Monday when I was on the cooking roll it was partly to use up some produce I’d bought when I shopped unwisely. It’s always unwise to make purchases when sleep-deprived, and I’ve had lots of experience with making tired and muddle-headed decisions.
Fennel: In this case I’d been shopping at Trader Joe’s and I was trying to make it the only stop, even though I needed some vegetables and don’t usually buy much produce at that store. The fennel bulbs seemed to be a good price, so I picked up a package of two medium-sized bulbs (20 oz.) for $1.99.
The wisdom I lacked was from being too tired to know that I was too tired to cook. I didn’t have a plan for using fennel, so I got along for a couple more days by raiding the freezer. But I didn’t want the vegetables to go bad so eventually I read recipes online and opted to make a simple soup.
I started by chopping and sauteeing the vegetable. Already I can’t remember if I used olive oil or butter, but some people liked to use a combination. I was looking for a caramelized or roasted effect, and I didn’t want to heat up the oven for such a small amount, so I used a cast-iron skillet. I sprinkled on salt and pepper and cooked the fennel slowly. Some of the pieces were too large to actually caramelize, but there was enough sweet roasty flavor coming from the licorice-flavored bulbs to make for a great taste in the resulting soup.
After all the fennel was at least tender, and some was very brown and some was even black, I blended it with water (I meant to use some chicken broth but forgot), then tasted and tested as I added small amounts of cream, sugar and lemon juice, more salt and pepper. I chopped up some of the unused ferny green top to sprinkle on top before serving….and Mr. Glad declared it fantastic. I didn’t take a picture of it, but it was brown and full of browner flecks. We ate the whole panful.
Curd: The big bag of lemons I bought even earlier would have lasted weeks more in the cold garage, but lemon curd was easy to put together, and it makes a prettier picture than brown soup, too.
1/2 cup butter
grated peel of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
Beat the eggs and yolks together slightly. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler and stir in all of the other ingredients.
Cook over boiling water, beating constantly with a wire whisk, until thick and smooth, about 20 minutes. Store the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
Lemon curd makes a nice gift if you put it in a little canning jar with a flowered lid. Too bad for my friends, I just happened to have a pint jar that conveniently held my whole batch. But if you come by for tea really soon we can makes some toast together and slather it on.