I was recently given some Jordans porridge to sample. This, to me, was possibly more exciting than being given a bag of white truffles to sample. I am obsessed with porridge; I would happily eat it for every meal if it was considered socially acceptable. I remember trekking around Edinburgh at the Fringe festival two years ago, feeling a 4pm peckishness coming on and desperately craving porridge. Surely, I thought, everywhere must sell porridge all day long around here, it being Scotland and all. I was sadly wrong; the one place I managed to find (after walking for at least two miles in the rain) stopped serving it at 11am. Sure, they had sandwiches and baked potatoes...but there is a certain type of craving that only porridge can sate. I feel that everything is all right in the world when I sit down to my (enormous) morning bowl of steaming porridge, topped with whatever variety of fruit compote I have been organised enough to make in advance, or, if the organisation deserts me, whatever fruit needs eating. I've already posted about some of my favourites, so won't go into it again...though I should mention that chopped pear and blackberries make a wonderful porridge topping (I'm still using up the ones I picked in Yorkshire three months ago).
I usually just buy the cheapest oats that the supermarket sells. Oats are oats, I figure; you can't really do much to them to make them worth a more expensive price tag. However, these Jordans oats have actually changed my mind. I tried two types: the finer cut oats that cook in three minutes ('Quick & creamy porridge') and the whole rolled oats ('Chunky traditional porridge'). They both have their merits: the former is good if you're in a hurry, though to be honest I found they only took about a minute less time to cook than the other type. The finer cut oats do make a creamier porridge though, so if that's how you like the texture of your breakfast, I'd recommend those.
My favourite was the chunky traditional porridge - I'm not a fan of anything overly creamy, and these make a porridge that is still lovely and soft but has a bit more bite and texture to it. They take hardly any time to cook, really very little more than the supposedly quicker variety. I tried them mixed with grated apple and sultanas, and topped with golden plums that I'd baked in honey, brown sugar and vanilla. You can actually see from the picture how the porridge is still quite oaty. It really is good, and somehow tastes of more than your basic supermarket oats; it has a warm, almost spicy aroma even before you add any cinnamon or anything. Delicious.
Another rather seasonal idea, and one that incorporates one of my favourite ingredients: the quince. Make a compote with chopped quince, sugar, water and a sliced apple. Use it to top porridge into which you've stirred sultanas and chopped dates or apricots. The caramel stickiness of the dates goes really well with the astringent sharpness of the quince. I tried this, again, with the chunky porridge.
Plums again: this time, dark ones that soften into a blood-red compote. Raw plums are often disappointing, but I cooked these in orange juice with star anise, cloves and sultanas, and the results are spectacular. They make a wonderful contrast to the blanket of creamy oats (for this I used the 'quick & creamy' porridge), both in colour and in texture and flavour. I think this might be my favourite breakfast at the moment; it's certainly one that keeps me buying big baskets of plums at the Wednesday market every week.
Lastly, a rather less seasonal topping, but one I love nonetheless. Poached apricots (cook them in orange juice, again with star anise and cloves), and fresh blueberries. Both plums and apricots are, I think, the perfect partner for porridge: they are sweet, but also sharp enough to temper the soft creaminess of the oats.
All in all, I'd recommend both types of oats - they're more substantial and have more flavour than the cheaper varieties (and are still just oats, so you won't exactly be breaking the bank). Plus, I like Jordans as a brand: they have a good ethical philosophy, are nice to nature, and, on a more superficial level, make my favourite muesli (it's just called Jordans Fruit & Nut, if anyone is interested...).