Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gargantuan Grain Junket, Part Un: That's Groats!

We have recently come into a gargantuan amount of grains.  Odd grains that people don't talk about much at the grocery store.  These grains are like the mysterious art kids in the cafeteria who sat under the block of florescent lights that flickered and dimmed slightly.  These grains are indie, pretentious, cool, and a little rough around the edges.  I have no clue how to cook these grains.  Side note:  I'm not even sure they're all 'grains.'

I invite you to join me on my Gargantuan Grain Junket.  Together we'll discover the nutritional benefits of eating indie grains and the ins and outs of making them digestible. 

As this week's title suggests, we're going groats, buckwheat groats to be exact.  Some folks call it kasha, which rhymes with sasha and makes me think of Borat.  Groats sounds like gross, which is basically a synonym for Borat but with less graphic associations.  So we'll go with groats.  As a result, there will be no photograph of this dish (because it's groats).  I don't want to give you the wrong idea, this is dang good food; it's just not...pretty.  Since there won't be a picture of the finished project, here's a stock image of buckwheat groats so you know what we're working with.

They have the shape of chocolate chips!  These puppies are souped up with magnesium and omega-6 fatty acids.  As with most grains & indie grains (aka pseudo-grains) there are a variety of ways to cook them.  I decided to ease my way in to this journey and cooked them much like I would quinoa.  I rinsed them first because they came from the bulk section and I picked out any weird looking ones.  Then it's just 2:1 water to groat.  When cooked, they got really clumpy and delicious; it kind of reminded me of chunky (not soupy) oatmeal, although each individual groat did retain its shape.

Sounds cooler when you put the two words together to make one word, almost like a city in Russia.

1 cup buckwheat groats, rinsed & picked over
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 package herbed (or plain) tofu, extra firm
1 10 oz package frozen broccoli florets
Basil Pesto (see below)

In a medium saucepan boil water.  Add groats and return to boiling.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 - 20 min or until all water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cube the tofu and press away excess moisture.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  Working in batches so as to avoid over crowding, pan fry the cubed tofu until golden brown, flipping as necessary.

Boil/steam/microwave/thaw the broccoli.  Chop into bite size pieces.

Combine groats, tofu, and broccoli.  Top with 1 - 2 tbsp basil pesto per serving.

Pesto Change-O!  You can use the skeleton of this recipe for Cilantro Pesto and make a few substitutions for this meal:  Sub basil for cilantro, Parmesan cheese is optional (or you can sub in sun-dried maters).  Omit mustard seed, orange zest.  Red pepper flakes are optional.

There ya have it folks.  Pestogroats.  A hearty, nutrient-dense, indie treat.  I would love to hear your experiences with groats, including any word associations that come to mind.  Also, check out this recipe for Crunchy Buckwheat Groats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cuter than a shortbread biscuit

Strawberry shortcake banana split!  We think your team is full of--shake it to the left!  Shake it to the right!
Did you ever sing this song as a kid?  Did you giggle at how 'shake' made the adults think you were going to say shit?  I did!  And all summer long, I have been giggling, scheming, and searching for the best shortcake recipe.  Alas school has started and despite what the calendars say, that means summer's over for millions of kids.  Thankfully, my mom came to visit this past weekend and gave me an awesome reason to get quick in the kitchen with this recipe on Friday night.

Most of the recipes I found weren't really cakes, per se, more like biscuits.  I think the biscuit thing is really hot right now, especially for Knoxville, which is home of the International Biscuit Festival.  Also biscuits seem more rustic than cake and we are in the middle of this movement (buzzwords are 'local,' 'sustainable,' 'homemade,' 'don't eat it if your grandmother wouldn't recognize the ingredients,' etc)...let's face it folks, cake ain't that earthy--but biscuits... 

Berry Shortbread Biscuits
I am using the biscuit recipe for Very Berry Shortcakes from Vegetarian Times.

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk, plus more for brushing tops of shortcakes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup turbinado sugar, optional

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Put your metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment into the freezer.  Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.  Stir in oil until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk together almond milk and vanilla extract.  Stir almond milk mixture into flour mixture until soft dough forms.

Turn out dough onto floured work surface, and roll to 1-inch thickness.  Cut out 8 shortcakes with 2 1/2-inch round cutter.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet, brush biscuit tops with almond milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if using.  Bake 12 to 15 min or until biscuits are golden brown.  Cool 10 min.

While the biscuits are cooling make the whipped cream.  Get your frosty bowl and whisk attachment from the freezer and using your mixer (or by hand...ouch!) whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Whip until stiff peaks form (until it looks like whipped cream).

What about the berries?  Some recipes call for a berry compote or something fancy like that.  I just microwaved a frozen mixed berry blend (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) until thawed.  In between nukes I mashed the berries a little with a fork to extract more juice for drizzling.

Assembly required:  Using a serrated knife, split the biscuits in half.  Place the bottom on your plate, top with berries and a touch of whipped cream.  Cap with biscuit tops, a generous heap of whipped cream, more berries & berry juice.

Shameless Plug:  Balancing Flow is still at 7:45pm on Tuesdays at the Glowing Body AND starting in September, I will be taking over the Karma Yoga I class on Sundays at 1:00pm.  Karma Yoga is donation based.  See you there!