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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whole Grains for Gourmets
At the first glance, Maria Speck's book not only pleases by its appetizing photos, but, also, by its clear, user friendly design. A mixture of biographical anecdotes, helpful comments and tempting recipes - don't worry, the recipes are the main part - the book is very well written, funny, not only instructive, but also entertaining.
Reading it, I had several "Aha"...
Published on June 12, 2011 by Dr. Karin M. Anderson

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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little disappointed; title is a little misleading
i was really looking forward to finding lots of recipes using whole grains, or "berries", as the author calls them, but i found that many of the recipes only use whole grain flour, and not the whole grain. there is only 1 recipe for amaranth and buckwheat, and 3 for quinoa, for example. the recipes look good, but it's not what i was expecting.
Published on August 23, 2011 by Milic


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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whole Grains for Gourmets, June 12, 2011
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
At the first glance, Maria Speck's book not only pleases by its appetizing photos, but, also, by its clear, user friendly design. A mixture of biographical anecdotes, helpful comments and tempting recipes - don't worry, the recipes are the main part - the book is very well written, funny, not only instructive, but also entertaining.
Reading it, I had several "Aha" moments - the author (who grew up in Germany and Greece) doesn't shy away from rich ingredients like butter, bacon, or a shot of booze, but believes that "food has to be mouthwatering" and "eating is about pleasure first, and dieting last". And her recipes really live up to that credo!
I served the "Brie Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes" to my rather skeptical husband who, after the first forkful, turned into an ardent "believer". The oat based burgers, seasoned with roasted pine nuts, rosemary and sage, were absolutely amazing! Being an avid baker, I also tried the "Greek Walnut-Barley Cake", Lemon-Rosemary Scones" and "Orange Scented Scones with Dark Chocolate" - all were delicious.
The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, even for iffier steps (like handling very sticky dough), and, for people like me, who don't like it too sweet, there is no necessity to cut down on sugar or honey - the seasoning is just right.
This is really a cookbook that takes the scary (and Puritan!) out of whole grain cooking.
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far, my favorite new cookbook!, June 20, 2011
This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
I am absolutely in love with cookbooks. As a general rule my grandma once told me, it's worth buying a cookbook if you get 2 or 3 unique new recipes you can go to regularly. Now, I usually don't buy cookbooks that aren't vegan specific but I could not pass this one up. The salads section alone has been worth the money and are already vegan (aside from some added cheese or butter which is easy to substitute or omit).

I've made the salad on the cover, which is delicious with a garlic marinated tofu slice, and we've made this recipe twice in 2 weeks. The recipe that really sold the book for me was the Bittersweet Koliva that you can see in the Amazon "Look Inside"feature. I made this for my Greek friend from Thessaloniki (where the author is from) and she LOVED it! It's a very unique sweet grain dish that I never would have thought of on my own. And a little tip, I substituted the raisins and dragees for ribbons of toasted coconut. So delicious!

I highly recommend this book so anyone and everyone! It has creative recipes that I never could have imagines and they are so simple and wholesome. Though I have only tried a few of these ancients grains, they have become the new staples in my diet (plain brown rice is out! haha). What's also great is that it is a healthy but delicious book that's great for vegetarians, carnists, and vegans alike!

If you're on the fence about getting this book, try some of the recipes you can see in the "Look Inside" feature (this is a good tip for any cookbook you might want on Amazon) and see if yourself how worthwhile it would be to have. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, 100% Whole Grains, May 5, 2011
This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed everything I've tried from this book so far. There are a lot of interesting combinations of Mediterranean flavors to try. The recipes strike a nice balance between being fully detailed, so that you can follow them exactly if you wish, and being adaptable, so that you can take the inspiration provided and adapt it to your tastes and supplies.

This is a very good-looking book, with nice page layout and lovely photographs.

I love that the recipes, including the baked goods, all use 100% whole grains--no hidden white flour.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little disappointed; title is a little misleading, August 23, 2011
This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
i was really looking forward to finding lots of recipes using whole grains, or "berries", as the author calls them, but i found that many of the recipes only use whole grain flour, and not the whole grain. there is only 1 recipe for amaranth and buckwheat, and 3 for quinoa, for example. the recipes look good, but it's not what i was expecting.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Whole Grains Cookbook Everyone Can Savor, June 4, 2011
This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
I can't even pretend to be objective about Maria Speck's new cookbook, "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" because a) Maria's a long-time friend; b) she let me test a couple of the recipes; c) the recipes are creative, delicious, and fun to cook; d) the photos are gorgeous; e) it's a great read, because it's full of stories about Maria's Greek and German family; and f) the information about cooking with whole grains is really useful, whether you know your spelt from your farro or you couldn't tell the difference between a grain of brown rice and a couscou (what the heck do you call a single grain of couscous, anyway?)

Maria embraces the use of butter, cream and bacon; and insists that "health is the last thing on my mind when I eat." Fortunately, even though I'm a pescovegetarian and try to eat as healthily as possible, I can still enjoy this cookbook, because many of the recipes includes suggestions for how to lighten them up or make them vegetarian.

Whether you're a hedonist or a health nut, this book will make you want to try every recipe, because Maria swoons over the taste and texture of each whole grain like it's a treasured friend. To be candid, I think she's a bit nutty, because, face it, certain grains are rather bland. For example, what's the big whoop about polenta? Even when it's fried with a nice crust, it still tastes like breakfast cereal. Fortunately, her recipes call for foods with strong Mediterranean flavors--such as feta cheese, smoked trout, and olives--that could make almost any grain taste good.

Millet is another one of those grains that I'm not particularly crazy about, but its dry, almost nutty flavor is a perfect foil to soak up the salty tomato sauce in one of my favorite recipes in the book, "Greek Millet Saganaki with Shrimp and Ouzo." I've never been a fan of ouzo, either, but the liqueur cuts through the salt and gives this dish a bright, clean flavor. I even discovered that ouzo can be pretty refreshing when you drink it on the rocks with a splash of soda.

Although I'm admittedly biased, I'm sure that you, too, will find at least one new food in this cookbook that you never thought you'd want to eat.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book lowered my husbands blood sugar, April 11, 2012
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
The recipes in this book are to die for. At least all of the ones I have tried. But the big thing is the more I cook with all of these grains the better my husbands blood sugar gets. So this is really a winner of a book. The she brings these grains together in such wonderful combinations. I think everyone who wants to starting eating whole grains should buy this book. It is eating the whole grains that affects the blood sugar. The bread (are great) but do not shift the blood sugar as much. I just cannot say enough about this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy, Tasty and No, it's not a Diet Cookbook, July 31, 2011
By 
Julie (Los Olivos, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
I really love cookbooks that are packed with recipes that take simple things already in the house and guide you to make something fabulous and this cookbook totally delivers! If you are looking to increase the amount of fiber and vegetables to your diet, you will find this cookbook jammed with awesome recipes to make it happen. I also like cookbooks that allow me to substitute things (like a different type of cheese than what the recipe calls for) without ruining the dish. I did a LOT of substituting and experimenting after cooking most of the recipes as they are listed, and was able to come up with some great variations. The recipes definitely have a Mediterranean look and feel which is obvious when you consider history, but it's not a diet cookbook, it's a cookbook that takes staples as old as man and reworks them into delicious recipes for today's family. And yes, my kids actually liked everything I made.

Here's what I like:
-recipes don't call for odd ingredients that you'll never use again and for those that do, there is a listing of sources in the back of the book (I substituted for some of these, and everything came together just fine)
-easy to follow directions and pretty fool-proof
-really, really yummy!
-plenty of variety for all meals
-excellent intro to whole grains with a brief history and uses

Some make not like:
-recipes don't use a lot of meat (easy to add on your own)
-recipes not organized by grain type

Also, kudos to Ms. Speck for creating a wonderful cookbook with plenty of good information (not just recipes) that's not preachy about healthy eating. As she says, she cooks what she likes, and yes, she loves baguettes with plenty of butter. What she does explain is her thought about balance of using whole grains occasionally with the much-maligned processed white flour. She states, "I believe in the right hands and with good ingredients, any food can be a delicacy." And she's right, whole grains do taste really good!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should be called whole wheat cookbook, November 27, 2013
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
I was hoping for a cookbook with inspiring quinoa salads or quinoa incorporated into baking, buckwheat crepes, ideas for amaranth, millet, recipes for true ancient grains. This book doesn't provide any of that. It's not imaginative. I never use it and I've had it a year and a half. An entire section is devoted to recipes with whole wheat pasta. I can make those dishes just substituting whole wheat pasta into recipes I use. Disappointing book, misleading title.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great healthy, tasty recipes!, May 3, 2011
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
It's so nice to finally see a book on whole grains that incorporates a wide variety of foods (e.g., isn't also vegetarian, vegan, etc.). This book has recipes that anyone would like and can eat. The book is part reference book and part recipes. The photography is beautiful and everything looks delicious. I've only tried the fig muffins so far, but they were easy and excellent! And now gone! Can't wait to try more recipes from this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Special and Useful Cookbook, May 19, 2012
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This review is from: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More (Hardcover)
We have used this cookbook over the last several months more than we've ever used any other cookbook. The recipes are tempting to look at and delicious when created. The pictures are plentiful and useful. Best of all for us, we have used the recipes and techniques in this book as a great reference and guideline for greatly improving our diet.

It is important to note, as author Maria Speck does, that she is in no way writing a diet or health book. However, we found the methods of food preparation and the ingredients she uses are all exceptionally well suited to a very healthy, largely (but not slavishly) Mediterranean diet. Who would have thought eating delicious food prepared with ingredients which have been available for thousands of years (until the modern curse of processed sugar and white flour forced them underground) would promote a healthy diet? What a shock.

The best thing I like about "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" is the passion Maria Speck brings to the subject. You definitely get the feeling this was a book she was destined to write because her love for whole grains goes back to her early childhood. Perhaps more important is her Greek/German ancestry has positioned her between two cultures which are very reliant on completely different whole grains for meal preparation. She goes into great detail about the history, cultivation and preparation of all the grains she uses in the book. This, plus her many years experience with creative cooking and baking have given the book an extraordinary breadth which is greatly appreciated by readers.

We did not find the recipes overly complicated and have been successful with every one we have tried. We had more trouble actually securing the ingredients than making the meals. Because we had to actually hunt down several of the grains we needed to make some of the recipes, we have found sources of fresh food and whole grains which we did not know existed in our town. Big score!

Our favorite recipes have turned out to be some of the bread recipes. We like the "Aroma Bread with Coriander and Fennel" (although it is a long process to make, it is so delicious!) and the Floating Sesame Loaf (which is a blast to make, if you are into the process of making breads).

The best bread recipe we found in the book is the "Pine Nut Bread with Fennel and Sun Dried Tomatoes." It is simple, quick and has so much flavor you could eat it every day! It is fantastic for sandwiches with ordinary deli meat. We take this bread with a flavorful cheese or a herb spread to anything we are invited to and it is always a smash hit. Just a hint on this bread: Since pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes are so expensive we've sometimes substituted slivered almonds and roasted red peppers with excellent and tasty results.

We have also really enjoyed the "Spelt Crust Pizza with Fennel, Prosciutto and Apples." Absolutely wonderful.

We do like to make breads, but they are only a small part of the recipe assortment in the book. There are many breakfast, salad, soup, main dish and dessert recipes available. Well over 100 recipes in all.

I'm not even going to go into the "Creamy Rotelle with Basil Yogurt and Mozarella" (use fresh mozarella!) or the "Parmesan Polenta with Rosemary Oil Drizzle." These are just a few of the many amazing recipes in this collection. Thank you Maria Speck!

Hmmm...Now that I'm looking through it, I think we will try "Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Trout and Lime Mayonnaise" tonight. No wait...maybe "Fire Roasted Tomato Stew with Eggplant and Farro."

So many choices, so many delicious recipes!
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