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Grain Mains: 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day Hardcover – August 21, 2012
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“Grain Mains is a recipe for a new way of eating--one that looks beyond seven-ounce steaks and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Whether they're transforming the familiar (Ham and Corn Pudding, Oat and Amaranth Pancakes ) or demystifying the exotic (Lamb and Tritcale Tagine, Roasted Ratatouille with Job¹s Tears), Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough showcase the diversity and--more importantly--deliciousness of whole grains.” ―Dan Barber, author and chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns
“I see a lot of cookbooks...But very few do what this one did, which was to make me rethink the way I shop and cook.” ―WeightWatchers.com
“A catalog of whole-grain main dish inspiration -- and not just with the recipes...We love this cookbook.” ―LAWeekly.com
“Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough transform cherished favorites into healthy whole-grain alternatives.” ―The Daily Meal
“When Grain Mains arrived on my desk, I couldn't wait to open it....The recipes make you want to get into the kitchen and cook..You'll see that healthy eating was never so delicious.” ―Diane Worthington, Seriously Simple, Tribune-syndicated columnist
“Learn to make whole grains the star of supper--or any meal--with Grain Mains by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.” ―Better Home and Gardens
“Their writing is both informative, personal, and inflected with humor--all of which should make the topic more enjoyable to read about, and hopefully eat.” ―Epicurious.com
About the Author
BRUCE WEINSTEIN and MARK SCARBROUGH are the creators of the bestselling Ultimate Cookbook series and have most recently published Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese (2011). They were nominated for a James Beard award in 2011. They live in Colebrook, CT.
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I should start off by saying that I already liked some grains (barley, wheatberry and farro are favorites) before purchasing the book. This book is a great intro to cooking with grains if it isn't something you're all that familiar with (I wasn't). There is an introductory chapter that gives you the lay of the land about grains, describes each grain and how to cook with it, which whole grains are gluten free and which aren't and just generally makes you comfortable with the concept of grains. There are a ton of vegan options in the book as well.
I've made three recipes from the book - Barley & Pecan Burgers, Spicy Brown Rice Salad w/ Chicken and Peanuts and Farro w/ Nectarines, Basil and Toasted Pine Nuts. All three turned out great and tasted great the first time I made them. The Barley & Pecan Burgers were fantastic and I would happily substitute those for real hamburgers any day of the week (and I really like hamburgers). They were just that good. The book is broken up into breakfast dishes, salads, soups and stews, burgers, casseroles and dinner party worthy recipes.
Availability of ingredients. There are recipes for every type of grain imaginable. I have found many of them in the grain & cereal aisle of my local chain supermarket. You don't necessarily need to go to a Whole Foods or other type of specialty food store to get the ingredients. If you do, that's great but I found wheatberries, farro, quinoa, barley, millet, oats and about a thousand different types of rice just at Pick N Save (the local grocery store). I did want to try Kamut which I couldn't find but just ended up getting that on Amazon. The other ingredients are fruits, nuts and vegetables that you can generally find in your local market. If you can't (nectarines weren't in season at my store), you can easily substitute. I used apricots and the recipe was still fantastic.
Ease of recipes. You don't need to be an experienced chef for the recipes. They are very straight-forward and easy to read. No particularly exotic techniques or hardware needed. If you can put the pan on the stove with some water in it, you're pretty much good to go. A food processor would probably be handy too.
Tester's Notes. Each recipe comes with "Tester's Notes" that the authors specifically wrote for that recipe. They are little tips and info about the ingredients that can come in handy and are just fun to read. Quite a few give you some tips on how to "cheat" a little such as for the recipe for brown rice that I referred to above. One of the tips was to pick up the brown rice at a Chinese restaurant instead of making it yourself so it wouldn't take as long. There are also "Chef It Up" tips for each recipe that show you how to change it up a little to make the recipe really dinner-party worthy.
Pre-Soaking. This isn't really a con but if you're looking forward to making a recipe one evening and you didn't pre-soak the grains like the recipe called for, it just won't turn out correctly. In the intro chapter, the authors tell you what grains don't have to be pre-soaked so you can just pick those grains to cook.
Cooking time. Again, this really isn't the book's fault. Many recipes call for simmering the grains in water on the cook top for around an hour to get them to the right consistency. I do this while I'm doing other household chores but you should be aware that cooking time can be long so you need to time-manage a bit. Again, there are grains that don't have to be cooked that long and the authors tell you what those are.
Pictures. Not every single recipe has a picture. Some do, but not all. If you're the type of cook that likes to see what the finished product is supposed to look like beforehand, that could be an issue. However, all of the recipes I've read are self-evident as to what the finished recipe should look like.
Quantity. If you're cooking for one like me, you'll discover that the recipes make more than enough for a dinner of four people. As a result, I'll be halving the recipes going forward. That is still enough for 2-3 meals just for me.
One of the indicators as to whether I'm going to keep a book or not is that when I first get it, I sit down and go through the recipes page by page and put post-its on recipes I know I would actually make and eat. Some cookbooks I've ordered only end up with one or two post-its. Those get returned. This one ended up with around 70 post its. It's a keeper!
Kathi Wright, Green Bay, WI.