It Just Sounds Good, Doesn’t It?
This weekend, D treated me to a splurge at the book store. I have a serious problem with buying books when I know going to the library is both a more economical and environmentally sound option. But since my coed days as a literature major, I’ve had the unfortunate propensity for writing in the margins any scurrying thoughts that come and go as I process a volume’s information. Libraries tend to frown on that kind of activity. Thus it has come to pass that I limit myself to visiting book stores only a few times a year to avoid getting a second job to support my “habit”. D has been nice enough to give me a fix from time to time, for which I’m deeply grateful as only an addict can be.
I’m relaying all this to you because I’m now the proud owner of Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden: Creative Gardening for the Adventurous Cook. Oh boy, oh boy!….they’ve got everything in there! I mean everything that the farm is growing, including the stuff that I’m discovering myself for the first time. There’s a whole section on kohlrabi, something most other cookbooks don’t even mention. I can already tell it’s going to be a fantastic reference source for my future posts. Included are loads of edible flower varieties and advice, so I’m hoping to pow-wow with Farmer Dave to get some of those growing on the farm.
The book’s section on fennel was indeed informative, although it ultimately did little to affect this particular post since I’d already settled on this week’s fennel dish. When I came across this recipe online, I thought to myself, “Boy, that just sounds so good, I’ve got to give it a try.” And indeed it was good, although a bit too sweet when I followed the original recipe to a “T”. So, I made a few adjustments before passing it along to you.
No doubt contributing to the dish’s tad-too-much sweetness was the funky wine I decided to use on a whim. The bright pink old school Chevy truck on a label is was just too fetching to pass up. The wine was quite good in that fruity, barefoot-and-I-don’t-care-about-pompous-pretense kind of way. However, it was likely a little too high in fruity sugar for this particular recipe. In the future, I’ll stick to my standard dry Riesling white wine to balance the flavors more.
FENNEL IN HONEY & WINE
Adapted from All Recipes
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and quartered
1/2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. white wine
1 1/4 t. honey
1 t. mustard seed
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. fresh minced herbs (thyme worked well for me)
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. orange juice (optional)
When trimming fennel, reserve a few fronds for garnish on the final dish.
In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil and add mustard seed. When seeds start to “pop” regularly (about a minute or so), remove skillet from heat. Being careful not to touch the hot oil with your fingers, place each fennel quarter cut side down in the skillet and rub it around to pick up the oil and some mustard seeds. When all quarters are covered with oil and seeds, place them all cut side up in a single layer in the same skillet as you heated the oil.
Pour stock and white wine gently over the fennel. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and minced herbs and then drizzle the honey evenly over the fennel.
Tightly cover the skillet with a lid or a piece of foil. Place over low heat and let fennel simmer for 50-60 minutes, turning over once after half an hour. Remove fennel from skillet when they are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork.
To the liquid remaining in the skillet, add the tablespoon of orange juice (if using) and bring it up to a boil before lowering the heat to medium. Stir regularly until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and pour over fennel quarters. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.
(serves 4 as side dish)