Overnight Aga Porridge

Porridge has always been around of course but it has become fashionable in recent years.  This doesn’t mean we should reject it as a fad; quite the reverse.  In fact part of the reason it has become so popular is that its nutritional and health-giving properties have been well publicised.  There are studies which show it can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, for example.  Oats are low fat and have a low GI (glycaemic index) which means a slow release of the carbohydrate into your bloodstream so your energy levels are sustained for longer and you are less likely to feel hungry mid-morning.

Porridge doesn’t have to mean oats; it can also be made with rye, spelt or barley.  I think the two brands of porridge oats most commonly found in our supermarkets are Quaker and Scott’s, but other names are coming to the fore and building a reputation for wholesome breakfast cereals.  And we are discovering more about the different types of porridge; we are probably mostly used to oats which have been steamed and rolled into flakes (rolled oats like Quaker and Scott’s) but there are also the oats cut into two or three pieces (called, steel-cut, pinhead or coarse oatmeal).  It is said that because of their size and shape, the body breaks these down more slowly, thus keeping you full for longer.

A bowl of porridge can be made fairly speedily using rolled oats, in a saucepan or the microwave, but pinhead oatmeal requires some forward planning.  The instructions on the one we buy, by Rude Health (see photo), advise overnight soaking and this is where the Aga comes in, because a mere three or four minutes’ preparation at bedtime means one can wake up to a saucepan of porridge which requires just a quick stir and the addition of your favourite toppings.

So this is what you do:

  • Just before you go to bed, place 75g oatmeal per person in a pan and add 600ml water.  In truth, this makes a large portion so if making for two people, I only add half the amount again, ie I use 112g and 900ml water; for three people 150g/1.2l and so on.  You can add a pinch of salt too if you like.  My youngest son doesn’t like salt in his so I add a little to my own portion in the morning.
  • Place your saucepan on the boiling plate and start whisking with a balloon whisk.  Keep doing this for about a minute, making sure you get into every “corner” of the pan, and then transfer to the simmering plate and do the same for about two more minutes until the mixture is simmering.
  • Cover and place in the simmering oven and go to bed.
  • Next morning, put the kettle on (for tea), take the pan out of the oven and give the mixture a good stir with a wooden spoon.  Serve.

You can now add whatever takes your fancy.  Here are some options:

  • A little cold milk and sprinkling of demerara sugar
  • Dark muscovado sugar stirred into the porridge before adding milk or cream
  • Maple syrup, raisins and a little double cream (husband’s favourite)
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon and a little sugar
  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries): keep some in the freezer and defrost overnight.

 

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Waffles

 

 

When I was young we used to go to Norway for the summer holidays every other year.  My brother and I would go with our mother for about six weeks and my father would join us for two or three weeks.  We’d stay mainly with my grandparents in Oslo but would also visit my aunt and cousins in Kristiansand on the south coast and my uncle and cousins in Stavanger on the west coast.

Norway was, and still is, an idyllic place to be on holiday if you love being outdoors and don’t like hot, sweaty crowded beaches or crowds full stop.  It is relatively unspoilt with some of the world’s most stunning landscapes.  Not that I’m biased or anything.  Many Norwegians have a holiday home, or “summer house”, either in the mountains, by the sea or on one of the thousands of tiny islands dotted along the coastline, where they spend a lot of time during June and July when the days are long and it barely gets dark at night.  We would spend our days fishing, messing about in boats, or clambering over rocks looking for shrimps and crab.  Even in Oslo, the capital city, peaceful lakes and forests are but a short tram ride away.  As a child growing up in Oslo my mother used to ski to school.  During the long, cold winters it was the easiest way to get around.

So often one’s memories of childhood holidays are evoked by the food one ate and this is very true of our Norwegian stays.  There were the shrimps bought straight from the boat as it arrived back at the harbour in the early morning; the freshest ever mackerel, gutted, filleted and painstakinglingly de-boned by my grandmother or aunt and fried in butter until the skin was golden and crisp; juice made from homegrown blackcurrants, raspberries and redcurrants; the most divine homemade strawberry jam, more runny and less sweet than any you’d buy in a shop and all the better for it; tiny home-baked bread rolls which accompanied every picnic we went on, and there were a lot of picnics.  And then there were the waffles which would be served every time we were invited to friends or relatives for tea or coffee.  At least, that’s how I remember it!

I suspect there isn’t a Norwegian household without a waffle iron.  I remember my mother buying her electric one in Norway because you couldn’t get them here at the time, but the other day in my local shop, Kitchens, I noticed several on display so times have obviously changed.  You will see from my photos that my waffle iron, which my mother gave me years ago, is no longer pristine, but it works well.

As a Bank Holiday treat I made waffles for breakfast this week and I thought you might like the recipe.  Cardamom is the key ingredient I think but it’s a small amount and the flavour is subtle; strangely enough, I don’t remember noticing cardamom in the waffles I ate as a child.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 250ml whipping or double cream
  • 500ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 400g plain flour

Method

  • Beat the eggs and sugar together.
  • Sieve the flour with the baking powder and cardamom
  • Using an electric hand whisk or mixer, add the flour mixture and milk/cream to the egg alternately to make a thick batter
  • Ladle into the waffle iron and cook
  • Serve with jam and/or butter or clotted cream, but they are also delicious plain