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Wild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, and Nuts // A Thought For Food

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 Nuts // A Thought For FoodWild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, + Toasted Pecans // A Thought For FoodWild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, + Toasted Pecans // A Thought For FoodWild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, + Toasted Pecans // A Thought For FoodWild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, + Toasted Pecans // A Thought For FoodWild Rice with Pearl Onions, Dried Fruit, + Toasted Pecans // A Thought For FoodView full post »

  • February 4, 2015 - 8:27 am

    Megan {Country Cleaver} - Beautiful! And congrats on the new car addition. It’s a big step, but hopefully it will pay off in spades and sanity :)ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2015 - 8:50 am

    bev @ bev cooks - DUDE, that is so pretty. I love wild rice and pearrrrrrl onions, yeah!

    Must make.ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2015 - 9:23 am

    Tieghan - Congrats on the new car, I am fairly sure you will love it! :)
    Also, love this dish! Wild rice and pearl onions are amazing!ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2015 - 9:48 am

    Lynn @ Order in the Kitchen - Gorgeous photos as always and this recipe looks divine! Welcome to the Camry club 😉ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2015 - 1:29 pm

    Naomi - First off love the rice – and I add cayenne to just about every savory dish too. And the extra car, woot. A nostalgic one too – even better. And now you can come and go as you need – yay!ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2015 - 4:40 pm

    todd wagner - I love this, Brian! I don’t eat nearly enough wild rice. Congrats on the car!!ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2015 - 8:23 pm

    Kelly - Congrats on the new car. We were a one car family up until a month ago- it does help!
    This wild rice salad looks delicious.ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2015 - 7:44 am

    francesca - Like little pearls in the earth! Looks delicious.ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2015 - 8:25 am

    Laura - You have the patience of a saint to peel all those pearl onions, Brian. This salad sounds so good though, with all the crunch and inspired flavours going on. Congrats on your new wheels too! I was car-less for about a month in the Fall after my baby died (right after BHP actually). The gratitude I felt when I got a new ride… nothing beats it. That freedom!ReplyCancel

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  • February 1, 2015 - 1:42 am

    Millie | Add A Little - Beautiful shots as usual – but now I’m yearning for a trip to New Orleans!ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 10:03 am

    Mallory @forkvsspoon - Love the shots! Makes me want to book a trip this instant…ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - Whoa. All that gorgeous food and drink. WANT! Looks like it was a wonderful tasty trip!ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 7:48 pm

    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence - Such an amazing trip. I was following along on Instagram :) I can’t wait to get down to NOLA myself.ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 10:58 pm

    Anne Bailey Berman - Fantastic. You so captured the food of NOLA from high end to casual. Nicely done but I am surprised that these were all you went to in four and a half days?!ReplyCancel

  • March 4, 2015 - 4:31 am

    Karen Price - Gonna have to add some of these to the agenda for our summer visit!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 11:32 am

    Cori - OK, I finally got to go through this in detail; love it. New Orleans has changed so much. I am so glad that I’ve got a ton of new places to add to my NOLA map!ReplyCancel

Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki

I can’t even think about fried food right now. All I want is a big salad or a piece of poached fish. Simple, healthy, clean. Shrimp fritters are a no-go in my life. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy them. I’m sure at some point I’ll recover from our trip to NOLA, but for the next few weeks, I’m keeping things light. That’s what five days of shrimp and grits, fried oyster po’ boys, beignets, and Sazeracs will do to a person. No regrets, though. None at all.

Our time in New Orleans was memorable and we left with a good feel for the city. When we travel, I like to do one activity each day and we managed to do that. On our first day, we took the trolley up to the sculpture garden, which is situated in City Park next to the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Entry to the garden is free, and one can easily spend an hour perusing the 63 sculptures.

Looking to get a bit more general history of the city, we signed up for a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery 1. The hour and a half spent walking with our guide was packed with information (some of which I’m sure we missed since he spoke at a dizzying pace). Having now seen the above-ground vaults, I need to watch the infamous scene from Easy Rider again. Apparently (and not terribly surprising), part of the movie was filmed without permission from the city and, ever since 1969, no other films have been allowed to shoot inside the cemetery.

Our third day was a bit rainy, which made for the perfect museum day. The Ogden was down the street from where we were staying. A relatively compact museum, the exhibits gave us a great foundation on Southern art.

But the part I’ll remember the most was what we did on our last day. A friend who lives locally offered to pick us up to drive around the Ninth Ward. While a few buildings have been constructed over the years since Hurricane Katrina (mainly those financed by Brad Pitt), not much has been developed in this area. There are huge gaps between the houses. Instead of a city, it resembles a more rural neighborhood. A number of these houses are in a state of complete disrepair and should have been demolished years ago. Yet they haven’t been touched and just sit there. It’s a sobering sight; one that anyone visiting New Orleans should see.

I’m not sure when Eric and I will have a chance to return for another visit, but we already have a list of eats, drinks and landmarks we missed on this trip. And speaking of dining, I’ll be sure to share my recommendations later this week.

Back to these fritters! So, see that book down there? These fritters are a result of that beautiful book by Ashley Rodriguez (of Not Without Salt fame). I’ve read through Date Night In once already (a sign of a stellar cookbook is that you read it from cover to cover) and have already gone back through passages. I just love them so much. Now, shrimp fritters aren’t in the book, but a tzatziki dressing is and I went off of that. Because a fried frittery thing, especially one with a bit of a kick, needs a yogurt dipping sauce to cool things down (I should note that I modified it a bit by adding some chipotle pepper to give it a little smokiness).

For other a multitude of wonderful recipes and deeply personal stories by Ashley, be sure to buy her book. Don’t wait. Go. Now. 

Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki Date Night InDate Night In triptichShrimp Fritters with Chipotle TzatzikiShrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki View full post »

  • January 26, 2015 - 1:54 am

    Liren - I will gladly take this beautiful platter of shrimp fritters off your hands while you detox from your trip, Brian. I know my husband will love it, too, he’s been bugging me about a similar dish, so how appropriate that it’s from Ashley’s new book!

    I’ve been following your delicious escapades and am reminding myself that I need to make it down to New Orleans to taste it all for myself. I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time! Welcome home, and good luck getting back into reality again :)ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2015 - 9:09 am

    Carrie - I typically don’t like shrimp, but fried? I’m sure I could eat far too many of these little babies.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2015 - 4:35 pm

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - Your trip sounds wonderful. And these shrimp fritters. Fantastic!! I need to get my hands on that book, looks like a good one.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    Eileen - We had a very similar ZOMG GIVE ME SALAD reaction after our visit to NOLA too! I heartily sympathize. Glad you guys had a good time! And these fritters sound delightful too. Love the idea of fennel with shrimp.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2015 - 7:22 pm

    Ashley Baron Rodriguez - Thanks for this post, friend. I LOVE the look of those fritters. Perfect with that dressing.ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2015 - 12:34 am

    Alise - You’re killing me! I am on a juice reboot and this is the first things I have seen that makes me want to cheat. Looks so decadent!ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2015 - 1:24 am

    francesca - Sounds like you had a lovely little trip. Had no idea Mr. Pitt invested money in re-infastructure (handsome and philanthropic). I know what you mean about taking it all in, then wanting some space from whatever the indulgent thing is – that’s how I felt about baguette and tomato after leaving Barcelona.
    Chipotle Tzatziki sounds amazing.ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2015 - 11:29 pm

    Monet - I have yet to visit New Orleans (despite the fact that is where my grandparents are from!) I’m hoping we’ll get a chance this year. These shrimp fritters look amazing. Decadent and divine. I’m so sorry I haven’t commented in forever. I’ve been swamped with births. But I love what you do, and you always inspire me, sweet friend! I’ll be back here more often!ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2015 - 10:41 am

    Meg - Loving the sound of that read, and your time in New Orleans sounds wonderful and powerful. And these fritters — wow! I would take a giant plate right now.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2015 - 3:40 pm

    8 Food Blog Links We Love | Support Paula Deen - […] You’ll want to eat the whole tray of these shrimp fritters with creamy chipotle tzatziki sauce. (A Thought for Food.) […]ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2015 - 8:40 am

    Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is - […] shrimp fritters with chipotle tzatziki. […]ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2015 - 8:15 am

    Joanne - NOLA is definitely a one of a kind place. I went two years ago to run a half marathon there and it was SO much fun! Also, the perfect excuse to eat all the things and not feel terrible about it. 😛ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2015 - 10:27 am

    January 2015 – Saw/Ate/Read » roamingtaste.com - […] these Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatzki by A Thought for Food had me thinking you wouldn’t have to twist too hard to have these […]ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 2:06 pm

    Heather / girlichef - I haven’t been to NOLA yet, but it’s on my “one day” list. These fritters sound scrumptious, I love the chipotle tzatziki dipping sauce, too…and I can definitely think food right now. Added this book to my library list!ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2015 - 3:14 pm

    Linda Omura - Sounds delicious especially with the chipotle Tzatziki!ReplyCancel