Birds, bees, and fennel ice cream

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who, confronted with an open bottle of wine in their kitchen which they know they will not get round to drinking (because of a line-up of dinner engagements elsewhere for the next few days, for example), will let that bottle stand there until garbage collection day and then get round to throwing it out. Then there are those who, confronted with the prospect of wasting an opened bottle of wine, will go out and buy ingredients valued at three times what they paid for the bottle of wine, and make coq au vin.

I belong to the latter.

Just this week, I have allowed myself to be bullied (by myself) into making a string of things just to prevent wasting half a bottle of anything.

It all started (well, this round) with the coq au vin, which I thought turned out so well that we needed someone round to help us eat it, rather than simply getting stashed in the freezer. It was a work day, so I did the ungodly thing of buying ice cream (because you can’t have someone round and not feed them dessert). But I had some Milk Bar milk crumbs and pretzel crunch in the freezer (as one does), so I thought if I just made some malted fudge sauce to add to the mix, I could still pass off dessert as home-made sundaes.

Fudge sauce requires half a cup of cream, leaving the other half cup nagging me in the fridge for the next few days.

I gave in and made Nigella’s salted caramel sauce, thinking that if a sailor should stop by for dinner (this happens in our life), we could have ice cream with hot salted caramel sauce.

The sailor did indeed arrive, but I had by then used half of the caramel in some killer brownies, which obviated the need for ice cream.

Now I was stuck with half a cup(ish) of caramel. The only clever thing to do here was to make these oaty salted caramel chocolate bars, telling my husband that they were gourmet flapjacks (obviously not pancakes).

I was disappointed with the not-quite-flapjacks, but now found myself in possession of essentially a large oatmeal cookie, just begging to be broken up and become the crust of some kind of pie. Hmm, what pie actually demands that you bake a giant oatmeal cookie in order to break it up for the crust? Christina Tosi, you devil you.

The evil crack pie (which is now stashed in the freezer, awaiting a suitable occasion) uses four egg yolks, leaving me with four egg whites. So I’ve had no choice but to whip up a batch of batter for David Lebovitz’s chocolate-coconut macaroons, to be baked at some appropriate point in the future.

All of which brings us to the fennel ice cream. I ate this at a magnificent lunch at Overture a few days ago (with chocolate fondant – an inspired pairing). So when I was shopping for dinner yesterday, having settled on a lamb stew, the obvious choice was to make a dish of lamb and fennel braised in milk. I didn’t use all the stalks, so …


One thing leading to another – nature is fantastic, isn’t it?

Of course my husband misses the point and teases me about being a cheapskate who just can’t throw anything away. And so he should. If he’d like to go bed hungry.

Now, what’s next for the limp celery in the fridge?

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