I'm quite fond of fennel. Mostly, I eat it raw - on its own or in a salad. I've put it in soups from time to time, but I also like to roast it. Fennel, like other vegetables when they're roasted, will caramelize and develop a subtle sweetness. The fennel here is roasted simply and the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese compliments it nicely.
Years ago, when I lived in a small studio apartment on East 61st Street in Manhattan, I grew fond of the Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. When the weather would turn, I'd make myself a batch - freezing some and keeping some handy for the week ahead. The recipe followed me to Brooklyn and the soup would fortify me before heading over to Tom's place for our weekly chess game.
I haven't made that soup in a long time, and I haven't played chess with Tom in even longer. I got to thinking about those days and figured it was time to make some Mushroom Soup again. This one is different from the Moosewood version, but it serves all the same purposes.
Maybe I should give Tom a call, too.
From my experience, you mostly can't go wrong by adding cheese to a savory dish. I mean, if it can be used to trick unsuspecting children into eating their broccoli, surely this is some kind of super food. Which is just one reason why I've always been fascinated by Potatoes Au Gratin. I've never made them in the past because I'm generally not to fond of cream sauces, but I finally gave in to the potato-cheese-siren.
This year we're all heading over to my mom's house for Thanksgiving and, I have to admit, I miss the prep and planning that goes into pulling a holiday meal together. As such, I've been cooking some surrogate dishes to get me through my withdrawals. Last week I stuffed and roasted a chicken, and this week I was thinking about vegetables.
A few years ago I made Brussels Sprouts and Carrots in a sauce of butter, sage, and vermouth. I was going to make that again last night, but things got a little hectic and I needed a quick way out. I also had no vermouth in the house, so a hot oven and a cast iron skillet would have to do.
"What about those funny looking round things you cook in the oven and the come out all sweet and yummy?"
That was what my wife requested when I asked what she'd like with dinner tonight. After 11 years of marriage I'm able to decipher her code. She meant roasted butternut squash, but couldn't quite find the words.
Upon bringing them home, my sons were a little concerned that we'd be serving up some thanksgiving decor with the rest of our dinner. One of them even ventured a bite, the brave soul.
Plan on one butternut squash for every two to three (grown) people you'll be serving.
Once the cold weather starts to set in here in the northeast, my cooking habit turns toward soups and stews. As much as I enjoy doing as much from scratch as possible, I rarely have the leftover animal bones required to make beef or chicken stock.
A much easier way to prepare homemade stock is to go the veggie route. I find that it's much easier to collect save the stems, peels, tops and bottoms of various vegetables than it is to keep some chicken bones laying around. Every time I chop or peel a vegetable, the bit I'd usually toss in the trash (or compost heap, if I had one), I simply add to a ziploc bag in the fridge. After about a week or two, I have enough to make a richly flavored stock.
Broccoli Rabe reminds me of winter and of my father. My mother, an excellent cook, rarely made it for him so I'd often prepare a batch when they'd come over for dinner. This is the way he liked it, with lots of garlic and red pepper.
(I'm not really sure why it reminds me of winter).