Giving thanks dinner: fennel crumble

Hi friends,

How was your thanksgiving? I hope it was full of gratitude, love and warmth. Mine was and I give thanks for that. I celebrated early because I needed to work on the actual day but being grateful is of course not bound to a date, is it? A dear friend came over and it was just the two of us enjoying the ease that comes after knowing each other for 15 years. My friend Francis was one of the first friends I made after moving to Holland and she has been a blessing to me in many ways. Thank you friend for your patience, love and deep kindness! May our friendship continue to thrive!

As it was just the two of us there was no need to go all overboard with food. Plus I was very tired from work these past couple of weeks so I wanted to make something that was easy but still special, delicious (obviously!) and warming. Immediatly I knew I needed to make one of my favorite dishes from another one of my food heroes, Yotam Ottolenghi from Ottolenghi in London. (I have quite a few food heroes, so be prepared!).

This traiteur/café is run by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi together with a bunch of other food nerds from all over the globe. Well,  actually by now the company has grown to 4 locations plus a new restaurant called Nopi. To say I regret not having been able to visit an Ottolenghi in person yet is the understatement of the decade. But this post being about gratitude I am on the other hand super grateful for the 3 cookbooks that came out of the incredible fertile minds of Yotam and Sammi.  Ottolengi cookbook, Plenty and just recently Jerusalem. Their story is as enchanting as their food and the stuff that legends are made of. Yotam and Sammi both grew up on either side of Jerusalem; Yotam on the Jewish and Sammi on the Palestinian.  Oblivious of each others existence they both were nourished on great homemade foods, and from what I gather,  by loving families only to meet decades later in London. They started a proffesional partnership and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

I thought long and hard on how best to describe Ottolenghi’s  food and english not being my first language made it even more difficult. As soon as I stopped trying to sound hip or cool, like most things in life it actually turned out to be really simple. Their food is just “delicious”. It gives me a cosy feeling looking at it, cooking it, serving it and eating it. Homely but in a very vibrant kind of way. In no way pretentious but always aptly displaying the abundance we are blessed with on this earth plane. Basically simple foods transformed to their very best by food nerds that double as food passionistas. There, I said it and I like!

So this favorite recipe of mine is in essence Vata’s paradise on a plate. It’s unctuos, creamy, warm, comforting and grounding. Mmmm, I feel all calm and centered just thinking about it. It’s a fennel crumble with ovenroasted mini vine tomatoes (I know, doesn’t just the name make your mouth water!). I have tinkered with it just a tiny bit to make it Ayurveda proof exchanging coconut cream for regular cream and using ghee in the crumble instead of butter. I also served it with a wonderful warm salad of kale and wafer thin slices of pumpkin which I will post the recipe of in my next post.

This recipe is also great for Pitta. Especially since I used coconut cream which is very cooling for Pitta. You may want to leave out the tomatoes if you suffer from a Pitta imbalance. Kapha, this is a real celebratory dish for you to eat on rare occasion. You might want to substitute soy cream for the coconut cream and make a crumble using a percentage of cornmeal instead of all wheat flour. I will work out a recipe for this and post it when I’m happy with it.

Happy thanksgiving everybody!

PS: Please forgive the crummy lighting in the photo’s. It is getting dark so early these days it’s hard to photograph in daylight all the time.

Fennel crumble (adapted from Ottolenghi cookbook)

For 3 to 4

Filling

  • 500 grams fennel in very thin slices (I used my cherished hand mandoline)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 fat garlic clove chopped finely
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs
  • 1/2 tablespoon himalaya rock salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 100 ml thick coconut cream
  • 10 to 15 vine tomatoes (cherry or plum) still on the vine

Crumble

  • 50 grams wholegrain spelt flour
  • 10 grams cane sugar
  • 30 grams ghee (solid)
  • 30 grams finely grated parmesan cheese (pitta substitute pecorino)

Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix all the filling ingredients except the whole thyme sprigs and the vine tomatoes in a bowl and transfer to a medium size ovenproof dish. Mine was 16 x 23 cm. Make the crumble by mixing all the ingredients by hand in a small glass bowl. The end result will resemble slightly wet sand. Sprinkle this on top of the fennel mixture than cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Now remove the foil and arrange the tomatoes still on the vine on top of the dish. Scatter the thyme sprigs on top and bake in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes start to just crack open and the crumble has a beautiful golden brown colour. Garnish with some roughly chopped parsley if you wish.

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