Experimenting with grains


Most of us have heard of quinoa. Gluten free and available in a rainbow of colors, you’ve probably tried quinoa in either a recipe you created in your home kitchen or in a dish at a favorite restaurant. In my mind, quinoa has opened the grain door to many a cook.

Often referred to as a super food, quinoa is actually an edible seed originating in the Andean region of Chile and Peru. A true protein, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids. Light and fluffy when cooked with a slight nutty flavor, it is one of the oldest grains around.

Nothing against quinoa. It should serve as a staple in everyone’s cupboard. But it’s time to step out of your grain comfort zone. We are in the midst of a grain revival where everything old is new again. Grains with ancient roots like kamut, farro and amaranth are increasingly accessible. And winter provides the perfect time to partake in some grain experimentation.

The winter 2015/16 edition of Edible Door Magazine features my article discussing various grains and seeds along with some terrific recipes.

Here are some of my favorite recipes to get you started on your cooking with grains adventure.


Grain-Stuffed Acorn Squash

This delicious main course recipe is a great vegetarian option.  I used wild rice and kamut for the recipe but feel free to experiment with your blend.
Here’s a video of me making the dish……




Kamut Salad with Dried Fruit and Cashews

This delicious salad is from Greens and Grains in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (Door County).   Kamut was used for farro or wheat berries could be substituted.  It is made without oil with extra crunch added with cashews and julienne carrots.


Farro, Sweet Corn and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

Farro is used to make this creamy risotto.   Fresh corn (though you can substitute thawed frozen) and sautéed shiitake mushrooms
help create this heart-warming vegetarian dish.


Quinoa with Butternut Squash

This dish can be used as a main course, as a salad or as an addition to an entree of grilled chicken or fish.   A hint of maple syrup
and some toasted pepitas give this dish some extra flavor.   If you have fresh herbs like mint or basil, add them as well.


The Cookery’s Red Quinoa and Feta Salad

The Cookery, located in Fish Creek (Door County), Wisconsin has this delicious red quinoa and feta salad on their menu.  Add a protein
like grilled chicken or salmon for an entree version of this salad.


Quinoa, Bulgur and Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

This take off on the tradition tabbouleh combined quinoa with the bulgur along with roasted eggplant and chickpeas.
Feta, black olive, cilantro, mint and lemon are added to make a delicious salad.  Add tear-drop or cherry tomatoes if available.


Five-Grain Bread

This five-grain bread recipe is great to make on a snowy winter day!   I used quinoa and whole oats and part of the grain mix.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Soups & Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , ,

Grain-Stuffed Acorn Squash



The Winter issue of Edible Door Magazine features this terrific acorn squash recipe.  I first roast the squash halves with a little maple syrup glaze then stuff them with a mixture of grains.  I used kamut and wild rice in the photo, but any grain or rice will work.   Steamed sweet potato pieces and dried cranberries or cherries give the dish some added color.

Click here to see my  culinary video that shows the entire recipe.   I have also listed the print version below.   Hope you can try this satisfying and healthy dish!

Kamut and Wild Rice Salad Stuffed Winter Squash

Kamut is an ancient wheat.   Soaking the grain overnight helps the grain cook faster.  Cook the kamut and wild rice separately as the cooking time will vary for each one.  The diced sweet potato can be steamed in a microwave oven with a little water or in a small skillet.  The entire stuffing can be made the day before finishing the dish.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
¾ cup steamed sweet potato (about one small), cut into ¼ inch dice
1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
½ cup uncooked kamut
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
¼ cup chopped walnut or pecans
¼ cup dried cranberries, apricots or cherries
1 teaspoon salt
1/ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
a pinch of pepper
2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Soak the kamut overnight in water.   The next day, rinse the wheat berries and place in a saucepot.   Place 2 cups of water in the pot and bring to a boil.   Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the kamut  are chewy but not tough, out 30 to 35 minutes.   Strain and set aside.

Place the wild rice in a separate saucepot and add 1 ½ cups water.   Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.   Let rice simmer until it begins to “pop”, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Add additional water if needed.  Strain and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a sauté pan and heat on medium.   Add the white onion, garlic and celery and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.

Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a mixing bowl.   Add the cooked wild rice, cooked kamut, nuts, steamed sweet potato, dried fruit, 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey, salt, thyme and pinch of pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.    Place the acorn squash halves, cut side up, on a baking pan.   Brush the squash halves with the melted butter and divide the brown sugar between the halves.    Bake until the squash halves are just tender when poked with a paring knife tip.   They will be baked again so be careful not to over bake them.

Remove from the oven but keep them on the baking sheet pan.   Divide the grain mixture among the four squash halves.   Place back in the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes to heat through and finish roasting the squash.




Posted in Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, sides, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , ,

Give a gift to remember – chocolate and Door County cherry apple!

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The holidays are fast approaching.   That means gift giving and baking.

Combine the two by creating delicious caramel dipped apples with a few dried Door County cherries attached to the delicious chocolate coating.

Here’s the recipe for this stunning and edible gift.    For more “gifts for giving” check out my Edible Treasures article from several year’s ago in Edible Door Magazine.   In addition to the delicious apple recipe, my mother’s recipe for Stollen is included along with some delicate cherry linzer cookies from friend and fellow culinary teacher Janice Thomas.



Caramel and Chocolate Dipped Door County Apples
Makes 6 apples

6 sticks for apples
6 large firm red apples
One 11-ounce bag of caramels
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces white chocolate
¾ cup chopped toasted almonds
½ cup dried Montmorency cherries

Clean and dry the apples.    Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick food spray.   Place a stick in each apple.

Unwrap caramels and place in a medium to small sized pot.  Add the cream and cook on very low heat until the caramels melt.    Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.  Alternately place caramels and cream in a microwavable bowl and microwave slowly until caramel melts.

Place the chocolates in two separate bowls.   Carefully microware until melted.  Be very careful with the white chocolate as it can burn easily.

Dip the apples into the caramel.   Dip bottoms into the chopped almonds then “paste” a few cherries onto the bottom of the apples by inserting them onto the caramel.   Use a spoon to spin chocolate around the apples in a decorative design.   Set apples on the prepared parchment baking pan.   Let chocolate and caramel dry for several hours.   

Place in individual plastic bags (these can be purchased at most party supply stores) then tie bag with a decorative ribbon.





Posted in Desserts, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , ,