Following my recent post on the American food writer, Richard Olney, I'm having fun getting back into his books. I've got The French Menu Cookbook and Simple French Food- but have yet to read his autobiography, Reflexions; Ten Vineyard Lunches or Provence, The Beautiful Cookbook. He's a sophisticated cook, and there would be much to learn if you took the plunge and decided to go through The French Menu Cookbook bit by bit.
Here's Richard Olney's recipe for "Fennel à la Grecque", taken from The French Menu Cookbook. It will serve from four to six people. He's got it down as a "Simple Autumn recipe", although in England it might be just as suitable for the Summer. In these harsher Northern climes, Autumn usually makes me think of squashes, mushrooms, pheasant, game, chutneys. Bonfire smoke, fog, red poppies.
In a saucepan you assemble: 750g fennel (outer stalks removed, halved or quartered from top to bottom), 5 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of two lemons, one onion (finely sliced into rings), 2 cloves of garlic (lightly crushed), 8 to 10 coriander seeds, a pinch of fennel seeds, a bouquet garni, and salt.
Pour over boiling water to cover, and simmer, covered until the fennel is tender. Arrange the fennel in a deep serving dish, pour over the contents of the saucepan, and leave to cool. Serve cold, and sprinkle with finely chopped flat leafed parsley.
The brilliant thing about this very easy recipe is that you can you use the formula to cook other vegetables in a similar manner. Olney suggests using as an alternative: artichoke hearts, baby onions, celery hearts split in two, or cauliflower florets.