Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Breakfast

I love breakfast. Are you a breakfast skipper? Please don't skip breakfast -- it's the best meal, totally the best. Haven't you heard of people eating cereal and french toast and pancakes for supper because all they really want is breakfast? I've eaten oatmeal for dinner many .. many .. many times. It's the best! You could love breakfast too ..

Ok, this is a harder question. Do you like porridge? Yup .. porridge? Definitely harder, but my answer would be a big YES. I know some of you are groaning, but .. but .. didn't we already talk about the wonders of oatmeal in the morning? If you're a porridge lover like me, I've got a really great recipe for you. If you're a porridge hater, I'll understand if you navigate away, but keep this post in mind when you're ready to come over to the porridge-loving side.

Like I mentioned, I love oatmeal on weekend mornings. It's wholesome and warm and really hits the spot, especially in the winter time. Lately, I've been wanting to try new grains in the morning and a few weeks ago, we picked up some kasha (or toasted buckwheat) at the bulk store. After we cooked some up in vegetable broth to go with our dinner one night, we kind of decided that it would probably be better as a breakfast food. The flavour was really intense and earthy, a bit too strong to be a neutral grain served at supper. I spent the week flipping through this great book called "A Cook's Guide to Grains" by Jenni Muir" for some inspiration before dreaming up this little recipe. It's a porridge made from a combination of kasha and barley that's baked in the oven with honey, raisins, apples and spices. It's super super delicious with an extra splash of soy milk, and a little spoonful each of yogurt and marmalade. It's the kind of breakfast that makes you feel like you're having a treat, even though you've just eaten some wholesome whole grains and fruit.

It would be even more delicious topped with a citrus fruit salad, like this one or this one. The citrusyness might cut through the strong taste of the kasha and balance it out a bit. If buckwheat really isn't your thing, you could probably do a combination of barley and wheat berries -- still nutty and flavourful, but less pungent and earthy. How about a gluten-free porridge? No sweat. Replace the barley with quinoa, millet, or even brown rice. Try replacing the water with apple or cranberry juice and reducing the sweeteners, or even coconut water .. I'm totally trying that one next. Whatever you do, make sure you check on it while it's in the oven to see if it needs extra liquid. It needs quite a bit of time in the oven -- about 45 minutes -- but the wait was definitely worth it.

Ok, porridge haters. I'll be back next week with something else, I promise!

Buckwheat and Barley Porridge
inspired by "A Cook's Guide to Grains" by Jenni Muir
serves 2-3

1/4 cup of pearled barley, rinsed well
1/4 cup of kasha (toasted buckwheat groats), rinsed well
3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of soy milk
1 tablespoon each of honey and maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a splash of vanilla extract
a handful each of raisins and unsweetened shredded coconut
1 small Macintosh apple, diced

1. Mix up all the ingredients except the apple in an oven proof baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven.

2. About 20 minutes into the baking, add the diced apple and additional liquid if things are looking a little dry.

3. Bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until the barley becomes tender and some of the buckwheat has broken down, but some are still in chewy.

4. Serve with an extra splash of soy milk and toppings of your choice.

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