|Cooking for Mom and Dad|
May 30th, 2006
My parents were in town for two nights for the Folklife Festival, which was nice for many reasons, a chance to do a little cooking being one of them. Another being that my dad was there to pick up the pieces when the contractor for our kitchen renovation project totally bagged out on the project just as we were nearing the oft-delayed starting date. The condition of my kitchen is fuel for another post, but I think for now the words tiny, dilapidated, and nearly non-functional should give you a sense of my feelings on the matter. So three cheers for Dad who swooped in to save the day, getting us started in another direction and offering all sorts of free skilled labor to enable us to get the kitchen we want on our pitiful budget. And three cheers for my mom as well who's giving up all that free labor around her own place!
Anyway, crappy kitchen or not, there was cooking to be done over the long holiday weekend. It's always a fun challenge coming up with interesting low-carb dinners when my parents visit. It's good to have a reason to stretch from time to time and to get out of the rut of routine. Probably the most successful dinner was Monday night's One Pan Chicken, Cabbage and Fennel with Parsley Butter, and big green salad with crunchy radishes, green apple, and Fontina cheese. The chicken is a Nigella Lawson recipe that I've made several times before, this time I just omitted the potatoes. I was going to make a whole roast chicken but there were no whole chickens at the grocery store. I thought a pork roast would be a good fallback, but there were none of those to be seen either. It was very weird, I would have thought I was missing a section of the store if I didn't know the layout like the back of my hand.
The standout was definitely the cabbage and fennel dish, a recipe I had marked long ago from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, a cookbook with a few flaws but some standout recipes as well. This recipe calls for a Meyer lemon, which I didn't have, but I did have a nice small organic regular lemon which worked just fine. I also substituted a new spring onion for the recommended leek. The fennel and the cabbage emerge soft yet not mushy, and the butter helps meld all the tastes together. It was a delicious and simple dish that went very well with the tender roasted chicken.
Savoy Cabbage and Fennel with Parsley-Lemon ButterĹ small Savoy or other green cabbage
1 large fennel bulb, quartered
1 large leek, white part only
4 tbsp unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 tbsp chervil or parsley leaves
Cut the cabbage, fennel, and leek into very thin slices and wash. Donít dry.
Melt 1 tbsp of the butter in a large, wide skillet. Add the vegetables and sprinkle with Ĺ tsp salt. Cover the pan and cook gently for 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes and make sure thereís a little moisture so that the vegetables steam and donít brown. Meanwhile, simmer the lemon juice in a small skillet until only 1 tbsp remains. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter.
Finely chop the lemon zest with the chervil. Stir half into the butter and add the other half into the vegetables. Toss well with the herb butter, taste for salt, and season with pepper.
-Deborah Madison, Local Flavors