Monday, August 6, 2012

FFWD Lemon Barley Pilaf + July Catch-Up

I was a good student all throughout school, but I did have a bad habit of falling asleep pretty frequently in class.  In some classes I could get away with it, but there was one of my high school English teachers who always noticed.  When she would catch me and tell me to wake up, I would always apologize.  Sometimes she would let it go, but when she was really mad she would say "Jora, don't bother apologizing.  Just don't do it again."  It's a line I've always liked, and one that I now use on my husband.  So, I won't bother trying to explain how I managed to miss posting for the entire month of July.  I was away (in Spain, France, and Europe!) for 12 days, and at the beach another weekend, but I have no excuse for the second half of the month.

Despite my lack of posting, I did manage to cook all of the July recipes, and even two catch-up recipes from last summer.  I thought I'd run them down from least to most favorite:

I take completely responsibility for this one.  It isn't the Citrus-Berry Terrine's fault. I avoid pork, but I don't always have a consistent relationship with gelatin.  I don't really use it when I'm cooking at home, but there are many times when I'm out when I'll just choose not to think about it.  For this recipe, though, I decided to try using Agar Agar (a vegetarian gelatin substitute) in its place.  In hindsight, the Agar Agar actually worked great, but I should have followed the instructions on the box instead of trying to follow the recipe, as the technique isn't quite the same.  I was also very tired when I made this (it was the night after we got back from Europe), and managed to completely forget the sugar!  So, I had an un-sweetened un-set-up citrus jello with berries.  It actually made a pretty good breakfast with Greek yogurt, but I didn't like it enough to bother trying to make it again correctly.

I'm always looking for excuses to use more whole grains (Paul isn't the biggest fan).  I love when they're assigned as blog recipes, because he can't argue when I make them.  The Lemon Barley Pilaf was a nice recipe.  I didn't think there was anything exciting about it, but it worked, was healthy, and tasted pretty good.  I wouldn't make it again in summer, but it is a recipe that I'll use again this winter (especially now that I own a whole box of barley!).  I served this as part of a -- somewhat confused -- dinner of yellow squash soup with pesto, white bean and shrimp salad with cherry tomatoes and pesto, marinated eggplants, and carrot sticks with honey mustard dip.  Not the most focused dinner, but we enjoyed it.

My favorite things about the Crunchy Ginger-Pickled Cucumbers are how easy they are, and that they have to be made ahead.  I made them in the early afternoon on what turned out to be a crazy cooking day for me (*), and I was so happy that I could just pull them out of the fridge when it was finally time for dinner.  I found these very refreshing, and would definitely make them again to accompany an Asian dinner.

I made the Eggplant Caviar right before we went on vacation, when I was still doing the cleanse.  The healthy ingredient list caught my eye.  I really like eggplant, and tend to make a couple of eggplant salad-type recipes a year.  This one wasn't my favorite (I think Marcella Hazan's or the one my mother makes would win that award), but it was very good.  Eating the leftovers as a snack (with more vegetables) helped me make it through the end of the cleanse.

This was my first attempt at making a jelly-roll style cake; it definitely won't be my last.  I had always thought these rolled cakes must be very hard to make, even though I had been told before that they actually weren't, so I'm thrilled the blog forced me just to try making one.  I should have trusted Dorie (and Ina Garten, and the others) who insisted that it really was easy.  I made the Blueberry Marscapone Roulade on a Sunday night after we got home from the beach, and it came together very quickly and easily.  I really enjoyed the flavors - it's hard to go wrong with fresh blueberries!  My one comment is that this cake didn't keep very well, so I'll probably save the recipe for times when we're having company.

My favorite recipe of the month was the Salmon with Basil Tapenade.  I made this the night after we got back from Europe (after the terrine failure), and we just loved it.  This is the kind of dish that's easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but also could definitely be served to company.  The flavors were excellent, and the fish was perfectly cooked (I only had to bake mine for about half the time that Dorie recommended).  Served with Lemon Spinach, salad, and gougeres from the freezer (I love having these ready in the freezer), this dinner made us happy to be home.

(*) I can't remember everything I made that day - it was a lot.  I know it started with Semolina Bread and the cucumbers, in the middle there was Blueberry Nectarine Pie and Pickled Summer Squash, and it ended with Roast Chicken with Teriyaki sauce.  It was also the night of the stupidest thing I've ever done in the kitchen (I'm pretty sure I've topped this in other aspects of life).  For posterity, I'll record it.  The teriyaki sauce (another excellent Canal House recipe) started with boiling a cup of water with a cup of brown sugar.  I then added cups of soy sauce and Mirin, a lot of peeled and chopped ginger, coriander and black peppercorns, and simmered everything for at least an hour.  When the sauce had thickened (and I had reached the part in the recipe where I needed to use the sauce to baste the chicken) I was ready to finish it by straining it.  Brilliant me walks over to the sink, holds up my strainer, and proceeds to pour my entire sauce through the strainer and into the sink.  I was left with nothing but a strainer full of ginger and peppercorn remains!  Paul did think that the sink smelled excellent :-(


  1. Great catch-up post! I still haven't made the pilaf myself.

  2. Wow - that's quite the catch up post.

    I had to smile at your story about falling asleep in school. My youngest always seems to fall asleep in her English class - despite going to bed at 8:00 every night. Her teacher has a complex.