Polenta-style Teff Wedges, two-ways.

Teff?! What the heck is teff? A year or so ago, I couldn’t imagine myself cooking let alone cooking teff. Teff is the world’s smallest whole-grain. It’s super tiny  and commonly comes in two varietes brown or ivory. I’ve eaten teff before in the form of injera, the Ethiopian flat bread used in eating Ethiopian food. I just didn’t know it was made from teff.  Teff is a super-grain, so much so that the ratio based on size vs. superness is outstanding. It has loads of calcium and protein–it has all 8 essential amino acids. It has a ton of iron too and in a form that your body can easily absorb. It truly is a superfood.

I made Polenta-Style Teff Wedges using a recipe from  Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking. Boy, were these good. And easy, too!  I like easy. Like polenta, you slowly stir in 2 cups grains into 6 cups salted boiling water. Unlike polenta, you don’ t have to stir constantly. You cover the pot and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until it gets nice and thick. You stir in a cup of grated Parmesan Cheese and pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Let it set up in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but  preferably longer. Cut the teff into wedges.

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The first way I prepared the teff wedges was by grilling them on my grill pan and serving them with salad and scrambled eggs.

The second way I prepared the wedges was by baking them in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. I served these over micro greens and with green beans.

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Farro with Green Onion Sauce, Toasted Walnuts, and Asparagus

{This is my 100th Post! Yay!}

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Farro.What is it? Farro is a whole-grain, similar to wheat, grown in Italy. Unlike spelt or wheatberries, it remains crunchy when you cook it.  It has a nutty, earthy taste with some complex undertones of oats and barley.

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It took me forever to find farro. I looked in (1)Whole Foods, (2)Trader Joes, (3)Bristol Farms, (4)the local crunchy-granola health food store, (5)Henry’s, (6)Vons. I finally found it at Surfas, which I probably would have gone sooner if it wasn’t an hour drive.  I was determined to find it and my determination paid off. The taste is out of this world.  If  you find some, buy it and cook with it.

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Farro with Green Onion Sauce, Toasted Walnuts, and Asparagus was the next recipe for me to try out of Super Natural Cooking. In addition to the farro, which is the star of the recipe, the green onion sauce is absolutely amazing in taste and simplicity. It’s chopped up green onions, sauteed with a bit of olive oil and salt. The onions are then slightly pureed with a hand blender. That’s it!

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Once the farro is almost done cooking, you add in the asparagus, toasted walnuts, lemon zest. Season with salt (I also added freshly squeezed lemon juice–I didn’t want the lemon to go to waste after taking its zest :p ). Serve it by topping with the green onion sauce, creme fraiche, and some parm cheese.

You can find the recipe here.

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OMG! Cheese. Oh, and some quinoa and mushrooms too.

I love cheese. All kinds. I love cheese with bread and wine. I love cheese with fruit. I love cheese-smothered anything.

I have a new favorite cheese: La Tur.

imgp3427It’s an Italian triple-cream cheese made from cow, sheep, and goat milk. It’s heaven. Pure heaven. I bought it because I was looking for Crescenza and couldn’t find it. A Whole Foods employee recommended La Tur. I’m so glad WF did not have Crescenza.

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I was looking for Crescenza for Quinoa and Crescenza with Sauteed Mushrooms {<—recipe here}, the next recipe out of Super Natural Foods on my list. Definitely try this recipe. The quinoa is cooked with wine, garlic, and onions. I used extra-virgin olive oil  instead of clarified butter. And of  course I used La Tur instead of Crescenza, which takes it to a whole other level. The mushrooms are quick and easy to make, sauteed in olive oil with a bit of red pepper flakes and salt.

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I paired the quinoa with a green salad and Old-Fashioned Dinner Rolls {<—recipe here} from a The Art & Soul of Baking recipe.  I made the cloverleaf variation, which is just one roll divided into 3 and stuffed and baked  in a muffin tin. The roll was absolutely delicious, but when La Tur is in the picture it takes a back seat. 😛

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It’s a whole grain-palooza!

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This weekend I made Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread the next recipe in the Art and Soul of Baking. The recipe calls for 9-grain hot cereal mix. When I went to the local health food store it buy it, I had a choice of 6, 7, 8,  or 10-grain cereal mix in addition to the 9-grain. I didn’t even know all these varieties existed. I used the 9-grain which includes: rice, corn, oats, cracked rye, barley, millet, flax, soy and triticale.

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The bread came together easily. Not bad! The bread is hearty, but light and mighty tasty. It’s great for sandwiches, toast, or just eating plain.

Almond Butter and Apple Sandwich

Almond Butter and Apple Sandwich

I also made a Wheat Berry Salad with citrus, toasted pine nuts, feta, and spinach using a recipe from Super Natural Cooking. This was my first time cooking/using wheat berries. The wheat berry is the whole wheat kernel–the bran, germ, and endosperm. Because it has all those parts, it takes about an hour to cook–but it is so worth it!

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The salad itself comes together quickly once the wheat berries are cooked. It’s nice eating it when it is still warm, but it is even better waiting for it to cool completely so all the flavors meld together.  YUM! I’m definitely going to make this again. I think it would be great for a potluck. Or making my own wheat berry salad using different flavorings like pears, blue cheese, and walnuts or tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella (no surprise there!).

Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread

From the Art and Soul o f Baking
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) 9-grain hot cereal mix (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 to 115F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
    1. Make The Cereal Mix: Pour the cereal into the medium bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to blend. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight (bring the mixture to room temperature before continuing).
    2. Mix, Rest, And Knead The Dough: Pour the warm water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and yeast and whisk by hand to blend. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Add the cooled cereal, honey, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Knead the dough on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm and elastic, 4 to 7 minutes.
    3. Rise The Dough (First Rise): Lightly oil the tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and lightly coat the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 35 to 45 minutes (longer if the room is cold). If you are using a tub, be sure to make the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of table so it’s easy to tell when the dough has doubled.
    4. Punch Down And Shape The Dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape (if this happens, simply cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towl and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes to give the gulten some time to relax.) Shape into a round, taut loaf. If you are using a baking or pizza stone, transfer the loaf to the semolina-dusted pizza peel, or form a makeshift peel by lining the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you are not using a baking stone, transfer the loaf to the cetner of a parchment-lined baking pan.
    5. Proof The Dough (Second Rise): Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and allow to rise until it is almost doubled and looks like it has taken a deep breath, 20 to 30 minutes.
    6. Prepare The Oven: Place the baking or pizza stone in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. Be sure to allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for the stone to fully heat.
    7. Bake The Loaf: Dust the top lightly with flour – don’t got crazy here or you’ll have a mouthful of flour. Slash a pattern in the top of the dough with a lame, razor blade, or chef’s knife. If the dough is on a pizza peel, transfer to the baking stone; if on a baking sheet, simply set the baking sheet on the baking stone or oven rack. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature registers 190F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife.

    Makes 1 Round Loaf

    Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus, Toasted Pine Nuts, Feta, and Spinach

    Adapted from Super Natural Cooking.
    • 2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed
    • 6 cups of water
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • Grated zest and juice of one orange
    • 1 tablespoon of  freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon or more sugar (optional)
    • 1 bag of baby spinach
    • 1 cup of toasted pine nuts
    • 1 /2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
    1. Combine wheat berries, water, and salt in sauce pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately an hour. The wheat berries will be plump and chewy. Drain and season with salt to taste.
    2. Meanwhile, combine orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add sugar if using.
    3. Toss the hot wheat berries with spinach, citrus dressing, and pine nuts. Top with feta cheese.

    Serves 4 to 6.

    Savory Amaranth Soufflé

    For dinner last night, I made a  Savory Amaranth Soufflé the next recipe from Heidi Swanson‘s Super Natural Cooking. It was very delicious and light and at the same time a little rustic tasting because  the ramekins were lined with toasted amaranth seeds.

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    Savory Amaranth Soufflé

    Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
    • heaping 1/2 cup of whole amaranth
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoon amaranth flour
    • 1 generous pinch of pure chili powder
    • 3/4 cup hot milk
    • 3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère
    1. Preheat oven to 400 F with rack placed towards the bottom. Butter two 10-ounce ramekins.
    2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast whole amaranth until golden and fragrant. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of toasted whole amaranth over the two ramekins to coat the bottom and sides. Shake out excess.
    3. Boil water, add a pinch of salt, and add remaining toasted amaranth. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until tender, 20 minutes or so. Drain any remaining water and set amaranth aside to cool.
    4. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and chili powder and whisk until foamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Return to heat and while whisking bring mixture to boil and let thicken for a minute. Remove from heat.
    5. Cool for a minute and whisk in egg yolks one at a time followed by the cheese. Stir until smooth and then mix in cooked amaranth.
    6. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into soufflé base in three parts. Gently pour into each of the prepared ramekins to just below the rim. Place ramekins on baking sheet and insert into oven. Reduce heat to 375 F and bake for 21 minutes or until puffy and golden. Serve immediately.

    Makes 2 single-serving soufflés.

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