½ cup salted, roasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw, hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup golden flaxseed
3 cups raw wild rice (not a blend)
½ cup dried red quinoa
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup mild honey
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups dried tart cherries
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Pour canola oil into a heavy pot to a depth of at least 3 inches; heat over high heat to 410 degrees.
Spread the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseed on a rimmed baking sheet; toast 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan once or twice. Transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.
Carefully add 1 cup wild rice to the hot oil; fry for 2 minutes or until at least half of it has puffed and turned white (not all the rice will pop). Drain and immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat two more times, with 2 separate cups of wild rice. Turn off the heat.
Transfer 2 tablespoons of the still-hot oil to a wide, nonstick skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Add red quinoa, spreading it evenly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the skillet; you'll see some of the quinoa jump and turn white, and about half of it will pop. Scrape into the bowl of puffed rice to cool.
Combine coconut milk, honey, maple syrup and dark brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; cook for about 20 minutes, undisturbed, until the temperature of the mixture reaches 237 degrees and it has darkened in color. To test the consistency, spoon a thin streak on a clean work surface; wait a few seconds, then swipe your index finger across it. When you pinch that finger and thumb together, then pull them apart, the syrup should create a thin string between.
Add the cooled puffed rice and quinoa, salt and dried cherries to the seed mixture. Pour half the syrup into the bowl, stirring to coat, then add the rest. Stir until the mixture is completely coated. Quickly transfer to prepared pan, pressing and packing it firmly. If the slab seems to be setting up too fast, pop it into a low-heat oven for 5 minutes. Let cool for 2 hours before cutting into 15 or 18 pieces. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Freezing is not recommended.
Makes 15 to 18 pieces.
Chef Jerome Grant, Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, Washington DC