Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals

I met Maria Speck a year ago on Facebook. At that time, she mentioned she was writing a book about whole grains. She also told me that she milled her own grains using a European grain mill. I’ve been milling a lot of my own grains for the past several years so I knew her book would be of special interest to me.

When Maria contacted me to see if I would like to review her new book, I didn’t hesitate. Ancient Grains for Modern Meals is a book about cooking with whole grains, not just bread, but I was delighted to have the opportunity to review it.  If you’ve been following my posts for the past several months, then you probably know that I’ve been featuring a different grain each month on my blog and in my newsletter.  I’ve also been experimenting with ancient grains so the timing of this book was perfect.

 ancient-grains-for-modern-meals Sara Remington © 2011


Ancient Grains for Modern Meals provides whole grain recipes for barley, farro, kamut, polenta, wheat berries, and more, all with a Mediterranean flair.  The author, Maria Speck, grew up in Greece and Germany before she moved to the United States so she brings a unique perspective to dishes made with whole grains.  If I was not already a lover of whole grains, I would be after reading her stories and trying her innovative recipes. 

The book is divided into seven chapters: 1) Breakfast, Brunch, & Breads; 2) Salads & Sides; 3) Soups & Stews; 4) Burgers, Savory Cakes, & More; 5) Pasta; 6) Modern Mains; and 7) Sweet Endings. 

So many of the recipes jumped out at me. I had a hard time deciding which ones to try. I mean, with names like Orange-Scented Scones with Dark Chocolate, Saffron Waffles with Orange Cream, and Pine Nut Bread with Fennel and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, what’s not to love! Then there’s the Greek-Style Cornbread with Feta and Thyme, Grain Burgers, Homemade Spelt Fettuccine, and a delicious-sounding Spelt Crust Pizza with Fennel, Prosciutto and Apples.  And, don’t even get me started on the desserts. My mouth has been watering for the Greek Walnut-Barley Cake or the Dark Chocolate Cake with Amaretto. Yum!

I was really tempted to post about the Tangerine-Lavender Coffee Cake. I love coffee cake and the flavors in this one sound divine, but then Maria tempted me further with a method for making bread that I had never heard of before. So I decided to try this unique recipe and method of making bread.  You know me, I’m not one to resist making a new type of bread especially one as fun as this one.

In order to keep this post to a reasonable length, I decided to post the recipe and directions for making it separately from the review.  Click here to learn about this mysterious and fun bread. 

In the meantime, check out Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. 

Maria’s goal is to transform the world into one planet of whole grain lovers.  If this book is any indication, I believe she may have just succeeded in moving that goal forward.  Her love of whole grains shines through the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her experiences and learning the history behind the recipes.

Find out more about the book and interact with Maria on the Ancient Grains for Modern Meals Facebook page.

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