Maria Speck is an expert when it comes to cooking with grains. Her Greek and Germanic background gives her an edge with Mediterranean food that one can only get by actually being immersed in the culture and food. Her two cookbooks focus on Mediterranean flavors and cooking styles while creating delicious meals with whole grains and seeds that cook up like grains. Simply Ancient Grains is her second cookbook.
Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well by Maria Speck is a collection of delicious recipes that use grains. These recipes are arranged in a hardcover book that is 272 pages long. This cookbook shares a lot of tips and tricks to get nutritious whole grains on the table quickly so you can enjoy them without all the time spent and fuss. Simply Ancient Grains also shows you how to make delicious complete meals: breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even desserts with grains. The ingredients Maria uses are chosen in their most natural state to enhance the nutrition and flavor of each recipe. She introduces a two-step method for cooking grains, a simple yet effective approach that helps take the stress out of everyday cooking with grains.
The layout of the book is fairly straightforward. Contents of this book start with the acknowledgements, an introduction, and an ancient grains 101 section which lists grains from A to Z and describes them, tells how to cook and bake with them, what equipment is needed, a grain cooking table, and menu inspirations for the week ahead with "Pick Your Grains". Then the middle of the cookbook has chapters that are filled with the scrumptious recipes.
Here is the chapter layout:
- CHAPTER 1 breakfast Warming Bowls for Busy Mornings
- CHAPTER 2 slow mornings Brunch, Lunch, and Breakfast-for-Dinner
- CHAPTER 3 salads and sides For Every Day and for Holidays
- CHAPTER 4 soups and stews For Busy Nights and Slow Weekends
- CHAPTER 5 pasta From Ancient Grains to Modern Heirlooms
- CHAPTER 6 simply mains For Busy Nights and Slow Weekends
- CHAPTER 7 simple and sweet Desserts for Every Day and for the Holidays
The recipes are easy to prepare and have ingredients that even the novice cook can cook with. A lot of the recipes have lentils and beans, vegetables and greens, grains and nuts with small portions of meat or fish, if any meat/fish is present at all. The recipe starts with the title at the top of the page with a story as to why the recipe was picked under that. It also states if the recipe is truly gluten free or has an option to be. Then down further on the page is the directions with the ingredients, serving size/amount and how many it serves on the side. Lastly on the page there are "fine points" which are indented and tell you tips, tricks, variations, and substitutions you can try. Sometimes the "fine points" are in the side bar of the page under the serving amounts and they might also have things to do ahead of time to make the recipe even easier, so I recommend reading this section first, even though it is last. There are also pages with text surrounded by a box. This is extra information that you may have not known and is good information to have. I do wish that all of the recipes were accompanied by the photograph of the completed dish, but not all of them are. Some instead have pictures of one ingredient or no pictures at all. I am a visual person so the completed pictures help me know what the end result is supposed to look like. All the photographs in this cookbook look fabulous and mouth watering. My favorite yummy sounding recipes in this book are: Burgundy Bulgur with Blueberries and Orange Blossom Water, Baked Feta Fingers in Saffron Quinoa with Tomatoes, Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta, Chicken Stew with Honey-Balsamic Squash and Farro, My Mac and Cheese with Greek Yogurt and Leeks, Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Hazelnut Buckwheat Stuffing, and Light Lemon Custard with Blackberries and Pomegranate Molasses.
At the end of the book is Ingredients and Techniques, Sources, Bibliography, and an Index. The Ingredients and Techniques section gives ingredient descriptions and techniques that a novice cook might not have heard of or tried. The Sources section gives you a list and description of companies and products that you should familiarize yourself with while using this cookbook and cooking with grains in general. The Bibliography gives you other books and sources that you can read to enhance your experiences with grains. The Index is very helpful with helping you find your way around this book. There is also handy Measurement Conversion Charts to help you with volume, temperature, length, and weight.
Even though I am familiar with quinoa, barley, couscous, bulgur, rice, etc. and keep some of these in my kitchen pantry, I find that a lot of people don't know about these yummy ancient grains. Although, they are getting more and more recognized as time passes, especially to the health conscious. I love that there is still even more about grains for me to learn and the Simply Ancient Grains cookbook is definitely a great start for anyone willing. Before this cookbook I had never heard of Freekeh, Teff, or Farro and even though I had heard of Amaranth and Kamut, I have yet to try them. I am excited to try all the nutritious recipes and the new ingredients for myself within Simply Ancient Grains. I am sure they will become staples in my home as I lovingly dogear the pages of this cookbook.
DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Blogging For Books for sending me this book for free to review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.