Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RECIPE: Serious Eats' Foolproof Pan Pizza


It was love at first sight ... the second I saw J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's Foolproof Pan Pizza recipe,I was twitterpated. I was definitely going to try to make this and see if it was really proof against this fool. Overall, I think I'm a pretty good cook, but when it comes to trying out new recipes, usually if there's a way I can totally mess it up, I will. Even if I get the actual process right, chances are I'll do something like try to check if the bottom's cooked while the pie is still in the pan and dump the pie all over the kitchen. :( (True story).

Well, happy to say Mr. L-A has done it again. You could do worse than compile all his recipes and just use them as your cookbook. He takes a thorough and scientific approach to cooking but also has a way of translating it all for the casual home cook. The recipe was seriously easy - there is a lot of waiting time but very little active effort to expend. It's pretty much just mix the dough, let it rise, make it into a ball, let it rise more, spread it out and put on toppings, cook. Voila!

I got my toppings from Whole Foods. It's just regular shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and basil, but you could use anything. I couldn't help but do pepperoni, since it's a classic but I would love to try other toppings like chili peppers, goat cheese, red onions, mushrooms ... I could go on. I noticed someone warned in the comments to stay away from too many "wet" ingredients like bell peppers and other vegetables, because it can make the pizza soggy, so keep that in mind.

My pizza came out just like it was supposed to, with a crispy, chewy crust, tasting like the platonic ideal of the Pizza Hut pies of my childhood. The great thing about getting recipes from a foodie website like Serious Eats as opposed to a cookbook is that people leave their comments and feedback about the recipe, so before you even start you can read through and if you have any situation that varies from the recipe - like a particular climate or different pans or wanting to adjust the amount, then someone has already either asked the questions, provided the answer or maybe even made a detailed chart with measurements for every size of pan you might own (See the comments to this post for said chart). And there are tons of suggestions for topping combos if you can't settle on something on your own or want to try something new.



BOOK REVIEW: The Homemade Pantry + How to Make Butter


Last year, this was basically the one cookbook I wanted to add to my collection. It's not a collection of recipes for meals; instead it details how to make the basics that you keep around in your fridge or pantry to use in other things. This includes items like butter, cheese, granola, sauces, snacks, etc.

 I love this idea because often on my full time work schedule that often includes unexpected overtime, plus the fact that there are only two of us, meal times are typically geared towards the simple and quick meal for one or two without a lot of major meal planning going on. Baking can be an exercise in frustration when you work from home, as you are then faced with a mound of cookies or other sweets that you really shouldn't eat. You don't want them to go to waste, but there's no convenient break room to dump them in so other people will eat them for you.

Enter The Homemade Pantry, which allows me to scratch my cooking itch by whipping up staple items that I know I will use regularly. The author is Alana Chernila, a food blogger and farmer who found herself married, a mother and running a farm at an age when most of her friends were pursuing graduate degrees or urban careers. Her writing is friendly, clear and approachable. You get to know her a bit throughout the book, and the personal stories really help connect you to the food and the life she lives, but the personal stuff never takes too much attention from the information, which is rendered in a way that's clear and easy-to-follow. The book has a great visual aesthetic as well, with beautiful pictures and a layout and page design that makes everything easy to follow and read.

The beginning is filled with preparatory tips and general advice as well as a detailed list of equipment needed to prepare the things in the book. There's basically everything you need to make all of these simple items. I think this book would make an especially fantastic addition to a parent's cookbook library. Chernila is a mother of two girls and her recipes very much reflect that lifestyle, taking into account busy schedules and hectic homes. If you are feeling guilty because you wish you could fit more wholesome, homemade stuff into your child's diet but are finding time and energy are hard to come by, this is a great way to incorporate some fresh homemade things into your repertoire, and the book includes convenience items like baking mixes and frozen foods that you can make yourself instead of buying them processed and packaged from the store, as well as easy homemade snack and treat ideas that are great for kids.

Below are examples of a couple of items I made from the book, as well as a sample recipe for butter.


Paneer: This is a homemade cheese from the book. It is called ricotta in the cookbook, but it really doesn't fit the defining factor in a ricotta, which is made using fermented and recooked whey ("ricotta" means "recooked"), while this cheese is made with the curds. I would call it a paneer as it is made using basically the same process as an Indian paneer. I do not have a milk cow in my backyard like Chernila does, so I just tried to acquire the best milk I could find. The kind that comes in a real glass bottle! This particular cheese didn't require any fancy ingredients, which is why I chose it to make. It came out very fresh and mild and was delicious in a salad, in sandwiches, or just baked on a toast. There are other cheese recipes in the book, including mozzarella and cream cheese, but they require more specialized ingredients.


Butter: This is a butter I made using the book's method, which is probably about the same as other methods I have used in the past, but it's nice to be reminded of how easy and quick it is to make your own butter. Since this is about the simplest recipe in the book, I'm including it as an example. You will just have to go out and get the book yourself for more.

Butter Recipe from The Homemade Pantry
(Makes 6-8 oz. or 12-16 tablespoons)
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine the cream and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cover with a dish towel to prevent splattering. Beat at medium to high speed, peeking in every 20 seconds or so. In 1 to 3 minutes, the cream will be whipped and airy, then it will stiffen. After that, the cream will break, and you will have both liquids and solids in the bowl. 
  2. When the fat separates from the buttermilk, pour the buttermilk into a jar and refrigerate for use within three days (you can use it to make pancakes!)
  3. Run your hands under cold water, then squeeze the butter together, kneading it in the bowl. Place the bowl in the sink, rinse the butter in cold water, and squeeze it again. Repeat this process until the water runs clear and the butter does not release any liquid when you press on it. 
STORAGE: 

Room Temperature: covered container or butter bell, 5 days
Fridge: covered container, 1 week
Freezer: roll and cut into sticks, wrap individually in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, 3 months

IMPORTANT TIP: Don't skimp on the squeezing and kneading of the butter -- if you do, the buttermilk still trapped in the butter will cause it to go rancid within a day. Keep kneading until there is no sign of cloudy buttermilk coming out of the butter.  
 

SEASONAL COOKING: Green Chard Smoothie


Winter is the time for hearty greens, all braised or roasted or otherwise cooked up and providing those good vitamins so you don't wither away in the frosty chill. The thing is, I like my greens raw not all cooked and wilty and soft. This is not a problem with regular lettuce or kale, which I can toss into a salad and chomp down like the good little rabbit I am.

But when you get something a little more substantial, like chard, it doesn't work so well to just eat raw. They are bitter and thick and really need a little cooking to mellow them out and refine the flavor.




But if you're a weirdo like me and MUST eat them raw, throwing them in a smoothie is the perfect way to do it. You may be thinking ... ewwwww! But here is the secret -- once you put sufficient fruit with your leaves, the whole thing tastes like fruit, with the added bonus of being a beautiful brilliant green color and giving you a metric ton of Vitamin A, C and potassium.  This is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, and eating it raw gets you the maximum nutrients.

The key for this is really having a good blender. Chard is thick and could be difficult for cheap blenders. My BlendTec handles it like a champ, though.

So here's how you make it:

- 3 cups chard (leaves only)
- 2 bananas (frozen if you have time)
- 1/2 cup juice (I like pineapple, apple is probably good too)
- 1 cup ice

If you're a smoothie making person and have add-ins hanging around like protein powder or flax seeds, toss them in for maximum health.


January in the Garden

So, I know it's not cooking, but ever since I moved and now have this lovely big yard, I've become obsessed with gardening. And since growing is one of the beginning processes to eating, I'm shoehorning it in here, since it's my blog and I can do whatever. It's really rewarding to grow your own food and there's nothing fresher than something just plucked out of the ground or off of the branch. So I thought I'd keep a log of what I'm doing in the garden each month, the successes and not so much successes and what chores each season brings.


Paperwhite Narcissus: Paperwhite Narcissus is a bulb that can be forced in the winter time and has becomes a traditional decorative plant for Christmastime. This year I tried growing my own and it is super easy. You can just toss the bulbs in a glass container with rocks or a regular container with soil, water and leave them. They grow into these beautiful white flowers in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it turned out that my husband just despised the smell of these. They smell like flowers to me, but to him they smelled of something chemical - like burnt plastic. So they live outside now, and when the flowers die back I'll plant them somewhere out of his nose range. They do well in the ground also and I saw several of these in gardens around the neighborhood this winter. It may take two years for them to bloom again if I plant them in the ground now, but we will see.


Planted - Renegade Spinach: I had one container of lettuce where only two of the seeds sprouted, leaving me a bunch of open spots, so I planted this spinach. I had planted it earlier in the fall but it was still so warm and the spinach bolted - meaning it grew too fast and went to seed before I could harvest it for eating. This can happen in warm weather, so I am trying again now that it's colder to see if the spinach grows better now. Hopefully in about a month and a half I will have some hearty spinach leaves for salads.


Growing - Lettuce: This green and red lettuce that I planted in my EarthBox is now big enough to eat. I have been making salads with this and there's really nothing like it. The lettuce grown in the cool weather and picked straight out of the ground to eat is more tender than anything I've ever had. I have grown both a red and a green lettuce for a pretty salad mix. Winter is also a nice time to grow lettuce because in my area there are no bugs to munch all the nice leaves. In summer, you have to monitor pretty closely around here because pretty much everything tends to get chomped on by someone.


Something New: There has always been a little bird feeder in this area of the garden. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep it stocked because birds are PIGS. They gobble up a whole package in a couple of days so I can only fill it once a month or so. But my dearest madre got me this pretty bird bath for Christmas and now I can at least provide them with fresh water while they await their next feeding frenzy. This part of the garden is starting to look really pretty between the herb boxes, the bird stuff and the citrus tree. There's also a lavender plant that I hope will grow nice and bushy and fill in some of the blank space there.


Maintenance: Now is the time to prune those trees. Lemon trees do not need a lot of pruning, and right now there is still a ton of fruit on this tree, but we had a bunch of branches that were dragging on the ground. That creates a nice pathway for any bugs or bad stuff that wants to get on your tree to just stroll on up, so I hacked off a bunch of those really low hanging limbs.

SEASONAL COOKING: Acorn Squash Bisque

This won't be the last squash post you'll see around here, so get used to it. Winter squash and the soups that they transform to are one of the best things about winter. Sitting under a woolly blanket with a steaming bowl of thick, sweet and spicy squash soup is sure sign it's winter, even in L.A. (Hey, it gets cold at night here!)

About Acorn Squash: Acorn squash is a winter squash that is dark green on the outside and orange/yellow on the inside. It is native to America and the first Western settlers to come upon it actually thought it was a type of melon. Whoops!

If you are considering growing this yourself, it is very easy to grow and can be directly seeded outdoors. It also produces delicious squash blossoms that can be eaten as well. It takes about 85 days from germination to harvest, then another 10 days of curing outside or in a warm, dry space.

When buying, look for a squash that is dull and not shiny, which as much green as possible. Make sure it has no soft spots. 

Squash stores really well and will last for month in a cool and dry location. Just like pumpkins, you can save, toast and eat the seeds. Nutritionwise, it is a great source of potassium and dietary fiber. Other preparations for acorn squash include stuffing with wild rice and other ingredients and baking or roasting. If you want to improvise, acorn squash matches well with bacon, brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, pepper and sage.


My experience:  Since this is just a recipe I took from somewhere else, just giving it to you is not very useful. So let me annotate it a bit with my own experiences in making the recipe. The main thing is that microwaving process was a bit uneven. One squash microwaved perfectly according to the directions, but the other took several goes in the microwave before it was ready to scoop. This is perhaps due to different levels of ripeness, or thickness of the squash or just my microwave. It might be better to just go with the roasting method if you have a good oven, because in the end it took the same amount of time. Also, it is no joke about waiting until they are cool enough to handle. These things get really hot.

Other than that, everything went pretty much according to plan. It made two batches in my blender and came out really smooth and creamy. I have a really good blender so I was able to put it in, hit the "soup" button and come out with something nice and silky. If you don't have a really good blender it might take a while to get it smooth enough.

This is irrelevant, but I get really excited to make a recipe that calls for fresh thyme because I can go out and snip it from my herb box, just enough for what I need. It's one of those rare moments when how you wish you would live matches up with reality. Here's a cool tip I learned for fresh thyme:  pinch the top of the sprig between your thumb and first finger and then just zip your fingers down the stem. The leaves will come right off! (If all works as it should, anyway).

RECIPE (from Martha Stewart):

Ingredients: 
  • 2 acorn squashes (3 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
Directions: 
  1. Place squashes on a paper towel and microwave on high just until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the microwave, and halve each squash lengthwise (to speed cooling). When cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds. Scrape out flesh into a bowl; discard skin. (To prepare in oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until almost tender when pierced wtih a knife, 15 to 25 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh, discard skin, and proceed with step 2).
  2. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add squash, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium, and cook until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Return to pan; add half-and-half, and season generously with salt and pepper. Thin bisque, if needed, by adding more water. Serve garnished with thyme.

Seasonal Cooking: Persimmon

Everyone knows it's time for apples and oranges, but fall and winter aren't as limited as you might think when it comes to fruit. There are many ways to branch out and liven up your cold weather menu, one of which is persimmon. Persimmon is in season October through February.

The name "persimmon" actually comes from the Algonquin language of Powhatan, from words that mean "a dry fruit."


There are two types of persimmon that are widely available: Hachiya and Fuyu. The above pictured type is a Fuyu, which accounts for 80% of the persimmon on the market. It is generally eaten raw and can be sliced like a tomato. I think a fuyu persimmon actually is quite similar to a tomato except that it is sweeter and more solid in texture.

Hachiya persimmon is rounder and fuller and is not good to eat until is fully ripe due to the high levels of tannins that make it very astringent. You don't want to eat a hachiya persimmon until it feels like you are holding a bag of juice more than a fruit. These persimmons are usually pureed and used in baking, but if you want to, you could just remove the top leaf and scoop out the fruit with a spoon to eat. In Asian countries, hachiya persimmons are often dried and eaten as a snack or used in cooking.


Fuyu persimmons are great to eat just raw. They can also be used in puddings, pies, cakes and cookies. I think they taste great with prosciutto, so I use them in a salad with prosciutto, arugula, olive oil and salt/pepper. It's a really simple and quick lunch or starter that really brightens up a gray day with its colors.


Bonus Pic: The persimmon came with my produce delivery, but I am also growing my own stuff in the yard. Currently I am growing some lettuce. The autumn/winter weather in California is nice for growing lettuce because the cooler weather keeps the leaves tender and flavorful. Here are my baby lettuces getting a bath in the rain.

More on Persimmons around the web: 

Martha Stewart's persimmon recipes 
Five Ways to Eat Persimmons - Smithsonian Mag
Persimmon Facts - California Rare Fruit Growers
Persimmon Pudding (a traditional persimmon preparation from Indiana)


2012 Update: Farm-To-Table Restaurants in Los Angeles

I originally posted this article in 2007, but it's popped up again on my most viewed articles Since people seem to be interested in this topic, I figured I would update this article for the current restaurant climate in L.A. Although most of the restaurants originally discussed are still great choices, I wanted to take off any that were no longer with us and add some new ones that are additional great choices. So if you are looking for dining options in Los Angeles that feature seasonal and often locally farmed ingredients, here is a current selection of top options that are either personal favorites of mine, or widely acknowledged to be among the best restaurants in the city:

Canele: I have not yet been to Canele, but from what I know of it, it is a small neighborhood place beloved by folks in the area. Owned by a former commodities trader and a seasoned restaurant manager, this is the kind of place where you will find the menu chalked up on a board, and people who stop in for dinner on a regular basis.

3219 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, CA (323-666-7133)

Who has reviewed Canele?:
LA Times
LA Weekly
Kevin Eats
Potatomato
MW Eats

Wilshire: Honestly, I did not expect to love this place as much as I did. From the front it looks kind of like a generic fancy restaurant for Westside preppies, but inside (or preferably outside) what you find is a delicious, seasonal menu served in a gorgeous setting. I recommend the outside dining if the weather is at all amenable. They have a beautiful backyard space with an elegantly rustic atmosphere perfectly suited to the food. It is an excellent place for group dining, as you will want to share everything. Their menu changes daily and not only do they support local farmers, but wish to be a neighborhood hangout and entice regular diners. Note: Since I have dined there, Chef Andrew Kirschner has left Wilshire and now has a new restaurant, Tar & Roses, in Santa Monica.

2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica (310-586-1707)

Who else has reviewed Wilshire?

Caroline on Crack (dessert/drinks)
LA Weekly (Happy hour)
LA Times
Nom Nom Cat

Rustic Canyon: I was dying to eat at Rustic Canyon ever since I met owner, Josh Loeb, who came to speak at a wine class I took about his experience opening and running a restaurant. He is very cute and a really nice guy and he and his wife sound like a lovely couple to spend time with. Josh has a great philosophy about food and is a certified wine expert, while his wife, Zoe Nathan is a superb pastry chef. The restaurant is cosy but modern as designed by the couple themselves. Rustic Canyon grew out of the happy times Josh had at the farmer's market dinner parties he had with his friends, and he wanted to recreate that feelig in a restaurant. The food is seasonal, local if possible and constantly changing. Josh and his wife also have several offshoot places that have opened in the wake of Rustic Canyon's success: Huckleberry (a bakery and cafe that serves up a ridiculous good breakfast), Milo & Olive (pizza, pastries & bread) and Sweet Rose Creamery (handmade ice cream).

1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310-393-7050)

Who else has reviewed Rustic Canyon?

Jonathan Gold
Kevin Eats
Rustic Canyon Articles on Eater LA

Eva: Eva is one of my current favorite restaurants in all of Los Angeles. This is partly because it is local enough that I can walk there, but it is also because of the magic that happens when a person who is truly talented and passionate opens his own small restaurant, supported by an equally passionate and dedicated wife. If you go to Eva even a few times, perhaps even only once, you will leave thinking of Chef Mark Gold and his wife Alejandra as friends. They treat everyone who comes in as a true guest and they will do anything to make you feel comfortable and welcome. The menu is always a mix of new and interesting things with standard favorites. Chef Mark has recently returned from a stage at NOMA in Denmark, currently considered the best restaurant in the world so I highly recommend a trip right now to see how his visit there has influenced his cooking.

7458 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-634-0700

Who else has reviewed Eva?

LA Times
Gayot
Your Next Bite

Cook's County: This rather low-key little restaurant on Beverly Blvd. is a hidden gem. I shouldn't have to say it, but it's a chalkboard menu type of place that serves fresh, seasonal food from a chef who was trained under L.A. greats Nancy Silverton, Mark Peel and Suzanne Goin. I adore this place. It's a somewhat casual neighborhood place that still feels special and the food here is beautiful and flavorful. The menu proudly boasts a long list of the local farmers they support, and the current selection is filled with seasonal ingredients like winter squash, fuyu persimmon, black kale and satsumas as well as hearty cold weather choices like fisherman's rice, duck confit and braised short ribs. If you are not a meat eater, I can attest that the vegetarian choices are every bit as well-prepared and tasty as the meat choices.

8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 653-8008

Who else has reviewed Cook's County?

Jonathan Gold
Delicious Life (photos)
Kevin Eats

Gjelina: I have not eaten at Gjelina myself, but it is definitely a hot spot of the moment with lots of food lovers raving about it. The menu consists of small plates, pizzas, a much praised wine list and the item that consistently gets called out as a must-try item -- the butterscotch pot de creme. Reservations are hard to get, but walk-ins are also accommodated at communal tables if you are open to getting friendly with your fellow diners.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice (310) 450-1429

Who else has reviewed Gjelina?

Food & Wine
Jonathan Gold
Kevin Eats

The Tasting Kitchen: Another place I haven't (yet) tried for myself, but gets a ton of praise in local food circles. According to some, this place is worth it just for the bread and butter. The menu seems to be a modern take on classics served as small plates or pasta dishes with a casual, fun feel to the restaurant, a nice wine selection and great cocktails. It's definitely a hot spot right now so expect it to be overrun by a trendy crowd for a while, but like Gjelina there's a communal table is reservations are hard to come by.

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice (310) 392-6644

Who else has reviewed The Tasting Kitchen?

L.A. Confidential
L.A. Times
LA Weekly/Jonathan Gold 

Hatfield's: Husband and wife team Karen & Quinn Hatfield have settled in nicely to a Melrose location that has been the bane of lesser restaurants. The tasting menu is heaven for locavores and you can choose a regular or vegetarian version. I highly recommend this restaurant for veggies - even though I am a dedicated omnivore, I choose the veggie menu here because it is so good. The service is fantastic and they have managed to transform the somewhat large space into a tranquil and comfortable dining environment.

6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles (323) 935-2977

Who else has reviewed Hatfield's?

L.A. Times
Epicurious
Mattatouille

Salt's Cure: While Salt's Cure, as the name suggests, is known mainly for their meat, I am known to order a soup and salad more often than not when dining here. The soup is probably the best soup in town and whenever it gets the least bit chilly, I find myself dreaming of a trip to Salt's Cure. Another favorite dish of mine is the crab cake - I will get it whenever it pops up on the menu. My husband is a big fan of their chicken, although be warned that some of their meat dishes come in generously manly portion sizes. Pretty much everything is butchered and made in-house and the small, friendly and knowledgable staff and give you as many details as you wish on menu items. They have an excellently curated wine and beer list. The space is tiny so if you want a table reservations are a must. We have had great luck with just showing up for a counter spot, and you get an up close and personal view of food prep plus banter opportunities with the chefs.

7494 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood (323) 850-7258

Who else has reviewed Salt's Cure?

L.A. Times
L.A. Weekly/Jonathan Gold
Kevin Eats

Lazy Ox Canteen: Gotta represent downtown so I present you with Lazy Ox Canteen. This foodie paradise in Little Tokyo features an eclectic menu of seasonal small plates with standouts generally agreed to be anything made from a pig and a great burger. This is definitely a "cool" place that attracts a younger crowd but it's location and excellent food make it a nice choice for anyone going to a show or museum and looking for a dinner/lunch option in the area. Note: Chef Perfecto Rocher is no longer with the restaurant as of this October. Travis Chase, formerly of Tin Table in Seattle, is the new executive chef at Laxy Ox.

241 S. San Pedro St., Downtown LA (213) 626-5299

Who else has reviewed The Lazy Ox Canteen?

L.A. Times/Jonathan Gold
L.A. Times/S. Irene Virbila
Kevin Eats




Seasonal Cooking: Fennel, Carrot and Apple Soup

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Earlier this year we made a much anticipated move and our new place includes a beautiful backyard! I had been growing a few things in boxes before and I am excited to expand into real gardening. My old boxes are still going strong, and filled with herbs and strawberries. I have also been growing vegetables and these feathery fronds above are carrots, which represent one of my first successes in growing fresh veggies to be eaten. 

I am also getting fresh produce delivered from Farm Fresh to You to round out my fruit and veggie selection and keep me eating healthy. 

 


Even though we haven't exactly been suffering from very cold weather this fall, the season always gets me in the mood for soup. Also, soup is a great way to take a lot of vegetables and create a meal that can be enjoyed over many nights. This is a good feature for our little household of two, so that we can enjoy all of our vegetables before they are past their prime.

My latest box included fennel and apples, so together with my carrots I created this delicious and seasonal soup to be eaten with a crusty, rustic hunk of bread.

Fennel: Fennel is a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese, and folate as well as calcium, magnesium and iron. It can be eaten raw in salads and braised, roasted or grilled in addition to cooking in a soup.

When cooking with fennel, trim the stalks about an inch above the bulb. If grilling, keep the root ends to keep the pieces together. For other cooking methods, trim about a half-inch off of the root ends before cooking.

To slice fennel, stand it on the root end and cut vertically.

Roasted Carrot, Fennel & Apple Soup (from www.yummly.com)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. carrots (cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 2 medium apples (peeled, cored and cut into 16 wedges)
  • 1 small-medium fennel bulb (white part only, cut into wedges)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • kosher salt
  • 3.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ยบ F.
  2. Place carrots, apples and fennel onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Make sure to coat the pieces evenly. Bake in the oven for 45-60 min. Carrots should still be somewhat firm, but apple and fennel will be soft. 
  3. Remove the carrots, apple and fennel from the oven and put them into a large saucepan along with the oil. Add garlic, ginger and a large pinch of kosher salt to the saucepan. Pour the stock over the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 min.
  4. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender in batches and puree it until smooth. Be careful blending hot liquids. Add more stock if you want to get the soup to your desired consistency. 
  5. Garnish ideas: dried cranberries, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts or croutons. 
Serves 4

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