I have discovered the secret to finding reasonably priced cooking classes: Minneapolis Community Education. You can enroll whether or not you're a Minneapolis resident, and the class fees are much cheaper than cooking stores or suburban community education programs. I was able to talk Mike into taking a class with me on "Cooking with Whole Grains" taught by Urban Relish. He was resistant at first ("But Stacy, I already have enough whole grain in my life") but he caved when I promised to take him someplace cool for dinner beforehand.
During the first part of the class, we munched on quinoa muffins and learned about the various whole grains (a few of which I had never heard of, like amaranth, farro, and spelt). Some of my favorite tips are below:
- You can cook large batches of grains and freeze them in the quantities needed for recipes. This is especially useful for grains that require long cooking times, such as barley, spelt, and wheat berries.
- If your grains taste done to you, don't worry if all the water hasn't been absorbed yet. Just drain the grains as you would pasta.
- Grains have a fairly bland flavor profile. Dress them as you would a salad, or use them as a base to use up any ingredients that you have on hand.
For the second part of class, we prepared a wheat berry salad and bulgur chili. However, my favorite recipe of the night was the pre-game quinoa muffins. They were moist and dense, with a nutty flavor and appetizing crunch from the quinoa. Since quinoa is high in protein, they are also much more filling than your typical muffin. Even if you think that you have enough whole grain in your life, you need to try these.
Note: the original recipe included 1/2 cup of raisins. Since raisins are one of the few ingredients that I loathe with a vengeance, I've left them out, but feel free to add them back in if you want. I won't hold it against you.
Yield: 12 muffins
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection setting. In a small saucepan, combine quinoa with one cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender and has absorbed all of the water, about 11 to 13 minutes.
Mix cooked quinoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil, milk, egg, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into lined muffin cups.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes (if you are using a conventional oven, your baking time will be longer, 25 to 30 minutes). Remove muffins from pan and cool on wire racks.