Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amaranth, Quinoa & Corn Chowder, Page 118

First of all, I loved the fact that I could make a chowder recipe that didn't require milk, but was still creamy in texture! Her recipe calls for it and I'm sure it adds a lot to the soup, but is plenty creamy without.  The great texture comes from a blended bag of frozen corn, which is a trick I love and will definitely use again!  That being said, I didn't absolutely love the soup's overall flavor.  While I like the texture, I don't think the seasoning was very well balanced with thyme as the only actual spice called for.  I think it would be great with carrots and some cayenne pepper for heat.  I even cooked it with chicken stock, instead of water, but I still feel it lacks in depth.  

I was not the only taster on this one. Karen loved this soup and gave it a 4.25/5 grains...Not bad!  Amanda wasn't as fond, but thought it was OK.  I will definitely make a version of this chowder again, simply adding my own seasonings the next time.  I love the concept of incorporating Amaranth & Quinoa into a soup instead of using something more standard and rice or pasta.  It's creative and I certainly appreciate that! OK, I'm about to take some fantastic smelling Date-Nut Muffins out of the stay tuned!  -Vicki


I love to double recipes and freeze the extras.  Tonight was one of those recipes I doubled. I should have taken my mom's advise.  She only doubles recipes that she's considers "tried and true".  I have two more frozen meals of this soup or what Ben was calling cafeteria slop.  No worries, I will use the base of the soup and completely reinvent the leftovers into something delicious.

Ben had his friend Brian over for dinner.  He was warned about the experimental grain soup.  Ben described the dish as having a rice soup consistancy with bland vegetables (celery and red bell peppers). This "tasteless" dish was in desperate need of what a chef calls flavor. (Ben was not holding back tonight)  Both of them decided that dipping their bread into the soup was the best part!  This dish needed more substanced and Ben suggested adding seasoned chicken and cheese.  As for Brian, he pretty much agreed with Ben but did say he felt full afterwards. Husband rating: 2.7/5 grains.

The biggest problem I had with this dish was that the grains, corn, and chopped veggies were similiar in size and shape.  I like texture, various sized vegetables, and exploding flavor.  Stay tuned for the return of the amaranth+quinoa corn chowder remix!  -amy

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Creamy Wheat Berries with Honey, pg. 300

I forgot my grocery list in the car when I ran into Whole Foods...and yes, I could have gone out and grabbed it, but we were having one of those torrential downpours, and I figured I would wing it.  Somehow I forgot the recipe called for dried dates, and bought dried figs instead, but they worked!  Now I know I enjoy dried figs in hot grains, who knew!

I can't say this received amazing reviews.  My roommate Karen, who has a textural issue with creamy-like foods, told me she wouldn't even try it (only based on texture!) and Jeff took such a small bite I can't imagine he could taste much, but said it was good.  It's sweet and chewy, although I'm not sure it was actually cooked all the way and it's not very "creamy".  I enjoy the flavor, but want it a bit more cooked than the recipe called for.

Ironically, in my first attempt at cooking from the book, I have a dish with Milk as the first ingredient! I'm not tolerant of lactose, so I intend to cook through the book with as little dairy as possible.  This time I used rice milk instead (2 cups original, and 1 cup vanilla).  I imagine the fat content of rice milk vs. 2% is substantial enough to affect the creamy consistency of this dish, so I'm interested to see how Amy's real milk version will compare.  I also didn't top it with whipped cream, although it sounds delicious!  Overall I enjoyed the flavor of the finished product, but think I need to cook it more.  I'll be heating this up for breakfast in the morning.  A yummy start to a day all about food!   -Vicki


This recipe called for chopped dates. I thought a date was some sort of plum that was dried.  Ben said it was the root of a plant or vegetable.  We were both wrong!  "A date fruit is the product of a date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East, although it is also cultivated in other parts of the world. In addition to being eaten fresh, the date fruit is dried and eaten whole as a snack or included in an assortment of desserts."

I was pleasingly surpised at how this recipe turned out.  I cooked the wheat berries using my pressure cooker. Goodbye to soaking grains overnight!  Hooray for putting water, a tablespoon of oil, and berries in my Fagor pressure cooker for 35 minutes.  Next time, I may consider adding extra cinnamon and sugar into the water before cooking.  Is that allowed....or will I start a sugar stove fire?

After Ben's first bite, he said it tasted as if he was eating warm apple pie that was mixed with melted vanilla ice cream.  After a few chews, Ben said the flavor goes back to being a grain with the texture of corn.  He would prefer Craisins instead of  dates.  Husband Rating: 3.8/5 grains.

This recipe yields around 3-4 cups so be prepared for breakfast leftovers!  -amy

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Buckwheat Hash with Bacon & Eggs - (pg 254)

"It's no Oreo cookie" were the first words out of my husband's mouth after his first bite.  Ben proceeded to tell me that this dish had all of his favorite things in it minus the buckwheat.  He thought that adding some paprika or chili flavor would midigate the fact that the grain had no flavor.   Yes, I have one of the best food critics and husband a gal could ask for!  Husband Rating: 2/5 grains.

Would I make this recipe again?  Yes. I ended up buying chopped buckwheat instead of whole so I'll take the blame for not following instructions.  I recommend using whole buckwheat like Sass states.  Next time, I would cook the buckwheat and potatoes seperate.  Due to adding boiling water to the grains and potatoes at the same time, I believe that this caused the dish to lack flavor.  Going foward, I would cook the diced potatoes with the onion and add paprika, basil, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper to give them a nice flavorful coating.  Then, I would mix in the buckwheat. 

On Sunday morning, I fried up the rest of the bacon and ground the remaining buckwheat in my wheat grinder.  I made delicious pancackes using my favorite recipe found on -amy


This evening I made the buckwheat hash for dinner and I really, really liked it! I will agree with Amy & Ben, it is in need of more flavor which I would probably achieve by sautéing the potatoes and crisping them up before stirring it into the cooked buckwheat in the end (Karen’s input J).  Lorna’s recipe has you simmer the potatoes and buckwheat together, which means you’ll only use one pan, but doesn’t help flavor either of the ingredients very well.  I added some paprika (thanks for the suggestion Amy!) to the grains and potatoes before the water, but still wasn’t enough to flavor it very well.

This upcoming week in school I have to showcase my amazing breakfast cooking skills…and by amazing I mean I hope I at least pass this portion!  I have a lot to do still to perfect my egg skills.  This recipe looked like a perfect opportunity to practice poaching eggs, which I’ve never done before.  I’m surprised she didn’t suggest that as an option, because it was so good! The poached egg, when broken over top added so much flavor and texture to the hash, it was awesome!  And, who doesn’t like eggs topped with bacon?!  I’ve cooked buckwheat many times, and this recipe far surpasses any of my plain old cooked in salted water and mixed with peas for hot cereal ideas.

Oh and one more thing, Lorna suggested to keep your buckwheat from falling apart, mix it with fat of some kind (butter, egg or bacon grease) before cooking it to help keep it from becoming mushy in the dish.  In this case, the buckwheat is added after you cook the onion in 1 Tbsp of bacon fat which worked perfectly! It stayed together so well.  Thanks for that tip J   Amy, I took a picture of the “raw” buckwheat so you’d see what it should look like when you pick it up from the store!  -Vicki