Sunday, January 16

52 Flavors Challenge- Week 2

Here we are kids. Week 2. Fennel.

Let's do the damn thing.

First of all, I want to give a giant thank you for all the comments and tweets when I announced the challenge last Sunday. I got quite a few awesome recipe ideas and everyone's enthusiasm for this project was infectious! (the good kind of infection though, like laughter or lighting up a room with your smile. Not like the ebola virus or Hemorrhagic fever or anything. That'd just be gross.)

Here's a sampling of a few fennel insights I received:

  • Erin from the QQ Facebook Page- I also don't want to claim that I have the best recipe for fennel...but I have the BEST recipe for fennel! And it's a pizza...a Caramelized Onion and Fennel Pizza topped with Fontina! It is from Martha Stewart. It is a summertime recipe that says to grill the pizza, but you could easily put the toppings on any pizza crust and bake it! I actually crave fennel because of this recipe, and I'm not usually a fan of that anise-licorice type flavor.

  • Cori from the QQ Facebook page- Tomato soup with fennel

  • @FritosnFoie from Twitter- slice fennel VERY thinly and toss in a vinaigrette, it's delish! Or roast it until soft with olive oil, salt and pepper!

  • Danielle- this Cannellini and Sausage Gratin recipe

  • Ashley-I suggest eating fennel alone and after your dinner. It's yummy!

  • Hilary- I love fennel cut in thin strips and roasted at 400 degrees with salt, pepper, olive oil until golden brown. When you think its about half way done sprinkle as much Parmesan cheese on top as you like and wait for it to become crunchy and golden brown.

  • Britchickruns- only eat fennel if it's cut into tiny TINY skinny pieces and roasted, so it's like...crumb like. THEN it's good :)

  • Recipes in hand, Sean and I set out to the grocery store to pick up the supplies and get cooking. It wasn't until we were walking aimlessly up and down the produce aisle did we realize neither one of us had any idea what fennel actually looked like. I knew a lot of people said it was similar to celery so I kept an eye out for anything resembling the long stalks. I finally asked someone who worked there to point me in the right direction and lo and behold, this is what I found!

    Okay, I really wish someone told me it looks like a hand. Unless I am the only creeper out there who immediately stuffed it down my sleeve and pretended to have hands made out of fennel. And proceed to walk around the grocery store pretending to cut things like I was "Marie Fennelhands".

    Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees this. Right? Right?!

    Once we got it home (and I stopped scaring people on the street with my green leafy fingers), it was time to figure out how to cook it. We decided to try it two different ways: the popular roasting method with olive oil that so many people raved about, and then a Jamie Oliver recipe that included baking it in a pouch with garlic, butter, and vermouth. (Like I said before, when in doubt, drown it in butter)

    I started by cutting the long stem-like tops off so only the giant bulb on the bottom was left. I then cut from top to bottom, dividing the fennel in large sections.

    At this point, you can continue slicing to make the pieces thinner or leave it as is. For the roasting method, we wanted them to be thinly sliced, almost like an onion, so they'd get nice and crispy and left the rest alone for the Jamie Oliver recipe.

    From here it was simple, in one bowl the fennel was tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper

    and in a pan, I layered the rest with the garlic, salt, pepper, and butter before coating everything in vermouth and covering it with wax paper.

    Now, it was time to wait. So what's a girl to do when she's got 30 minutes to kill while her fennel roasts? Oh, I know! Hmmmm, what's this red wine doing here?

    I better check it to make sure I like its flavor too...

    Yep. Still delicious.

    While I chugged sampled my wine, I kept an eye on the oven to watch the fennel's progress.

    Don't you love how teeny tiny our oven is? and how there is no window to peek in and check on your food? I'd give you the official recipe I used, but at the part where it'd usually say preheat oven to 425 degrees, I'll have to sub in stick hand in oven with lighter, and turn knob to the "big flame" symbol. (You know, as opposed to the "little flame" symbol, which we only use for baking and light steaming. This is how we roll up in here)

    Finally, it was finished.

    Time to try it...

    I like it! I like it!

    It definitely has a very interesting flavor. I can understand why people kept comparing it to licorice. I kept going back and forth between the roasted version and the steamed in vermouth version and I liked them both equally. Chalk 1 up to the foods I like category! Next time I am in the States, in a regular sized kitchen with access to my pizza stone and Trader Joe's Garlic and Herb dough, the first recipe I will be making is the Fennel and Fontina Cheese Martha Stewart Recipe. I can just imagine it's phenomenal. If someone makes it, can you send me some pictures so I can drool all over my keyboard please?

    Next week's flavor: Indian. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm scared for this one. I am going to tackle the infamous Indian food cuisine. Living in London, it is surprising I've never had it. (I didn't realize until I moved here that the UK has such a large Indian influence in its cooking). This week, I will be attempting to make some form of Indian food at home as well as venture out somewhere in London to try it. If you have any recipes that you love, please pass them along! This is going to be completely out of my comfort zone. Ginger, curry, masala, oh my!

    52 Flavors Tally:
    Foods I like: 1 (Fennel)
    Foods I dislike: 1 (Figs)
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