Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Chocolate & Vanilla Quinoa milk panna cottas , Chia & quinoa milk pudding , chocolate sauce , granola of  (chia seeds , quinoa flakes & honey) , shaved chocolate and chia seeds. 

                             The building blocks of a healthy inca diet has made it to our plates here in modern civilisation and has been all the rage. In particular Quinoa for its gluten free option in grains but the little  tiny blotted seed they call chia is packed with nutritional reasons why it should be the 'be all'. Below is a chart pictured with some comparisons of chia to other nutritional foods, this is at least 9 reasons listed why we should all eat the chia seed. My first experience with chia seeds was in a restaurant back in the early 90's , turning up to shift hung over was not un-common and one particular saturday morning my restaurant manager Pushbinder gave me a sachet of seeds and said "next time you want to drink have these, one spoon in water and soak before you drink this will help you, but for now pleasure is pain I am sorry Robert." The seeds worked very well as a stomach liner they swell and become gelatinous when soaked in water. But at the time were extremely rare, expensive and only available from an indian grocer 100 km. away. Last year I had a go at growing the plant (pictured below) with some great success. The plant grows to about 2m tall and can take over the area its growing in. In terms of post harvest this is a very finicky process which starts with the threshing of the seed heads and then the removal of debris from the seeds. The seeds used for this recipe are some of the rewards of last years harvest. The inspiration for the lego blocks was an extension of the idea of having building blocks of nutrition and where I sit and think in the back room of the house I'm surrounded by blocks from the sons lego collection.
                             I began this dish by first making the quinoa milk and the chia and quinoa milk pudding which was simple made by soaking chia seeds in quinoa milk over night. To make the quinoa milk I cooked the grain in water until all the water had absorbed. The quinoa was then placed in a blender with more water and blended to a milk consistency, this was then strained through muslin cloth and chilled. To make the panna cotta I first had to make the lego mould which was done by boiling 4% gellan gum in water and pouring into a container. Just as the water starts to set I placed the pieces of oiled lego into the surface of the gel, this was then placed in the fridge to completely set around the lego. Once the mould was firm to touch the lego was removed leaving the imprint in the gel. To make the panna cotta I heated some cream, quinoa milk, sugar and 1% agar agar to a simmer whisking to dissolve the agar , before removing from the heat and dividing in half. A paste was made from a little quinoa milk and cocoa powder this was then added to one of the panna cotta mixes these were then poured into the lego gellan gum mould and placed in the fridge to chill and set. The granola which adds a little crunch to the taster was made by combining quinoa flakes, chia seeds and honey, spreading the mix on a baking paper lined tray and baked at 200 deg.c. until golden before being removed to cool and harden. Once the biscuit had hardened I broke it up into pieces to serve. The chocolate sauce is simply chocolate with a little melted butter.                                                                                                                
                              To plate up I began by painting some sauce on the plate with a brush before placing the panna cottas on top with the chia pudding to accompany garnished with a cinnamon myrtle flower. Next I scattered the granola and chia seeds, topping the lego with shaved chocolate. The building blocks of three ancient civilisations the mayan, aztecs and incas. Chia, Chocolate & Quinoa.

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