I was in a slump: I admit it.
I cooked impressive-sounding things like pinot noir braised red onions with roasted chicken, and soy braised beets with salmon in arugula cream sauce, and bruschetta with rosemary white bean puree. But things—these recipes—were just not going my way.
Some of them took too long to make, involved step upon step upon step and the end result while good, wasn’t worth the ardor. Or the recipes were adequate but not exquisite. Or even worse: they were merely decent but took a lot of effort to make. My goal is employing shortcuts, cutting out unnecessary steps, keeping all the necessary flavor and delivering a great tasting meal.
Life is short: our palate only has so long to enjoy flavor combinations and find favorite recipes. So as much as I can help it, when choosing between ‘eh, that was okay’ (aka functional food) or ‘wow, shut my eyes and enjoy the savory moment’ (aka fabulous food), I am going to have to go with the latter—for myself and those who sit around my table.
A tall order, and no, not every bite in our family is to die for. BUT I am always trying to find recipes that work for us, that we sincerely appreciate and enjoy, a sort of treasure hunt to find food that entices us, that beckons us to pull up a chair and stay awhile…
All of that to say this: I don’t share every recipe with you that I try. Many of my recent endeavors have fallen short. Translation: I won’t be making them again, so why would I share them? I am not going to send recipes to your kitchens, if it fails to pass the test in my kitchen.
That said, sometimes pressing on through a slump is the only way out. I pressed on, and [whew] have two new recipes that I am quite tickled with. One is Eggplant Parmesan: watch for the post and recipe soon. And the other, an appropriately fall Fennel Pear Soup (recipe follows).
I love soups. For a special first course at dinner, for lunch the next day… with a big wedge of just-baked bread… It isn’t a stretch to believe that soup is good for the soul—especially this one:
Fennel Pear Soup
2 bulbs fennel
1 yellow onion
2 comice pears
2 T butter
4 cups chicken broth
2 T flour
coarse salt & white pepper
½ cup half and half
Trim base and stalks of fennel, thinly slice bulb. Do the same with the onion. In skillet: add fennel, onion, butter and 2 T water. Cover, cook over medium high for 5-7 minutes. Add 2 T flour, stir for 1 minute. Add peeled and chopped pears and broth; cover and simmer until pears are soft, 5 minutes. Puree. Return to pan, add [coarse] salt, pepper and the cream. Simmer 6-8 minutes, serve. (optional garnish: fennel fronds).
I am in love with fennel; read more of my obsession in what to do with 2 bulbs of fennel. Oh, and if you DO make this as a lovely first coarse for Thanksgiving, also consider mixing up the Ginger Orange Cocktail (skip the Halloween rantings, this ginger-forward drink can easily squeeze in a chair at the Thanksgiving table).