And a Simple Citrus Salad
But first things first.
For those of you who are not familiar with buckwheat, it is a gluten-free fruit seed despite its unfortunate name and is related to the rhubarb family. It is rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and such important trace minerals as iron, zinc, and selenium. It also contains all eight essential amino acids.
Buckwheat groats are extremely popular in Russia where they are mostly cooked with water or broth into kasha, a dish similar in texture to that of cooked rice.
Buckwheat’s robust, nutty flavor—that is magnified in darker flours that contain some of the dark brown or black outer hull—does not make it popular in fine baking, with favorites just among hearty breakfast items, like pancakes, waffles, blini, and breads. And even then, it is seldom—if ever—used alone.
Also, I would imagine that those unique properties don’t contribute much to a high turnover of buckwheat flour at grocery stores; and there’s nothing more terrible than buying a strong-tasting buckwheat flour (you can judge how strong or dark the flour is by the presence of black specks in it) that also went rancid.
That wouldn’t just be fair to this nutritious ancient grain, would it?
However, there’s a simple way to go around it: Make your own flour! If you happen to have a grain mill, buy loose raw buckwheat groats—again make sure they are stripped of their black outer hull for the most part—wash them, dry, and then toast in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant. Mind to stir frequently as you toast them as these tiny kernels easily burn.
Now you are ready to run them through your grain mill.
When I make my buckwheat flour this way, it acquires a soft pinkish sort of hue to it and a subtle, sweet taste, and my house, well, just smells wonderful . . . or wonderfully nutty, to be exact.
Who would’ve thought that of strong-tasting buckwheat!
Nonetheless, I’d recommend adding it to your gluten-free (or not) baking mixes in increments as its flavor grows on you. ¼ of a cup is a good starting point. Buckwheat pairs beautifully with rice, sorghum, oat, and some other milder flours and starches.
It works well with kefir which is another nutritional powerhouse. I used kefir in the batter and also turned some into cheese to serve on the waffles once they were cooked. Both the waffle batter and the cheese need to rest at room temperature overnight.
It’s downright a gift to wake up on a leisurely Sunday morning to a batter that’s already whipped up and ready to sizzle on a hot waffle iron . . . and to have a fingertip or two full of freshly made cheese while the first batch is cooking.
The beauty of simple things in life . . . Delicious things in life . . .
So crispy on the outside as I pick them off the griddle with a fork and light as air on the inside as I bite into one of them. It’s hot but I don’t care. That cheese made me so hungry.
The slight tang of kefir . . . the mild sweetness of chocolate that melted and filled every pore of my waffle . . . the brightness and bitterness of honey tangerine syrup I dunk it into in between the bites . . .
I love the dark colors and strong flavors of this breakfast.
Power breakfast . . .
Buckwheat complements chocolate and most fruits. I went with semi-sweet chocolate but feel free to use any kind you like: bittersweet, unsweetened, milk . . . Even flavored chocolate would do.
Flexibility of a recipe is always a great thing because we are all so different.
Recipe for Olga’s Original Buckwheat-Chocolate Waffle*
1. ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
2. ½ cup (65 g) buckwheat flour
3. ¼ cup (30 g) superfine brown rice flour
4. ½ cup (60 g) tapioca flour
5. ½ cup (60 g) arrowroot starch
6. 1 tablespoon (10 g) potato starch
7. ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
8. ¼ cup (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
9. 2 cups (500 ml) plain homemade kefir or plain low-fat buttermilk
10. ¼ cup (50 g) coconut sugar
11. 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
12. ½ cup (100 g) coconut oil, melted and cooled
13. 3 large eggs, separated
14. 5 oz (140 g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely shredded
1. The night before, combine kefir with sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until sugar and salt have dissolved and kefir is frothy, about 10 min.
2. In a large bowl, sift together yeast, flours and starches, xanthan gum, and cocoa powder; whisk in oil, then kefir. The mixture will be creamy and loose. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight. The batter will expand.
3. In the morning, separate eggs and stir egg yolks gently into batter. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into batter just until combined. Fold in shredded chocolate.
4. Preheat a waffle iron and lightly coat with cooking spray. Cook waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Top with kefir cheese or any soft cheese of your choice and drizzle with honey tangerine syrup. Garnish with citrus slices and segments.
6. Serve immediately.
Makes about 15-18 waffles
1. * developed at an altitude of 4500 feet above sea level
2. To make kefir cheese, pour kefir into a tight weave cloth. Hang above a bowl and allow the whey to drain off overnight, about 6-8 hours. 4 cups (1 l) kefir will yield about 1 ½-2 cups cheese.
3. To make a honey tangerine juice reduction, pour 3 cups (from about 10 medium size tangerines) freshly squeezed strained honey tangerine juice into a medium pot and bring it to a full boil over high heat. Boil uncovered until slightly thickened and reduced down to ½ – 2/3 of a cup, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.
4. Cutting any type of citrus into rind, pith, and membrane-free segments is called supreming. Go here to learn how to do that.
Recipe for Roasted Beet and Mixed Citrus Salad, adapted from The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook
1. 4-5 baby golden beets
2. 4-5 baby red beets
3. 4-5 baby Chioggia beets, plus another one for garnish
4. 3 tablespoons olive oil
5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6. 4-5 pieces of assorted citrus, such as clementines, blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, etc.
7. 6 ounces baby spinach
8. ½ cup crumbled homemade kefir cheese
9. 2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and dry the baby beets. Lay three large pieces of aluminum foil on a work surface. Place the golden beets in the center of 1 piece of foil. Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and then roll the beets around a bit to coat them with the oil seasoning. Crimp the edges of the foil together tightly to form a sealed packet. Repeat with the red beets and the Chioggia beets in separate packets, using 1 tablespoon of the oil for each packet; reserve 1 raw Chioggia beet for garnish.
2. Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and roast the beets in the oven until they can be easily pierced with a fork, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then, using a paper towel, rub off the skins. Trim off the stem ends and cut each beet into 8 wedges. Set aside.
3. Supreme the citrus of your choice into segments and/or slices over a small bowl to catch any juice; retrieve 2 tablespoons.
4. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil with the citrus juice and season with salt and pepper. Add the beets and toss gently to coat with the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
5. Place the baby spinach on a large platter and top with the beet wedges, citrus slices, and cheese. Drizzle the salad with a little more olive oil and some citrus juice, if desired.
6. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and the julienned raw Chioggia beet.
7. Serve immediately.
Serves 4-6 people