Bastille Day 2014/July: brown rice, zucchini, and mint

Bastille Day 2014/July: brown rice, zucchini, and mint

I’ll skip the whole “another month flew by” astonishment opener and jump right into the highlights of my July.

Let’s begin with July 14th, Bastille Day, which also happens to be my anniversary with Jon. We met at a birthday party over Fourth of July weekend in 2009 and clicked immediately, but his Bastille Day beach party was the day of our first kiss, our first photo together, and the first meal we shared. We’ve held an annual circa-July-14th weekend beach party ever since. This time around, for the first time in five years, we got rained out. And so, our annual “beach party” took place in our apartment. Sure, our floor may not be soft as sand, but hey, at least we didn’t have to shake out our blankets at the end of the night.

What is indoor beach party fare, you might ask? I went with fresh lemonade, grilled shrimp marinated in garlic and herbs, grilled eggplant, potatoes, and peperoncini (tasted great, but oh man, get ready to smoke out your home and sneeze at least one hundred times), sauteed spinach with olives, a salad of mixed greens, Jon’s homemade baba ghanoush, and, as a nod to the holiday theme, some French cheese, cornichons, and Petit Ecolier cookies.

Next, we celebrated my mom’s birthday with dinner at Grandma’s. I brought a couple of salads, one with roasted beets and goat cheese over watercress and the other with watercress, sugar snap peas, radishes, and fresh mozzarella, inspired by an amazing seasonal salad I’d had recently at Astoria’s brick oven pizzeria, Milkflower. I also made chocolate cake with a fig preserve glaze.

July has also been a great month of farm finds, so I’ll be queuing up lots of Seasonal Somethings posts as the summer winds down. I even scored some errant zucchini flowers that were lying around at the farm to garnish my July Notes from the Larder dish of brown rice, zucchini, and mint.

Not sure how I felt about the outcome of this one. After at least an hour of cooking–well over the amount of time the recipe suggests–the rice was still undercooked. I loved the idea of slow-cooking rice in vegetable stock and white wine and mixing in grated zucchini, fava beans, and fresh mint. Unfortunately, all I tasted in the end was Parmesan cheese. It’s something I would definitely omit next time around.

I enjoyed the preceding recipe in the book much more, pretty much throwing it together as a snack before game night with a few friends. Nigel Slater’s twist on tomato and basil bruschetta is to make a spread out of blended basil oil and top it with marinated artichokes and broiled cherry tomatoes on the vine. I forgot my jar of artichokes in the store, but I don’t think our bruschetta suffered much without them. Still a home run. Then again, it’s pretty hard to mess up a combination of tomatoes, basil, and good bread so I wasn’t exactly playing with fire on this one, was I?

Well, in just four days, Jon and I are off to Portlandia for what is sure to be a beautiful wedding. Once we’re back, I’ll be back at my desk to share some more Seasonal Somethings and back in the kitchen to try a recipe from the August chapter. Flipping through our options, I’m sensing we’ll either be going with broiled eggplant and roasted garlic cream or tomatoes stuffed with butter beans. I think I may be morally obligated to do both, since they both sound extraordinary, am I right? Am I right??