Part 3: Whole Grain Goodness

November 7, 2006 on 7:46 pm | By | In Recipes | Comments Off on Part 3: Whole Grain Goodness

Given colon cancer runs in my family, I give a lot of thought to my plumbing (don’t worry, I won’t go into detail!) From a nutrition standpoint, I’m incorporating more leaner meats and seafood into my diet rather than red meat, plus I’ve introduced more whole grains. I still love white pasta, potatoes and pizza crust, but as with everything, it’s in greater moderation.

As I was perusing my “Techniques of Healthy Cooking” book from the CIA one recipe jumped out: Native Grain Cakes of Corn, Wild Rice and Quinoa. For those unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), it’s a grain native to the Andes that has a slightly nutty flavor. When raw the grains are teensy tiny, but they cook up fluffy while still maintaining a bit of a crunch. They’re packed with protein and all sorts of healthy vitamins. It’s one of those grains that I don’t often think of, but when I have it I always enjoy it.

When cooking quinoa it’s important to rinse it thoroughly as it has a somewhat soapy film on it. It cooks up quickly (about 10 minutes), and can be used in both hot and cold dishes. For the CIA recipe, you cook up the quinoa, wild rice and polenta separately, then mix them together for the cakes. The CIA has you coat the cakes in a cornmeal and crushed cornflake breading, however, I found panko to be much more desirable. The cornmeal was far too crunchy (I used medium grind), plus I had to purchase the corn flakes specifically for this recipe (I didn’t think they added anything either). The cakes are quite rich; although my picture shows three cakes as a serving (with a roasted red pepper/hazelnut romesco sauce on top), two were plenty for me.

Risotto CakesThe next recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated (yes, I LOVE that magazine!). The November/December 2006 issue featured multigrain pancakes — something I’ve been meaning to develop myself. But I don’t mind taking the lazy way out as long as the result is delicious!

My darling is actually the pancake connoisseur. He often whips up his grandmother’s recipe for buttermilk pancakes — 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 tsp. each of baking soda and baking powder, 1 egg. They are indeed delicious (although I like mine fluffier, so we divide the batter each time we make it. He stirs his up so that they’re a bit chewier), but I thought we should also have a whole grain version in our repertoire. Cook’s uses a unique ingredient — ground up muesli — for its recipe, with wonderful results. Given how much my darling loves his pancakes I thought the multigrain ones would be a tough sell. But he loved ’em!

The third recipe can in no way, shape or form be considered whole grain OR diet friendly, but I just had to share it. Sometimes a lazy Sunday morning calls out for decadence, and Dutch Babies sure fit the bill. I served this with blueberries with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar. Nummy!


Whole Grain Cakes
Adapted from the CIA’s “Techniques of Healthy Cooking”
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 1/4 ounces quinoa
1 1/2 ounces wild rice
Vegetable or chicken stock, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. cumin
Cayenne, to taste
1 1/2 cups panko
1 tablespoon oil
Vegetable oil spray, as needed

Rinse and drain the quinoa and cook for 10 minutes (a 2:1 ratio of stock to quinoa). Fluff with a fork and set aside. Cook wild rice (at least a 2:1 ratio), season with salt & pepper and set aside. Bring 2 cups of stock to a boil and whisk in polenta. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and combine with quinoa and wild rice. Season with spices and cool to the touch.

Mix panko throughly with 1 T. of oil and toast over medium heat until golden brown. Form quinoa mixture into 3″ patties and dredge with panko. Place on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through, approximately 15-20 minutes. Serve with sauce of choice.

Cook’s Illustrated’s Multigrain Pancakes
4-6 servings

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups plus 3 T. muesli (preferably no sugar added)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 T. light or dark brown sugar (reduce if using muesli w/sugar)
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 T. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Vegetable oil

Whisk lemon juice and milk together in medium bowl; set aside to thicken. Process 1 1/4 cups muesli in food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add remaining unground muesli, flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.

Whisk eggs, melted butter and vanilla into milk. Make well in center of muesli mix and pour in milk. Gently fold together (there’ll still be streaks of flour and a few lumps). Allow batter to sit at least 5 minutes while pan heats.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Brush with vegetable oil to coat bottom evenly. Pour 1/4 cup batter into 3 spots in skillet; cook until small bubbles begin to appear evenly over surface. Flip and cook until golden brown on other side. Serve immediately with maple syrup (you can hold the pancakes for 20 minutes in a 200-degree oven while preparing others).

Dutch Baby, from the New Joy of Cooking
Serves 2

Preheat oven to 425.

Whisk until smooth:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Melt 4 T. of unsalted butter over medium heat in a 10″ cast iron skillet, tilting the skillet so that the butter coats the sides. Pour batter in and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until pancake is puffed and golden, approximately 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately as the pancake will deflate almost immediately!

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