400 Degree Dinner

Darlings!  A cold front moved into Miami over this past weekend and La Diva found it a most excellent opportunity to put on the oven and make a dinner that would be warm and comforting on a night that begged one to "get cozy."

Since I've been blessed with family and friends that are kind enough to keep me in the latest cookbooks, La Diva has decided that I darn well better start using them!  I'd scanned through my Ottolenghi The Cookbook I got as a present from my brother in law and his girlfriend last Christmas and had flagged each recipe that intrigued me, but after researching recipes  for a client recently, I stumbled upon a most divine dish, a decadent fennel gratin.  (To refresh your memory of this fabulous tome, click HERE.)

I decided that if if I was going to heat the oven, I might as well cook everything in the oven!  So, dear readers, this post is about cooking an entire meal in the oven at 400 degrees!

Now, darlings, when you cook an entire meal in the oven, one must plan.  What should be cooked first and in what order should the dishes be made?  I started with a side dish for the meal and chose a  fennel gratin recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook.  It was a good choice to start as I knew it could be held at room temperature without a reduction in taste or texture.

The recipe includes the making of a crumble for the topping of the gratin.  It was super easy, just combine 300 g* flour, 200 g of cold butter and 100 g of sugar until the texture of breadcrumbs.  This was easily achieved by pulsing the ingredients in the food processor.

*La Diva LOVES cooking and shopping in metric, it's so much more accurate.  This is when a dual metric and Imperial scale comes in handy.

After adding cream to thinly sliced fennel, the crumble was mixed in with freshly grated parmigiano cheese and then added to the top.  I baked it for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, until tender, adding more thyme and grape tomatoes and then baking for another 15 minutes.  After it was done, I let it sit on the warm stove and popped the next item into the oven.

(Blogger Surit from The Dish has kindly replicated the recipe for the fennel gratin with cherry tomatoes, HERE. )

With a very large punnet of blueberries staring me in the face in my fridge, La Diva thought an easy and quick dessert would be to use them in a cobbler.  I've actually had the recipe printed from Gourmet.com for years and now finally remembered to try it!  This recipe was a good choice because it was for two servings (very LARGE servings!) was quick, easy and also called for a 400 degree oven.  The dessert could be made and served room temperature, so I chose the cobbler to be next to go into the oven.

 In order to get the dough to a texture that I could actually spoon it instead of crumbling, I had to supplement the recipe by adding a bit more cream.  Also, next time I would add a half recipe more so the topping would cover the berries entirely. You can view the recipe for Blueberry Lemon Cobbler by clicking HERE.

When I asked The DJ how he'd like me to prepare his pork tenderloin for dinner, he exclaimed "barbecue!"  I used a store-bought hickory seasoning mix and slathered it on the meat after coating it first with olive oil.  I seared it on all sides to form a nice, spicy crust.  I let the pan cool, washed it and then added a good dousing of olive oil on the bottom.  I added the pork and the cubed, peeled sweet potatoes.  I popped it into the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I had a bit of Stubb's spicy bbq sauce in the fridge and  doctored up with a bit of honey.  I basted the loin a few times with barbecue sauce for additional barbecue flavor.  I cooked the meat until it was just done, leaving it slightly pink and juicy.  After letting the meat rest for 10 minutes, I sliced it up and plated it with the potatoes and gratin.

Plated up and ready to eat:  roasted sweet potatoes with hickory smoked barbecue pork tenderloin and fennel gratin with grape tomatoes.

RESULT:  What a stupendously comforting winter meal!  The meat was moist and tender and had a crunchy, spicy-sweet crust.  The potatoes were cooked to perfection, caramelized and extra tasty from the barbecue pork drippings.

The fennel was DIVINE!  Perfectly cooked to fork tender, the fennel's usually strong anise flavor was subdued and combined well with the sweet tomatoes and the sharp, saltiness of the cheese crumble. The creamy texture made the dish very more-ish, we went back for seconds!

La Diva is usually a big fan of roasted tomatoes but I thought they overshadowed the subtle flavor of the fennel.  Next time, I will omit the tomatoes altogether.

This quick cobbler was delicious!  The berries worked surprisingly well with the lemon zest and juice and gave the berries quite the zingy flavor.   A dollop of vanilla ice cream on top made it even better!  The cobbler was dangerously quick and easy to make.  Even more dangerous is the fact that I have a restaurant in the building so The DJ can run down and get two scoops of ice cream in an "emergency!!!"

All in all, the 400 degree dinner was a warming and wonderful winter meal and all made in the oven, keeping the kitchen warm and toasty.

Do you have a favorite winter time meal that you can just easily pop into the oven?  DO tell, darlings, La Diva wants to hear all about it!  Ciao for now!


kate lindenmuth said...

Will you come and make this meal for me? LOL, really, I am making my ingredients list now, because if you think it's chilly there, check the weather in Michigan! I will let you know how it turns out...darling!

LaDivaCucina said...

Thanks, Kate! I know, I know, remember I'm from Michigan too! I think it got down to high 40's late Saturday night...very cold for Miami! Do try the fennel gratin, it's to DIE FOR!

Buzz Kill said...

The neighbors in your building must love it when you cook. Really nice meal. I like what you did with the tenderloin. I usually just roast it, but searing it first and adding the sweet potatoes in a saute pan is a great idea. I know The Mrs. would dig on that because she's a big sweet potato fan.

What's cold in Miami - 60? We were down to 18 on Sunday. Bwahahaha

Boxer said...

You make a vegetarian start rethinking things when you cook like this. :-) I love the fennel with tomatoes and I actually clicked and printed that one.

Sorry things got "chilly" for you.

Thombeau said...

These posts are specifically designed to drive me crazy, aren't they? It all looks sooooo yummy!

BamaTrav said...

Now I want ice cream!!! Loves my Diva.

moi said...

That fennel gratin looks terrific. But I thought the same thing about the maters. I'll leave those off.

Brrr in Miami? Girl, while you were pool siding it today, i was slow blowing 2-foot drifts. I KNOW you just wanna come visit me in the winter time, don't you lie!

Roses said...

Oh man. That just looks so yummy. I think I might get the Ottolenghi cookbook...for Lawrence. He's a good cook and the recipes look totally yummy. And we were recently talking about cobblers too. Mmm....

I just wish it would warm up to 18'C. I'm so bored with the winter.

Velva said...

The oven was rocking at your house. The fennel gratin looks amazing...So does everything else, but it was fennel that really got my attention.


chickory said...

beautiful food. The eyes are the first to feast and you hit it out of the park! I dont love fennel or anything with a licorice taste...but I love the gratin. but its the pork tenderloin that makes my heart sing. it turned out beautifully!

I did a whole post dedicated to you - about curly's fried chicken. and it has a photo of the fried oreo.

happy weekend with the food network peeps!

Boxer said...

where's your cabbage? xoxoox