Monday, March 14, 2011


Posting to The Messy Apron will be on hiatus because of a personal emergency.  Thanks so much to all who have been so supportive!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Barley Pancakes

If I’m going to have a fresh, hot, made-from-scratch breakfast, it’s going to have to be later in the morning. As much as I’d like to be a morning person, I have to admit that nothing much is going to happen until I’ve employed several means of shaking off my bleary crabbiness and yanked myself into an appropriate condition for handling kitchen implements.

When this late-morning breaking of my night-long fast is finally accomplished, therefore, I’m hungry. I’m too hungry to fiddle around with any delays like a 15 minute rest of a pancake batter. Especially if said pancake batter also contains fresh orange juice and I just spent several minutes squeezing oranges. Compromises are going to have to be made.

This whole adventure began with a small bag of whole barley flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand) that I bought to try a bread recipe that didn’t quite work out (unless I begin a collection of doorstops.) While I’ve since made some progress with that bread, I thought I’d also try a barley pancake recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking to help me use up the rest of the bag of barley flour. This book promotes the virtues of combining whole grains and orange juice, and I think they’re not wrong, but I wasn’t willing to take the 15-minute journey with them when it came to resting a pancake batter. Also, in the original recipe the leavening (baking powder) was added to the batter after the resting period, and I just couldn’t see myself getting that mixed in properly, at least not before breakfast.

So I skipped that whole section of the professionally written and tested instructions. Lightning didn’t strike me down. I didn’t even make bad pancakes. In fact, these were very good pancakes. They smelled delicious while cooking, which took place over a longer time and at a lower temperature than I usually use for pancakes (I heeded the professionals here and I’m glad I did.)

It must have been the unique combination of the slightly nutty whole barley flour, orange juice, vanilla and honey that gave these pancakes such a nice aroma (which made me even hungrier) and their flavor was as good as their smell. The texture of the pancakes was also quite nice. They’re not as fluffy as white-flour buttermilk pancakes, but are by no means dense or overly coarse. I don’t know what more I could hope for in a whole grain pancake. Perhaps if I rested the batter I’d achieve some kind of whole-grain pancake Nirvana? Unless that perfect pancake also magically turns me into someone who faces each day with energetic cheer immediately upon waking, it may not be worth my time.

Barley Pancakes with Orange Juice and Vanilla
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

6 ounces by weight (about 170 g) whole barley flour (about 1 ½ cups)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) baking soda
¾ (about 3 ml) teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces by weight or 40 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
¾ cup (6 fluid ounces or 175ml) milk
½ cup (4 fluid ounces or 125 ml) fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

1. Preheat an electric griddle to 300 F (150 C) (or preheat a skillet or griddle on the stove over medium heat.) In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the barley flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In another medium-size bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the butter. Whisk in the honey. Whisk in the milk, orange juice and vanilla.

3. Pour the egg mixture over the barley flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spray the heated pan with cooking spray or brush it with oil or butter. Spoon or pour about ¼ cup (50 ml) of the pancake batter for each (4-inch or 10 cm) pancake, placing as many on the pan as will fit with room to spread and flip. Cook the pancakes until they are brown on the pan side 3-4 minutes. Flip the pancakes with a spatula and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes more.

4. Keep completed pancakes warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve with butter and maple syrup, or other favorite pancake accompaniments.

Makes about 12 (3 ½ -4-inch) pancakes.

Other recipes like this one: Coconut Pineapple Pancakes, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

One year ago: Almond Butter Granola Bars

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I have, in my untidy, packrat way, accumulated a surprising number of recipes that feature, or at least include, parsnips. I think I might have eaten parsnips once before I subscribed to this CSA, probably in a stew or something, so perhaps I’ve only actually only been collecting these parsnip recipes for a few years. I’m a little surprised that this kind of thing can really happen.

Even more surprising was a recipe that had I clipped from Cooking Light magazine, basically a parsnip slaw with the title…Are you ready for this?... “Mock Crab Salad.” I figured there wouldn’t be any actual crab in this salad (hence the title) but as I scanned the ingredient list, I also found nothing to replace it like “krab” or “imitation crab meat” or even “crab apples.” No. Just parsnips, a few crunchy vegetables and pimiento-stuffed green olives.

Sure, parsnips are pale in color like crab, and, shredded, they might resemble the texture of crabmeat. One, however, does not eat with one’s eyes. One demands more (at least I do.) And, sure, parsnips are kind of sweet like crabmeat, but they aren’t going to feel like crab on the palate, either. The recipe looked good enough, however, and seemed to be something I’d happily add to my ever-growing collection of winter vegetable slaws. I mocked its title, but I was going to make it and eat it. I had another surprise coming.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that this stuff tastes like crab salad, but when I took a first bite, I began to see where the recipe-writers were coming from. The creamy dressing and the sweetness of the parsnips really did bring to mind a seafood salad. Huh. Whadduhya know. I liked this seafood salad evocation so much that I put a sprinkle of Old Bay seafood seasoning in just for a kick. That worked, too.

I’m not going to perpetuate any of this foolishness by calling my version of this slaw, “Mock Crab Salad.” As anyone knows who has tried to replace their favorite meaty foods with ersatz vegetarian substitutes or has been told, “It tastes just like chicken,” such dish titles can only bring a pitchfork-and-torch-raising disappointment. How about if I leave out all the mockery and seafood expectations and simply call it “Creamy Parsnip Slaw with Peppers and Olives?” It’s a good little winter salad and won’t pretend to be anything else.

Creamy Parsnip Slaw with Peppers and Olives
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

2 cups peeled and shredded parsnip (I used the food processor)
¼ cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon seafood seasoning blend, such as Old Bay (optional)

1. Combine the parsnip, celery, bell pepper, olives and onion in a medium-size bowl.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the parsnip mixture and stir until well-coated.

Makes about 4 servings. Chill leftovers, which will keep well for 2-3 days.

Other recipes like this one: Crunchy Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad; Broccoli Stem and Kohlrabi Slaw; Simple Shredded Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

One year ago: Three Grain Salad with White Beans and Artichokes