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Sunday Dinner // 22 January 2006

This dinner was extremely yummy, and pretty easy to make, as the only really time consuming part is poaching the pears after dinner. However, with all the crazy ingredients in the dish, it was fun to watch them simmer and taste the sauce as it progressed.

Shaved Fennel Salad from Craft of Cooking by Tom Colicchio (pg 110)
I'm in love with this book, it's a great read, and I tend to feel unworthy to try any of the recipies. This salad was a good ice breaker, and a definite keeper.
It says serves 6, but I say 3-4 max.
*note - the fennel will brown a bit if left uncovered, so prepare accordingly.

3 medium fennel bulbs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I didn't use close to that much)
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
fennel fronds, for garnish (optional)

Core the fennel and remove any discolored outer layers. Slice the fennel as thin as possible (this is most easily done with a mandoline). Dress the fennel with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve with fennel fronds, if desired.

Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta
I originally found this recipe from the Sept 04 issue of Real Simple. I've altered it a bit, adding the dried bread, tomato variations and extra garlic.
You can find a delightful bag of dried, seasoned, bite size bread slices at Whole Foods for about 5 bucks. I can't tell you how many times I use this for cooking or appetizer emergencies. Perfect for french oinion soup, brushetta, and for soaking up the tomato juices in this dish.
serves 4 nicely

2 large yellow tomatoes
1 large orange tomato
2 large red heirloom or 3 roma tomatoes
-cut tomatoes into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (frozen in fine)
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups Feta, crumbled
large artisan croutons or dried bread pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish. Spoon the olive oil and garlic over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper generously, toss. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven, and stir in the shrimp, parsley, lemon juice. Sprinkle with the Feta. Add croutons along sides and on top of the mixture - don't stir in, but bury enough to soak up some juice but also brown nicely on top.
Place back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked. Serve warm with crusty bread, and a side of sauteed spinach.

Carre Des Feuillant's Honey Poached Pears in Beaumes-De-Venise from The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells (pg. 252)
This is an amazing desert, fun to make, low in fat and soooooo yummy. In the book Patricia Wells gives a recipe for Honey-Rosemary-Ginger Ice Cream. I am not yet that organized (or wanting) to make my own ice cream. I hunted down some Ginger Ice Cream - from Trader Joes no less - that seemed to work great for me.
*note - we were all chatting so much I forgot to peel the pears. I took a conscensus at the table and everyone agreed it was fine with the skin on...
4-8 servings

4 large fresh pears, peeled, stems intact
1/2 cup mild honey
1 1/2 bottles Beaumes-de-Venise or other sweet muscat-based wine
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and gently scraped out
4 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
8 allspice berries
two 3 inch sticks cinnamon
Ginger Ice Cream

1. In a large saucepan that will hold the pears snugly, combine all the ingredients except the ice cream. Bring just to a simmer over moderate heat, and simmer just until the pears are cooked through, 15-20 minutes. (Do not cover.) Using a slotted spoon, very gently turn the pears from time to time so they are evenly coated.

2. Remove the pan from heat, and using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a large shallow bowl. Set it aside.

3. Strain the liquid into another saucepan; discard the rosemary, spices, and vanilla bean. Place it over high heat and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. The liquid should be light and syrupy. Allow the liquid to cool slightly; then pour it over the cooled pears. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.

4. To serve, cut each pear in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, on a small chilled desert plate. Serve with ice cream, spooning the liquid over the ice cream and pears.

Happy Eating!!

**feel free to leave questions or comments if you've tried and of these recipies - or have some of your own!!!