Saturday, November 17, 2007

American Fusion: Quinoa-Barley Pancakes

This morning's pancakes combined red quinoa from South America and purple barley from North America. Friday morning, I ground two ounces of red quinoa and one ounce of purple barley, then let them soak overnight in a mixture of buttermilk and water. I didn't nail down the proportions exactly, just about a quarter-cup of buttermilk and enough water to get a pancake-batter consistency. Next time I'll use all buttermilk. Saturday morning I added a pinch of salt and two eggs and fried them on the cast-iron griddle.

For the topping I simmered frozen blueberries (that I picked this summer!) and maple syrup, and served Amish yogurt on the side.

Cultivated in the Andes for over five thousand years, quinoa was a sacred "mother grain" to the ancient Incas. Today it is reported to be the most nutritious "grain" on the market. It's technically not a cereal grain at all because it is not a grass, but shares many characteristics with said family. It provides all nine essential amino acids for complete protein as well as fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. In baking, it has a grassy flavor and is gluten-free, so I like to combine it with other grains for flavor and texture.

Quinoa also sprouts quickly and easily - just soak it in the morning and by dinnertime you'll see little rootlets wrapping their way around the seeds. Cook it on the stovetop with twice as much water as quinoa for fifteen to twenty minutes or until it turns into chewy translucent pearls. Use as you would cous cous or rice.

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