Porridge to me is one of the nicest things ever, especially when it is so cold outside. I eat it laced with sultanas, maple syrup and plenty of salt. But it's certainly not the only delicious thing you can make with oats.Bircher muesli, for instance, is a variant of porridge served at room temperature with yoghurt, honey and apple juice stirred through – and they can also be used in biscuits and flapjacks. Here are three of my favourite oat-based recipes.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com
I have eaten these biscuits since I was a small child. Sweet (but not cloying so) crunchy and brittle when cooked, they were originally made for Australian soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, and have an iconic place in Australian history.
Makes 12-15 biscuits
85g/3¼oz dessicated coconut
100g/3 oz caster sugar
A small pinch of salt
100g/3 oz plain flour
1 tbsp golden syrup
100g/3 oz unsalted butter – plus a little extra for greasing the baking tray
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Put the oats, coconut, sugar, salt and flour into a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. Put the golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan and melt gently over a low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarb. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and mix the syrup in well. Grease a baking tray and spoon generous tablespoons of the mix on to the tray, well spaced to account for spreading. Bake on the middle shelf for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.
Makes 15-20 slices
75g/3oz soft brown sugar
75g/3oz unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
100g/3 oz raisins, roughly chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Put the sugar, butter, salt and golden syrup into a saucepan large enough to comfortably hold all the ingredients. Place over a gentle heat and cook just until the sugar has dissolved. Add the walnuts and raisins. Stir in the oats, and pour into a 20cm baking tray. Press down firmly with your hand, and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack. Once at room temperature, slice into small squares and serve.
At home I make a big bowl of this most nutritious breakfast cereal a couple of times a week and feed it to the children as well as myself every morning. It is both fortifying and delicious and one of the best things about it is that it is there ready to eat – thus avoiding the fraught running around in the morning trying to feed everybody while at the same time searching out matching socks, hairbrushes and school books.
Makes 8 servings
350ml/12fl oz apple juice
3 apples, grated
6 tbsp plain yoghurt
3 tbsp honey
Place the oats in a bowl and pour the apple juice over the top. Add the grated apple and stir well to combine. Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours minimum – although the muesli will happily sit in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Spoon into a bowl and add the yoghurt and honey, stir well, add fruit to your taste (such as rhubarb) and serve.