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. )
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.
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.
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.
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!