Love Letter from the MVC

So after a frazzled day of work, a kid practicing independent decision-making on just about everything from dinner to bath to bed, a shocking shortage of wine in the house, and then (yet another) rejection from an editor for one of my manuscripts, the unthinkable presented itself in my mailbox:  a love letter from the Motor Vehicles Commission.

Skip the Trip, it said! Renew your driver’s license by mail! No day-long trip to Zootopia’s Flash, no clearing work schedules or arranging extra child care. The Garden State MVC dropped a touch of unexpected sweetness into my day, which made me think of iç pilav – a rice pilaf with a hint of sweetness from currants, pine nuts, tomato paste, and cinnamon.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups bald rice (a short-grain rice, similar to arborio), washed, soaked with a tsp of salt, and drained
  • 4 tbspns olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbspn tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbspns finely chopped fresh dill
  • fresh Italian, flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste (Anne uses 1 tbspn of salt and 1 tsp of black pepper when preparing with water…if preparing with chicken broth, which is already salted, go less…)

Instructions

  1. soak currants in warm water for about 15 minutes
  2. in medium-sized saucepan, saute diced onion, pine nuts, and olive oil on medium heat for ~7-10 minutes
  3. add tomato paste
  4. drain currants
  5. add rice, currants, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper, continue to stir
  6. add water or chicken broth and bring to a boil
  7. lower the heat, cover, and simmer for ~15 minutes; all the liquid should be absorbed and rice should be tender, so add additional water if needed
  8. stir in dill
  9. mold and plate using a small glass dish…remember your sand castles? same idea! pack it in, plop it upside down on the plate, tap with a wooden spoon to release
  10. garnish with parsley and enjoy!

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Bulgur Pilaf for Twelfth Night

Gold, frankincense, and myrrh…not too shabby, but, just for a minute, consider what marvelous food could’ve been made for all the visitors if the three wise men brought onions, chick peas, and bulgur?

Buona Epifania! High in potassium, protein, and dietary fiber, you simply can’t go wrong with bulgur pilaf – nohutlu bulgur pilavi – for dinner tonight. I’ve yet to see anyone who doesn’t enjoy this dish, and it pairs well with meats, fish, tofu, or is fabulous on its own.

Ingredients

  • 8 tbspns olive oil (substitute a couple of those for butter, if you’re not trying to be heart-healthy!)
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions (~2 cups)
  • 2 cups dried bulgur
  • 2 cups chick peas (approximately 1 ~15 oz can)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth, if you’re vegetarian!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mince onions in a food processor and sauté in olive oil on medium-hight heat for ~10 minutes
  2. Add bulgur, and coat-and-toast, as if you were cooking up risotto; coat bulgur and turn for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add chick peas
  4. Slowly add chicken broth
  5. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes
  6. Serve warm