Friday, October 9, 2009

Vegetarian Friday

Early this morning I decided I would spend my day off cooking. Because I really felt like it -- that fennel in the fridge was calling me -- and because my in-laws are coming tomorrow and the kitchen will be taken over by Jen and her mother, making it near impossible for me to cook us lunches and dinner.

I always plan the weekly menu on Sunday or Monday and then grocery shop accordingly. When I asked Jen if there was anything in particular she'd like me to make she said, instead of shrugging in her usual fashion, "I would like more vegetables." This is why this week's menu featured three entirely vegetarian dishes, something I don't do very often.

For today's dinner I've made Aubergine Charlotte with Tomato and Coriander Salad (Laura Calder's "French Food at Home" recipe).

Tomorrow's lunch will be a Cauliflower and Zucchini Curry,

and I have also made a Fennel and Orange soup because I had fennel that needed to be used.

Initially I was going to braise the fennel and serve it as a side dish but changed my mind at the last minute. The soup still needs to be pureed and have cream and seasoning added to it but I will do that just before serving.

The fennel soup is the easiest thing to make. You will need fennel -- I have used one bulb only -- an onion which you will chop, some ground fennel seeds, three cups of chicken stock (or less, depending on how strong a fennel flavor you like your soup to have), half a cup of orange juice and a little bit of heavy cream. If you're desperate to know how much cream and you don't like my telling you to add as much or as little as you prefer, I'll have you know I'll probably use 1/4 cup.

Roast your quartered fennel in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes. While the fennel is roasting, take a pot and saute the chopped onion with the fennel seeds until the onion is soft. Add your roasted fennel to the onion, pour the chicken stock and OJ into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the soup, return it to the pot (if you used a blender instead of a hand-held immersion blender) and reheat it. This is the time to add your cream and seasoning. Serve. Garnish with whatever moves you. If nothing moves you, don't garnish.

I suspect it keeps in the fridge for 1-2 days but it is so good that you will likely gobble it up before you have a chance to see if it lasts that long.

Note** Don't dismiss the success of my future cook-book based on the joking tone of the recipe presented here. Also, the fennel and orange soup recipe is not technically mine, I've used Lucy Waverman for inspiration. It would have never crossed my mind to combine fennel and orange in a soup, not in a million years.

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