we all make the the efforts of the Mary’s Meals workers.

Press WPD2014However you made your Porridge today I hope you had a happy Mary’s Meals World Porridge Day.

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Get your oats ready for Mary’s Meals World Porridge Day 2014

Barley, oat, fig porridgeThe 10th of October is World Porridge Day, the day to celebrate the best breakfast in the world!

Established by The Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships, World Porridge Day is an annual event created to support the work of the Scottish Charity ‘Mary’s Meals’.  Now in it’s fifth year, the event is a celebration of the traditional Scottish dish, and a chance to draw attention to the vital role that porridge plays at the charities school feeding projects in Malawi.

The morning Porridge ‘likuni phala‘ served by Mary’s Meals to over 690,000 school children in Malawi it is a powerful incentive to go to school and, for many, the only nutritious meal they will have that day.

Mary’s Meals ‘World Porridge Day’ needs your support! So tomorrow please join me by following @Mary’sMeals and tweeting a photo of your Porridge breakfast with the #WorldPorridgeDay.

If you can, please also consider making a donation to Mary’s Meals. It doesn’t matter how small it is, perhaps you could make your own Porridge tomorrow, instead of buying a takeaway breakfast, and donate £4. Or forgo your morning cup of coffee and donate £3. When it costs just £12.20 to feed a child for a whole year your donation, not matter how small, really does count.

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Pomegranate Porridge; the recipe just got a whole lot easier!

Pom Porridge 3I love Pomegranate’s, an gem of a fruit whose seeds bejewel my Autumn Porridge. However I’m not a fan of the mess they make when trying to remove the little ruby seeds from their leathery peel. Then today I came across this simple mess free method of seed removal;

Simple when you know how! And now that you know, making my recipe for Pomegranate Porridge just got a whole lot easier!

Enjoy my Autumn recipe without all the mess!

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