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French Fridays with Dorie: Citrus-Berry Terrine

Friday again. Last week’s heat bubble popped, and the weather is back to normal summer instead of summer in hell. It’s 20 to 30 degrees cooler.

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was a dessert called Citrus-Berry Terrine, which is a fancy name for French Jello Mold. OK, it wasn’t exactly French jello, as opposed to American jello. It was much more elegant. The terrine was based on “homemade” jello, made from gelatin and fruit juice, rather than an artificially flavored, heavily-sweetened box of Jell-O. Plus, the terrine was studded with fresh fruit: orange, grapefruit, and freshly picked berries.

I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s, so as most children raised in American suburbs during that time frame did, we ate plenty of Jell-O at our house. Cups of regular jello were a frequent snack. Then, there was the special occasion jello mold that appeared on the table for all holidays and special family dinners. My family’s was a strawberry-flavored Pink Jello Mold, which I still make (and enjoy) today.

The concept of homemade jello never occurred to me until I read a column in Gourmet magazine by Laurie Colwin. “Desserts that Quiver” made a real impression on me. Like she did, I brought home different kinds of fruit juice and boxes of Knox gelatin from the store and went to town. This essay can be found in her collection, More Home Cooking. (Sadly, Laurie Colwin passed away in 1992. She’s one of my favorite food writers.)

Back to the terrine… This was a lovely, refreshing dessert. The citrus was tart, and the berries were sweet, giving it a nice contrast. I made a half recipe, using a 5-inch square container. After supreming the orange and grapefruit, I squeezed the juice from the remaining membranes. Then, I made up the difference with grapefruit juice, which is our usual morning juice. Dorie said it would take about 2 hours for the gelatin to get to the consistency of egg whites. I missed the actual point of egg whites, and after 45 minutes, it was way past that. I added the fruit anyway, though I think the fruit would have mixed in better if the consistency had been a little runnier.

Last night, my friend Laury and I went to a delicious Persian restaurant for dinner. We passed on ordering dessert, and I served the terrine when we came back to my house. Howard declined to try it, but that was his loss. It was beautiful to look at (though difficult to photograph). Laury and I both enjoyed it. I think it could have been a tad sweeter, so when I make it next time, I would either add a little more sugar (there wasn’t much in the recipe) or use orange juice, which would definitely be sweeter than the grapefruit. I will also experiment with other fruits and juice flavors.

The Doristas are a creative bunch. I’m sure some of them experimented with the basic formula here, and I can’t wait to read about what they tried. You can check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but all the recipes are in the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. It’s well worth adding to your bookshelf. (From someone with hundreds of cookbooks, this is a hearty recommendation.)

Next Friday: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. Perfect for the season.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2010

We’re spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my family in Maryland. My sister Jane’s family is hosting, as usual, so everyone will be together at their home. My other sister Jennifer and her family, my dad and stepmother, my stepfather, Jane’s in-laws, and other family friends will all share in the celebration.

Before dinner, everyone will have to say what they are thankful for this year. The rules don’t allow you to say you are thankful for being together with family. I don’t have to follow the rules on my blog. Here I can say that I am truly thankful to be with my entire family on my favorite holiday and to genuinely enjoy spending time with them, at holidays or any other time of the year.

We started the day with a 5K Turkey Trot in Urbana. The weather was dreary, but no raindrops fell during the race. I think we came in last place. Initially, we were alternately walking and running, but we ended up mostly walking to keep my 9-year-old niece Maggie company.

Howard’s sister was a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this morning. We caught a glimpse on TV of the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon she was holding, but the TV camera shot didn’t include her. (I love the outfit!)

I was a good helper, but, didn’t have to do much of the cooking for the holiday feast. I was asked to make an apple dessert, so I made this apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. We haven’t tried it yet, but it looks gorgeous.

Every good American family has a traditional jello mold recipe, so I made my mother’s pink jello mold recipe. I also made my mother’s fruit salad that my sisters and I have at most family gatherings. Mom might not be with us at the table, but she is with us in our thoughts, our family feelings, and the food at the table.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

Mom’s Pink Jello Mold
Serves Many

2 small (3 oz) boxes strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1 cup sour cream
1 1-lb package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed

Dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Add to the blender along with the cold water, sour cream, and thawed strawberries with its liquid. Puree until smooth. Pour into a jello mold and chill until set. We always make it the day before the meal.