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Buttermilk Barley Porridge

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

My recipe for buttermilk barley porridge, as requested by a few different people. It’s a variation on a Dutch recipe that my grandmother makes (Gortepap met karnemelk en anijse, I think it’d be called)  – she uses anise and chives, but Brooklyn doesn’t like either of those, so I updated it for apples and cinnamon for more of a breakfasty thing.

Acquire, by hook or by crook:

4 apples, or 5 smaller apples. Sweeter is better. Red delicious is good, Granny Smith is a little too sour. Add extra sugar if you use sour apples.

2 cups of pot barley, about a 400g package. Pearl barley works, but doesn’t get as chewy, and doesn’t have as much fiber.

2L buttermilk

100g butter

1c brown sugar

1c currants (raisins will also work, but currants survive boiling better – put in raisins halfway through boiling so they don’t swell up so much)

2tsp vanilla (use the cheap stuff)

3tsp cinnamon, or a couple of cinnamon sticks

1tsp nutmeg OR allspice or whatever sweet flavour you like. Cardamom might work, never tried.

Generous pinch of salt. Maybe 1/4tsp.

1.5L water

First, soak the pot barley a couple hours. Rinse it well to get the dust off: wash it in a bowl, pour the water into a strainer to catch any escapees, repeat four or five times until the water runs clearish. Leave aside for a couple hours. The purpose of this is to reduce the cooking time and get the starches and dust off.

Chop the apples into smallish pieces, 5mm or so in size or whatever you prefer. You can put them in a bowl of cold water to keep them from browning. Once that’s done, start 1.5L water boiling, and while waiting for that, heat up a skillet and melt the butter in. We’re going to poach the apples – mix in the spices, salt, and brown sugar into the butter, dissolve it nicely, and then dump in the apples and get them well coated. The water in the apples will osmose out to dissolve the sugar, and the salt helps. Let it go for five minutes. The water should boil at some point during this process, drain the barley and dump it in and let it come to a simmer. This mixture should also make a pretty good pie filling if you continue to reduce the liquid into a syrup.

Once the apples are cooking and the water in them has drained out nicely from the sugar and heat (this prevents the apples from dissolving in the next step), five minutes or so, dump the whole lot into the boiling water and barley, along with the currants. If you’re using raisins, wait until 20 minutes through simmering before putting them in, or the raisins turn into little balloons. Maybe an extra half cup of water.

Bring it to a simmer and IMMEDIATELY set the temperature to super-low, like 2 or 3 on my oven. Cover, and let it simmer for 40 minutes.

Once that’s finished, turn off the heat, add the vanilla, remove the cinnamon sticks if you used those, then let it cool for an hour or so. Once it’s cooled, pour in the buttermilk and stir. If you put in the buttermilk while it’s still hot, the fat will curdle into a pretty gross texture. If it hurts to put your finger in it, don’t put buttermilk in it.

Portion into ziplock containers, I do 300g apiece, and usually end up with 14-15 servings. It lasts two weeks reliably in the fridge, three if you don’t mind it separating and having to stir it.