Posts Tagged ‘porridge’

Sweet Corn Polenta with Toasted Coconut

Sweet Corn Polenta with Toasted Coconut

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

We’ve been hanging out with my good friend J.’s almost-eleven-year-old daughter V., the brave girl flew all the way from the UK to Vancouver by herself to spend summer with her ‘Aunty Elsa’!

Our summer has been less ordinary, and indeed fast, and like the quote above, it feels refreshingly new.

We’ve been spending our evenings on the beach, having dinners, catching sunsets and watching fireworks. We’ve also been on boat rides and other great adventures. And me, I’m rediscovering what makes this beautiful city magical in the summer.

We usually start our day off with breakfast, and talk… and make plans for our day; sometimes I forget she’s a ten year old, she’s smarter and pluckier than I ever was at that age. And then, there are those moments that remind me of my ten-year-old self.

I love our breakfast time together, and testing out breakfast recipes on her – like this sweet corn polenta with toasted coconut, it’s an update on the old polenta porridge, made extra divine by adding sweet corn and topped with crunchy toasted coconut chips.

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I ate roasted corn and coconut when I was a child; it’s an inexpensive popular street food in Ghana, and a yummy healthy combination children seem to love. Thin runny polenta porridge has a similar texture to a maize infant cereal also popular when I was little.

The tasty breakfast polenta is nourishing for adults too, it’s creamy and filling, I toss a handful of peanuts in mine for a little protein boost, plus the combination of corn and peanuts is quite satisfying.

I used to toast my own coconut chips, which is quite easy to do, but I recently discovered roasted coconut chips from Trader Joe’s – they’re lightly sweetened and salted, and provide great crunch.

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*To toast coconut chips, spread coconut chips in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for about 20 minutes; stir every 5 minutes to ensure that the coconut browns evenly, or spread coconut into a skillet and toast on stovetop over medium heat, stir frequently, until coconut is mostly golden brown.

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Sunday Breakfast: Finger Millet Porridge

 
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I grew up with Rwanda in the news when it was synonymous with genocide; but I always suspected that this beautiful Eastern African country ‘adorned with hills, lakes and volcanoes’ was so much more than its horrid and unimaginably painful past.

These days Rwanda is becoming known for premium coffee grown on small hilly farms many metres above sea level.

The coffee I brew at home is from Rwanda and I get it from a lovely coffee shop, and it’s really, really good coffee.

Then there’s the millet flour I get from the little African store on Kingsway, it too is from Rwanda – it’s ground from unhulled African finger millet they call uburo.

This flour is a little grittier and the flavour is nuttier than the much popular pearl millet.

When I use this flour to make the traditional Ghanaian spiced porridge (Hausa koko), it’s darker and bolder – a little full-bodied, if you may.

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I make this porridge quite often on weekends, alternating between this flour and the pearl millet variety, which is lighter with a smoother taste.

I prefer this finger millet porridge; it’s a little more complex and the spices give it a luxurious depth, I make it with lots of coconut milk and nuts and a warm bowl of this porridge on Sunday mornings is deliciously heartwarming.

The recipe for this porridge can be found here; finger millet flour is in Indian grocery stores too as Ragi flour, and there’s a similar porridge from India called Ragi Malt.

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Creamy Polenta with Fig Compote

 
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And just like that it’s just two weeks to Christmas; the season’s here, rushed and I’m unprepared.
Keeping up with our new tradition, the tree went up last weekend. It’s the calm before the storm, I haven’t started on my Christmas shopping, but panic hasn’t set in yet.
I love this phase, things are slowing down as the year winds down and the air is filled with hope.

It’s a season of warm hearts and full bellies…

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Breakfast this morning was thick creamy polenta cooked in coconut and almond milk sweetened with fig compote. It’s a little special, or perhaps it’s the season.

We had the polenta around the tree, I like mine with tons of almond milk – it’s excellent with the fig compote.

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I like that things are quiet for now around here, we’re drinking lots of peppermint hot chocolate too, and sitting around our little tree, reading… mostly about food and what we’re having for Christmas…

*To make fig compote, bring 1 12-ounce bottle of ginger beer, 1 cup dried figs, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 – 40 minutes until liquid is syrupy and mixture is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Scoop over porridge (Adapted from Bon Appetite)

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Spiced Millet Flour Porridge

 
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My mom walks through the tiny kitchen, settles in front of window and looks on forlornly at the pouring rain.
“It’ll all come down today and clear up in time for church by tomorrow” she says hopefully,
“Oh and maybe we’ll get a little sunshine; I’d love to go for a little walk down the beach before lunch tomorrow”

It’s a grey and cloudless wet Saturday morning and I don’t have the heart to tell her that it’s doubtful the rain would stop by tomorrow, not according to the forecasts. I also feel like I need to prepare her; I’m tempted to tell her about the time it rained for 30 days straight!
It reminds me of something I read recently; ‘The rain falls like we fall in love; refuting all predictions’.

“What are you making?” She asks peering closer at the stove, away from the rain.
Hausa Koko” I tell her. “Good, good, it’s exactly what we need on a morning like this” she says.

Eyes back towards the window, she tries with a bit of cheer in her voice “Did I ever tell about the oranges I grew in my garden?”

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I know the rain makes her miserable, and she wishes she was someplace else… but not yet – there always seem to be one more something keeping her here, one more Dr.’s appointment, one more test, one more checkup, a new concern, a new trial…

“The oranges the Hausa Koko woman helps you pick?” I ask and she gets into a story I’ve heard at least a dozen times.

Hausa Koko is a traditional porridge made from millet flour and spices; credited to the Hausa people among whom millet is a dietary staple, it’s a very popular Ghanaian street food.
On most mornings, it’s sold on street corners, and by women (and men) who carry them throughout neighbourhoods.

The good thing is, you can just as easily make this porridge at home too, even when home is thousands of miles away from where you started out. All you need is millet flour and a few spices from your pantry.
In stores that carry African food, you’ll probably find packets of premixed Hausa Koko.

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You already know that I love millet; for its subtle nutty flavour, resilience and nutrition, and this porridge is sweet and spicy, creamy, aromatic, with a slight nuttiness from the millet.
The heat from the spices; ginger, cloves, chilli pepper, cinnamon and cardamom is also subtle, but use as little or as much as you want.
The spices aren’t that much of a deviation from the traditional, yet the warmth and depth of flavour from this porridge feels just right for autumn.

Amaranth Porridge with Blueberry Sauce

 
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I had a quiet weekend; one spent mostly indoors waiting for summer to make an appearance – at least that’s what I tell myself to ease the guilt of not wanting to go out in the rain.
It rained all day on Saturday, and I had to cancel a special outing I’d been looking forward to for weeks.
I unwilling got sucked into hours of watching movies, snacking, reading and napping.

But all was not lost, we had amaranth porridge for breakfast…

The amaranth grain, which has been around since ancient times, is a ‘nutrition powerhouse’.
These tiny grains contain protein (1 cup = 28.1 grams of protein), lysine, calcium and magnesium, and it’s gluten free.

Nutrients are fine and all, but the thing I love most about this porridge is how delectable and warming it is.
Sweetened with blueberry sauce, the tiny seeds have a slightly crunchy texture, the porridge is creamy, and the flavours are just wonderful.

It’s almost like dessert for breakfast, the cure for dreary Saturdays!

IMG_0072 Amaranth Porridge with Blueberry Sauce
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