Every great meal has a story, and this one begins at a cozy little cafe tucked away in Neal’s Yard, London.
Always on the quest for good coffee and a reading spot, I stopped by 26 Grains one overcast (okay, so in London they’re all overcast) Saturday morning. Feeling both cold and incredibly hungry, I decided to order what is now my all-time favorite breakfast: porridge. Let me be clear, I am not talking about oatmeal. This is not the chewy, raisin-topped concoctions of American childhoods.
This porridge was creamy, spiced to perfection with toppings like blackberry compote, fresh-from-the-oven granola, yogurts and even edible flowers for aesthetic. The result? 1 part breakfast, 1 part dessert and 1 part hug in a bowl.
Needing to recreate this recipe in my own kitchen, I took to the web. All of my searches for porridge turned up more or less the same: 2 parts liquid to rolled oats, cook for 20 minutes. However, I kept ending up with sad oatmeal that no amount of edible flowers could make, well, edible. Undeterred, and hoping my patronage had earned me some points, I went straight to the source and asked the porridge pros at 26 Grains. They were happy to help, and gave me two tips that forever changed my porridge (and breakfast) game. Are you ready?
1. The night before cooking, soak your oats! This may sound like a pain, but it only takes two minutes. Throw them into a bowl with half of your cooking liquid (in this case, almond milk) and head to bed.
2. Scottish Oats. Is that the same as Irish oats? Or old-fashioned oats? Turns out, no. Scottish oats aren’t cut or rolled, but rather ground, making them resemble a course flour with varied textures. It cooks up perfectly creamy with just the right amount of chew. 26 Grains uses UK favorite, Scott’s, but a local alternative is Bob’s Red Mill, here.
That’s it! Now that you’ve got your base it’s time to suit it to your taste. Combine with creative spices like cardamom, fresh sweeteners like fruit purée, and add some crunch in the form of granola, nuts or seeds. Voila! Perfect porridge from London to your kitchen. Here, I’ve recreated my go-to order: Nordic Pear. The granola, from the 26 Grains cookbook, is the one they use in the shop and worth the extra step. Any leftovers make for a quick breakfast, topping or snack.
So here’s the dish:
Who: Literally anyone. From 5-95, porridge is a crowd-pleaser.
When: Breakfast, weekends, cold days.
With: A cozy sweater. Good book preferred but not required.
Nordic Pear Porridge
- 3 cups almond milk
- 1.5 cups Scottish Oats
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp maca
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- coconut yogurt
- fresh pears
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup mixed seeds sunflower, flax, pumpkin
- 1 cup mixed nuts, finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup raisins
- The night before cooking, soak the oats in 1.5 cups almond milk and place in the fridge. Forgot? Soak for at least 30 minutes.
2. The next morning, combine the oats (including the liquid they were soaked in) and remaining 1.5 cups of almond milk in a medium sauce pan. Add spices and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Make sure to stir along the way so that your oats don’t stick to the pan. 3. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook until most of the almond milk has evaporated – this should take ~10 minutes. 4. Remove from the stove and serve while hot. Top with cardamom granola, fresh pears and a dollop of coconut yogurt.For the Granola 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 2. Combine all ingredients except the coconut and raisins. Spread onto a baking sheet. 3. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. 4. Remove from the oven and stir in the coconut+raisins. Let cool and store in a sealed jar!