I've been on some kind of mission lately... I suppose the main objective is to make my house as colorful and cozy as possible. I keep looking around and just wishing there was more visual interest. I think I'm most at home in a place that is riotous with color, and luckily Dennis is pretty obliging in the matter. The pillows and photo wall in the bedroom are just the start of a much larger plan. Recently I started working on the kitchen; hanging more art that had been stashed under the sink before the housewarming party, preparing some garlands that I want to string about the ceiling (more on those later), and this:
I picked this up for 12 bucks at MaiDo (a Japanese stationary store in San Francisco). It's a chalkboard wall decal, and it was actually just a big black square with the frame in the center but I decided to cut the border off. It's hung in the pass-through between the kitchen and living room. We've been wanting to hand something there, but were wary of framed pictures for fear someone might run into them, so this seemed like the perfect plan. And I even made a little piece of hanging chalk:
A little dab of E600 all around, and then some baker's twine:
Et voila! I love my goofy five-year-old's cursive, and yes, those are real dinner options. I'm a fancy-pants, remember? But man, I just have to share the recipe I made for the baked fennel and leeks, it was amazing!
I was picking through some magazines when I came across a recipe for fennel baked in cream:
Looks friggin' amazing, but since we get an organic produce box delivered to us every other week I like to tweak recipes to use what we already have on hand. We had about half the fennel the recipe called for so I sliced and cleaned the two leeks that came in our box to make up for it. Leeks, to me at least, seem very underused and undervalued in modern cooking. I love leeks to death and encourage anyone who has not tried them to do so. Immediately! The recipe also called for cream, but I used half-and-half mostly because it was there, but also it cut down on the fat a bit. And it called for Parmesan cheese, which we didn't have, but we had an amazing garlic jack we picked up from the farmer's market so I used that instead.
So I tossed all the ingredients together with salt and pepper, dotted it with butter and cooked it as the recipe instructed...
Oh. My. Goodness. It was absolutely delicious. I've had fennel baked in cream before and, don't get me wrong it was good, but it's a little bit of a one-note. This dish, however, made me and Dennis swoon. Please make this. It's so easy and delicious, and anyone can make it. Impress your friends! You'll thank me...
Fennel and Leeks Baked in Cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 leeks, sliced 1/2 inch thick (be sure to pull the layers apart and clean them thoroughly in a bowl of water)
1 cup grated garlic jack cheese
1 1/2 cups half and half
Generous pinches of salt and pepper, to taste (Don't be shy with the seasoning!)
4 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1. Toss all ingredients except the butter together in a large casserole dish.
2. Scatter cubed butter on top and cover with a lid or tin foil, and bake for 1 hour.
3. Remove tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes until nice and brown.
That's it! So easy and so creamy and delicious! I'd love to hear if anyone tries to make this dish. I served it with a simple green salad and salmon, but it would pair well with most any meal, and would be a very nice thing to make for a potluck. (Though you may want to double the recipe since it will go fast!)
And, just for fun, look at how beautiful this little head of lettuce is. There's a stall at the farmer's market that love to spend a lot of time at because they sell the most beautiful assortment of greens I have ever seen... Le sigh. ^_^