Johnny's Luncheonette in Cambridge, Mass. was my all-time favorite breakfast place. It was always packed, and although I'm not normally one for waiting on line, especially when I'm hungry, it was worth the wait, every single time.
My friends would order the pancakes, or waffles, or eggs, but I'd go for the porridge. I'd get drunk off the cinnamon steam, the stress in my body evaporating with each quiet, soothing spoonful.
I've heard from friends that Johnny's closed a while back, and it's a shame, too, because I always wanted to write an article about that porridge. I figured doing so would get me into their kitchen, where I could watch the cook and mine his secrets. I've had many dreams fulfilled in life, but this one passed me by.
And that's okay, because I've actually developed a porridge I like -- dare I say? -- even more. This version uses some of the wheat berries you cooked ahead of time and refrigerated. It takes only minutes to prepare and can be made in a large measuring cup in the microwave. Oh, and it's filling and healthy. I don't know a lot of breakfast items that can promise quick prep, excellent nutrition, satisfying taste, creamy texture, and a single cooking vessel, but this one can.
I call for toasted almonds, cinnamon, brown sugar, and dried fruit, but porridge is a personal thing. Dana, I'm guessing, will use honey, Charmian maple syrup, Lisa pecans, and Heather toasted coconut. I could go on, guessing all of your porridge quirks, but I'll leave you to your own modifications.
If you like hot cereal and weren't scared away by yesterday's post, you'll go gaga for this recipe.
ADDENDUM on 10/24/08: I just received an email from a reader that Johnny's second location, in Newton Centre (MA), is still open. And porridge remains on the menu. Ah, joy!
Recipe for Wheat Berry Oatmeal Porridge
Let's see: skim milk, oats, wheat berries, almonds. It's a veritable who's who of good for you foods. More importantly, it's creamy, satisfying, and undeniably tasty. If this doesn't keep you full until lunch, nothing will.
Makes 1 serving
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 scant cup skim milk
1/4 cup golden or traditional raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, or a mixture (you choose)
1/3 cup cooked wheat berries
Brown sugar and cinnamon, to taste
Toasted slivered almonds, for sprinkling
In a 4-cup glass measure or other good-sized microwave-safe bowl, combine the oats, milk, and dried fruit. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Give a stir.
Stir in the cooked wheat berries and return to the microwave for about 90 seconds longer. Remove and let stand about a minute to thicken slightly. Transfer to a cereal bowl.
Sweeten with brown sugar to taste, and sprinkle with cinnamon and toasted almonds.