This past weekend we became a two car household. When we moved out of the city, I didn't think we'd need another car. We'd managed for years on one car and I thought it'd continue that way. The challenge is that my work takes me all over the place. Most of my clients are in Boston or Cambridge, accessible via public transportation. Recently, though, more inquiries have been coming in from restaurants in surrounding towns. In these instances, I've had to check in with Eric. Would he need the car that day? Can I take it? Is he able to get a ride home? Running your own business is chaotic enough and adding these logistical complications into the mix was creating more stress.
When my parents asked us a few months ago if we'd be interested in taking their old car if they got a new one, we said, "Of course! That'd be amazing!" So, here we are, the proud owners of a '97 Toyota Camry. It's a car I grew up with and have fond memories of. I'm feeling a bit liberated now that it's in our possession. My day to day routine will surely change because of it. I can run errands I wasn't able to before. I see other ways it's going to change my life... the spontaneous trips I can take to the Cape or to visit my family in New Jersey. Or if I just need to get out of the house, I can drive over to a local nature reservation for a walk in the woods with Maki.
After our trip to New Orleans, I was excited to get back into the kitchen. Following our return, we were hit with a pretty large snow storm, forcing us to hunker down at home for a couple of days. I used this time to do some recipe development, starting with a wild rice dish that I'd been meaning to prepare for quite a while. I'm not sure how it happened, but we have a massive quantity of wild rice in our cabinets. We don't cook with it all that often, so I can see how we'd have some... but there are multiple bags, some half used, that have piled up in there. I've never been a huge fan of wild rice, except in soups. How does one make it interesting? The answer, I've learned, is by loading it with exciting flavors and textures. A little sprinkle of salt isn't going to cut it. It needs something bolder. I took inspiration from an old recipe my mom had saved from, I believe, Bon Appetit, which utilizes pearl onions and dried cherries. I loved this idea, but I thought, "Why stop there? Let's run with this!" I took out a mixture of spices from the cupboard: cumin, cinnamon, cayenne (I add cayenne to just about everything), cardamom and cloves. Here are the flavors (and smells) of the season that I love so much. I'd imagine it goes perfectly with roasted meat (I've seen similar recipes used as stuffing) and salmon. It also works wonderfully on top of a salad of greens and cucumber with a light lemon dressing.
Wild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit and Toasted Pecans
Yields: approx. 4-6 servings as a side
1 cup wild rice, rinsed 18 oz. pearl onions, blanched in boiling water 3 tbsp butter 1 cup dried fruit, such as dried cherries, cranberries and/or currants Kosher salt ½ tsp ground cardamom 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground cloves ½ tsp cayenne pepper ½ tsp paprika 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1. In a large pot, bring wild rice and 3 ½ cups of water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 40-50 minutes.
2. While the rice is cooking, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add pearl onions and cook for 2 minutes. Immediately transfer onions to an ice bath. Once cooled, transfer to a cutting board. Using a paring knife, slice off the root end of the onion. Using your fingers, gently pinch the other end of the onion, at which point the skin should separate from the rest of the onion.
3. Once the rice is done cooking, strain it in a colander. Set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add pearl onions and season with the spices and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, until the pearl onions have started to caramelize.
5. Stir in cooked wild rice, dried fruit, chopped pecans and parsley. Season with additional salt.