Magical Hot Cereal

While we're on the topic of magical breakfast items, there's this restaurant in Union Square called Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery that serves the best Cream of Wheat I've ever tasted.  It's creamy and just the perfect sweetness with the added depth that comes from a pinch of salt.  There's a velvetiness that probably comes from cream and/or butter.  And then there's a bright note of citrus and the comfort of vanilla and cinnamon.

I've asked for the recipe, or at the very least the ingredients, but they've never shared it with me.  There's whole posts on Chowhound where people try to figure out what's in it.  After some experimentation, I think I've found a recipe and method that gets pretty close to the real thing.  I use Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal instead of Cream of Wheat for some extra fiber and protein, but it turns out almost as creamy as Cream of Wheat due to the constant stirring and risotto-style method of adding small amounts of liquid when the previously added liquid has been absorbed.

I use terms like pinch and dash below because I'm not measuring any of the ingredients except the water and hot cereal when I make this for myself since the amounts are so small.  Just know that a dash is more than a pinch and you should be all set.

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Magical Hot Cereal
makes 1 serving

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal
1/4 teaspoon orange rind, finely grated
1 dash kosher salt
1 dash ground cinnamon
1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg
4-5 tablespoons vanilla soy milk
2 drops vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter (I've been using Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread)
2 tablespoons maple syrup

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In a small pot, add orange rind to water and bring to a boil.

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Add cereal, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and reduce heat.

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Stir while cooking and add the soy milk a tablespoon at a time when liquid has been fully absorbed by the cereal.

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When the cereal is done, about 6 minutes, add vanilla extract, butter, and maple syrup.  Stir to mix and serve hot.

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Note that while you can certainly leave out the butter, it just won't be as magical without it.