Perfect Christmas recipe: Santa’s Flaming Porridge from Marianne Lumb
This Christmas we are proud to present you a recipe from chef Marianne Lumb of Marianne in Notting Hill – the smallest fine-dining restaurant in London. This recipe combines a humble porridge with some total dessert classics: creme brûlée, Armagnac-soaked prunes and the meringue from a baked Alaska. Perfect for a fun start to Christmas day!
Santa’s Flaming Porridge
Prep and cooking time: One hour
Start the recipe a day or two before. (The Italian meringue and the basic porridge should be made just before serving, however). Equipment wise, you will need an electric, free standing mixer. Also, using a piping bag to pipe the meringue on makes it easy to look like a tree! A blow torch is great for getting colour on the meringue, but you can easily do it under a hot grill. For the meringue a thermometer is essential really… Lastly, I have served the porridge individually but you could definitely do a large one!
Prunes in Armagnac
12 Agen prunes
1 earl grey tea bag
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
A splash or two of Armagnac (and extra for flambe)
200mls double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (split in half and seeds scraped)
2 egg yolks
Zest of half lemon
3 tbsp water
2 egg whites (80g)
200mls whole milk
A pinch of Maldon salt
1 tsp Mānuka honey
50g porridge oats
Edible glitter or gold dust (optional)
What you need to do:
1. Soak the prunes: make a strong tea with 300ml hot water (infuse for 5 minutes) and pour over the prunes. Squeeze over the lemon and orange juice and cover and set aside – do not chill.
2. Make the crème brûlée: place the cream, sugar and vanilla in a heavy-based sauce pan. Bring to the boil but don’t boil! Whisk slowly onto the egg yolks. Transfer back to the pan and heat gently, until the eggs coagulate (65°C), stirring all the time. DO NOT BOIL, unless you would like sweet, vanilla scrambled eggs of course. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest. Cover with cling film (directly on the top of the mix so a skin doesn’t form) and set aside.
3. When ready to serve, make the Italian meringue: place the sugar and water in a very clean heavy-based small saucepan. Allow the sugar to dissolve slowly, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, in an electric mixer whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. When your sugar syrup reaches 118°C increase the speed of whisking and slowly pour it on the egg whites (make sure the hot syrup doesn’t touch the whisk itself). Continue whisking until cool, the meringue should be very stiff. Transfer to a piping bag.
4. Finally, make the porridge base: Heat the milk, salt and honey in a small pan, bring to the boil and whisk in the porridge oats. Simmer for 5 minutes whisking all the time (it will be a thick porridge at this stage but don’t worry). Remove from the heat.
5. Drain the prunes and pour over a little Armagnac. Stir the crème brûlée mix into the porridge (it should be warm) divide between four ramekins. Top with three prunes each. Pipe the meringue in little dots, resembling a tree, start from the bottom and build up. Then, stud the meringue with cranberries and pistachios. Then either grill under a very hot grill, or caramelise with a blow torch.
You can also flambé at this point with Armagnac too (just like a Christmas pudding!) – be careful, but simply pour over the alcohol and light carefully at the table. Lastly, scatter over the gold dust if using and serve immediately.
6. Put on The Darkness’ Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), pour a glass of champagne and enjoy!
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina