Everyone knows a good breakfast is the cornerstone of a good day, right?
Sometimes we skip it, thinking we’ll grab something on the way, or worse sometimes, we settle for a breakfast that’s merely adequate rather than sublime.
Now, most people wouldn’t think of porridge as being sublime, but the nice people at GRØD would humbly disagree. This Danish company has taken porridge (Grød, after all, is the Danish word for porridge) and in 2011 was determined to “show the world that porridge can be delicious, delicate and versatile”. It’s more than just chucking a load of ingredients in and hoping for the best, there is a knack to it.
Ever since I visited their porridge boutiques in Copenhagen, I’ve been inspired to make an original and interesting bowl of porridge every Sunday morning.
So, with that in mind, here’s a handy guide to bringing your ‘A Game’ to breakfast.
Compotes & jams.
Jams can make what was a dull, hearty gloop into a sweet treat! But, as much as ‘a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’ you can use jams and compotes to elevate the humble porridge gastronomically.
Whenever I go abroad, I stock up with all of the interesting jams that you can’t get back home. For instance, In Germany I found a raspberry & passion fruit jam, in Poland – chokeberry, Sweden – Cloudberry and in Denmark – Sea buckthorn. My case is normally bulging from the jars & pots of things I’m determined to return home with! Whilst I’m not asking you to travel the world and smuggle kilos of sugary, interesting goodness back home, I’m asking to think laterally about the traditional flavour combinations that we regularly fall into doing in this country.
Compotes are an easy way to make your own flavour combinations. As I work in a supermarket, I tend to try and snaffle any reduced fruit they have, to make compotes. It’s a challenge sometimes, as some of the fruit I’ve never had before! However, through trial and error I’ve come up with some stonkingly good ones, like peach & rosemary, pomegranate & rose or liquorice and blackberry. Plus, making a compote couldn’t be easier.
Simply fill a pan, quarter way up with water, add a sugar of your choice and then the fruit. Bring up to a boil. This is now the time to add in the spices/herbs/botanicals of your choice, turn down to a simmer and allow to thicken. Once all the flavours are in harmony take off the heat to cool.
Hear me out. If you look up the Traditional Scottish porridge they salt their oats, then add the sweetness later. Plus, salt over the past 10 to 15 years has become far more than just a seasoning.
These days you can get salts for everything in a variety of different flavours, all designed to bring some extra dimension to your culinary creations. Seasoning porridge is absolutely essential, otherwise, regardless of whatever else you add to it, the basic ingredient will be bland and lifeless.
So, why not go a little gourmet and interesting? One of my “go to” salts comes from Halen Môn, a homegrown company based in Anglesey (Ynys Môn). Their vanilla salt is a delight sprinkled on caramel, anything chocolate or used as a base for porridge. While the salt brings out the sweetness, the vanilla enhances it. If you’re looking for a variation you can go with Norður Salt, an Icelandic company, who specialise in a range of interesting flavours. They do a blueberry salt and a rhubarb salt which can be paired brilliantly with the other ingredients you decide to add to it.
Perhaps my absolute favourite (though, I may have one or two detractors on this one!) is Saltverk’s Liquorice Salt.
Nothing seals the deal on a great bowl of porridge like a bit of cream! It helps balance the flavours, brings sharpness and adds a touch of velvety luxury. As I tend to cook plant based, the creams are dairy-free. I’ve found that a dollop of ‘Oatly crème fraîche’ (made from oats, naturally) is perfect for giving that extra bit of decadence to what was once a peasant staple. I also use soya products from Alpro like their soy yogurt and quark substitute, ‘Alpro Go On’. I have found that the soya yogurt tends to be flavoursome, a little sweet and quite runny, while the quark gives great acidity and has a great thickness.
Combine the salts, compotes and creamy toppings and you not only improve upon a very simple and hearty breakfast, but personalise it too. The combinations and possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Be creative, flex those flavour muscles and try something new!