How Do I Use Fennel?

Lately I’ve been buying fennel and wasting it. It’s good a lot of ways, but I usually just use a bit and forget about the rest.

It’s been quite balmy here in Portland and today, with this dreary rain, all I wanted to do was crawl into my pajamas, binge watch tv and eat soup. “I only have fennel. That’s a terrible idea for soup.”

Wrong. Fennel was the best idea for soup.

I started with a chicken broth. Dark meat, boiled in salt, pepper, tarragon and lemon thyme. (You might have noticed I use those herbs a lot. Waste nothing!!)

In a different pan, I creamed corn. I mean like really creamed it like my Nana from Alabama would do. Added some butter and salt and then added some milk and let that fizzle out. Then a couple splashes of white wine. To that I added a sweet onion and fennel and caramelized it. Added garlic, more butter and sprinkled flour on it to make a roux to thicken the broth.

Then, I added potatoes to the broth and let them cook. After that was done, I added allllllll the caramelized goodness to the broth and let it thicken up.

This would make a KILLER base for Clam Chowder. Knowing how to utilize fennel is a beautiful thing and I think we could all use a little more soup in our hearts.image.jpeg

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Chicken life.

Well the chickens have started producing eggs, which I mentioned earlier.
They’re not mine, but I was told as a reward for watching them, I was allowed to eat any eggs they produce. As I also mentioned before, I am allergic to eggs and told them I would pass.
However, today, I told myself I was crazy for not experiencing a free range, straight from the hen’s hoo-ha fresh egg.
I wanted to keep it simple to be able to taste the egg and get a real sense of the difference from store bought.

I made my favorite childhood breakfast, which was an egg on toast.
Cooked it in brown butter and olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of that gouda.
Buttered the toast with brown butter.
The end result is softer and lighter. If that makes any sense?
Not at all rubbery, like I remember eggs being. Less sulfuric, too.
I think everyone should try it at least once, especially if food is your passion.

Pasta Tonight.

My friend made pasta the other day. Something I’d been thinking about, but she beat me to it.
I ended up researching it very briefly the other day just to see how difficult it would be without a machine. I’m not into complicated things. Why do you think I haven’t made anymore bread or flødeboller?

It seemed easy enough to me. Hearing her feedback and reading some quick failed attempts, I decided I would try it.
I took advice from one recipe to ration the eggs to yolk, but decided I wanted to make less pasta. With one cup of flour and 1 egg and 2 yolks and .5 additional white, it still made quite a lot.
I ate a small helping, and a friend ate a small helping. TONS left over.

For the sauce, I decided on a cream  with a dollop of sun dried tomato pesto, orange bell pepper, zucchini, and one clove of garlic and a drop of white wine vinegar. I used some butter and olive oil, and a really nice gouda that errs on the side of cheddar. Threw in an Italian chicken sausage and garnished with some fresh tarragon and lemon thyme.

It was quite good, and incredibly easy. Just throw in some things here and there.
I do have a terrible secret, though. I’m allergic to eggs, and, well, I’m feeling some side effects, so I probably won’t be trying this again. I have to be kind to my body and limit my egg intake to strictly baked goods and the occasional french toast.

Any way, here are some pictures.
The chicken that appears in most of my photos is Cosmo and belongs to my dear friends. She started laying eggs yesterday!

Gloat.

I’m really good at cooking and creating.

Today there was a killer deal on organic chicken halves. 4 for $5!
I took some tarragon, lemon thyme and 3 small cloves of garlic and roasted it with a healthy amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.

While that was roasting, I tried to translate a danish recipe to english and make a tart/bread/pastry with fresh apricots and tarragon. In the batter, I used lemon zest, which the recipe called for. I decided to use the tarragon to play off of the lemon and licorice obsession that the Danes have.
My friend just returned from Copenhagen and we’re having a coffee and licorice party tomorrow.
I’m very, VERY excited for it.

After that came together, rather quickly I might add, I threw together a quick focaccia.
I’m not really a fan of figs, but they looked so beautiful at the market, and they remind me of my Nana who recently passed. It was her birthday on Friday and I didn’t really get to honor her, so I am doing so today.
I caramelized a sweet onion and fennel in olive oil. Sliced thin some mushrooms, zucchini, and an heirloom tomato. I quartered the figs and spread them around.
I used the same herbs in the focaccia and lemon zest. Black pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on top, pink salt. More zest and lemon thyme.

While that was happening, and everything else was baking, I boiled some small golden potatoes with the skin on. I put some of the sliced mushrooms in the pan juice from the chicken while it rested. Squeezed the roasted garlic into a food processor, with the lightly cooked mushrooms, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, few spoonfuls of the pan juice, a very nice and sharp gouda, salt, pepper and more lemon zest and lemon thyme, I pureed then added the potatoes.
It is at a cooler temperature, which allows the cheese to not melt, and adds more of that nice, nutty flavor throughout the potatoes.

I’m sorry for not inviting you over, but sometimes it’s just too good to share.

Menu Planning

I’m cooking a meal for one of my favorite families tomorrow. I’d promised them I would as a way to thank them for their hospitality while I looked for a job and slept on their couch.
One of them is moving away, and I was running out of time.

It’s been fun meal planning for it. I don’t usually plan meals, because I’m a mood eater and I have to see how I feel about eating something before I can eat it.
They’re mostly paleo, and while they said not to worry, I still want the challenge and to honor their diet.

I hope that it turns out well.
As most things, I’ve never cook it before or even tried it. Just an idea floating in my head.

Coconut Milk Fish over Saffron Rice, with a Raw Beet and Zucchini citrus salad.
Well, maybe I’ll blanche them. I’m excited about it because of fennel and herbs.

I’ll have pictures of it tomorrow or Monday, I hope! With reports from the front lines.