You understand that for every success in cooking there are sinks, trash cans, and recycling bins teeming with the fallout from horrible mistakes. That's why most cooks go so ga-ga when something you've created, comes out as good, or BETTER than you imagined.
That's what happened with this dish.
As you may recall, inspiration often happens in the aisles of a grocery store, and it can be compounded by something you buy for another recipe and then see it in a new light later on. Bring on the pitted dates that looked like they felt sad I had passed them over for an another appetizer choice the other day. "Gosh, we really thought you'd fill us with cheese and lace us with herbs and let us tickle the palate of your friends." They bemoaned. So I decided late yesterday to make them the star of what would have been an ordinary meal had I left them in the pantry to whine.
Take a look at this easy and exciting recipe combining some ready made ingredients and a some happy accidents.
Moroccan Inspired Brown Rice Medley
There was only a little bit left. Just a remnant of the beautiful, brown and rounded kernels inside the Trader Joe's brown ride medley package. It would have to be stretched to feed all four of us and I would have to time everything perfectly since this rice seems to be very moody about when it's done. Wait! If I also cook it afterwards with the other ingredients; a kind of post steaming risotto-like finishing, I could make room for mistakes and still look like I knew what I was doing. With each addition coming in waves of imagination I decided first to let the dates be my guide.
"Chop 'em small, Katie." I directed. And my daughter, @katiepappas, and cook in training joined in as we prepared our meal together. With all the elements staged and in place, we set the timer on the rice, now simmering away in the vegetable stock, and sat outside to muse over the very wet and muggy weather we'd endured for almost 3 weeks. When Ron, my husband found us on the deck, we confidently told him to start the grill and retrieve the marinating chops from the fridge.
"How long before dinner?"
He asks me that all the time, and after 26 years together he might know when I'm bluffing, but I rallied and promised with fingers crossed, "about 10 minutes." And he left to avoid the lightening bolt that would certainly sever my growing nose after telling this bold faced lie.
When I got into the kitchen to look at the rice and move to pretend step 2, I was horrified, because after 35 minutes simmering, at least 1/3 a cup of the liquid still remained. I turned it up to a rolling boil for about 3 minutes, and then decided it was time to mask my success with intuition.
"Open that Moscato. I think we can save this." I promised. Who knew what I genius I would turn out to be. (That's code for, "thank goodness I won't have to sleep in the basement after my dismal failure.")
Check out below how cool it all turned out.
Put rice in liquid, bring to boil, cover and simmer on low for 35 to 40 minutes (If you want it all the way done I'm guessing it's about 50 minutes, but that takes the fun out of it.)
While the rice is simmering, chop the dates and the pineapple and put in a measuring cup and cover with the pineapple juice. Chop the rest of the ingredients and stage the spices. Including some salt and pepper. After the 35 minutes for the rice, when you open the lid you should still see liquid in the pan. Boil for two minutes, then drain. Heat a large saute pan and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute on medium. Then add the dates, juice and pineapple. Stir. Then add the rice. Toss a bit to incorporate then add all the spices but not the mint. That's last. Now, as it begins to sizzle, add the wine a few tablespoons at a time and stir. In a couple of minutes, you'll see that the wine is absorbed so you'll want to add a bit more and stir. Watch how the rice begins to plump and moisten and you can smell the divine smell of the cinnamon and cumin fill the air. I ended up adding wine 4 times total. By now the pineapple is beginning to look more transparent, too. Keep adding until everything is heated through, and still moist. Keep adding wine with a total cooking time of about 5 to 6 minutes. Then remove from heat, add the mint, and check to see if it needs more salt. It probably will. Take it easy on the pepper. Only a bit is need to wake it up. Put a lid on and keep warm until ready to plate.
Serve, give your guests a big fork, and wait for the compliments to come pouring in.
©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All right reserved.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.