26 September 2012

Grain Mains

What, you might ask, is such a carnivorous loving web site doing reviewing a grain book? Hey, we have done grains before.  We love grains, usually accompanied by a nice rib-eye, but we do love grains.   In fact, last Christmas we got a 5 pound bag of quinoa -- a gift that keeps on giving. 

Let me get this out of the way, Rodale sent out a copy of this book and giveaway books!!  Yes, gentle reader, you too, may get a copy of this very book.  This book, however, was already on our "Wish List."  We often get publishers offering us cookbooks and since we believe in full disclosure and since we rarely write about a book we do not like, we have certain trepidation when accepting such books.  Seriously, what if they suck?  What if they are about baby food?  What if they are just tedious?  We did not feel any of that when we accepted Grain Mains


First and foremost, we love Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.   They wrote one of our Top Ten cookbooks of 2011, Goat: Meat Milk Cheese.   Secondly, they are funny.  We read a lot of cookbooks!  Rarely do they convey joy and humor, but these guys always do and that is a joy.  

An aside:

I have a friend who is in his 86, which as it turn out, is also his weight.  I never see him that he does not eventually get around to talking about Red Meat.  It is a killer.  It make you fat -- he looks at me.  It is bad for you, not just me.  Fat, cholesterol, mad cow... the mind wanders.  If you love food, you know this person and you do your best to duck and cover.  One worries that someone who actually writes a cookbook about "grain" might be a heavy-handed.  Not so in Grain Mains.

Another problem...

Corn and rice -- we can cook that.

Barley?  OK once, as a child we had Campbell's Beef and Barley soup.

Millet?  Wasn't she that poet? Edna something Millet.

Amaranth? Teff? Job's Tears?   How the frack do I cook this?  Do not despair.  Weinstein and Scarbrough give the reader a simple and easy primer on each grain.  It's flavor, texture, and a little history.  They also provide a ratio of liquid to solid for cooking  and a time frame. Yes, Virgina, you can cook Kamut.

Let's review:

We got the book for free and we are having a give away.    Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are funny and not holier-than-thou health food nuts.  If you can cook rice you can cook quinoa.   

Grain Mains: 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day does just that.  The cookbook offers up a series of recipes featuring a whole grain main ingredient that moves beyond oatmeal.  Want an interesting choice for breakfast?  Try their Quinoa Cashew Muffins or Breakfast Polenta Cake with Kamut Crunch Topping. 

We find salads are a great place for introducing whole grains into a meal.  The grains add an amazing texture and elevate the most ordinary salad.   By adding wheat berries to a simple olive and feta salad, Weinstein and Scarbrough offer up the familiar with a Grain Mains twist.   They make a Reuben Salad (and I thought I was the only one who made a Reuben Salad) and add rye berries, which makes perfect sense and gives the creamy cabbage, pastrami and cheese a nice chewy bite.  And speaking of pastrami, while most of the recipes in the book are vegan or vegetarian, there is ham, chorizo, bacon and tuna to please those carnivores among us, while providing animal-free options. 

The biggest testament to the power of grains is the section on grain burgers.   The most finicky of eaters will devour most anything slapped between two buns and Grain Mains offers up several inviting creations including this one:

Black Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers

2/3 cup black quinoa
1 (15 ounces) can  black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooing or steel-cut)
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
Up to 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno rings
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons nut oil, such as walnut, pecan, pistachio, or hazelnut

1.  Fill a large saucepan about halfway with water, pour in the quinoa, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grains have developed their halos and are tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain in a fine mesh sieve or a lined colander set in the sink.

2. Scrape the quinoa into a large food processor. (Believe it or not, this is the hardest part of this entire recipe: getting all those grains out of the sieve.)  Then add the black beans, oats, barbecue sauce, jalapenos, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, chile powder and cumin,  Process to make a paste like batter, scraping down the inside of the bowl once or twice.  Scrape down and remove the chopping blade.

3.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and swirl in the oil.  Use dampened hands to form the batter into 6 even, round, fairly flat patties.  Slip these into the skillet and cook until deeply browned, about 4 minutes.  Flip them and continue cooking until well browned and crisp on the other side, about 4 more minutes.  
 Gosh, burgers, salads, stews, casseroles, muffins, cakes all filled with whole grains.  Your cardiologist will love you, as will most everyone else you might just be cooking for.  Give Grain Mains a try.  We will make it ever so easy, just comment and win... maybe.


  1. sounds like a great book

  2. The black bean burger recipe looks very interesting.

  3. Interesting info. I'll have to check out some of this.


  4. Who would think you could salivate over grains, but I am, or your made me with your great description.

    At the very least I will put it on the libraries wish list! Thank you.

  5. This is timely, too. With all the recent talk of arsenic in rice - even BROWN RICE - I'm looking at other grains.

    Not that there's any hope for me. I grew up in the Deep South where nice, light, white rice was a daily dish.

  6. I read cookbooks like they are novels and this one looks like it would be an excellent read! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  7. Interesting info, thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  8. I'd be interested! I was amused at myself, walking into the new Whole Foods nearby (the first one), looking at their bulk foods section and going "Okay, I've heard of these things...what do you do with them?"

  9. this looks like an interesting book. 10750coupons at gmail dot com

  10. I'd love to give this book a look see and get cooking more grains.


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