The Whole Grain Series: Part One
I have a new friend, Jonell Galloway, who lives and writes in Europe. Her new book, The French and What They Eat, is bound to be a best-seller. In a recent blog on her webiste, Jonell revealed the amazing history of buckwheat:
Crusaders brought back buckwheat from Asia in the twelfth century, but it proved to be hard to grow until they took it to Brittany, France, where there is always plenty of rain, the climate is not harsh and the soil is acidic.
These were all the right conditions for growing blé noir, meaning literally “black wheat,” or, as we call it, buckwheat.
Buckwheat grows fast and is ready to eat in 100 days, so it helped feed Bretons for centuries. It is often referred to as “poor people’s wheat,” since wheat was only affordable for the rich in those days.
It was probably used for gruel or very thick griddle cakes at the beginning. It took centuries before the buckwheat pancake became popular. The original recipe, which dates from some one thousand years ago, was much thicker than the crêpes we know today.
The returning Crusaders brought buckwheat back from the Holy Land. The original name for the buckwheat pancake was the crepe de sarrasin. Saracen was the medieval European term for Muslims, the people whom the Crusaders were trying to evict from the Holy Land. You may meditate upon this history as you eat your pureed buckwheat pancake. The authentic recipe is too large for the modern puree kitchen, unless you are a healthcare instituion. It uses 2 pounds of flour and lard.
Traditionally, buckwheat crepes are reserved for savory dishes. I give you the Russian blini and the Sunday morning Bagel and Lox in a Blini.
For the sweet Sunday morning, I suggest the recipe in the Essential Puree Guidebook for buckwheat pancakes with blueberry sauce, maple syrup and a steamed egg.
The grain is great for gluten-free diets because it is not technically a member of the wheat family. It is also great for diabetics because it slows the absorption of glucose.
Blinis: The Savory Dish for a Festive Occassion
The French were not the only ones to love buckwheat pancakes. The Russians like blinis, the classic dish served with caviar and sour cream, an elegant sort of dish one could create in the puree kitchen. It is a wrap, a taco, an empanada, a hand pie, but done Russian style and it purees beautifully. As such, it qualifies as a quickie snack or a small meal with protein.
Many of you have asked for healthy snacks for the puree diet, so here it is.
I create it as it is served at the Russian Tea Room, a landmark New York establishment near Carnegie Hall. The classic blini is a crepe made with white flour, but as EP wants to boost the nutritional value, we are substituting buckwheat, a whole grain. For convenience, use the Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mis and prepare according to package directions. For the savory pancake, eliminate the honey.
Once you make the batter, heat your griddle to 300 degress. Take a ladle full of batter and test a drop. Make sure the batter spreads smoothly. Add enough liquid to make the blinis thin. Then once the griddle is the right temperature and the batter is the right thickness, take a ladleful and pour the pancakes. Turn the blinis when they are just gold at the edges.
For the Puree
For the dysphagia patient, you do not want overly browned edges as these may create particles in the puree that are difficult for the swallow. You want an even texture with no sharp edges in the puree.
You tear two pancakes into small bits and place two of the buckwheat pancakes in the bowl of the mini-processor or the bottom of the flat-bottomed blender. You pulse until the pancake breaks up. You add a half cup of sour cream thinned with a little milk. Pulse a few times to incorporate and then puree smooth.
You just place two of the buckwheat pancakes in the bowl of the mini-processor or the bottom of the flat-bottomed blender.
You check the puree for thickness, according to your level and you adjust the liquid or the solid until you have it just right.
Optional: At the end of the blending of buckwheat crepe and sour cream, you add the caviar and some very finely grated lemon zest. You puree.
Tip: Use a kitchen rasp for the lemon zest, It creates air thin pieces that blend away to liquid.
Note on ingredients: The caviar does not have to be the most expensive Beluga. You can purchase all grades of caviar in a specialty store. You can use salmon roe or sea urchin roe.
In place of a Bagel and Lox for Sunday Morning Breakfast
We at Essential Puree believe in variety for the diet of the dysphagia patient. In place of caviar, you could add smoked salmon to this dish. You simply tear several thin slices of smoked salmon into small pieces and add along with the thinned sour cream. You could even add some very finely diced red onion, and some diced tomato. This is basically your Sunday morning bagel with smoked salmon, substituting a buckwheat pancake for the bagel. The sour cream has the same flavor profile as plain cream cheese, but is thinner for the puree.
Sweetness and Fruit: The American Breakfast
The classic American take on the buckwheat pancake is a delicious item for Sunday brunch. The recipe in Essential Puree is for a sweet pancake, with maple syrup and fruit sauce served with a steamed egg. The Essential Puree Guidebook follows the package directions for mixing the batter, taking care to make it thin, for the puree. Essential Puree uses polyunsaturated vegetable oil and Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mix for convenience. Make it according to package directions.
The prep for the puree is the same as the prep above for the savory pancake, but you add the fruit sauce and the steamed egg for the liquid.