Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mushrooms with Fennel

I made mushrooms with fennel for Valentine's Day, along with a pork roast and spinach salad. My husband is somewhat old fashioned. He is very good about remembering holidays, bringing flowers for our anniversary, etc. etc. Valentine's Day was on Monday, and he had been out of town all weekend. So I decided he deserved to have dinner made for him. I left him a note to that effect on the white board in our kitchen, along with instructions to call me with his cousin's address in New York City.
Cousin had left her exercise clothes at our house, so I determined I would send them back to her. I only have two lunch periods a week where I have enough time to go to the Post Office, stand in line, and watch the other patrons go up to the counter and slowly transact their complicated business. When I got to the Post Office and entered the long line in back of a woman who had her window washing equipment with her, I hadn't heard from him. He also seemed to be between home and office and not answering his cell phone. Luckily, Cousin is a person of sufficient standing that her work address shows up when her name is googled on a cell phone. So I was saved the torture of having to go back to the Post Office another day.
My husband likes pork, so I bought a pork roast and used a recipe from The Blueberry Hill Farm Cookbook, a cookbook from the 60s full of anecdotes about taking fried egg sandwiches on early morning hikes. The cook embeds slivers of garlic into the roast, and then places it on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Then, add about half a cup to a cup of water, and put into a 350 degree oven.
This dish consists of onion, fennel, and mushrooms sauteed in butter with a cream sauce. It takes all of 15 minutes to prepare.
We ate in the dining room with the candles lit. He brought me a red Valentine's candy heart, and truffles from See's Candy of California. This was actually one Valentine's Day where I got goodies from my students, which I deeply appreciated, but did not expect. The parents at my school are largely hard working immigrants, or equally hard working native born people of low income. In the past, I have gotten cards, and one year, a parent bought me a mug with hearts on it for Valentine's Day. This year, two children brought me and my co-worker candy and one child bought a rose! Who knew?

Mushrooms with Fennel

5 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fennel root, diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fennel leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sour cream

1. Melt four tablespoons of the butter. Saute the onion and fennel root in the butter until wilted and tender, but not browned. Add the parsley and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about five minutes.
2. Melt the remaining butter in a small pan and blend in the flour. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly, one minute. Add the fennel leaves and pour over the mushroom mixture. Stir.
3. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Blend together the egg yolk and sour cream, and stir into the mushroom mixture. Reheat but do not allow to boil. Makes six servings.

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