Thursday, March 31, 2005

Purple Spelt Pilaf

I hope that there will always be days when fine inspirations lead to new creations.

Yesterday, for example, I was inspired by Oslo Foodie's blog entry about spelt bread ( to dig out from the back of a cupboard a bag of farro that I had leftover from Thanksgiving Dinner.

[Spelt in English is Farro in Italian. I'm sure that for many this is obvious. But I was an Italian major in college, lived in Italy off and on several times, taking cooking classes here and there while there, and have spent the past 8 or so years loving the nutty crunch and heartiness of farro dishes. I never realized that farro was spelt. I didn't, in fact, know that the word spelt existed. It took me a few years after discovering the word and ingredient spelt (it was discovered as the basic ingredient to a fine, fine mushroom pizza on spelt crust at a favorite pizza place just at the cusp of East Village), to realize that Farro in Italian is Spelt in English. This is the first tangent.]

In any event, I had all this farro leftover from Thanksgiving dinner, when I decided to celebrate my first Thanksgiving in Alaska AND and a chance to spend a weekend with with J. by braising a moose loin gifted to me by a colleague and served on a platter with a bed of farro stewed in a hearty winter broth of pinot noir, winter root vegetables and moose broth.

[In case there is any doubt, that it a one-pot meal made in my huge, hefty and beloved castiron dutch oven. We also roasted a turkey, glazed with spruce-tip sytrup and stuffed with a saute of homemade beer bread, wild mushrooms and reindeer sausage. J. rolled out sweet potato rolls with cardamom and dried Yakima Valley Cherries. And together we simmered Oregon cranberries in English port, smashed an entire five pounds of Alaskan red potatoes with roasted garlic, sour cream from a family owned dairy in Oregon and chives, and baked a cast-iron skillet of green bean casserole. It wasn't my first feast with J., but it was the feast that inspired a winter of cooking. J. had to borrow a suitcase for the leftovers. And that, as background, is how I first started cooking for Kodiak. Second tangent.]

In any event, distracting references to background aside....

I loved Oslo Foodie's post on spelt and I had a bag of farro in my cupboard.

So, I softly softened a chopped up onion in butter and olive oil. When it started to golden, I tossed in a bit of diced garlic to steam. Finally, I added some chopped carrots. Then I tossed in enough farro.


I got creative.

I added Forbidden Rice. Just a handful.

[You see, I was tempted by a little bag of "Forbidden Rice" in my cupboard, that I had purchased during some past ramble through New Sagaya but had never opened, to add a dash of creativity. The Forbidden Rice, is apparently, the preferred and secret rice of Chinese emperors for generations. I know. I know. There is no currently throned Chinese Emperor. But if there were, I'm sure he'd prefer Forbbiden Rice. Forbidden Rice are small, black kernels of rice. Fourth Tangent]

[For those that know me, yes - I did think of my lambada tapes and cd's when I found the bag of Forbidden Rice at New Sagaya and yes, I was also playing Lambada tapes and cd's when I decided to toss in a handful of Forbidden Rice cooking. Fourth-Plus Tangent.]

I thought the little black kernels of Forbidden Rice would add a nice contrast of color. Little black specks of curiousity, you know? Almost like wild rice.

Yes, I thought that the Forbidden Rice would cook up like Wild Rice.

So I added that handful of Forbbiden Rice, then poured in a box of vegetable broth. Salted & peppered. Stirred. Brought it back to a simmer. And then started doing some dishes, intending that the farro would just cook itself up. Little watching required with farro.

But when I turned around to give the pot a complimentary stir, I noticed it was bubbling up purple.

Little Vesuvius' of purple.

I stirred.

The purple faded, making the whole pot a little grey'ish.

Each time I returned to stir, there was more purple to mix in.

Apparently, Forbidden Rice cooks up purple.

By the end of the 40 minute stewing, it was more purple than any other color description.

And that is why J. was set to have a couple of ziploc bags full of frozen Purple Spelt Pilaf. I had some entertainment imagining him trying to figure out what crazy concoction I had attempted.

But then I had the sudden fancy idea of browning up some beef, tossing in some cans of diced tomatoes, a can or two of cannellini beans, some chili spices and a big ol' pot's worth of well-seasoned but atrociously-colored spelt.

J. has a couple of ziploc bag of frozen chili.


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Blogger Dick G said...

May 7, 2008 I just read your experience with the package of Forbidden Rice. I had a package of this from Lotus Foods in Calif and cooked it in a Le Cruset pot. I ended up with an ruined expensive PURPLE POT. I could not think of eating it for fear of ending up with stained teeth and mouth. There is no label on the product warning of this dyeing characteristic of the stuff. The packaging states it was iported from China. Considering the reports of dangerous additives in and recalls of food stuff and medicines made in China I wounder if there isn't some dye or coloring additives included in this product. I hope this helps some other person who may be curious about the story of this rice and gets tempted to try it.

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