One afternoon some friends and I were sitting around, talking about how much we liked to cook but how our busy work schedules and general roommate-living often prevented us from cooking anything other than one-pot specials. We formed a dinner party club with our houses, and every two weeks one of us takes a turn cooking the meal, while everyone else brings a bottle of wine. It’s often the highlight of the week to leave a long a day of work and know that you have a home-cooked meal and some relaxing times with your friends, over the dinner table, ahead of you. Of course, it’s fun to do the cooking, too. Last week, it was my turn.
We started with a roasted carrot and fennel soup from the Gourmet Nov. ’08 issue. Most of the recipes from my meal came from this magazine. While I usually cook out of vegetarian cookbooks, when I use recipes at all, the beautiful photos in this issue, and its Thanksgiving-style comfort food, sucked me in. The November issue actually has a full vegetarian menu, but I picked and choose recipes from the entire issue. We had an unusual cold snap in Philadelphia last week, and these foods seemed warm and comforting. I may have been a bit lax in stirring the vegetables while they roasted, as they got a little black and crispy on some of the sides, but the flavor of the soup wasn’t disturbed and the color a bit more “complex” than it would have been otherwise. The soup is is garnished with a fennel seed oil and fresh fennel fronds. I served the soup with a crusty loaf of olive oil rosemary bread from Metropolitan Bakery.
This mushroom and farro pie is made with pre-packed puff pastry (homemade puff pastry takes hours, and isn’t really possible on a Tuesday night, post-work). It’s filled with pearl barley (substituted for the farro) ricotta, cremini mushrooms (though I substituted baby bellas) and green onions). I was worried that it wouldn’t be large enough to feed 8 people, but I was very wrong. While the the pie doesn’t seem dense, it’s very filling. You can see the steam rising from the pie. To accompany the slice of mushroom pie, I made a baked squash with cream and parmesan from the Gourmet recipe, and along with mashed potatoes with garlic oil and the roasted garlic vegetarian gravy from Gourmet (which was, btw, so crazy delicious and wonderful smelling I almost drank it all on Sunday night, when I made it). For color, and in the interest of daily vegetables, I also make a kale with with garlic. We took a long break before dessert.
We ended dinner with apples, baked in cider with cinnamon, fresh whipped cream with rum and sugar, and candied walnuts. It was hard to find room in the stomach, but we were victorious, and warm, and full.