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Ancient Grains, modern meals and Maria Speck

Never heard of shyness?
Me Yes. I’ve grown with it. I got used to it, more or less. At the same time I try to leave it in an angle of my personality as long as possible. Social media are a great source of courage in those moments.
While I was reading Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, I started to follow @MariaSpeck, its author, on Twitter. That helped me to feel her like a friend and to write to her…and she said yes to an interview.

Written down it sounds pretty easy. But never heard of respect?
Ancient Grains for Modern Meals is really a well written and informative cookbook. You learn the power and the pleasure of ancient grains such as farro, buckwheat, bulgur, polenta and quinoa. More than that, you start a travel in the world of a grain-lover as Maria Speck with her 100 grain-based recipes. All that creates respect for her and for ancient grains.

You won’t be stressed by nutricial benefits provided by grains. As soon as you close your copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals you’ll jump in the kitchen ready to discover their taste. Maria let you discover the pleasure to use ancient grains for fresh modern meals  and to enjoy them.

Then you go on the web and discover how she is an acclaimed writer. She won the Julia Child Award. According to the New York Times her is a notable cookbook. For the Washington Post Ancient Grains for Modern Meals is among the top 10 cookbook and for Cooking Light is among the Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years. It won also the Gourmand Awards for the Mediterranean Category.

So let image myself in the middle of shyness and respect. Then image Maria Speck and her easy going attitude. Ready to discover her and her grain world? I’ve Maria here just for you:

Since the beginning of you book, it’s clear your love for ancient grains. Why we should love them in the same way?

maria-speckIt has been my lifelong dream to introduce people to the amazing character ancient grains bring to our table. For a long time, we have been speaking about grains only as health food. But ancient grains are so much more than nutritious: they bring rich textures, subtle flavors, even color, to our meals. This is what I would like people to experience and enjoy.

I’m used to make just salads and soups with them. What to do more with a fistful of grains?

Ancient grains can be on our table throughout the day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even for dessert. Using grains in desserts is often surprising to people. That’s why I like to bring the Wheat Berry Fools with Grand Marnier-Figs from my book to many events. This delicious honey-sweetened treat is prepared with rich Greek yogurt and softly whipped cream, and helps people understand how versatile grains can be. You could use Italian farro for this dessert as well.

Each of us has a weak point. I’m really curious to know if you have any favourite among ancient grains. Mine in polenta and yours?

Oh, I have always loved polenta myself. My Greek mom makes a fabulous katsamaki from cornmeal, soft, pillowy, and laced with cheese. Personally, I love the variety ancient grains bring to our table and would be hard-pressed to name a favorite. Lately, I’ve enjoyed developing recipes with tiny nutritious amaranth grains. I’m also fond of tangy whole grain rye berries and millet. Millet is so underrated in my opinion. It is fast-cooking, has a mild pleasing aroma, and you can use it throughout the day, as a warm breakfast, a side dish, or a dessert. In my book I introduce a ricotta millet pudding with warm raspberry compote which you might enjoy.

torta farro amaroRicotta millet pudding? Wow, I must do it.  I love ricotta and I’ve used millet flour just one.
More than that, I’ve already followed one of your recipes. How to say, I trasformed your farro and fig cake in farro and pear cake with Amaro. You really inspire me a lot.

Now it’s time to convince my sister to cook quinoa. I give you one minute 🙂

This is the easiest question! I suggest you invite her home and cook one excellent dish with quinoa for her. One of my personal favorites from my book is the recipe for Lemon Quinoa with Currents, Dill, and Zucchini. I’m confident she won’t need any convincing after that.

I cannot wait to convince my sister and I want to try all your recipes.
Before to go, dear reader, remember to follow her blog rich of recipes.

Have Maria already convinced you of the pleasure hidden inside ancient grains?

For the Italian translation, click here