Stephanie Wade

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Goldilocks-approved: Banana is one of many ingredients that can be used to jazz up a bowl of porridge. Photo: Bonnie Savage

It's that time of year again: Goldilocks' go-to dish has returned in all of its creamy, winter glory. Oatmeal porridge is the perfect winter breakfast, and there are myriad ways to make porridge, incorporating different ingredients to keep things interesting.

1. Savoury style

Moving away from the traditional association of porridge with sweet flavours, chef Curtis Stone suggests personalising it in a more piquant way, thus enabling a quick meal for lunch or dinner as well as breakfast. Try stirring in savory ingredients - perhaps chopped bacon, cheddar and chives, or apples, gruyere, rosemary and toasted walnuts.

2. Dairy-free

Former MasterChef contestant Wade Drummond makes a completely dairy-free porridge at his market stall in Perth, loaded with spices and seeds. Combine 1 cup of steel cut oats, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of almond milk, 1 teaspoon of flax seeds, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds and the seeds from 1 vanilla pod. Leave to soak for at least 1 hour, or overnight if time permits. Place the mixture on medium heat and stir through 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of pepitas. Heat until the liquid has been absorbed - it should resemble creamed rice. Serve with ingredients such as macerated strawberries and cracked black pepper or roasted pears and saffron.

3. Sweet-tooth style

Dietitian and food blogger Heidi Thornton gives dessert-style porridge the thumbs up, with dark chocolate and fresh raspberries being the star attractions. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of oats, 1½ cups of milk, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of granulated stevia (in place of sugar) over medium heat until bubbling. Turn down and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn the heat off and add 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips, and allow them to melt slightly. Serve in bowls and top with fresh raspberries.

4. Classic comfort

Ben Knight from Melbourne's Bottega restaurant says simple is best. Boil 1 cup of oats in 1 cup of water; when it begins to simmer add one sliced banana, a pinch of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. The banana will begin to blend in. When it has, take the oats off the heat and add some milk to cool the mixture.