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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pajama days

I've spent this week revamping the blog. I hope you find it cleaner and easier to follow. Also, if you look at the right side column, you'll find the link to my new aStore. I've picked in amazon.com the non-perishable ingredients that I often use--but are some times not available in regular grocery stores--and I've put them all in this aStore. So you can click on it, select the ingredients, purchase them (with the online security that amazon offers) and get them shipped directly to you. No time or gas wasted searching for them! Yes, I do get a small commission, but it will not cost you anything extra. Amazon is the one splitting it with me! Please let me know if you find it helpful and if you have any comments or suggestions. I'd love to learn what you think.  

In a way, I'm glad I've been mostly working from home these days, as there's been no happy weather. After everyone was slowly trying to get life back to "normal," in recovery from the hurricane, here came a nasty snow storm. Wind breaking and turning inside out everyone's cheap umbrellas (yes, there's is actually a quality and endurance difference, but I'm still buying the $8.00 ones, which end up being more expensive, but the Burberry's one will have to wait), slushy sidewalks, red noses, wet everythings and dark skies...

It's tea drinking mood, sweats (OK, pajamas), thick socks, fluffy sleepers, soups, crockpot-cooked meals and porridges time. Yes, smooth, warm, creamy, slightly spiced, sweet and comforting porridges. Warmth sliding down the throat, smoothly, delicately, comfortably... Needless to say, lots of oatmeal. But today I was in the mood for something different.
I had some left over coconut milk in the fridge and I decided to give millet a try for breakfast.
Most of us have at some point heard the word millet, but few people keep it in their cupboard. Well, here we go, then: millet is a main ingredient in birdseed and just as it happens with quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, it is not technically a grain, but a seed that behaves like a grain.
The term millet, actually refers to a variety of grains from the same grass family, not a specific one, and that's why it can be white, red, yellow or grayish.
A tiny round ancient seed, that resists draughts well, millet originated in Ethiopia, and it's a common ingredient in African, Indian and Asian cuisines. Before the discovery of the New World, it was a popular food in Europe, that eventually was replaced by potatoes and corn, and reserved mostly for animal feed.
However, with the current revival of ancient grains, the increasing incidence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance (millet is gluten free), and the recognition of whole, unprocessed grains as health-promoting and maintaining foods, these little guys are making a comeback.
They are mild in flavor, easy to digest, inexpensive and high in heart-protective magnesium and contains a good amount of protein. Millet is also a good source of phosphorus, which is necessary for cellular and genetic structure, bone formation, and energy production; manganese (an essential enzyme activator), powerful antioxidants and fiber.

For best tasting results, it's good to toast millet before cooking it. Millet should be placed in a hot, dry skillet over medium high heat, and moved around constantly with a heat-proof spatula for about 5 minutes. Until a toasty smell and mild browning are perceived. Then, it can be cooked in cold liquid (3 parts liquid to 1 part millet, for a rice-like texture, or a bit more for a loser, creamier one) for about 25 minutes. Then it should stand in the pan, covered with heat turned off for 5-8 minutes.

PEAR AND COCONUT MILK MILLET PORRIDGE

You can substitute coconut milk for almond, hemp, hazelnut, rice, whole dairy milk, or even water. Although I did love the richness and the slight sweetness of the coconut milk in this recipe.
It doesn't require the addition of sweetener, as the pear melts into the millet, and the spices just enhance it a bit more.

INGREDIENTS

  • Vegan
  • Free of: dairy, nuts, eggs, sugar, soy, wheat and gluten
  • Super ingredients: millet, pear, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon


1/4 cup millet
1 soft pear, seeded and cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground (freshly, if possible) nutmeg
1 cup canned coconut milk
Cinnamon, to taste

METHOD
Heat a small sauce pan for a couple of minutes, until very hot. Lower flame to medium high and add in millet.

Cook the grain, mixing constantly with a heat-proof spatula until it smells toasty and browns a bit. Do not burn!

Add in the cubed pear, ginger and nutmeg, mix to distribute and pour in the coconut milk.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, cover and let cook 25 minutes.
Turn heat off and let porridge rest, still covered for 5 minutes.

Serve on a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Serves 1 (generously), but recipe can be doubled, tripled or made to feed as many breakfast eaters as you want.


NOTE: Recipe can be prepared in a slow cooker overnight, and then you'll wake up to a warm breakfast ready to go (just remember to toast milled before placing it on the crockpot)