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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Recipe: Maria's Speck's Wheat Berry Fools with Grand Marnier Figs

On Monday evening, Tara and I hopped the B line to our alma mater for a lecture through BU's gastronomy program. Ancient Grains for the Modern Meal with Maria Speck showcased the deliciously diverse textures and flavors of whole grains like quinoa, wheat berries, and oats. Speck's zeal for the topic was obvious as she shared stories from her childhood in Greece and Germany and offered tips on storing and preparing grains.

To our amazement (though perhaps not Lyn's, since she has a grain share), Speck revealed that she keeps 20-30 different grains and flours in her kitchen at any given time. A true connoisseur! Still, Speck admitted to being a "lazy chef" who just wants a quick fix on weekdays, so she suggested short cuts like cooking grains on the weekend and refrigerating or freezing them for later. She also assured us that rinsing grains is usually unecessary.

The quartet of samples at each seat made us practically drool with anticipation, but the wheat berry fools with grand marnier figs was most definitely the pièce de résistance. Speck and her publisher were kind enough to let us reproduce the swoon-worthy recipe below from her book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Enjoy!

Wheat Berry Fools with Grand Marnier Figs

Serves 6 to 8

3/4 cup finely chopped dried figs, preferably Turkish or Greek
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other good-quality orange-flavored liqueur
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (about 2 oranges)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cooked soft whole wheat berries
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  1. Combine the figs and the liqueur in a small bowl and set aside to plump for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, while you prep the ingredients.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the yogurt with 2 tablespoons of the honey, 1 tablespoon of the orange zest, and the cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the wheat berries. Using a hand mixer at medium speed, whip the cream in a medium bowl until foamy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons honey and continue whipping until soft peaks form.
  3. Drain the figs, reserving their juices. Combine 2 tablespoons of the figs with the remaining 1 teaspoon zest in a small bowl and set aside for garnish. Stir the remaining figs into the bowl with the yogurt mixture. Scrape one-third of the whipped cream on top and fold in using a spatula. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in 2 additions until just incorporated. Divide among serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 hours. To serve, top each bowl with a bit of the reserved figs and their juices.
To get a head start: The dessert can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. Add a dash more liqueur to the figs reserved for the garnish, if necessary.

To lighten it up: You can use lowfat plain Greek yogurt, if you like.

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photo credit: Sara Remington © 2011

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