Tim * Barnsley House Porridge with Whisky
When it comes to choosing a honeymoon destination, we all have different ideas of what constitutes the perfect getaway. Tim Mazurek, of the fantastic food blog Lottie + Doof, had only two criteria when considering his. It had to be somewhere relaxing — a place he and his spouse, Bryan, already knew and loved — but with some kind of twist to make things interesting. That made England a clear contender, but how would they mix things up?
Enter Barnsley House, the countryside Cotswolds mansion turned hotel — a magical, stately Tudor shrouded in sprawling, blossoming gardens and tucked far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s enough to strike anyone’s fancy, but for Tim, the hotel came with an added appeal: “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved those BBC mystery shows, and I kind of always wanted to live in a manor house and have a murder happen. There were no murders on our honeymoon, but Barnsley House fit the bill.”
Because the hotel is so isolated, there are really only two dining options available — the hotel restaurant, and a pub down the street (also owned by Barnsley House). That might seem like a limitation, but the food was so wonderful at both, it actually turned out to be a blessing. “I think one of the worst things about being in a new place,” Tim says, “is not knowing where to eat, going to some restaurant that leaves you disappointed, and then walking down the street only to find some other place that looks incredible.”
Luckily for Tim and Bryan, that was never an issue, and they were pleasantly surprised by everything they ate — from bacon-wrapped dates, to perfectly cooked tenderloin, to sticky toffee pudding. But the dish that was perhaps most surprising of all was also, in some ways, the most familiar. “We were a little skeptical when we first saw it on the menu,” Tim explains. “I mean, porridge with whisky? I thought, really? But we ordered it anyway, and it tasted so amazing that we wound up ordering it every morning after that.”
To recreate this oatmeal, wherever you might be, you’ll want to forget about anything instant or sugared, and begin with ground Scottish oatmeal or oat bran (which will cook up a bit faster). Next, you’ll want to combine the oats with a mixture of simmering milk and water, stirring until the oats are thick and rich. Then, most importantly, you want to spike it all with a shot of Drambuie — “a whisky our parents would know” — that comes infused with honey, herbs, and spices like clove and nutmeg. And if you really want to send it over the edge (and why not?), you can sprinkle in some brown sugar and top it off with a splash of cream.
The resulting dish is pearly and smooth, much like tapioca pudding, with a subtle sweetness that is just enough. On the one hand the porridge is light and dreamy and honeyed, and on the other, it’s deep, warm, and spicy. Like Tim’s honeymoon at Barnsley House, the oatmeal is both familiar and comforting, but also unique and unexpected. And I think, on a greater level, this balance captures perfectly what makes Tim’s blog, his recipes and his food so very special.
Three Quick Questions…and Tim’s Answers
It’s your last meal. What do you have?
If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say mozzarella sticks. But the mozzarella sticks from Roots in the Ukrainian Village (Chicago). They make their own mozzarella and it’s so, so good.
Your kitchen is burning down. What’s the one thing you grab?
My Mauviel copper jam pot. It just really makes you want to make jam. If I lost it, I don’t think I’d buy another one — I’d just want that one.
Do you have a favorite cookbook?
I have two. The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham has a lot of recipes that seem really ordinary at first, but they’re all spectacular. I think everyone should own a copy of that book. And then I also love The Last Course by Claudia Fleming, the original pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern.
- 1 cup Scottish ground oats or oat bran
- 3 cups water or milk, or a mixture of each
- 1 shot Drambuie whisky (about 1.5 oz)
- optional, but recommended:
- 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, to taste
- splash of cream
- In a medium saucepan, bring water, milk, or a combination of the two to a boil. Stir in oats and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10-15 minutes until the oats have absorbed most of the liquid; taste as you go along until you get to your desired texture and thickness. Stir in whisky and, if using, the brown sugar and cream. Enjoy while still hot.