Ever since I read Kim Boyce’s beautiful Good to the Grain, I have been taking whole grains a lot more seriously. I now find myself using them whenever I can, especially in baking. Because they are good for me, sure—but mostly because they taste good. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Maria Speck’s new cookbook Ancient Grains for Modern Meals arrived at my doorstep.
The book is beautifully written, and a real pleasure to spend time with. Speck manages to soft-sell cooking with grains in a way that has me wanting to completely transform my diet. She should consider starting a cult, maybe she already has—the Cult of Whole Grains. Sign me up.
Like Boyce, Speck knows that the health benefits of whole grains will never overrule our desire for delicious food and sets out to provide a collection of recipes that are delicious and also happen to contain whole grains. It is a brilliant plan and if this recipe for Millet Ricotta Pudding is any indication, she is successful.
This deliciously creamy dessert references familiar dishes like rice pudding and coeur a la creme but manages to also maintain a unique identity. It is fresh, creamy, lemony, and perfect for spring. The warm raspberry sauce poured over the cold pudding is absolutely delightful.
In totally unrelated news, Bryan designed a pretty, new website for Floriole Cafe & Bakery (complete with some photos by yours truly). And keep your eye both here and there because the second Lottie + Doof dinner at Floriole will be announced shortly. The dinner will take place at the end of May and will highlight all of our favorite spring fruits and vegetables. I am super excited to be planning another menu and working with my friends at Floriole.
Ricotta Millet Pudding with Warm Raspberry Compote (recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup millet
- 2/3 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (no need to thaw)
- 1/4 cup honey
To prepare the millet, bring the water and millet to a boil in a small saucepan. Decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Combine the milk, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and add to the millet. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature.
Once the millet has cooled, make the pudding. Place the ricotta, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well incorporated. Loosen the prepared millet with a fork and stir it into the ricotta mixture, breaking up any lumps.
In another large bowl, whip the cream with a handheld mixer, gradually adding the sugar until medium-firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the ricotta-millet mixture in 3 additions. Divide the pudding among 6-8 serving dishes. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, make the raspberry compote. Place the raspberries and honey in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, gently stirring once in a while so as not to crush the berries, until the sauce is hot and berries just warmed through, 5-8 minutes.
To finish, spoon some of the raspberry compote over the chilled ricotta pudding and serve at once.