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Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More [Hardcover]

Maria Speck
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 27.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 April 2011
Food writer Maria Speck’s passion for propelling Old World staples such as farro, barley, polenta, and wheat berries to the forefront of new American cooking is beautifully presented in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. In this inspired and highly personal book, Maria Speck draws on food traditions from across the Mediterranean and northern Europe to reveal how versatile, satisfying, flavorful, and sophisticated whole grains can be.  
Rustic but elegant dishes--Creamy Farro with Honey-Roasted Grapes, Barley Salad with Figs and Tarragon-Lemon Dressing, Lamb Stew with Wheat Berries in Red Wine Sauce, and Purple Rice Pudding with Rose Water Dates--are sure to please discerning palates and become favorites in any whole grain repertoire.
Food lovers and health-conscious home chefs alike learn how to integrate whole grains into their busy lives, from quick-cooking quinoa and buckwheat to the slower varieties such as spelt and Kamut. The stunning flavors and lively textures of whole grains are enhanced with natural ingredients such as butter, cream, and prosciutto--in moderation--to create lush Mediterranean-inspired recipes. Maria’s approachable style and generous spirit make this collection of time-honored, updated classics a treasury for today’s cooks.

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Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More + Super Natural Every Day: Well Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (15 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580083544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580083546
  • Product Dimensions: 25.8 x 21.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 260,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 3 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I couldn't agree LESS with the previous review. This is one of the most inspiring cook books I have seen in a long while (and the first I have ever felt strongly enough about to review!). I am actually reading it from start to finish as I would a novel or biography. The book starts with an overview of the ingredients, especially the seeds themselves, and how to cook them. Maria also writes about her childhood experiences in Germany and Greece, where her Mother and Grandmothers taught her the pleasures of a food tradition rich in nuts, fruits and grains. She has adapted these recipes to suit our twenty-first century lifestyle, and the result is a delight.
If you have access to a reasonably efficient healthfood shop there should be no trouble finding the ingredients, and the cooking methods are simple to follow. So far, I have only cooked a few of the recipes, but all the results have been quite splendid - Warm Oat Berries with Walnuts and Gorgonzola was a real hit with my family; we ate it with a grilled Tuna steak and green veg - delicious! I can't wait to try some more.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars so disappointing 4 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Had high hopes for this book that it would have a wide range of down to earth meals using these grains in a variety of ways. sadly it like one of those cooking shows it looks pretty but you are just never going to cook the meals.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whole Grains for Gourmets 12 Jun 2011
By Dr. Karin M. Anderson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At the first glance, Maria Speck's book not only pleases by its appetizing photos, but, also, by its clear, user friendly design. A mixture of biographical anecdotes, helpful comments and tempting recipes - don't worry, the recipes are the main part - the book is very well written, funny, not only instructive, but also entertaining.
Reading it, I had several "Aha" moments - the author (who grew up in Germany and Greece) doesn't shy away from rich ingredients like butter, bacon, or a shot of booze, but believes that "food has to be mouthwatering" and "eating is about pleasure first, and dieting last". And her recipes really live up to that credo!
I served the "Brie Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes" to my rather skeptical husband who, after the first forkful, turned into an ardent "believer". The oat based burgers, seasoned with roasted pine nuts, rosemary and sage, were absolutely amazing! Being an avid baker, I also tried the "Greek Walnut-Barley Cake", Lemon-Rosemary Scones" and "Orange Scented Scones with Dark Chocolate" - all were delicious.
The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, even for iffier steps (like handling very sticky dough), and, for people like me, who don't like it too sweet, there is no necessity to cut down on sugar or honey - the seasoning is just right.
This is really a cookbook that takes the scary (and Puritan!) out of whole grain cooking.
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far, my favorite new cookbook! 20 Jun 2011
By Peace, Love, Vegan - Published on
I am absolutely in love with cookbooks. As a general rule my grandma once told me, it's worth buying a cookbook if you get 2 or 3 unique new recipes you can go to regularly. Now, I usually don't buy cookbooks that aren't vegan specific but I could not pass this one up. The salads section alone has been worth the money and are already vegan (aside from some added cheese or butter which is easy to substitute or omit).

I've made the salad on the cover, which is delicious with a garlic marinated tofu slice, and we've made this recipe twice in 2 weeks. The recipe that really sold the book for me was the Bittersweet Koliva that you can see in the Amazon "Look Inside"feature. I made this for my Greek friend from Thessaloniki (where the author is from) and she LOVED it! It's a very unique sweet grain dish that I never would have thought of on my own. And a little tip, I substituted the raisins and dragees for ribbons of toasted coconut. So delicious!

I highly recommend this book so anyone and everyone! It has creative recipes that I never could have imagines and they are so simple and wholesome. Though I have only tried a few of these ancients grains, they have become the new staples in my diet (plain brown rice is out! haha). What's also great is that it is a healthy but delicious book that's great for vegetarians, carnists, and vegans alike!

If you're on the fence about getting this book, try some of the recipes you can see in the "Look Inside" feature (this is a good tip for any cookbook you might want on Amazon) and see if yourself how worthwhile it would be to have. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, 100% Whole Grains 5 May 2011
By S. Nasser - Published on
I've enjoyed everything I've tried from this book so far. There are a lot of interesting combinations of Mediterranean flavors to try. The recipes strike a nice balance between being fully detailed, so that you can follow them exactly if you wish, and being adaptable, so that you can take the inspiration provided and adapt it to your tastes and supplies.

This is a very good-looking book, with nice page layout and lovely photographs.

I love that the recipes, including the baked goods, all use 100% whole grains--no hidden white flour.
62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little disappointed; title is a little misleading 24 Aug 2011
By Milic - Published on
i was really looking forward to finding lots of recipes using whole grains, or "berries", as the author calls them, but i found that many of the recipes only use whole grain flour, and not the whole grain. there is only 1 recipe for amaranth and buckwheat, and 3 for quinoa, for example. the recipes look good, but it's not what i was expecting.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Whole Grains Cookbook Everyone Can Savor 5 Jun 2011
By Myrna S. Greenfield - Published on
I can't even pretend to be objective about Maria Speck's new cookbook, "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" because a) Maria's a long-time friend; b) she let me test a couple of the recipes; c) the recipes are creative, delicious, and fun to cook; d) the photos are gorgeous; e) it's a great read, because it's full of stories about Maria's Greek and German family; and f) the information about cooking with whole grains is really useful, whether you know your spelt from your farro or you couldn't tell the difference between a grain of brown rice and a couscou (what the heck do you call a single grain of couscous, anyway?)

Maria embraces the use of butter, cream and bacon; and insists that "health is the last thing on my mind when I eat." Fortunately, even though I'm a pescovegetarian and try to eat as healthily as possible, I can still enjoy this cookbook, because many of the recipes includes suggestions for how to lighten them up or make them vegetarian.

Whether you're a hedonist or a health nut, this book will make you want to try every recipe, because Maria swoons over the taste and texture of each whole grain like it's a treasured friend. To be candid, I think she's a bit nutty, because, face it, certain grains are rather bland. For example, what's the big whoop about polenta? Even when it's fried with a nice crust, it still tastes like breakfast cereal. Fortunately, her recipes call for foods with strong Mediterranean flavors--such as feta cheese, smoked trout, and olives--that could make almost any grain taste good.

Millet is another one of those grains that I'm not particularly crazy about, but its dry, almost nutty flavor is a perfect foil to soak up the salty tomato sauce in one of my favorite recipes in the book, "Greek Millet Saganaki with Shrimp and Ouzo." I've never been a fan of ouzo, either, but the liqueur cuts through the salt and gives this dish a bright, clean flavor. I even discovered that ouzo can be pretty refreshing when you drink it on the rocks with a splash of soda.

Although I'm admittedly biased, I'm sure that you, too, will find at least one new food in this cookbook that you never thought you'd want to eat.
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