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Grains


A crunchy, dense, no-rise, no-fuss loaf that’s done and dusted within an hour.

Experimenting with different flours is always fun. In France, flours tend to have less gluten and so home bread making has a different dimension.  Seek out a strong bread flour for these kinds of quick breads, even if they are labeled for the machine you can still use them for baking by hand. Look for a high ‘T’ number – the higher the T the higher the gluten content. If you don’t find a flour with muesli already added use a combination of rye and wholewheat flours and add seeds, nuts, dried fruits as you wish separately. Dried cranberries and raisins are good plus the usual mix of sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients

350 gr flour (rye/muesli/plain) – often half rye and half wholewheat or another multi-cereal bread flour works best

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

250 gr natural yogurt (Greek yogurt or other plain yogurt..)

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons raw oats

3 tablespoons honey/maple syrup/agave nectar

1 tablespoon nut oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon corn flour or flour (for kneading)

dried fruits and seeds as wanted ( 1-2 tablespoons)

Making

Preheat your oven to at least 200°C.  In a large bowl, mix the flours, the seeds, the oats, the dried fruit and the baking soda. Separately, mix the yogurt, water, honey or maple syrup together.

Slowly, slowly fold in the liquid to the flour until it forms a breadcrumb like mixture.

Pull it together until a rough dough holds together then turn it out onto a floured surface (use the cornflour – scatter it onto your work surface). Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball coating your hands in the olive oil while shaping the dough into an oblong loaf.  Using a knife score a few lines down the middle or cross-ways.

Bake in a hot oven (200°C) for about 30-40 minutes – you can check by tapping the base – a hollow sound indicates that the bread is done.

Turn out onto a rack and allow to cool. Keeps for a week in a dry airtight place. Excellent when toasted or served with hummus, cheese or marmalade.

Small, red and eaten extensively in China and Japan,  azuki beans are often eaten as a good luck or celebratory dish in Japan being cooked with sticky rice to form the red rice dish sekihan. Boiled with sugar they form the red bean paste commonly used in Chinese and Japanese desserts and are used to make teas, ice cream and soups.

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Their use in sweet treats got me thinking about the almond milk in the fridge and how a sweet and salty rice bowl would be pretty good for the red beans waiting on the shelf. The wild rice and quinoa give a great nutty base and absorb the almond milk and coconut to give a fluffy bowl with great texture and flavour. I also had them in mind to replace the black beans in Heidi’s infamous black bean brownies that have taken the food blogs by storm but that’s for the next post.

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Like all legumes and beans, they are very good for you, full of minerals such as zinc, magnesium and folate and unlike most dried beans you can get away without soaking overnight before cooking them.  They are also easier to digest then other beans. If you do find the time to soak them in cold water for a few hours, rinse them well before cooking.  They also  retain their shape during cooking which makes them prettier to serve.  This recipe would also work easily with black beans, plain rice or other grains.

Ingredients

1 cup red azuki beans (cooked)
2 cups quinoa
1 cup wild rice
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic diced
2 tablespoons strong tamari
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
11/2 tablespoon dessicated coconut
1 cup almond milk (or more depending on how “liquidy” you like it)
1 cup water

Making

The beans will take at least an hour so keep this in mind or have them cooked the day before. To cook them put 1 cup of beans with 2 cups or more of water and bring to the boil. Let simmer at a relatively high heat for about an hour or maybe more until you can easily mash them with a fork.

The rice and quinoa mix will take only about 25 minutes. In a pan melt a little butter and add the chopped onions stirring until translucent. Add the diced garlic and the grated coconut mixing well, lowering the heat to keep it from sticking. Pour in the quinoa and rice stirring so that they absorb the buttery onion mix.  Slowly add a little of the almond milk ensuring the quinoa and rice are coated. Then add the water bringing the rice and quinoa to the boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. At this point add more almond milk stirring well. Add one tablespoon of tamari. When all the liquid is absorbed add more almond milk and tamari and take off the heat. Set aside until the beans are ready. When the beans are done, drain them in wold water to rinse off any excess starch or cooking liquid then return them to their pan adding 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Toss around on the heat then serve over the fluffy  rice and quinoa. Serve immediately.

Retain a little almond milk to pour over as you finish cooking and are about to serve.

Add the beans and drizzle with tamari and a little maple (or agave) syrup.

Nothing too original in this recipe but Paris picnicking season is well underway and there is always call for a Tupperware container of some kind of “salad”. It’s always fun too to raise Parisian eyebrows with random combinations of sweet and savoury.  It took me a long time to figure out that the exotic wheat berry as spoken of by North American cooks and foodies was in fact the humble blé as served in the work canteen. They’re  another great grain to add to the mix if you’re sick of quinoa/millet/rice etc…

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Ingredients

- 1 generous cup wheatberries
- 5/6 small fresh apricots
- 1 tablespoon tamari

- 1/2  teaspoon brown sugar
- 2/3 tablespoons nut or olive oil
- half a large cucumber
- 1/2 clove garlic diced
- salt and pepper to taste

Making

Heat a tiny amount of butter or oil in a pan and toss the wheat berries in it until they’re coated. Add 2 cups cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and remove once all water has been absorbed and the wheat berries are soft to the bite. Rinse the grains under running water in a colander to remove the starch and stop cooking. Set aside in a large bowl.

Remove the pits from the apricots chop both these and the cucumber small pieces. In a small bowl mix together the oil, garlic, tamari and sugar. Toss the apricots and cucumber in this mixture until fully coated.

Mix the apricot cucumber mixture into the wheat berries.

Leave to marinade a little, let the flavours develop or chill until it’s time to picnic!

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Black and yellow and red all over.
An all-in-one bowl of grainy goodness. Lots of flavour from the black pudding and the quinoa is nutty enough to take it. This is a crumbly nutty all-in-one bowl that was inspired by a menu at a local restaurant and was delighted to see that one of their starters involved Clonakilty black pudding. I happened to have some in the fridge, a very rare occurrence and thought I could perhaps put it to good use and at the same time attempt to take it out of it’s usual position as a heavy meaty creature and pair it with some quinoa. The nutty firm texture of quinoa seemed an ideal partner for the crumbly nature of an Irish black pudding with its oaty flesh spicy flavours. Despite it’s less then picturesque beginning as pig or cattle blood – descriptions in wikipedia include “before congealing into a sausage”…let this go and treat it as a delicacy to be eaten in small amounts…

Many Spanish tapas include smooth morcilla, the Spanish equivalent, sweeter and smoother then the coarser boudin. In France it is often served as a tatin with apple sauce and is very good. Most Irish or Scottish black puddings are made with a certain amount of oats. Spanish morcilla is alot smoother and perhaps not ideal in this kind of recipe. Irish boudin noir is more crumbly when cooked and becomes the topping for this fast and easy supper. I say supper but makes perfect leftovers for lunch the next day.
In this bowl some pan fried apple chunks would probably be a welcome addition so go for it. Fruit cuts through the inevitably slightly fatty element of the pudding and the combination of black pudding and red fruits in Ireland or black pudding and apple sauce in a Bretagne or Normandie crepe is still a staple on many menus. But let’s face it – the people who made it rather fashionable fare years ago probably would never have paired it with quinoa.

Indeed the majority of quinoa eaters would never ever dream of letting black pudding pass their vegetarian lips. However in this world there exists people who blur the lines. I’m an avid quinoa eater who likes nothing more then a bowl of lentils and may not touch meat for three weeks in a row. But I also savour the spiciness of a boudin noir or the tenderness of barely cooked lamb or a barbecued steak.

I really only draw the line at andouillete but that’s another story and it’s not one that will be told here….

Ingredients

1/2 an onion
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 clove garlic
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (barely cooked)
1 cup red quinoa
4 slices of a good quality black pudding (or boudin noir)
Vegetarians – please note – you could substitute smoked tofu, plain tofu or nothing at all)
1 cup yellow lentils

Making

Cook the lentils in boiling water for about 15 minutes. You want them whole and crunchy not mushy. Often I cook the quinoa with the lentils, they need about the same time. Or you can do them separately. The peas need about 2 minutes so they retain their crunch and their goodness. There is no point in eating a vegetable that has been cooked to death.

Heat a pan and when very hot toast some cumin seeds on it alone until they start to crackle. Then turn down the heat and add a little oil. Fry garlic and onions until soft. Use a little nut oil if you have it. Having sliced the black pudding into slim round discs add this to the mix. They need just a minute or two really on each side. Take off the heat at this point. Set aside some of the pudding at this point to use as a crumbly topping when serving.

The pudding becomes crumbly in cooking so in your still hot pan mix in some of the lentils, peas and quinoa so they absorb some of the cumin and garlic flavours. Then serve with the rest of the pudding on top. A little basil adds a touch of sweetness.

This makes a great warm supper or eat it cold the next day.