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Nordic Light: Millet Porridge, Cardamom, Cacao & Coconut

Scandinavian design has long held the world in thrall with its clean, considered simplicity. And the cookbook, Nordic Light written by Australian-born, Stockholm-based chef, food stylist and photographer Simon Bajada reflects this to luminous effect.

‘A great way to introduce more grain into your diet is through porridges. Porridges are to Scandinavians what fry-ups are to Englishmen. There are an endless number of toppings and flavour combinations that can be used to vary your porridge. This Bounty-inspired combination works well with any grain, though I particularly like it with millet.’

Serves 4

250g (2 cups) millet flakes, rinsed
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
2 tsp cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
2–4 tbsp brown sugar or honey
500ml (2 cups) coconut milk or oat milk
60g (1 cup) toasted coconut flakes
80g (2/3 cup) chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 tbsp cacao nibs

Method

1. Put the millet flakes, cardamom, vanilla extract, cacao powder, coconut oil and sugar (or honey) in a saucepan together with 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

2. Divide the porridge between bowls, pour over the milk and top with the coconut flakes, hazelnuts and cacao nibs.

Christmas Spiced Plums, Ricotta & Coffee Ice

There’s something very Nordic about the smell of Christmas spices, when cloves, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon come together to create that distinctive aroma. These spices feature in mulled wine, which is a treat in the cold but has its uses in the kitchen too – as a marinade for meat, for example, or for poaching fruits for a dessert as here. You could always replace the ricotta with mascarpone or vanilla ice cream in this recipe but I do like how the savoury ricotta balances the sweetness of the poached plums. Left-over plums can be kept in the syrup and served with yoghurt and granola.

Serves 6

Preparation time 30 minutes plus freezing
Cooking time 30 minutes

500ml (2 cups) mulled wine, glühwein, or glogg
1 tbsp honey
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways,
seeds scraped
500g black or amber plums,
halved or stones removed
250g (1 cup) soft ricotta

For the coffee ice

500ml (2 cups) black filter coffee, kept warm
1 tbsp honey
1 gelatine leaf

Method

1. Pour the coffee into a bowl, add the honey and stir to dissolve. Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of ice-cold water for a couple of minutes, then remove and squeeze out the excess water. Whisk the leaf into the warm coffee mixture until dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into a large, flat dish to a depth of no more than 3cm, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Make a note of the time and move on to preparing the poached plums.

3. Warm the wine, honey, star anise and vanilla seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the plums and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20–25 minutes, or until soft. (The ripeness of the plums will dictate how long this takes – you want them to be soft but not falling apart.) Transfer the plums to a bowl using a slotted spoon and reduce the poaching liquid, over a medium heat, by half. Remove any stray plum stones.

4. After 45 minutes, check on the coffee ice – as soon as it starts to solidify around the edges, stir it with a fork, mixing the solid ice into the liquid. Repeat this process about every half hour until you have a light cloud of crystals.

To Serve

When you’re ready to serve, mash the ricotta a little with the back of a fork to soften it and scrape the surface of the ice to create ‘snow’. Spoon the ricotta into bowls and top with the plums, reduced poaching liquid and coffee ice ‘snow’.

This recipe is an edited extract from Nordic Light by Simon Bajada published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $49.99 –  available in good book stores nationally. Photographs ©Simon Bajada