Monday, May 11, 2015

Zella's Wild Rice

Occasionally, I feel compelled to make a recipe or project that one of my characters comes up with. It's my way of making sure what I wrote in the text actually works. One day I'll get around to making Arden's tomato pie again so I can take pictures and write it down. It's quite wonderful, kind of a light deep dish pizza.

This is the wild rice dish that Zella Thula makes for the Metavanya family's Imbolc party in my work-in-progress, Arrow of Entropy. It only has six ingredients, because not much fresh food is available in early February (Erany in the Meloran calendar). When I wrote this into the text I needed to make sure that the ingredients she used could be found in the pantry of the northern highlands. The preserved lemon is the extra touch, a little luxury item from Vanora. I think this particular jar of lemons was Faron's little gift to Rassa, a peace offering, perhaps. Rassa keeps fresh herbs growing in in the kitchen windows all year, so Zella would have had plenty of fresh rosemary to snip and add to her dish.

There are two other recipes mentioned in this passage of the book, and I hope to make both at some point so I can write them out. One is a poppyseed bread, and the other is a cranberry relish. Seeds and dried fruit are traditional Imbolc foods, so I'm going to utilize them in all three dishes.

This is a simple recipe, but I am enjoying the results. It's sweet, savory, and a little nutty, an unlikely combination reminiscent of the two characters who inspired it.

I dipped a spoon into the pot on the stovetop and offered it to him. “Here, try this. I feel like it's missing something but I can't figure out what.”

“Wild rice, currants, roasted pumpkin seeds, what else?” Rassa asked before taking a bite.

“Shallots and rosemary,” I replied.

He swallowed and said, “Salt and acid. When you feel like something is missing, it's usually acidity. We have some preserved lemons in the cupboard. Those cover both the salt and the acid so I think if you mince them up and toss them in it will be perfect.”
-- From Arrow of Entropy

Zella's Wild Rice

1 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
1/2 cup currants (or raisins or cranberries)
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp minced preserved lemon
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 shallots, sliced thinly

(all measurements are approximate)

Place the rinsed wild rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.

While the rice is cooking, toss the rosemary, lemon, and currants together in a bowl and allow to sit so the flavors mingle.

Caramelize the shallots in a dry skillet, adding a tablespoon of water at a time if the shallots become too dry or stick. When they're soft and browned, remove them from the heat.

Toast the pumpkin seeds until lightly browned.

When the rice is finished cooking, drain the rice in a colander. Dump the cooked rice into a serving bowl or casserole dish. Add the currant mixture, shallots, and pumpkin seeds, and combine.
Clockwise -- wild rice, rosemary, preserved lemon, shallot, raisins, raw pumpkin seeds

Minced rosemary and preserved lemon.

Preserved lemon and rosemary mixed with raisins/currants.

Sliced shallots.

Nearly-caramelized shallots.

Toasted pumpkin seeds.

All together one last time before the big mingle.

Everything tossed together. The dish is complete!

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