Category Archives: grains



Spelt, (triticum speltum) is an ancient variety of wheat that has a mellow, nutty flavor and an extremely high protein value.  It is a variety of soft wheat.  Spelt berries look like pointy grains of rice that are extremely light brown in color.  The hull for spelt is a lot tougher than the common variety of wheat.

     Spelt was originally grown in 5,000 to 6,000 BC around Iran, but has only been in America for a little over 100 years.  It is the forerunner of the European wheat grown today.  It is very difficult to grow, so there are not many plants available.  Hulled spelt is easily digestible, with the highest protein value of most grains.  It can be used like rice, barley, or faro.  When spelt is in its berry form, many people with wheat allergies can digest it without problems. (However, it does contain some gluten).  Spelt is also ground into flour.

            Spelt contains calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese.  It has vitamin E, and B complex vitamins, especially niacin

Spelt Bread
– For a bread machine

1 cup water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp. butter
3-3/4 to 4 cups spelt flour
1/4 cup dry buttermilk powder
2 tbsp. wheat gluten
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp caraway seed
2 tsp yeast
-Follow instructions that came with the bread machine.

-Makes a 1-1/2 pound loaf.

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Kasha, or roasted buckwheat groats, comes from a plant that is native to Northern Europe and Asia.  It was cultivated in China between the 10-13th century.  It spread to Europe, via Turkey during the 14th and 15th century.  By the 17th century, it hit Great Britain and the US.  Today, Russia and Poland are the largest producers.

Kasha has a toasty, nutty flavor. The seeds are back and triangular in shape, approximately the size of a grain of wheat.  The seeds must be hulled.  The shell is inedible.  They are passed between 2 mechanical rollers.  Roasted cracked or whole buckwheat is called kasha.


Cracked Kasha

Buckwheat groats grow on a plant, similar to rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a grass that is an important agricultural crop for producing livestock feed. It grows on a bushy plant that produces white or pink flowers.  The nectar that is produced in the flower brings about a dark, rich, almost molasses style of honey.  It is not as sweet as a common wildflower honey.

        NECTAR           FLOUR, BUCKWHEAT      

Buckwheat Flour is made from milling the buckwheat grain.  It is very dark, and velvety, and has a very strong assertive flavor.  Buckwheat flour is naturally gluten free

            Buckwheat Flour is commonly used to make such items such as long Italian noodles called Pezzoccheri or Pizzoccheri or Japanese Soba Noodles.  In Russia they use buckwheat flour to make flat crepe-like pancakes called bilinis.

            Kasha is great cold in salads.  It contains magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, folic acid, iron, and pantothenic acid.  Buckwheat flour is high in protein, so therefore benefits from being refrigerated/ frozen when stored.

       To cook buckwheat groats/ kasha use 1 part of grains to 1 ½ to 2 parts liquid to yield of 2 cups cooked grain in about 12-20 minutes of cooking time.

  • Pairings for Kasha
  • asparagus
  • eggs
  • mushrooms
  • Parmesan cheese
  • pignoli
  • sour cream

© 2013 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Sorghum is a widely consumed grain also known as milo.  It originates around Africa and Asia approximately 4,000 years ago.  There are approximately 40 varieties of sorghum, (sorghum vulgure).

Bicolored sorghum

Sorghum can be an annual or a perennial grass that grows in tropical or subtropical climates.  It is drought resistant, but can adapt to wet climates.  This makes sorghum an extremely important food source.  It is widely consumed.


The sorghum grass has broad, corn like leaves.  The grains grow in clusters that hang off the stalk.  Sweet syrup can be extracted from the stalk, and this is sorghum “molasses”.      Sorghum grain contains no gluten, so it must be used for either flat bread, or porridge.  It is also used for fodder. It has more protein and fat than corn, but is lower in Vitamin A.  It can be used for the production of alcoholic beverages.

Sweet Sorghum is extracted from the Bicolored Sorghum plant, and is used in the south as a sweetener- like molasses or maple syrup is used.  The syrup that is produced is dark and sticky like sugar cane molasses, but with a bitter undertone.

Sorghum is very nutritious.

Originally Published 11-1-12

© 2012 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Amaranth, amaranthus gangeticus, is an annual plant that is used as greens, and its seeds as a grain.    It is thought to have originated in Mexico.  The amaranth is a principle staple of the Aztecs.  It was also used in religious ceremonies.

Amaranth greens are large and are either green streak with magenta, or magenta with green accents.  They are round or lanced shaped and about 2 to 6 inches long.  There are several varieties of amaranth greens.  The greens have a delicious, slightly sweet flavor.  Amaranth greens can be used like spinach.  They wilt very easily.  The plant produces red flowers.  They look like tassels.  One plant can produce about 500,000 seeds.


The seeds are used like cereal, or ground into flour.  They have a slightly pepper, molasses like flavor, with a slight nuttiness.  The grains are tiny.  They are shiny, and can be yellow, or black. Whole amaranth can also be used as a thickener when cooked.  They get slightly gummy, like okra.  When the grains are ground into flour, the flour is unusually moist, and sweet.  There is no gluten amaranth flour, so it does not rise when baked.  Amaranth flour is high in protein.

Amaranth is very nutritious.  The grains are high in protein, due to the balance of its amino acids.  It is rich in lysine, methionine, and tryptophan.  It also contains magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, folic acid, panthothenic acid, calcium, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and vitamins B6, and C.  Amaranth grains have twice the iron, and four times the calcium as durum wheat.


Flowering Amaranth plant


Chinese Amaranth

Amaranth Cakes with Wild Mushrooms

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup amaranth grain
2 tbsp shallots
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp finely chopped marjoram
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, or morels, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh marjoram
1 cup shaved Parmegiano Reggiano chees

1.   To make batter for cake:  Pour 2 cups boiling water over dried porcini, and let soak for 15 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, lift mushrooms from water.  Carefully pour mushroom water through fine sieve into another container, discarding any sediment.  Rinse mushrooms again, and chop very fine.  Set aside.

2.  Place amaranth, shallots, salt, chopped mushrooms and 1 1/2 cups mushroom liquid in medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to very low.  Cook for 25 minutes or until grain absorbs all liquid.  Transfer to mixing bowl, and cool.  Stir in egg, flour and marjoram.

3.  To make mushroom mixture:  heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushroom, season with salt and cook, tossing from time to time, until mushrooms release moisture and begin to brown.  Add shallots and garlic, cook 1 minute more and add wine.  Continue to cook until only a few tablespoons of liquid remain.  Stir in butter and marjoram, and transfer to bowl, or sauce pan.  Keep warm while making cakes.

4.  To make cakes:  pour 1/8 inch layer of olive oil into large skillet, and heat over medium heat.  When oil is hot, drop in 2 tbsp sized mounds of amaranth batter, and flatten with fork into pancake shape.  Cook until browned on bottoms, about 1 minute, flip and brown top.  Repeat with remaining batter until used up.

5.  To serve, alternate layers of amaranth cakes and mushrooms on individual serving plates or large platter.  Top with shaved cheese, and serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Originally Published 8-4-11

© 2011 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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