Ancient Grains Week

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Our most recent cookbook adventure was with Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck.

We started the week with Lamb Burgers with Bulgur and Mint (pg. 136) — it was totally yummy, but we used a meatball/meatloaf mix instead of lamb because it was so expensive. The yogurt sauce I made to go with it was killer – zesty and savory and creamy, and the perfect pairing with the spicy patties. This was our favorite dish of the week.

Next, we tried the Conchiglie with Lamb and Minted Yogurt (pg. 162). It was sooooo tasty – spicy and complex, with the refreshing yogurt sauce on top (are you seeing a trend?) – but really too heavy to eat in the summer. This is more like a dish you need to eat when it’s 10 degrees out and you just came in from shoveling off your driveway. We both were in severe need of a nap after eating this.

Next we made Lamb Stew with Wheat Berries in Red Wine Sauce (pg. 121)… or should I say, a slightly-related dish? I used the recipe as more of an inspiration for what we ate — we had beef instead of lamb (because of cost again), barley instead of wheat berries (because I forgot to soak them overnight) and white wine instead of red (my bad). Also, I didn’t cook it in the Dutch oven – I knew I would be home late, so I set the slow cooker in the AM before work and had my husband stir in the quick barley when he got home.

The flavor was definitely complex – it’s got cinnamon in addition to savory seasonings – but the texture was a little weird. My grain change could be to blame here, as the barley sucked up all the liquid pretty fast and soon it wasn’t a stew anymore. I liked the flavor, but I wouldn’t use barley again in that way.

For a nice sweet note, we tried out the Saffron  Waffles with Orange Cream (pg. 51). These were tasty and complex with the creamy (you guessed it!) yogurt-based sauce, but they were definitely a lot more dense than the buttermilk yummies that we are used to. I’d repeat these, but maybe cut the whole wheat flour with a little AP flour, or maybe even a lighter cake flour.

The last (and most definitely not least) yummy dish we enjoyed from the book was Spaghetti with Roasted Chestnuts, Hazelnuts and Sage (pg. 156). I pretty much went by the book on this one, but added a little browned butter flavor with the olive oil, and left out the chestnuts (since we couldn’t find any fresh in the store). This was super-delicious. The whole grain pasta was nutty and wholesome, and the sage was the perfect herbal addition to the dish.

Overall, I was pretty happy with what we tried from this cookbook.

What’s next on our list? Not sure… Check back soon. =)

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Kat Salemno

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