Matt thinks I'm a "soft Melburnian". The other night, after riding home in the rain and wind, I seriously considered turning on the heater. It would have been the first time since early spring last year, but I was drenched and miserable. Matt must be hot blooded - he never feels the cold - but strangely, never perspires. Vampire maybe? Growing up in the Bennetto household has armed me with the the nerves to withstand a pretty brutal assault of ribbing and name-calling. I don't mind being called soft if it means I can be warm. Besides, warm and soft reminds me of chocolate pudding. I'm down with that.
And so begins our journey into winter food. I swore I'd never use the word 'journey' in the same sentence as 'food'. Masterchef this ain't (besides, I have hardly any tanties in the kitchen these days). We had soup for dinner (you'll see it later this week - sorry to leave you in suspenders) and porridge is doing it's job getting me going in the morning. But I can't spend six months of the year eating bran and the remainder porridge. I mixed it up winter-style this weekend with quinoa flakes.
I'll be honest. I had quinoa porridge the other day with caramelised pineapple, mint and pistachios. It was pretty close to the most insipid meal I've eaten in a long time. The mint was slimy, the quinoa weird-tasting and watery and pineapple on the barbecue tasted like burgers on the barbecue. I'd like to say it was from someone else's kitchen, but alas. I needed to start over and go back to my porridgey roots.
My early forays with porridge were not pleasant. Dad would make it for breakfast of a morning and I could not abide the texture (the acrid taste from a burnt out pan didn't help). Nope, it was toast with vegemite for this little lady. Crumpets if I was feeling adventurous. It wasn't until I was in my late twenties that I first started appreciating porridge for the winter warmer that it is.
Porridge and berries are pretty amazing together: creamy, sweet, tart. Even better, frozen berries are perfect here - they cool down the liquid lava porridge and still keep their shape.
I can tell you're admiring my beautiful new bowl and spoon (I have a sixth sense about admiration). My lovely lady Paige sent them over to us from Ye Olde Londontown as an engagement present. I squealed as soon as I tore open the wrapping, already planning ways I could use them in the blog. This is one thoughtful woman. I lived with her in my first sharehouse out of college. Paige is the Queen of Knick-knack-land. Every room had a new theme and was crammed to the brim with beautiful little pieces. Even more amazing: she tolerated my filthpiggishness for an entire year. God bless her.
It's important here you use a variety of quinoa and the flakes. The flakes can give the dish the smooth texture you need for porridge, but too much and it becomes sludgey. No one want a bowl of sludge for breakfast. Not even with berries. The quinoa gives it some body and once the milk is added, it a lovely alternative to a bowl of oats. Sweeten it up with honey and berries and enjoy with your favourite tea.
1/4 cup quinoa
2 tbsp quinoa flakes
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup frozen berries
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
Chop the hazelnuts in half and toast in a dry frypan until golden.
Place both quantities of quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir through the berries, salt and hazelnuts. Top with the honey and milk.