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The story of spelt goes back over 9,000 years, but only recently has this marvelous little grain’s unique nutlike taste been rediscovered. Spelt makes the perfect ingredient for breads, cakes, cereals, side dishes—and it is a gluten-free, nutrient-rich alternative to wheat.
In The Spelt Cookbook, Helga Hughes shares an exciting collection of over 175 easy-to-prepare recipes that marry the rich taste of golden spelt with a variety of fresh and flavorful ingredients, including ...
The story of spelt goes back over 9,000 years, but only recently has this marvelous little grain’s unique nutlike taste been rediscovered. Spelt makes the perfect ingredient for breads, cakes, cereals, side dishes—and it is a gluten-free, nutrient-rich alternative to wheat.
In The Spelt Cookbook, Helga Hughes shares an exciting collection of over 175 easy-to-prepare recipes that marry the rich taste of golden spelt with a variety of fresh and flavorful ingredients, including Old-World Buttermilk Waffles, White Bean Chili with Elbows, and Hazelnut Granola.
Whether you are looking for a wheat alternative, or simply want to mix up your mealtime routine, The Spelt Cookbook is the only guide you’ll need to the delicious world of spelt cookery.
First and foremost, I would like to express my thanks to Wilhelm W. Kosnopfl, president of Purity Foods, Inc., whose inspiration and encouragement made this book possible. Thanks also go to Purity Foods’ domestic operations manager, Donald A. Stinchcomb, for the statistical information he provided.
I also wish to thank Dr. Ch.I. Kling of the Universität Hohenheim, and Professor William E. Barbeau of Virginia Tech for the invaluable information they supplied about grains; Anna Merighi, my patient cooking teacher, who paved the way for my culinary career; my cousin Luise and her husband, Wolfgang, who introduced me to the teachings of St. Hildegard of Bingen and her belief in spelt as a healing food; and Frau Ott of Störnhof, Bavaria, whose life is dedicated to growing and spreading the benefits of spelt.
As always, my thanks go to my mother, Anna; my godmother, Kuni; my sisters, Lore, Hannah, and Inge; and my cousin Erika for their generous support throughout the project, and for acting as guinea pigs. Thanks also go to the many, many friends and acquaintances whose recipes, over the years, have found their way into my database and have been used and modified many times over.
I would like to express my appreciation to the Vita-Spelt competition winners whose recipes appear in this book. I trust they will accept the alterations I made, all of which were necessary for the purpose of creating a consistent work.
On behalf of all of us who enjoy spelt, I thank farmers everywhere who ensure that crops of this nutritious grain continue to be harvested in a world where wheat almost took over.
Joanne Abrams, my editor at Avery Publishing Group, deserves a special note of thanks for the vast amount of work she put into this book in order to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Finally, thanks go to my husband, Ken, for his support and for his computer skills, which kept my work in controllable order.
Spelt is a member of the grass family of grains. It is thought to have originated in the Fertile Crescent, where it was first harvested over 9,000 years ago. In both the Middle East and Europe, spelt was the staff of life for many centuries. The Germans call it dinkel, the Italians refer to it as their beloved farro, and the French know it as epeautre.
To better understand spelt and how you might benefit from it, we must first address a few basic questions. The first is: What makes spelt different from other grains, and why is it a superior food? Spelt has a superior nutritional profile. It is a very good source of complex carbohydrates, protein, iron, and potassium. In its whole-grain form, spelt retains a delicious flavor—not a heavy, bitter taste like that of so many other whole grains. As such, this marvelous grain allows you to prepare high-fiber dishes without sacrificing taste. Spelt is also a good source of essential amino acids, components of protein that are not manufactured by our bodies.
Another basic question is: If spelt is such a superior grain, why haven’t I heard about it before? Spelt fell into disfavor during the Industrial Revolution. As more people moved into the cities, the burden of food production fell more heavily on the shoulders of the remaining farmers. Spelt is a husked grain. This means that the kernel is tightly shrouded in a hull, which has to be removed mechanically. Because wheat does not have such a hull, it can be taken directly from the harvest fields to the flour mill. This convenience saved time and labor. So, with its high yield and lower costs, wheat replaced spelt.
What accounts for spelt’s recent resurgence? The educated consumer knows that food should nourish and support the body, rather than compromise well-being in the interest of good taste. Food should be harmonious with health. Spelt is just such a food. Nature enfolded the spelt kernel in a husk, which protects the grain from the elements. And because the spelt kernel is very delicate, it is easily digested by people who are allergic to wheat. In fact, many naturopathic physicians include spelt in the diets of chronically ill patients, knowing that the last thing these people need is a product that is difficult to digest or a strain on the immune system.
Purity Foods’ interest in spelt developed over time, first when a European customer expressed interest in organically grown spelt, and later when chronically ill individuals wrote to us about the need for this grain. Subsequent trips to Europe, where spelt is recognized as the preferred gourmet baking grain, further strengthened our resolve to bring spelt to the United States.
When we first took on the task of producing spelt products, we knew that it was vital to select the preferred baking variety of spelt for our growers. With this done, we brought the seed stock to the United States, and gave it to certified seed-growing farmers, who then produced sufficient seed stock for our organic growers. In 1991, we began to produce spelt products in earnest.
The task of making spelt available to American consumers borders on a spiritual experience, and is driven by the enthusiastic response of our many loyal customers. We have found that spelt’s health benefits and great taste turn mild-mannered people into spelt zealots. In this day of overprocessed, nutrient-poor foods, spelt provides people with an energy and vitality they want to share with their friends and relatives.
The Spelt Cookbook is a wonderful resource for everyone who wants to enjoy the unique taste of spelt. Helga’s numerous recipes highlight the versatility of spelt, and show everyone, from the person who is just discovering spelt to the true aficionado, how the many spelt products now available can be used with delicious results. For those who like to make dishes “from scratch,” Helga explains how spelt flour and other spelt products can be used to make delicious breads, delightful homemade pastas, and many other treats. For those with less time to spare, Helga demonstrates how convenience products such as spelt bread mixes, spelt pancake mixes, and dried spelt pastas can be used to quickly create truly spectacular dishes designed to suit every taste and occasion.
As we learn more about human physiology, we begin to understand that simple decisions regarding how we fuel our body can have long-lasting effects on our quality of life. We at Purity Foods urge you to make informed choices and choose spelt—the grain for life.
Wilhelm W. Kosnopfl
President, Purity Foods
As a natural foods writer and cooking teacher, I know the importance of using whole foods that are both flavorful and rich in nutrients. Such foods allow you to create satisfying dishes that nourish the body and maximize your health. For this reason, I was delighted when spelt first appeared in health foods stores across the United States. Remembering spelt from my childhood in Bavaria, I looked foward to again enjoying crusty loaves of spelt bread, as well as other spelt-based foods. However, I quickly discovered that most Americans are unfamiliar with spelt, and so may be hesitant to use this new—yet ancient—grain in their recipes. The Spelt Cookbook is designed to guide you in cooking with this wonderful food.
The Spelt Cookbook begins by introducing you to the many different spelt products, including flours, bulgur, ready-to-make pastas, cereals, and bread mixes. You will also learn about natural sweeteners, low- and no-salt seasonings, dairy substitutes, and other ingredients that will help you create truly sensational dishes that are just as high in nutrients as they are in flavor.
Following this basic information, each chapter focuses on a specific meal or type of dish. Chapter 2 presents a wide range of recipes for brunch and breakfast treats, from Old-World Buttermilk Waffles to Muesli Breakfast Bars to Easy Mushroom Soufflé. Looking for a warming soup or a stick-to-your-ribs stew? Chapter 3 provides a tempting selection of soup and stew recipes, from White Bean Chili With Elbows to Minestrone. Still other chapters provide recipes for refreshing salads; hearty breads and muffins; enticing sandwiches; satisfying poultry, fish, and vegetarian entrées; savory homemade pastas, dumplings, and crêpes; and enticing side dishes. Finally, you’ll find a dazzling array of desserts. And every recipe, from the easy-to-make Hazelnut Granola to the spectacular Raspberry Linzer Torte, shares a single ingredient—golden spelt.
It is my hope that this book will show you just how easy it is to add spelt to your diet. With its incomparable taste and its wealth of nutrients, spelt proves, once and for all, that every dish you serve can be both delicious and healthy.
The Story of Spelt
Research indicates that Triticum spelta, or spelt, the earliest known bread wheat, first appeared about 9,000 years ago, some 3,000 years before the grain that led to modern wheat made its appearance. It is thought that spelt’s birthplace was southwest Asia. As civilization spread, emigrants took spelt kernels with them. These travelers carried the kernels complete with their tough coverings, having learned that when planted in their sheaths, the plants better resisted the invasion of underground pests. In this way, spelt spread throughout Europe, until the plains became a shimmering sea of gently swaying stalks, slowly changing with the seasons from green to golden brown.
As the centuries rolled by, spelt grain became known farther and farther afield as it made its way from the farm lands to vessels that plied the Rhine and Danube. In Germany, spelt has always been called dinkel, and towns such as Dinkelsbühl, Dinkelhausen, and Dinkelrode took their names from it. In fact, the town of Dinkelsbühl has a museum devoted entirely to spelt. In the city park, a life-size monument of a farmer holding a sheath of spelt greets the arriving traveler.
For hundreds of years, spelt was the most widely used grain in Europe. However, owing to its lower yield compared with that of newer varieties of wheat, and because of the need to dehull the grain before use, the popularity of spelt diminished during the Industrial Revolution. In fact, spelt has not been grown in Europe in large quantities since the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, today, a limited amount of spelt is cultivated by farmers in Bavaria, where I spent my childhood.
Hiking was a popular pastime in the country of my youth, and some of my fondest memories are of early morning hikes. We would wander from one village to the next, often stopping to warm our hands at the open-air bread ovens used by many farmers. Built of brick and resembling igloos in shape, these ovens were heated by a wood fire which burned in a central hearth. The farmers would extinguish the fire and then use long-handled wooden paddles to place rounds of spelt dough directly on the low brick shelf that surrounded the hearth. I will never forget the sight and aroma of freshly baked golden brown loaves coming out of the oven. Even better was when the farmer used a long-bladed pocket knife to slice pieces of the loaf, and then gave each of us a slice, still warm from the oven. Delicious!
Later, after moving to the United States, I lost touch with the grain. Then, a few years ago, I found spelt on the shelves of health food stores, and again became acquainted with this wonderful grain.
Why is spelt so special? Like most grains, spelt is a rich source of nutrients. But unlike wheat, the most widely used grain in the United States, spelt has an extremely fragile gluten content. This means that spelt is the perfect alternative for people who are allergic to wheat because of its high gluten content. And because the spelt kernel is surrounded by a very strong hull, the nutrients remain well protected until spelt is hulled and milled. In fact, because of the protective hull, pesticides are not needed for the cultivation of the grain.
For centuries, people familiar with spelt have observed the health benefits of this wonderful grain. Perhaps nowhere has spelt been so appreciated as at the Hildegard clinical practice in Constance, Germany. Built on the teachings of St. Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century Benedictine abbess, the clinic follows many of St. Hildegard’s dictums, but in particular her belief that the body must be detoxified before it can be healed; her almost 2,000 remedies and health suggestions; and her strong recommendations for the inclusion of spelt in the diet.
Of course, while we all want to eat a healthful diet, we also want our food to taste good. How does spelt taste? Spelt is a delicious grain, and is highly versatile in its cooking uses. Spelt flour has a deeper, richer color than whole wheat flour and a more pronounced flavor, suggestive of nuts. And spelt can be eaten in many forms. While many fine spelt products are readily available today, I have had greatest success using the products of Purity Foods, Inc., the leading manufacturer of organically grown spelt products in the United States. Appearing under the name Vita-Spelt, these products cook up well and taste delicious. In addition to spelt flour, Purity markets spelt bread mixes, spelt pancake and muffin mix, hulled spelt kernels, toasted spelt flakes, a full range of spelt pastas, and spelt bulgur. These products make it easy to add spelt to your diet in dishes that are sure to please you and your family. In fact, many of the recipes that appear in this book were prize winners in a Purity Foods’ recipe competition!
When cooking with spelt, both in my own kitchen and in the wheatless and meatless cooking classes I teach, I’ve found that spelt products lend themselves to the creation of imaginative recipes. Of course, spelt flour can usually be used as a substitute for wheat flour with excellent results. But spelt’s uses are not limited to baked goods. This cookbook includes recipes for breakfast and brunch, for soups and stews, for salads, pastas, sandwiches, main dishes, and desserts. And all the recipes are made more delicious and healthful by the addition of spelt.
One of the reasons that it’s been so easy to develop recipes for this wonderful grain is that spelt is a “natural” for American cuisine. As a health food writer in the United States, I have long been concerned that health-oriented people in this country lean too heavily on imported foods and foreign cooking styles. While this can certainly provide a welcome change of pace, sometimes the resulting dishes prove difficult to digest for those accustomed to Western foods, and fail to appeal to Western tastes. But, as you’ll see when you begin cooking with spelt, this grain is beautifully compatible with American cuisine. It is a food that is grown in America, and that you can use to make healthy, down-to-earth American meals, as well as a variety of ethnic favorites.
I hope that you love cooking with spelt as much as I do, and that you and your family benefit from the delicious tastes and superior nutrition that spelt provides. Be adventurous, have fun, and enjoy your spelt meals!
In the Kitchen
If spelt is new to you, you probably have a number of questions about cooking with this wonderful grain. In this chapter, you’ll find out about the many different spelt products now available, and you’ll see how you can enjoy success when cooking with these exciting new foods. You’ll also learn about various sweeteners, some of which may be new to you and may well add a fresh dimension to your cooking. You’ll then become acquainted with a few simple cooking techniques that will ensure good results each time you step into the kitchen to cook a spelt dish. Finally, because proper equipment is such an important part of the creative cooking process, you’ll learn about the tools of the trade needed to make cooking easy, efficient, and enjoyable.
WORKING WITH SPELT
Even if you are an accomplished cook, spelt is likely to be a new addition to your pantry. Let’s take a look at the various forms of spelt, and see how you can use them to make appetizing and nutritious meals.
Because spelt kernels are whole and unprocessed, they contain all of their original nutrients, making them a delicious source of vitamins and minerals. But to use whole spelt kernels in certain recipes, you must first presoak and precook them, following these easy steps.
• Rinse the kernels in a large sieve—not a colander, which might let some kernels fall through. Then transfer the kernels to a large bowl and cover them with water, using 11⁄4 cups of water for each cup of kernels. Allow the kernels to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
• After soaking, discard any remaining water and again rinse the kernels in a sieve. Then transfer the kernels to a saucepan, adding water until the kernels are covered by 2 inches of liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes.
• Remove the pan from the heat and allow the kernels to soak, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes. Drain off any remaining water, and use the kernels in the recipe of your choice.
After the spelt kernels have been precooked, they can be dried and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. Simply spread the kernels on a large baking sheet, and air-dry them for at least two hours. Then transfer them to an airtight container, and refrigerate for later use.
Precooked kernels may also be ground and added to soup stocks; substituted for rice in puddings, risottos, pilafs, and grain cakes; or steamed with vegetables for a quick and nourishing side dish. To grind the kernels, simply pass them through a food processor set to “grind,” or use a power- or hand-driven grinder. If using a grinder, send a piece of dry bread through the grinder at the end, to push the last kernels through the machine. Stop grinding when the bread appears, but do not be concerned if a small amount of ground bread becomes mixed with the ground kernels. Keep in mind that 1 cup of whole precooked kernels will yield about ⅔ cup of ground kernels. Therefore, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of ground kernels, you will have to start with 11⁄2 cups of whole kernels. The ground spelt kernels may be refrigerated in an airtight container, but total storage time, beginning with the presoaking stage, should not exceed five days.
Spelt bulgur is a time and energy saver because it is ready to use without precooking and pregrinding. To cook spelt bulgur, simply combine equal amounts of bulgur and boiling water or stock, and allow the mixture to soak for five minutes. Then serve as a substitute for rice, or simply add chopped vegetables and a dressing to create a quick bulgur salad. For a delicious hot cereal, add spelt bulgur to boiling low-fat milk or water, and simmer for a few minutes.
Some recipes require you to grind bulgur. When using such a recipe, simply place the uncooked bulgur in a blender or food processor, and grind for 1 minute at medium speed, or until the product is finely ground. You will find that 1 cup of regular spelt bulgur will yield about 1⁄2 cup of finely ground bulgur. Therefore, if you need 1 cup of finely ground bulgur in your recipe, you should start with about 2 cups of regular spelt bulgur. Once ground, the bulgur may be stored in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to a month.
Toasted Spelt Flakes
Spelt flakes, which come lightly toasted, are a wonderfully versatile food. When mixed with other ingredients and toasted again, spelt flakes make an excellent granola. When used right out of the box, these nutrient-packed flakes can be added to bread dough to create an interesting texture, or substituted for oat flakes in oatmeal cookies. Spelt flakes also make make a delicious topping for vegetable, tofu, and chicken dishes.
Some recipes list ground, rather than whole, spelt flakes among their ingredients. To grind these tasty flakes, simply place them in a blender or food processor, and grind for 1 minute at medium speed, or until the product is finely ground. You will find that 1 cup of spelt flakes will yield about 1⁄3 cup of finely ground flakes. Therefore, if you need 1 cup of finely ground flakes, you should start with about 3 cups of flakes. If you prefer, you may place the whole spelt flakes on a hard surface such as a wooden board and grind them with a rolling pin. Keep in mind, though, that while the resulting flakes will be fine for toppings, they will be too coarsely ground for use in coatings. Once ground, store the flakes in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to thirty days.
In recent years, we’ve learned about the important part that whole-grain pasta can play in a healthful diet. Fortunately, spelt pasta—a delicious alternative to wheat-based pasta—is available in many varieties, including spelt-buckwheat spaghetti, elbow macaroni, egg noodles, lasagna noodles, angel hair, rotini, and medium and small shells.
To cook spelt pasta, fill a large saucepan or kettle with cold water, adding a few drops of oil to the water to keep the pasta pieces separate and to prevent them from sticking to the sides of the pan. A dash of salt may also be added. Bring the water to a rapid boil, add the pasta, and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the pasta is al dente—tender, but still firm. Drain the pasta, and serve immediately or use it in the recipe of your choice.
All natural sweeteners contain some form of sugar, but it is the form that counts. Refined white sugar, which is less complex than other sweeteners, enters the bloodstream in a rush, giving some people a “sugar high.” White sugar has also been stripped of all nutrients, making it nutritionally bankrupt. The more complex structure of most other sweeteners causes them to be absorbed more slowly by the body, thereby eliminating the “high.” In addition, the less processed the sweetener, the more likely it is to contain nutrients.
Because of its taste, I prefer turbinado sugar, and I specify its use in my recipes. But should you wish to use a more natural sweetener, you may want to try one of those described below. Following the list, a table of substitutions will allow you to use the product you prefer in any of the recipes found in this book, and in your own recipes as well.
Barley Malt Syrup. An extract of sprouted, roasted barley, this syrup is less sweet than many sweeteners, but is easily assimilated by the body, and does contain more nutrients than are found in other sweeteners.
Brown Sugar. Basically white sugar colored by the addition of molasses, brown sugar is little better than refined white sugar from a health point of view. When used sparingly, however, this sweetener provides a distinctive taste and color.
Honey. Although chemically much like refined white sugar, honey does contain some minerals and trace elements, and has the advantage of being sweeter than sugar so that lesser amounts are needed. Honey is also absorbed into the body more slowly than white sugar, and so provides a steadier supply of energy.
Maple Syrup. A natural sweetener with a distinctive flavor, this boiled-down sap of the maple tree is slightly less sweet than honey.
Molasses. A by-product of the sugar-refining process, molasses contains many useful vitamins and minerals, and adds a noticeable flavor and color to baked goods.
Rice Syrup. Having originated in Japan, this sweetener is made from fermented rice that has been boiled and evaporated, leaving the sweet rice syrup. It has a distinctive flavor.
Sucanat. A fairly new product in this country, Sucanat is made by evaporating the water from sugarcane juice. The result is a pure, natural sweetener.
Turbinado Sugar. When raw sugar crystals are washed with steam in a centrifuge, the result is turbinado sugar—coarse amber crystals with a delicate molasses flavor. Although it is 96 percent sucrose, turbinado sugar is close to being sugar in its natural state. Because it retains much of unrefined sugar’s complex chemical structure, turbinado sugar enters the bloodstream slowly, providing a steady supply of energy.
Vanilla Sugar. Vanilla sugar is simply refined white sugar—granulated or confectioners’—that has been permeated with the fragrance of vanilla.
The following table should help you make sweetener substitutions within the recipes in this book. Of course, when making such substitutions, it’s important to proceed with caution and common sense. Whenever liquid ingredients are substituted for dry ingredients, or vice versa, adjustments will have to be made to correct the consistency of the finished product. And, of course, while maple syrup may be substituted for honey, for instance, it will considerably change the flavor of the baked goods.
Sweeteners Equal to One Cup Turbinado Sugar
1 ⅞ cups Barley Malt Syrup
1 ⅛ cups packed Brown Sugar
¾ cup Honey
¾ cup Maple Syrup
¾ cup Molasses
1 ⅞ cups Rice Syrup
1 ⅛ cups Sucanat
EGGS AND EGG SUBSTITUTES
Now that we know the dangers of high cholesterol, and we understand the relationship between egg consumption and cholesterol levels, many people have given up eggs entirely, while others have greatly limited the use of eggs. And, of course, there are those who love eggs so much that although they have had to give up the egg, they refuse to give up egg taste and texture, and so have opted for egg substitutes.
In this book, most of the recipes that call for whole eggs also state that an egg substitute may be used. However, in some cases, you will find that only whole eggs or egg whites are listed. In these recipes, the listed ingredient does, in fact, work better than egg substitute. In the recipe for Whole-Grain Spelt Egg Noodles, for instance, eggs work better than egg substitute because of their ability to bind ingredients. Carrot Spelt Torte, too, must be made with whole eggs, as the use of an egg substitute will result in a “flat” torte. In still other recipes—specifically, when egg whites must be beaten until stiff—only natural egg whites are recommended. Unfortunately, egg substitute simply does not whip up like egg whites.
When substituting egg whites or egg substitute for whole eggs, use the following guideline for best results:
1 whole egg = 2 egg whites = ¼ cup egg substitute
OTHER INGREDIENTS AND COOKING AIDS
Aside from the ingredients already discussed, a number of other ingredients will prove invaluable whenever you cook with the goal of maximizing both taste and nutrition, whether or not your recipe includes spelt. Of course, most of these ingredients—canola magarine, for instance—are likely to be familiar to you, and can be found in almost any grocery or health foods store. But the following ingredients, which appear in many of the recipes in this book, may be new to you.
Herb Seasoning Salt
Often, a wise use of seasonings can reduce the amount of salt called for in a recipe, or completely eliminate the need for salt. One of the most helpful seasonings of this type is herb seasoning salt. This product—which is available under such names as Herbamare, Spike, and Vegesal—adds flavor with little or no salt. Vegesal contains no salt at all, in fact, but relies entirely on vegetables and herbs for its flavor. Herbamare and Spike, on the other hand, contain sea salt plus vegetables and herbs.
In my own cooking, I prefer the taste of Herbamare. However, you may wish to try several of the available herb salts, and then choose the one that you and your family like best.
Low-Fat Cheeses and Cheese Substitutes
Fortunately for the health-conscious cook, a wide range of cheeses, from cream cheese to Parmesan to ricotta, is now available in low-fat and nonfat forms. These products allow you to enjoy the taste and texture of cheese while reducing the calories and fat. If you choose to avoid dairy products for any reason, feel free to use soymilk and nutmilk cheeses in any of the recipes in this book. You will find these products in your local health foods store and in some grocery stores.
Low-Fat Milk and Milk Substitutes
Like cheese, milk is now readily available in low-fat and nonfat (skim) forms. Do not hesitate to use the milk of your preference, whether low-fat, no-fat, or full-fat, in the recipes in this book. If you choose to avoid dairy products, look for soymilk and other nondairy milk substitutes in your health foods store.
Nonstick Cooking Spray
Traditionally, baking pans have been greased with butter, oil, or, more recently, margarine. Although a sparing use of low-fat butter or margarine may limit added fat, your best ally in the war against fat is still a nonstick cooking spray such as Pam. These products prevent sticking and allow browning. Better yet, a one-second spray adds an insignificant amount of fat to your dish.
Tamari Soy Sauce
A dark liquid with a rich fragrance and salty taste, soy sauce can enhance the flavor of a variety of dishes. Of the many types available in stores, I usually choose tamari soy sauce, a natural product made of water, whole soybeans, and sea salt. Tamari is quite concentrated, and so should be used sparingly. Look for it in health foods stores, gourmet foods stores, and some grocery stores.
Tofu, which is sometimes referred to as bean curd or soybean curd, is a nutritious product made from whole soybeans. Because of its bland taste and ability to absorb the seasonings around it, tofu is a popular ingredient with many cooks, who use it in place of cheese, meat, and a variety of other ingredients. This versatile product is made in a number of consistencies, including extra-firm, firm, soft, and silken. You will find tofu in the refrigerated section of most health foods and grocery stores.
Most of the recipes in this book require little prior knowledge about cooking. However, to get the best possible results, it’s good to keep a few simple techniques and guidelines in mind. The following information should help you get the most from your kitchen adventures.
Altitudes of up to 3,000 feet do not have a great effect on cooking, and even greater altitudes affect only boiling and baking.
Because pressure reduces with increasing altitude, water boils at progressively lower temperatures, making it necessary to either increase the cooking temperature or extend the cooking time. Keep checking the dish until it reaches the desired doneness.
In the case of baking, the lower pressure of high altitudes affects the way certain ingredients perform, and solutions are generally trial-and-error affairs. Generally, as altitude increases, you should progressively reduce the beating time for eggs, decrease the amount of double-acting baking powder used, and increase oven temperatures at the rate of 1°F per 100 feet. As you experiment, be sure to keep records until you find how to get the best results.
Garlic is most easily crushed or mashed using either a mortar and pestle or a garlic press. If neither of these implements is on hand, simply use the tip of a knife to crush the unpeeled clove. Then remove the peel, and chop the garlic as fine as possible.
Making Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs are used extensively in cooking, so it pays to always have some on hand, particularly if they’re made from spelt bread. Whenever your spelt bread turns stale before you can use it up, wrap and freeze it. When you’re ready to make the crumbs, thaw the bread, adding fresh bread if the quantity is too small for your needs, and carry out the easy steps that follow.
• Crisp the spelt bread slices on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven. Do not allow the bread to start browning.
• For small quantities of bread crumbs, grind the bread with a hand grinder or blender. For large quantities, use a food processor on a “coarse grind” setting.
• Store the crumbs indefinitely in a container. The container need not be totally airtight, because in an airtight container, bread crumbs may mold if they have not been completely dried.
Measuring Spelt Flour
Measure spelt flour in a flush-rimmed measure that allows you to gauge an even cup. Do not pack the flour into the measure, and do not sift it before measuring. The consistency of spelt flour causes nutritious particles to be left in a sieve after the bulk of the flour has passed through, making sifting inadvisable. If spelt flour needs to be aerated, use your hands to “fluff” it in a bowl.
Measuring Sticky Ingredients
When measuring ingredients such as honey or syrup-based sweeteners, lightly oil the spoon or measuring cup to ensure that the correct quantity of the ingredient flows off the measure. This technique also makes subsequent cleanup far less messy.
Separating Eggs and Beating Egg Whites
If you have never separated egg whites from egg yolks or beaten the whites for use in recipes, you may find the steps that follow helpful.
• Remove the eggs from the refrigerator, and allow them to reach room temperature.
• Set out two small bowls and a medium to large bowl with a well-rounded bottom. Then tap the center of an egg firmly on the edge of one of the small bowls to make an even crosswise break. Alternatively, crack the egg with the back of a knife blade.
• Using both hands, break the egg into two halves over one of the small bowls. Some egg white will drip into the bowl, designating it as the bowl you will use to collect the whites.
• Carefully pour the egg yolk from one shell half to the other, allowing as much egg white as possible to drip into the bowl. Continue until only the egg yolk is left in a shell half. Do not allow any yolk to get into the bowl.
• Transfer the egg yolk to the second small bowl. Then repeat for as many additional eggs as called for in the recipe.
• Transfer the egg whites to the larger bowl. Then, using a wire whisk or a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
The vigor of the beating strokes and the coarseness of the wires of the whisk will determine how much air is trapped in the beaten whites and, therefore, will also determine volume. The best results are obtained by using a whisk made of many thin wires and by beating lightly.
Many professional chefs swear by a copper bowl for this task, and it is a bowl used for nothing else. It is said that using a copper bowl causes the beaten eggs to develop greater volume, which means that they won’t quickly collapse. The bowl is 10 or 12 inches in diameter, fully rounded on the bottom, and usually fitted with a ring that you can hold to stop the bowl from spinning as you whisk. Unfortunately, copper bowls tend to be expensive.
To skin tomatoes easily, place them in boiling water for one to two minutes. Then remove the tomatoes using a slotted spoon, and either pour cold water over them or plunge them into a bowl of cold water. You will then be able to remove the skin with a sharp knife.
Testing Baked Goods for Doneness
When testing cakes, muffins, breads, and other baked goods for doneness, three means may be used to determine if the dish is ready to be removed from the oven.
A probe, such as a wooden toothpick or a thin bamboo skewer, is an effective means of testing many baked goods. If after insertion the probe is withdrawn clean, the food is done. If particles adhere to the probe, the food requires more cooking.
Color should also be considered when testing for doneness. Most baked goods are done when they take on a rich golden color.
The feel or sound of the cake or bread is also an indication of doneness. When baking bread, the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. When baking a cake, lightly press the top. If it springs back, it is done.
Cooking becomes far more easy and pleasurable when the proper equipment is on hand. I recommend that you stock your kitchen with the following items, which will help you prepare the dishes in this book. Of course, your own cooking preferences should always serve as a guide when outfitting your kitchen.
Power Food Preparation Appliances
There are many power food preparation appliances on the market—blenders, mixers, grinders, slicers, shredders, etc.—and each has its own character and idiosyncrasies. Consider the following products for use in your kitchen.
Blenders. Blenders are ideal for puréeing, chopping, and blending. You’ll find a good many high-quality blenders on the market with a wide range of features.
Electric Mixers. Electric mixers may be either hand-held or standing. If you bake only occasionally, a hand-held mixer will probably fill your needs by allowing you to easily beat eggs, whip cream, and blend sauces. If you do a lot of baking, a standing table mixer may prove to be an invaluable appliance.
Food Processors. This appliance chops, beats, minces, shreds, and purées. In addition, most models knead dough and grind. If you do a lot of cooking, a food processor may help speed food preparation. And with so many models on the market, you’re sure to find one to fit both your cooking needs and your counter space.
The vast amount of cookware available today makes it difficult to be precise about size when writing instructions for a recipe. I have tried to use the most common sizes, but if you do not have what I specify, choose the next bigger size, providing the difference is not too great. Some of the more frequently used items are described in the list that follows, which also specifies common sizes.
Baking Pan. A baking pan has vertical sides varying in height from ¾ inch upwards, and is used most often for runny batters. The most popular pans are the 9-x-13-x-1-inch and the 16-x-11-x-1-inch sizes.
Baking Sheet. A baking sheet has either very low sides or no sides, and is used for stiff batters and doughs. There are many sizes available, with the 9-x-13-inch and 17-x-14-inch sheets being most common.
Broiler Pan. This pan, usually supplied with the broiler section of a household stove, consists of a rectangular pan and a serrated insert. Sizes suit that of the broiler, with a 14-x-12-inch pan being the most common.
Cake Pan. A cake pan usually has straight sides ranging in height from 11⁄2 to 3 inches. Recipes generally call for 8- or 9-inch pans in square or round shapes, or an 11-x-7-inch rectangular pan.
Casserole Dish. This multi-purpose dish is usually designed so that it can be taken to the table for serving. Sizes vary, ranging from a 2-cup size to 2- and 4-quart dishes.
Cookie Sheet. This versatile sheet is rectangular in shape and has no sides or very low sides. The best cookie sheets are made from two sheets of metal divided by an air cushion. The air in the cushion diffuses the heat so that the bottom of the cookies do not burn. Unfortunately, many cookie sheets do not have this air cushion design. Sizes vary, with 14-x-91⁄2-inch and 16-x-14-inch sheets being the most common.
Crêpe Pan. This special type of skillet has curved sides and a defined bottom that gives the crêpe its sharp edge. If used only for crêpes, and especially if it has a nonstick coating, this pan does not need to be washed after use, but needs only to be wiped clean with a paper towel touched in oil. Sizes range from 5 to 9 inches, with 6- and 7-inch pans being the most common.
Double Boiler. Designed for foods that need protection from heat, a double boiler consists of a pair of saucepans, with the upper one fitting into the lower one so that a space is left between the bottoms of the two pans. The food is placed in the upper pan, and water is placed in the lower pan. The food is then cooked by the heat of the water, rather than by more direct exposure to the heat source.
Griddle. Useful for cooking pancakes, eggs, and similar foods, a griddle is a thick, flat pan with a trough instead of raised sides. Food is cooked on the griddle using no more than a touch of oil. Griddles come in 12- and 14-inch squares, 12- and 14-inch-diameter circles, and 18-x-12-inch rectangles.
Kettle. Also called a Dutch oven, this pot is generally larger than a saucepan and is fitted with two small handles so that the filled pot can be lifted with two hands. The lid is often deeper than a saucepan lid. This pot can be used for many types of cooking, but because of its large size, is most often used for cooking soups and stews and boiling pasta. Sizes range upwards from 4 quarts.
Loaf Pan. Used to make yeast breads and quick breads, most loaf pans measure 9 × 5 × 3 inches, although many other sizes are available. Loaf pans are most often referred to by the weight of the loaf produced by that pan, although this can be complicated by varying bread densities. The standard loaf pan yields a 1-pound loaf.
Muffin Pan. Most muffin pans have either six or twelve wells, each of which has a height of about 11⁄2 inches.
Pie Pan. Whether metal or ceramic, pie pans are round and have sloping sides. Sizes range from 8 to 10 inches in diameter, with sides of 1 or 2 inches in height.
Ramekin Dish. This ceramic baking dish is designed for single servings of about 6 ounces in size.
Saucepan. This versatile pan is used for making sauces, cooking vegetables, and melting margarine and other solids. A saucepan ranges in size from 2 cups to 6 quarts and has a single handle.
Skillet. The word “skillet” is used to describe all types of frying or sauté pans. A skillet has a flat bottom and flared sides, and a single long handle. Common diameter measurements are 8, 10, and 12 inches.
Springform Pan. This round metal pan consists of a round base (similar to a round baking sheet) and a separate continuous side. The side is attached before the pan is filled with batter, and then released after baking. The cake may be served on the base, or may be removed from the base with a spatula or by inverting the finished cake. Sizes range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter.
Steamer. Some specialized steamers allow large quantities of food to be cooked by the direct application of steam. However, most household steaming needs can be satisfied by a round, fan-type, folding metal insert, sometimes known as a steamer basket. The insert, which is placed inside a kettle or large saucepan, has short legs that raise the colander-style body above the water in the pot. Because of the fan-type construction, these steamers fit in most pots and pans.
Now that you are familiar with spelt, and with the equipment and techniques that will make cooking with this delicious grain so rewarding, you are ready to begin using spelt in dishes as diverse as Spelt-Kernel Winter Muesli and Chicken Amandine Casserole. May your venture into the world of spelt be appetizing, healthy, and exciting!
Breakfast and Brunch
Cookbooks that include a special section on breakfasts sometimes refer to it as “Good Beginnings,” and, indeed, a hearty breakfast is a good beginning to the day. After you have spent ten or twelve hours without food, breakfast refuels your body for the morning’s activities, and especially if these activities are to be strenuous, breakfast must be nutritious and satisfying. An old proverb suggests that the day should start with a breakfast fit for a king—which is fine, as long as the meal is not full of empty calories. The spelt products used in these recipes will not only provide you with the fuel you need to carry you through the morning, but will also create meals that are truly fit for a king.
The recipes in this chapter have been designed with your busy lifestyle in mind. Most of the dishes can be made ahead of time, so that you can cook them when your schedule permits and refrigerate them until needed. And, of course, any leftovers can be frozen for later reheating.
Because breakfast cereals are great favorites, and are wonderful time-savers as well, this chapter includes recipes for a number of cooked and dry cereals that use plain, toasted, or ground spelt flakes and kernels with delicious results. Hazelnut Granola, made with spelt flakes, is crunchy with nuts and sweet with fruit and maple syrup. Hot Cream of Spelt Bulgur is a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that will keep you satisfied until lunch. The hearty whole grain flavor of these cereals allows them to stand alone, with few if any toppings needed. But, of course, milk may be added for even more nutrition. And for those who like to moisten their cereals with something other than cow’s milk, soy, coconut, almond, and hazelnut milks make excellent substitutes, as does sweet rice nectar (amazake). Or you might want to try my own Sweet Spelt Oat-Milk on your next breakfast cereal, and double the spelt goodness of your meal.
When weekends provide you with a little extra time, you probably like to surprise your family with special breakfast treats such as pancakes topped with honey or maple syrup, or blintzes stuffed with a fruit or cheese filling. Spelt flour—as well as Vita-Spelt Pancake/Muffin Mix, the basis for many recipes found throughout the book—will help you make tempting breakfasts that will win raves from every member of your family.
Perhaps your family prefers waffles to pancakes. My Old-World Buttermilk Waffle recipe has seven variations. The cheese variation is ideal for brunch, while the gingerbread variation is perfect for a cool autumn morning.
The bread recipes presented in this chapter include a wide range of bread-basket treats, from scones to English muffins to biscuits. Served fresh from the oven with the spread of your choice, these breads make a great light breakfast on their own, or can be paired with other spelt dishes for heartier morning fare.
French toast, an all-time favorite of young and old alike, is not forgotten in this book. Vanilla French Toast—a new and healthy version of the dish—is baked in the oven, allowing you time for other morning chores. Apple-and-Spelt Bread Crisp, a splendid way to use up leftover spelt bread, is especially popular with younger children. Muesli Breakfast Bars are not limited to the breakfast menu, but can be packed in lunch boxes and briefcases for healthful snacking throughout the day.
Brunch, a meal that combines breakfast and lunch, may have originated in colonial times, although it was not then called by its present name. For many people in those days, workday breakfasts were eaten very early, with the main meal of the day being served between two and three o’clock. The long interval between the two meals was often filled with a second breakfast, more filling than the first. Now, brunch is a popular Sunday-morning activity, and is a favorite meal for entertaining. Dishes such as Overnight Spinach Breakfast Casserole, Easy Mushroom Soufflé, Sweet Onion and Tofu Quiche, and Seafood Eggs Benedict will be winners with friends and family alike. So go ahead, and delight everyone with these new and delicious spelt creations.
No discussion of breakfast and brunch is complete without at least a brief mention of the egg. For many people, in fact, breakfast isn’t breakfast without the ubiquitous egg. Of course, we now know that eggs, though popular and versatile, are also high in cholesterol. Fortunately, in most recipes, egg substitutes and egg whites can be used with good results. In the following recipes, feel free to use a quarter cup of commercial egg substitute or two egg whites for each whole egg.
As you try the recipes that follow, you’ll find that spelt makes a delicious and healthful difference in everything from granola to pancakes to waffles to French toast to quiche. And whatever dish you choose, as long as spelt is an ingredient, your family will have all the energy they need to start their day.
Spelt Breakfast Beverages
At breakfast time, the versatility of spelt becomes delightfully apparent. Of course, spelt makes hearty breads, crisp waffles, and crunchy cereals. Surprisingly, though, spelt also makes a delicious milk alternative, as well as a satisfying alternative to coffee. These healthful beverages are not only welcome additions to the breakfast table, but can be enjoyed throughout the day.
Sweet Spelt Oat-Milk
Yield: 4 cups
1⁄2 cup toasted spelt flakes
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
8 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Sweetened with maple syrup, this oat-milk has a delightfully nutty taste.
1. Place all the ingredients in a heavy 5-quart kettle, cover, and cook over medium heat for 1 hour.
2. Remove the pot from the heat. Place the pot, still covered, in the refrigerator, and allow to cool overnight.
3. The next day, place the mixture in a blender or food processor, and process on “purée” for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth. Strain the liquid through a large sieve.
4. Use immediately, or place the oat-milk in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
• For a creamier consistency, thicken the oat-milk by adding 1⁄4 cup of instant nonfat dry milk. Mix well in your blender or food processor.
• Whenever a dessert recipe calls for cream, place 1 cup of the oat-milk, 1⁄2 cup of instant nonfat dry milk, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a blender or food processor, and whip at high speed for about 4 minutes.
• Whenever a soup stock or gravy recipe calls for cream, prepare the cream as explained above, but omit the vanilla. Pour any leftover oat-milk cream into ice-cube trays and freeze. The frozen cubes may be added to hot soups and gravies whenever needed. (They will dissolve instantly in the hot mixture.)
• For delicious ice milk, freeze the oat-milk in an airtight container until it reaches the desired consistency. For a more flavorful ice milk, freeze the oat-milk only partially. Then remove the oat-milk from the freezer, and whip in fresh fruit pieces or berries. Return the mixture to the freezer until it reaches the desired consistency.
Yield: 1 cup spelt coffee kernels
1 cup washed and dried spelt kernels
This alternative to regular coffee is adapted from Dr. Wighard Strehlow’s book “The Wonder Food Spelt.”
1. Place the kernels in a heavy 8-inch nonstick skillet, and brown over medium heat, stirring frequently. Transfer all but 2 tablespoons of the kernels to a bowl, and continue roasting the remaining kernels until they are very dark in color, but not burned. Remove the kernels, and mix with the lighter brown ones.
2. To make 2 cups of spelt coffee, place 2 cups of water in a 1-quart saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the roasted kernels, and boil for about 10 minutes, or until the water is brown in color.
3. Strain the brew, reserving the kernels, and serve.
4. Add a few roasted spelt coffee kernels to the old kernels each day, until some kernels start to fall apart. Then discard them and roast a new batch.
Yield: 2 servings
1⁄2 cup toasted spelt flakes
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
¼ cup barley flakes
1⁄2 cup low-fat milk, or almond or soymilk, heated but not boiled
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely grated carrot or apple
⅓ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Dash ground cinnamon
At the turn of the century, the now famous Dr. R. Bircher-Benner, founder of a health clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, served for breakfast a mixture of oats, apples, and nuts, sweetened with honey. The doctor called his cereal Birchermuesli, naming it after himself. Since then, muesli has become a breakfast favorite in many countries. This recipe and the one that follows illustrate muesli’s delicious versatility.
1. Place the spelt flakes, oats, barley flakes, milk, honey, and vanilla in a 1-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate the mixture overnight.
2. Remove the muesli from the refrigerator, add the carrots or apple, pecans, raisins, lemon juice, and cinnamon, and mix thoroughly.
3. Place equal portions of the cereal in 2 individual serving bowls. Add additional milk and honey or a sprinkling of turbinado sugar if desired, and serve.
Spelt-Kernel Winter Muesli
Yield: 2 servings
¾ cups spelt kernels
¾ cup water
¼ cup chopped dried fruits
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 banana, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
This satisfying cereal allows you to enjoy fruit throughout the year by taking advantage of the ready supply of dried apricots, papayas, pears, and prunes.
1. Place the kernels in a blender or food processor, and process on “grind” for 2 minutes, or until the kernels are coarsely chopped.
2. Transfer the broken kernels to a 1-quart bowl, add the water and dried fruit, and mix thoroughly. Cover, and allow the mixture to absorb the water overnight at room temperature.
3. Drain off any excess water. Add the lemon juice, honey, yogurt, banana, and almonds, and mix gently.
4. Place equal portions of the muesli in 2 individual serving bowls, top with additional yogurt if desired, and serve.
• For added taste and nutrition, top the muesli with ground roasted nuts, such as hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, or peanuts.
• For an unusual and equally nutritious topping, try a mixture of finely chopped hulled sunflower, pumpkin, and squash seeds.
• For a more robust flavor, add freshly grated carrots.