“Grains, Seeds & Legumes: 150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” By Molly Brown, photography by Dierdre Rooney. Hardie Grant Books. $24.99.

The subtitle of “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” a new cookbook that crossed my desk recently, promises “150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” I can only speak for my own appetite, but as far as that goes, author Molly Brown is dead on; she could just as well have subtitled her book: “150 Recipes for Peggy Grodinsky.” (I dunno, Hardie Grant Books, maybe that wouldn’t sell?)

I like so many things about this cookbook – and more on those in a moment – but what I like most of all are the recipes, which manage to be contemporary, classic and on trend all at once. The recipes are healthful, but not militant. They ask you to take cooking seriously – to devote some time and attention to it – but they don’t demand that cooking take over your life. Every page offers the sort of food I want to cook and eat.

Furthermore, the recipes are clearly written and are supported by an uncluttered, well-organized design that makes it both an easy and an aesthetically pleasurable cookbook to use; the beautiful photographs don’t hurt. A handsome photographic glossary of grains, seeds and legumes conveys useful information, and several step-by-step hand-drawn renderings tell you such things as how to make a no-knead quinoa loaf or DIY seed milk. If the funny little doodles throughout “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” of funny little men planting, watering and hoeing said grains, seeds and legumes don’t make you laugh, they’ll have you wondering how, exactly, they wandered onto these otherwise very clean pages.

As I cooked, I found myself in conversation with Brown. I made her Warm Barley with Roast Pumpkin and Feta, and liked it very much. Nonetheless, next time, I told an imaginary Ms. Brown in my kitchen, I’ll substitute pomegranate molasses for the white balsamic vinegar that’s called for, and I’ll sprinkle pomegranate seeds throughout. The Tuscan Beans were also delicious, and I felt sure Brown wouldn’t mind that I threw in some corn stock – because I had it around and the beans seemed to be getting a tad dry – and that I grated curls of Parmesan cheese over top when I served the beans.

I’m sorry to say I have one major bone of contention with “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” and two quibbles.

It is standard in modern cookbooks to list the ingredients in the order they are called for in the recipe instructions. This is done to make a cook’s life easier. Brown instead chose to list ingredients by where you’d shop: From the Grocer, From the Butcher, From the Greengrocer. Possibly this is an attempt to emphasize where food comes from, a concern that tops the food world agenda today. But it forces the cook to constantly scan the ingredients list to find the amounts she needs. Inexperienced writers like to come up with all sorts of words for the perfectly serviceable “said.” They try out such verbs as “mused,” “quipped” and “yakked,” which are often distracting rather than interesting. That’s what the peculiar and irksome ingredients order here brings to mind.

As for my quibbles, “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” is an Australian book that is being sold in the American market. The geographic gap brings some inevitable confusion, for instance, what is malthouse flour? Where can I get it? What can I substitute for it? Or why the heck would I poach smoked fish before adding it to a (Leek & Smoked Haddock) risotto? Is that an Aussie thing? Also, when Brown calls for cumin, does she mean seeds or ground? And with bulgur, should I reach for fine, medium or coarse? And can she possibly mean 25 grams (1 ounce) active dried yeast for the Buckwheat Blini with Yogurt and Smoked Salmon? That would be about four envelops of yeast, which seems so much more than necessary, I was scared to give the recipe a try. Given such puzzles, the book is probably better-suited to confident cooks.

Finally, on Page 234, in the recipe for Blackberry, Apple & Maple Brown Betty, Brown blithely tells her readers this: “If you don’t like the flavour of maple syrup, leave it out …” Don’t like the flavor of maple syrup??!! To a New Englander, that’s just crazy talk, Ms. Brown.


I adored this dish – its contrasts of warm and cold, sweet and savory, spice and mellow grain, were spot on. That said, I reduced the cayenne from a whopping 2 teaspoons (did cookbook writer Molly Brown really mean that??) to a much gentler 1/4 teaspoon. And I’d caution cooks to start with 2 cloves garlic and taste as they go. I used ground cumin and medium-grain bulgur; the latter took longer than 15 minutes to cook and required additional stock.


125 g (41/2 ounces, 2/3 cup) brown lentils

60 ml (2 fl oz, 1/4 cup) olive oil

11/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper (see recipe headnote)

200 g (7 oz) burghul (bulgur wheat) (see recipe headnote)

375 ml (121/2 fl oz, 11/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 pitted dates, chopped

350 g (121/2 oz) Greek-style yoghurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

25 g (1 oz, 1/4 cup) flaked almonds, toasted

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds, for sprinkling


1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves (see recipe headnote)

1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

Juice of 1/2 lemon

15 g (1/2 oz, 1/4 cup) chopped coriander (cilantro)

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook until soft but not falling apart, about 20-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add 2 of the garlic cloves (finely chopped), the cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the burghul, stock, seasoning and dates. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the burghul is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Make the tzatziki by combining the yoghurt with the remaining garlic (crushed), the remaining olive oil, the cucumber and mint. Stir gently to avoid squashing the cucumber.

Drain the lentils, season with salt and pepper and stir in the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Carefully fork the lentils through the burghul, along with the coriander and almonds. Check for seasoning. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve with the tzatziki.

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