Ill Gotten Grains

Somewhere in the Midwest: 12:37 am

AB: [talking on his cell phone to someone] Oh don't worry about it. I'll be in Austin by morning. If I get tired I'll pull off and catch a few Z's. Besides, you know, the last time I was out here I didn't have a lot of fun. But, hey, there's not a cloud in the sky and my car is running fine. My only problem is this guy that doesn't even know how to use his low beams! I can't- I can't- Wait a second, wait a minute, I can't see-- Aaahh! [the car supposedly crashes]

France Anderson's Kitchen

GUEST: Francis Anderson

AB: [wakes up in a bed, head bandaged, groaning]
FRANCIS ANDERSON: Don't worry, AB! You're safe now!
AB: Where am I?
FA: My place. Oh, I used to have a lot of furniture, but I had to sell it all when I inherited my aunt's health food store. The tea leaves told her that the wheat harvest was going to fail, so she took a second on the store to corner the local market, and then there was a bumper crop and she had a stroke and died. Go figure. Lifelong vegan, dies at 50, and leaves me with a ton of bills, a ton of wheat and a ton of bad hippy clothes.
AB: Who are you?
FA: AB, it's me! Frances Anderson! Your biggest fan! Don't you remember me?
AB: Right now I can't even remember my name.
FA: [plays to the camera with an evil smirk]
AB: Did you call me Abe?
FA: Yes, Abe. You tripped and hit your head on ... You don't remember anything?
AB: Well, I remember that I'm a famous brain surgeon, and ... No. No, I'm a cook, I think.
FA: Yes, Abe, and you're here to create wonderful wheat recipes for my store.
AB: I am?
FA: Yes, and ... and you live here with me.
AB: I do?
FA: [she pulls AB to her chest] Yes. But there's no time for romance now. We have a mission.
AB: We do?
FA: Yes! To show the world that wheat in all its forms is truly Good ... [she looks down into his eyes]
AB: What?

Francis Anderson's Pantry

AB: I think I have a concussion.
FA: Oh, give it a couple of days and it'll clear right up. What you need is a nice bowl of wheat cereal.
AB: Oh, yeah, cereal, oh. You know, 'cereal', the word, comes from the ancient Roman festival, the Cerealia. It was named after their goddess of the harvest, Ceres.
FA: Oh. Well, I guess that means this is food for the gods.
AB: Hmm. Yeah, yeah I guess it is.
FA: So what else do you remember? My favorite color? My birthday?
AB: Um, no. Sorry. I do remember, though, that there are about three dozen different varieties of wheat, but only two categories that really count.
FA: Soft winter wheat and hard spring wheat.
AB: Yeah.
FA: C'mon, I want to show you something.

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

FA: [showing the stores on her shelves] Whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, bulgar, couscous, I've got them all.
AB: Ah, you know, couscous is not technically a grain. It's a pasta.
FA: Yeah, whatever. I've even got wheat berries.
AB: Oh, you sure do. Wow. Boy, there's a lot of nutrition packed away in there.
FA: You're telling me. I've got another ton and a half out back.
AB: You know, if I had a matroishka painted up like the parts of a wheat kernel, I could really give you a good idea of everything that's in there, and you'd ...

FA: [she places a matroshka on the top shelf]
AB: Sweet. Where'd you find that?
FA: Internet.
AB: Wow. Well, that's right. The husk, or the hull is first. And then inside that, we've got several coats of bran, okay? And the bran's important because it contains a lot of nutri- ...
FA: Fiber, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, copper, zinc.


AB: Wow, you must have a nutritionist stashed away someplace around here. Heh.
FA: Ha ha ha! What a silly thing to say! Ha ha!

AB: Yeah, um, well, underneath the bran, when that's removed, you've got the starchy endosperm, okay? That makes up about 80% of the mass of the kernel. It's mostly starch, and it feeds, or fuels the germ. And the germ is kind of like the embryo of the kernel, okay? Besides containing the requisite genetic material, it's got a lot of vitamins and minerals and a considerable amount of fat, which is why whole wheat products very often go rancid if they're not stored correctly.


FA: Well, will this stuff go bad down here?
AB: Well, let's see. We've got airtight containers, which is good. Low level of light, at least when the light's off. And it's pretty cool in here, so everything ought to be okay. Ooh, except for the whole wheat flour. Since it's milled so fine, it's got a lot of surface area. I'd keep this in the freezer.
FA: So, where shall we start?
AB: Wow. Well, how about the wheat berries?
FA: Oh, yeah. Like if we soak them tonight we can cook them in the morning, which means they'll be ready by Thursday ...
AB: That's only if we're traditional with them. Do you have a pressure cooker?
FA: "Pressure" was my favorite!
AB: Yeah? I like Billy Joel too, but only the pre-Christie Brinkley stuff.

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

FA: I thought you were going to use the pressure cooker.
AB: I am. But, as is true with nuts and whole spices, the flavor is going to be a lot deeper on these if we toast them first in a dry pan. And basically what's happening is, we're converting some of the simple sugars in here into more complex compounds. Just take your biggest skillet, put a couple of cups of wheat berries in there, and toss over medium-high heat, just until you start to smell nuts. You want to give it a try?
FA: Oh, sure!
AB: Okay, just kind of get a good grip, and kind of send it forward and then snap it back.
FA: [she snaps it too hard sending wheat berries everywhere]
AB: Got a broom?
FA: Yeah. [leaves to get the broom]
AB: Okay. [picks up the papier-mâché chicken and ponders]

Larger amounts of nuts, spices and grains can also be
placed on a sheet pan and roaster in a 400° oven.

AB: Move our grains to the cooker, add a couple of heavy pinches of salt—[referring to the salt container] heh, that's clever—and just enough water to come about an inch above the grains. Now clamp on the lid and slap this over high heat. By cooking this with 15 pounds of pressure, we will increase the boiling point of the water by 40 degrees and therefore reduce our overall cooking time by some 70%.

2 Cups Toasted Wheat Berries
2 Pinches Coarse Salt
4 cups H2O

FA: I'm still scared of pressure cookers. My mom used one once to paint the ceiling a nice shade of lentil.
AB: Heh heh, lentils. [as if in a trance] But that's another show. You really don't have to worry, with modern pressure cookers. They all have built-in emergency pressure gauges, and they have internal locks that keep you from opening the lid as long as there's pressure inside.
FA: Well then, how do you know there's pressure in the first place?
AB: Don't worry. You'll know.

FA: Oh, I see what you mean!
AB: Now that we've got pressure, we're going to drop the temperature to low, just enough to maintain a slight hissing. And set our timer for 45 minutes.
FA: Then it'll be nice and soft?
AB: Actually, we don't want it really soft. We want it kind of pleasantly chewy, or al dente. If we cook it until it's soft, then when we stir it up it'll be nasty and pasty. Kind of like that cereal you ... Hey, let's gather up some other ingredients!

Although they are high in protein, carbohydrates, and B vitamins,
a cup of cooked wheat berries contains only 55 calories.

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

FA: I did just as you told me, AB ... Abe. Three cloves of garlic, minced, one cup of kalamata olives, pitted and chopped, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and one teaspoon of your beloved kosher salt all mixed together in a delicious chunky paste.

3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Cup (Oil Packed) Kalamata Olives, Chopped
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. (or less) Coarse Salt

AB: Okay, get that mixed around in there. Now that looks to me to be a very serviceable tapenade.
FA: Tapen-who?

AB: Tapenade. It's a classic Italian olive paste, used as a spread. Have some. The problem with most tapenades is that they're a lot of flavor but not a lot of substance. So they don't hang in your mouth very long. We will get around that by adding one cup of our cooked wheat berries. Stir, stir, 'till it's thoroughly integrated. And now, try this again.

1 Cup Cooked Wheat Berries

FA: Mmm!
AB: See, it stays around. There's some substance. Something to get hold of.
FA: Mmm.
AB: Yeah, it works very, very nicely.
FA: Mmm-mmm-mmm.
AB: Oh, the leftovers? Oh, well, we can add those wheat berries to anything.
FA: Like?
AB: Like ... Well, like this.

[AB adds olive oil to hot skillet then adds onions on top of that. He sprinkles around salt on top of onions. He adds the garlic and butter and turns the heat to high.] 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Onions
Pinch of Coarse Salt
5 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tbs. Butter

Turn Heat To High

[He adds mushrooms, soy sauce and stirs] 1 lb. Fresh Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce

Stir often over high heat until mushrooms brown and shrink by half.

[He pours chicken broth and wine on top and then adds the next 5 ingredients in and stirs to combine] 1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 Cup Wheat Berries
1 1/2 Cups White Rise (leftovers are OK)
1/2 tsp. Chopped Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 tsp. Chopped Lemon Zest

FA: Looks like a pilaf.
AB: That's because it is ... I think.

The first known pilaf recipe was written in Baghdad in the 13th century.

Francis Anderson's Living Room

AB: [is cautiously eyeing the green puppet from the cookie episode]
They loved the wheat berries! What are you doing?
AB: Um, nothing. Um, where did this, this puppet come from?
FA: That's just from an old TV show I used to watch.
AB: Yeah, well, I don't like it.
FA: C'mon. You've got to help me with this broken wheat.
AB: What broken wheat?

Francis Anderson's Pantry

AB: Oh, that's, that's not broken wheat, that's bulgar, okay? Bulgar is whole grains, whole grains of wheat, which have been steamed, dried and then cracked into different sizes, or grades. This is number one, which is fine bulgar. Number two, a little bigger, medium bulgar. And number three, a little bigger still, is coarse bulgar.
FA: Well, did you know that bulgar's origins can be traced to the Middle East, where evidence was found in Egyptian tombs, Etruscan urns and Huns' saddlebags?
AB: Wow. You know, I think somebody's got a nutritional anthropologist hidden someplace.
FA: Absolutely not!
AB: Okay.
FA: So, what shall we make?
AB: Well, you know, automatically we usually think, well, Bulgar—Tabouli. You know, because it's a traditional Mediterranean salad, but I'm thinking we should break out and do something crazy, like, uh gazpacho.
FA: An Argentine cowboy?

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

AB: [opens the door to the freezer quickly and it hits FA on the heat] First thing ... Oh, sorry. Uh, first thing we do is bring one cup of water just to a boil, with half a cup of tomato puree.
FA: Oh, is that like sauce?

1 Cup H2O +
1/2 Cup Tomato Puree

AB: No, it's like a steeping liquid. Anyway, we've got three quarters of a cup of the bulgar, and just pour that just right over the bulgar. Kind of slosh it around a little bit. We're going to cover that ... ah, hot ... with a plate. We're just going to set this aside and let it hydrate for about 20 minutes. Now, do you have a chef's knife? 3/4 Cup Medium Bulgar

FA: Oh, like this?
AB: Uh! Yes, that'll do. Thank you. I guess it's time to find out if I really am a cook.
      Well, here we have all of our green goods laid out. And, oh, it looks like our bulgar is rehydrated nicely. So, wish me luck.
FA: Good luck, Sweetie. [she gives him a wink]

AB: [chops the veggies quickly with pieces flying everywhere. He adds garlic, scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers to the bulgar wheat mixture]

1 Garlic Clove, Minced
4 Scallions, Sliced
1 Cup Cucumbers, Seeded & Diced
1 Cup Tomatoes, Chopped
3/4 Cup Green Bell Peppers, Diced

AB: Well, I may not be able to remember my name, but I can slice and dice!
FA: Hooray for you. Now, can we finish this so I can feed my customers?
AB: Okay.

[FA mixes while AB adds the next 5 ingredients] 1/2 - 1 Cup Tomato Juice
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp. Coarse Salt
AB: Just cover this with plastic and park it in the fridge for an hour so the flavors can mellow. Refrigerate 1 Hour Before Serving

FA: I just looked up 'gazpacho.'
AB: Where?
FA: On the Internet. And it says gazpacho is a soup.
AB: Yes, classically, traditionally, it is a soup. What I've basically done here is just removed some of the moisture so that we could have a gazpacho-flavored dip and/or salad. If you really wanted it to be soup, just add some chicken broth and some tomato juice and go for it.
FA: Well, then, would that be a salsa?
AB: No, salsa's another show. Oh, why do I keep saying that?
FA: Well, we've got an hour, so let's make dessert!
AB: Okay.

Other spellings for bulgur include: bulghur and bulgar.
Sometimes it's even spelled burghul.

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

AB: Did you know that couscous isn't actually a grain? It's made by rubbing together water with a little bit of semolina.
FA: Semolina? Isn't that what they make pasta from?
AB: Right you are. And they've been using it like pasta for thousands of years in Northern Africa.
FA: Well, did you know that today it's the national dish in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco?
AB: Actually, I did know that, although I can't imagine why I would.
FA: And did you know that the word 'couscous' comes from the Arabic 'kaskasa,' which means 'to grind or pound?'
AB: This I did not know. But did you know that most couscous that's packaged in the United States comes with instructions which request that you soak it in boiling water?
FA: So?
AB: Well that's fine, if you just want to make your couscous soft. But if you want to make it all fluffy and swollen, then you're going to have to steam it. Here, take this [two stage steamer basket, hops down and bumps FA]. Sorry. Heh, sorry.
FA: Don't you mean a coussoussier?
AB: Oh, we don't need any fancy French apparatuses. Just a good standard two-stage steamer basket will do fine. Now we'll put some water in there, but make sure that the top of the water is several inches down from the bottom of the steamer basket, okay? If there's not enough space, the couscous is going to be mushy.
FA: Well, a little mushiness never hurt anyone.
AB: Right. I'm going to go soak this in cold water.

AB: I've got two cups of couscous here, which I'm going to just sprinkle with water to rinse, and then I'm going to turn it out onto a nice big pan. There. And this would also be a very good time to give it a wee bit of salt.
FA: Uh, Sweetie, I hate to tell you this, but the holes in the steamer are a little bigger than the couscous.
AB: Hmm. You know, you're right. [he get a tea or dish towel, soaks it wet, wrings out the excess and places it in the top of the steamer basket]

When steaming, use a clean, wet tea towel or cloth napkin.
When cooking with gas, don't let the corners hang over the side.

AB: Now we're going to move this straight to the steamer for the first of two steaming cycles.
FA: Two steamings?
AB: That's right. You see, if we were to steam this all the way to doneness all at one time, the starch on the outside of the kernels would over-gelatinize, okay? And that means that they would be very nasty, gummy. By steaming it, giving it a rest, and then steaming it again, we'll have nice, fluffy, light, separate kernels. Grains. Noodles. Well, you know what I'm talking about. Actually, there are a lot of North African recipes that call for three different steamings. Okay, you want to fold those covers back down? There you go, 2, 3, 4. Lid? And set your timer for 15 minutes.

15 mins. Later
AB: All right. Move this back over to the—hold that for me, will ya?—sheet pan. Carefully turn it out. Now first thing we want to do is cool this off a little bit. And for that, I'm just going to splash on a little cold water. About half a cup, okay? And then I'm going to toss that around. Don't worry, it's going to absorb it real quickly. There we go. 1/2 Cup H2O
AB: Now, the goal during this period is to lubricate, or kind of oil up every single one of these little granules and to do that we're going to need some oil. So I'm just going to spray some oil onto the couscous. You could just pour it on, but I like to use my spritz bottle. And we're going to do your hands too. Give me your hands.
FA: Oh!
AB: Put them right over there.
If you don't have a spritz bottle of oil, you can use commercial non-stick spray.

FA: Oh, AB!
AB: What?
FA: Uh, Abe, I mean.
AB: Okay. All right, now reach down to see if that's too hot to touch. Just, you want to scoop your hands down into it and then kind of just rub your hands back and forth. Yeah, open up your fingers just a little bit. So go ahead and just do that whole pan. It'll take a couple of minutes. You okay?
FA: Oh, yeah.
AB: Do it by yourself?
FA: Oh, absolutely.
AB: Okay. Have fun.

In Maghribi cuisine, the couscous course is usually served just before dessert.

Francis Anderson's Kitchen

3 Hours Later

AB: [yawning] I am so sorry. I fell asleep. I said three minutes, not three hours!
FA: Oh.
AB: That's, that's, that's enough.
FA: That's okay.
AB: I'll show you another way to put it back in the steamer, okay?
FA: All right.

AB: Can you pick up that pan a second? Okay, we'll just put this over here. Okay, got that. Your hands are probably sore. Yeah, there you go. Hold that on that end, and just, we'll make a little purse of it. There we go. Okay, and we just fold ... That's right. And back into the steamer. Kind of just drop it in so that it kind of spreads out. Lid it up, and we'll go this time for 10 minutes.

Steam For Another 10 mins.

FA: Just enough time to, ...
AB: ... gather up the mise en place for the rest of the dessert?
FA: Ooh, Abe, that's French!

AB: Okay, I started by heating half a cup of whole milk and melting 3 tablespoons of sugar. And I put in a quarter cup of dried cherries and let it steep like that for about 10 minutes. ...10, 10 minutes. 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
3 Tbs. Sugar
1/4 Cup Dry Cherries
Steep 10 mins.
AB: And uh, and now I'm going to take out the middle of a whole vanilla bean, okay? Just going to strip that right out of there, like that. Okay, you like vanilla, I bet, don't you? Vanilla's good. And it smells good, too. Want one?
FA: [takes it, tosses it on the floor, she's
      obviously miffed about something]

Pulp Of 1 Vanilla Bean

AB: Okay, so I'm just going to take all this vanilla and I'm going to put it into the saucepan, and whisk it in, so that I evenly distribute all that good vanilla flavor. Smells good, doesn't it? There we go. Then I'm going to use a spoon to mix that in with the couscous. Oh, you know what? I'm going to use your ... Is it o- ... Yeah. There.

AB: But that's not really going to be thick enough. You know, it's not going to be very custardy, more soupy. So I'm going to add some yogurt. And, uh, is it okay if I use some of yours? This 8-ounce container? I'll just ... I'll replace that for you later. And I'm going to spoon that right in here. 8 oz. Vanilla Flavored Yogurt
AB: And right now it's going to look kind of loose and kind of soupy. But you know what? After about an hour in the refrigerator, that couscous is going to soak up an amazing amount of liquid, and it's going to set up almost like a custard. Refrigerate At Least 1 Hour

AB: But, it still tastes good right now. You want ... Sure you do. You want to taste it. I know you do. So here, I'm just going to spoon some into this cup and here I'll even put some cinnamon on it for you. A little cinnamon always tastes good. And a little spoon for you there. Just give that a try, why don't you.
FA: Mmm, this is really good!
AB: It is, isn't it? It's really good. I gave you a vanilla bean, did you see where that went?
FA: You know, it's actually really delicious, now that I think about it.
AB: I put it over here someplace- OOH! [slips and falls on the floor]
FA: Abe! Abe, darling! Are you all right? Oh, Abe! I am so sorry, Abe! Please, please forgive me! I didn't mean to be mean to you! I hope you didn't hurt yourself! Abe! Abe! Talk to me, Abe!
AB: Abe? Abe?
FA: Please let me know that you're okay!
AB: Abe? Stop talking! Stop talking! Who is Abe? Who is ... YOU!! Ahhhh!

AB's Car

AB: [wakes up, out of breath] Heh, heh. Oof. What a dream! What a nightmare! I ... [notices a small cup of custard on the dash with a note, he takes a bite] Heh heh heh, couscous pudding. "Darling, don't forgot to say 'See you next time on Good Eats.'" Aaaaah!


Francis Anderson's Kitchen

GUEST: Deb Duchon

FA: Oh well. I guess it's just you and me again!
DD: [camera pans to DD who is bound and gagged in a chair at the table]

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Transcribed by Electrowolf

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010