Wheel of Time Series
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, in all it’s 14-book glory, is one of my absolute favorite series. Some consider it to be overly detailed in certain ways, but I love the world-building and hunger for more. This sprawling fantasy series has similarities to our own world, but uses magic and has less technology than we currently do. Jordan pulls from Taoism, Arthurian legends, messianic stories, folklore, and mythologies to weave a fascinating tale of prophecy, change and good versus evil. He is incredibly detailed in building culture, history, geography, food, customs, and more.
As a foodie and a superfan (I’ve read the series at least 10 times), I wanted to make something that could work in the setting of Randland (the name fans have given to Robert Jordan’s world). While looking for recipes to make for the week, I came across a recipe for Onion Herb Socca, Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas, and Peach Cobbler.
Onion Herb Socca
The Onion-Herb Socca I discovered in The Blender Girl by Tess Masters. Simple and easy to make, this recipe is basically a flat-bread made with chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper, olive oil, onion, thyme, parsley, and garlic. This is perfect to put chutney on, to accompany stews and chilis, or to just eat the entire thing on its own. It is super delicious and savory.
Given the nature of the cookbook, of course, a blender is used. 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup of water, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of olive oil were blended and left to stand for an hour. The cookbook said to let it sit until it looked like buttermilk, a minimum of 30 minutes. While it rested, I chopped ¾ cup of an onion and sauteed it with a couple teaspoons of minced garlic and a little olive oil in a pan. Then, I mixed it with 2 tbsp of parsley and 2 tbsp of thyme, though these herbs can be changed to fit your taste.
I put the onion and herb mix at the bottom of a pie pan and poured the flour mix over it and mixed the two together. It baked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. The cookbook says it’s best served immediately, but I found it quite delicious even cooled a few hours later. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to use the blender, so next time I make it, I’ll probably do it by hand.
Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas
I discovered the stew in in The Taste of Persia cookbook by Naomi DuGuid. This combination of cumin, turmeric, ground beef (though you could use lamb or chicken instead), split peas, plums or apricots, tomato paste, potatoes, and broth. It’s an easy recipe for sure, made in under an hour.
It seems Persian recipes, based on the few I’ve done from the book, don’t use a lot of onion. I just heated some oil, added a tablespoon of cumin (the recipe called for 2 tsp cumin and 1 of either Nigella seeds or ground Nigella, a spice I didn’t have and wouldn’t use except in this recipe – it’s similar to cumin, so I just substituted that), a teaspoon of turmeric and heated a minute or two. A pound of beef was added, along with a cup of green lentils, the tablespoon of tomato paste, and ¾ cup of fresh plums. The recipe called for dried plums or apricots, but since I can’t eat sulfites, fresh had to do.
As I’d forgotten to buy split peas at the Farmers’ Market or the Co-op, I had to do a bit of research. It seemed like lentils could be a good fit – unfortunately I had only a cup instead of two as was required in the recipe. Once the beef browned, I added the potatoes and broth. The recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I don’t like, so I used small brown ones from the Farmers’ Market. It also called for up to six cups water or broth. I used four cups broth, and even that made it more like a soup instead of a stew. Substituting lentils, and utilizing only one cup lentils instead of two cups split peas, as well as using fresh instead of dried plums all could have contributed to the extra liquid, even though I used less liquid than it called for. Please take this into consideration if you try it at home!
The recipe called to serve it with herbs and flatbreads, so naturally, I ate it with the Onion-Herb Stocca. If you would want rice with it to soak up some of the juices instead of bread, I’d suggest cooking some rice with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple strands of saffron.
I can imagine the socca and the stew being served in Altaran or, especially, Andoran inns and taverns paired with beer or cider, with the socca being much more widespread using different herbs for each nation. The Seafarers would likely pair it with a fish stew.
As for the peach cobbler, which I chose in part because August is Peach Month, and peaches are considered quite poisonous in Randland, it’d be perfect for the Darkfriend to serve to an inebriated guest they would want to poison. It’s easier than peach pie but still delicious. I found it in Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and, like all of her recipes that I’ve made, it is simple. Clearly, she writes recipes for those who like good food but don’t have a lot of time to make food.
The filling is made up of 5 cups of peaches, ¾ cup brown sugar, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, and two tablespoons organic cornstarch. I used peaches that had been jarred by a local canner so it made it even easier. These get mixed together in a 9×13 baking dish. I’d recommend mixing the dry ingredients before mixing in the peaches.
In a separate bowl, I mixed a cup of flour, a teaspoon-and-a-half of baking powder, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, a half-teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup canola oil, ⅔ cup flaxseed milk, and a teaspoon vanilla extract. Once these were thoroughly mixed, I used a spoon to add a dollop of the mix atop the peach mixture, leaving about an inch of space between each.
The recipe called for baking for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. However, I found that the result was that the flour mix on top looked too burned, but that could easily be fixed by adjusting the temperature, time, or even the placement in the oven next time. This was the first time I’ve made cobbler, and despite looking a bit burnt on top, my taste tester (also known as my life partner) ate most of it.