I recall a morning not too dissimilar to the one of today, where I laid in bed, face up, admiring the shadows of a bare weeping willow mildly swaying on my pale bedroom wall, with the sound of a gentle rustling of laurel leaves in the wind, and the call of song birds of the early hours. I immerse myself deeper into the white cotton blanket; warm, comforting, safe. The epitome of sublimity.
Outside the window lays the softly-kissed evergreen foliage, covered in morning frost, the rolling hills submersed in light mist, everything crisp and fresh on this chilly, slightly overcast morning. As the mist begins to disperse, the soft glow of the sun begins to force itself through the dimness of the silver clouds, painting unconcealed extents of the sky blush pink and soft wheat gold.
There is a liturgy of reviving oneself from slumber that I particularly welcome. Firstly, the chaotic, abstract thoughts that spontaneously descend upon you, like a rush of an early spring breeze. Then, it subsides, suddenly comprehendible, but by no means orderly, or perhaps it is, at least in an enigma only I can decipher? No matter. I let my mind wonder, run, only to listen to the soft murmurs of thought passing by. Contemplating and enjoying this moment of oneness, before the fullness of the day begins.
Spelt and Almond Porridge Brûlée with a Rose and Rhubarb Compote
The enchanting appearance of narcissi, nestled in their golden and milky white hues; the longer stems of shy daffodils, reaching up towards the endless sky, unhurried by their much anticipated display of colour; glad tidings of spring from the view of a window. Although the winds remain stubbornly boisterous in its wintery habits, with the recent emergence of wistful flurries of snow, shaking the delicate crocus petals from their stems, it has not halted the tiny signs of growth and the reawakening of slumbering foliage. What a joyful scene it shall be, to, at last, see the cherry blossom tree across my street in full bloom, its branches heavy with spring bounty, covering the pavement and all those near it in a delightful blanket of pink confetti. With my thoughts on the window sill, my eyes in the glass, the beauty seems to overwhelm my imagination, and capture my inspiration for breakfast.
Homemade Almond Milk
Cooking time: 2+ days
3/4 cup almonds, blanched or with skin
1/4 cup brown rice, dried
1 date (optional)
2 cups natural spring water
pinch of sea salt
Place the almonds and the rice in to a bowl with enough water to cover them. Leave on the counter or somewhere out of the way with a cloth over the bowl for 2 days to soak.
When ready, drain and discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds and the rice before placing them in a blender with the water, date and salt. Blend for 2-3 minutes or until the solids are broken down finely (this produces the almond and rice meal).
Place the almonds and rice into a cheesecloth (or any fine material to separate the solids from the liquids) over a bowl and strain until all the liquid is removed. (Use the almond and rice meal in the porridge, or use for baking). Store the almond milk in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.
Rose and Rhubarb Compote
Cooking time: 30 mins
One of the season’s highlights: Forced Rhubarb. Delicately sweet, yet tart and tangy, forced rhubarb, with its deep pink stalks, brings a joyful, and much needed burst of colour to this time of the year. Roses themselves are still out of season, but when the time comes, and they are at their fullest, sacrifice a few blossoms to make rose petal jam so as to enjoy their scent and aromas during different times of the year. All rose petals are edible, the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour (and colour) of the jam. I tend to collect wild rose petals, particularly from Rosa Tomentosa or Rosa Canina during walks in the early morning, however, any roses will do, as long as they have not been sprayed or treated with chemicals. I have often wondered what glorious jam old English varieties, with their musk and heavy scents, would produce. When the summer approaches, with a new batch in the making, a recipe will follow with it. The pomegranate molasses, with its tarty flavour, really complements the flavours of rhubarb and really intensifies the colour of the compote.
2 cups forced rhubarb
1 tsp rose petal jam (optional)
1/4 tsp rose water
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
1-2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup of water
pinch of salt
Chop the rhubarb into 1 inch segments and place them in a saucepan with the water, rose water, lemon zest, pomegranate molasses, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Cook over a medium heat until the rhubarb has broken down and a thick purée is formed (this should take 20 mins). When ready, take off the heat and add the rose petal jam. Allow to cool down slightly before eating or, alternatively, place in sterilised jars and seal. Store in a dark, cool place and, once opened, use within 5 days.
Almond and Spelt Porridge
I wanted to use my blowtorch I received a couple of weeks ago to caramelise the sugar, however, it had other plans that didn’t include me. So, instead, I had to use the grill to do the job. But, if you happen to own a loyal blowtorch, by all means, use it.
Cooking time: 40 mins
4 tbsp almond and rice meal (alternatively use ground almonds)
1/3 cup spelt, finely flaked
1/3 cup millet
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups almond milk
pinch of fleur de sel
1-2 tbsp caster sugar (enough to cover top of the porridge)
Place the millet into a saucepan with the cinnamon, vanilla, 2 cups almond milk, water and salt. Turn on the heat and when it comes to a boil, lower the heat and, without stirring, gently simmer the millets until cooked. This should take approximately 20-25 minutes. When you reach this point, turn on the grill setting in the oven to high heat.
Add the 1/2 cup of almond milk, meal and the spelt to the porridge and cook for a further 5 minutes. Take off the heat and pour into oven proof bowls. Scatter enough sugar over the top of the porridge before placing the bowls under the grill until the sugar becomes caramelised and golden brown (approximately 10 minutes). Allow to cool down slightly before eating. Serve with the rose and rhubarb compote.
Thank you for reading.