The Power of the Ancient Grain
One food trend which will continue to stand out this year is more pulses and legumes on our menus. In fact, the UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP), not only for their health factor but also for the cultivation benefits of securing a sustainable food source. A pulse is often known as a ‘grain legume’ and learning more about this food type caused me to embark on a fascinating journey about the ancient grains.
I remember my introduction to grains was at the first BBC Eat Well show last year; I was blown away by the incredible ingredients available, such as Teff, a tiny ‘poppy like’ seed found mainly in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Amaranth. It’s a seed with a nutty flavour discovered by the ancient Aztecs. These grain flours have been a welcomed option for gluten free diners and they are a higher nutritional alternative to flour. It was an education just being there.
Another encounter with the grain world was when I stumbled across a fantastic shop in Piccadilly, called Carpo. A coffee counter on one side was literally surrounded by shelves of nuts, dried fruits, seeds and artisan chocolate, with petals, cranberries and other treasures. I was mesmerized. Firstly I was trying to compute in my head, is this a chocolatier, a coffee shop or is it Mediterranean? I could smell spices, dried fruit and flowers. I was interested and curious. By the time I could say anything, I was whisked away by a friendly assistant who asked ‘would you like to try something?’ There was something about this place – it was a mix of the old and new. The old fashion ways of trying before you buy with a distinctly new décor. I was instantly hooked. It was here that I learnt about Sea Buckthorn, a wonderful fruit which has more than 190 minerals and 15 antioxidants. It also detoxifies the body, oxygenates cells and manages premature ageing. It’s a top feature in my nutribullet….
Back to the theme of seeing grains on menus, I recently visited a sushi restaurant called Tomba in South Kensington and was delighted to have a ‘multigrain’ choice of sushi rice with quinoa, amaranth and millet grain to go with my Salmon Sashimi. It was a very wholesome experience indeed.
I asked our Chef Director, Pete Redman of Inn or Out Events to share one of his super grain recipes- this one uses Kamut; an ancient Khorasan grain believed to be from Egypt, which is high in selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron, high in protein and a fibre source. Enjoy!
Kamut Pecan Shortbread
210g Kamut flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
115g unsalted butter
115g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g maple syrup
In a food processor, pulse pecans and flour together until fine, stir in the baking powder and the salt
In a kitchen aid (or other stand mixer). Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, turn the speed down to low and add the vanilla and the flour and pecan mixture
Roll the dough into walnut sized pieces, place on a lined tray and bake at 180 for 15-18mins
Remove from the oven and brush with the maple syrup.
Wishing you a super ‘multi -grainful’ journey!
Until next time….
Business Development Manager