If you asked Dan his opinion on the matter, he might say I've developed a bit of a cookbook-collecting obsession. I, on the other hand, would like to think I'm simply devoted to building an ever-growing research library.
Obsession aside, one of my absolute favorite things to do on Sunday mornings is flip through cookbooks, both old and new, and gaze at the inspiring photos and recipes. When I was contacted to review a fellow Chicagoan's cookbook, Cooking With Ancient Grains, I happily agreed and awaited the book's arrival.
Maria Baez Kijac's Cooking With Ancient Grains is timely given the sweeping affinity for quinoa, amaranth, chia, and kañiwa. The book is packed with 75 innovative, inspiring, and superfood-laden recipes, most of which are accompanied by colorful photos. Although the recipes are not strictly vegan or vegetarian, plenty of them are and many others can be easily modified to fit either lifestyle. Maria kicks off the book with a history on ancient grains along with easy, fool-proof ways to prepare the basics (e.g., boiled quinoa, chia gel, toasted chia seeds, etc). The book then unfolds into breakfast, appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, and desserts, leaving no course unturned. The recipes are simple and approachable with easy-to-follow instructions. This cookbook is a must-have for any kitchen where ancient grains make a regular appearance. After five years of making quinoa with inconsistent results, I now know the trick to making perfect quinoa every time.
One of the first recipes to catch my attention in Maria's book was a delicious-looking Hot Quinoa Cereal that is comparable to a protein-rich oatmeal. The recipe is versatile, welcoming to adjustments, and so creamy and delicious. After making it just a few times, it's quickly becoming a staple in my breakfast rotation. It's the ideal warm, comforting, and energizing fall breakfast because you can top it with anything and everything you choose.
The only modifications I made to Maria's recipe were upping the spices and the variety of toppings. What can I say? I'm a toppings girl. This is one of the creamiest and coziest breakfasts I've had in a long time, and it's packed with warming spices.
To make it, you'll simply boil your quinoa according to Maria's instructions; add it to a sauce pan along with two cups of nut milk, a cinnamon stick, and dried fruits; and bring it to a simmer until thickened. Once it's thickened, you'll stir in a sweetener and spices, divide it between bowls (or save some for later), and top it with a variety of goodness. I chose dried currants, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, and fresh raspberries for the toppings, but the options are endless.
Hot Quinoa Cereal
For the Basic Boiled Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 ¾ cups water
For the Hot Quinoa Cereal
- 1 recipe Basic Boiled Quinoa
- 2 cups nut milk of choice (I use vanilla almond milk)
- ¼ cup dried fruits (e.g., raisins, cranberries, cherries, goji berries, currants)
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 2-3 inches long (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoons coconut sugar or pure maple syrup, to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- fresh raspberries
- dried currants
- dried cranberries
- pomegranate seeds
To Make the Basic Boiled Quinoa
- Bring water to a boil in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan. Add quinoa, return to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the water.
- Remove from the heat, fluff, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Should the quinoa taste bitter after cooking (which denotes the presence of saponin), rinse with cold water until the bitterness disappears. Drain thoroughly, return to saucepan, cover, and steam until dry, about 5 minutes.
To Make the Hot Quinoa Cereal
- Add the Basic Boiled Quinoa to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in the nut milk, dried fruits, and cinnamon stick. Stir and simmer uncovered for 7-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally as it thickens so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
- Stir in the sweetener (i.e., coconut sugar or maple syrup), ground cinnamon, and cardamom.
- Divide between bowls and add toppings.
- Serve immediately.