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Fennel


snowangel
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The seeds look perfectly ripe and very fat and should have a lot of flavor.

The best way to harvest them is to cut the main stem so they are long enough to fasten together and place them seed head down in a paper grocery bag, gather the top of the bag and the stems together and snug up with a rubber band. Put them in a warmish, dry place and leave them to dry for a couple of weeks.

You can shake the bag every so often and when you hear some seeds rattling about in the bag, they should be dry enough to knock off the heads.

Spread them on a baking sheet and finish the drying in a very low oven - 150° F. - for an hour or so.

This type of fennel can be cut back, after harvesting and will grow back next year. You can begin picking and using the fronds as long as you leave at least half on the plant. As I stated in my earlier post, this is a very hardy plant.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I like to "confit" fennel, cooking it slow in olive oil with maybe a little garlic and/or onion thrown in for flavor. Another thing to do is poach it in chicken stock and then top it with a little goat cheese and brown it under the broiler.

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It sure is hardy. It's like a weed. I wish my basil would grow like that. It wilts and turns yellow if you look at it cross-eyed.

I can't really find anything on it that looks like a bulb, just stalks and roots.

I think then that you are have the "wild" fennel. Let us know how the seeds turn out in use. The suggestions above for using the fronds and seeds are all good. I plan to incorporate them in my fennel when ours start up again. In a drought it all depends on the rain.

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I like to "confit" fennel, cooking it slow in olive oil with maybe a little garlic and/or onion thrown in for flavor. Another thing to do is poach it in chicken stock and then top it with a little goat cheese and brown it under the broiler.

You can also candy-coat it.

http://www.typetive.com/candyblog/item/sugar_coated_fennel/

The local middle eastern market sells them as does the Indian market in Palmdale.

http://www.sugarindia.com/xmastreat.htm

I have a "recipe" from a very old cookbook for "comfits" that are candy-coated fennel seeds or caraway seeds.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 3 years later...

I prefer the male fennel (round) to eat raw, I slice it extremely thin and dress with good oil, plenty of salt and tons of black pepper. The long fennels are female and I think better for cooking. The fronds and outer shell if fibrous I keep in the freezer and use in stocks (for fennel based stocks and related dishes or for fish cooking). Cooked fennel, slightly caramelized goes very well with pork and fish. I like also to use in stir-fries and keep it crunchy. Can make a very good soup. Can use in gratin dishes.

Edited by Franci (log)
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I posted this in the dinner thread a couple of nights ago.

original.jpg

Baby fennel with honey, blue cheese, lemon, and fig.

You need:

- 1 baby fennel per person, halved lengthwise

- good quality honey (I used Manuka honey)

- good quality blue cheese (St. Agur or Roquefort)

- lemon, fig

Preheat your oven to 180C. Panfry the fennel in butter until golden. Turn the fennel over, add some salt, then put the whole pan into the oven for 5 minutes. When cooked, drizzle honey on top, crumble over the blue cheese. Grate some lemon zest then add a small squeeze of lemon. Garnish with fennel fronds and fig.

Edited by Keith_W (log)
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I posted this in the dinner thread a couple of nights ago.

original.jpg

Baby fennel with honey, blue cheese, lemon, and fig.

You need:

- 1 baby fennel per person, halved lengthwise

- good quality honey (I used Manuka honey)

- good quality blue cheese (St. Agur or Roquefort)

- lemon, fig

Preheat your oven to 180C. Panfry the fennel in butter until golden. Turn the fennel over, add some salt, then put the whole pan into the oven for 5 minutes. When cooked, drizzle honey on top, crumble over the blue cheese. Grate some lemon zest then add a small squeeze of lemon. Garnish with fennel fronds and fig.

Excellent idea. Nice presentation. Thanks for posting the pic! I don't know if we'll get "baby" fennel ...

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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I prefer the male fennel (round) to eat raw, I slice it extremely thin and dress with good oil, plenty of salt and tons of black pepper. The long fennels are female and I think better for cooking. The fronds and outer shell if fibrous I keep in the freezer and use in stocks (for fennel based stocks and related dishes or for fish cooking). Cooked fennel, slightly caramelized goes very well with pork and fish. I like also to use in stir-fries and keep it crunchy. Can make a very good soup. Can use in gratin dishes.

I didn't know that there are male and female fennel ... I learn something here every day. Thanks!

 ... Shel


 

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I didn't know that there are male and female fennel ... I learn something here every day.

The majority of plants have male and female. Like the birds and the bees.Usually it is irrelevant in culinary terms. But I'm sure not irrelevant to the plants. That is why we need to protect bees. The plants don't go dating - they need a bit of assistance.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I think you can use it in place of celery (which I dislike) in many places.

Yes. This is one of our standard substitutions. For me this is a simple preference, while my wife shares your dislike for celery.

Fennel is quite mild, cooked, and improves any dish with a vegetable base that includes celery. Risotto would be our most frequent use. (I make risotto rarely enough that I always ask my wife for the recipe, then she reminds me that I never follow it.)

I do use some celery in stock. Fennel would get expensive.

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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I think you can use it in place of celery (which I dislike) in many places.

Yes. This is one of our standard substitutions. For me this is a simple preference, while my wife shares your dislike for celery.

Fennel is quite mild, cooked, and improves any dish with a vegetable base that includes celery. Risotto would be our most frequent use. (I make risotto rarely enough that I always ask my wife for the recipe, then she reminds me that I never follow it.)

I do use some celery in stock. Fennel would get expensive.

I third this - i.e. using fennel in many situations where one might use celery. It changes the taste profile (of course) but usually works very well. I do use it in small volumes of stock sometimes; or in soups or stews (as distinct from stock). Another pairing I like is a nice steak with sautéed (slightly caramelized/lightly browned) sliced or chunked fennel.

Try fennel instead of celery in a sofritto.

As others have said I occasionally have it very thinly sliced (raw) in a salad.

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But in, for example, a Chinese stir-fry dish that uses celery, I think it would change the flavor profile too much. Anyone who doesn't like licorice-y or anise-y flavors would certainly be turned off by it.

That said, I think fennel pollen is one of the great gifts to pork.

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But in, for example, a Chinese stir-fry dish that uses celery, I think it would change the flavor profile too much.

Agreed. However, Chinese celery is immensely better than "western" celery, one is already making a substitution. (Like bananas, where the one found in supermarkets is the least interesting of hundreds of alternatives.)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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But in, for example, a Chinese stir-fry dish that uses celery, I think it would change the flavor profile too much.

Agreed. However, Chinese celery is immensely better than "western" celery, one is already making a substitution. (Like bananas, where the one found in supermarkets is the least interesting of hundreds of alternatives.)

Yes, all true. Those who dislike licorice/anise flavors would not appreciate it. It often works well, as I mentioned, but may not in some circumstances. Just try it and/or envision the taste of the fennel versus the celery, taking into account whether it is Western celery or Chinese celery one is comparing it with. (For that matter there are many instances, IMO, where Chinese celery will overpower a dish where Western celery is usually used)

I do Chinese stir-fries with either Chinese or Western celery, depending on what I am making, what I am aiming for, what I have on hand, what I feel like, what makes sense, etc etc and it will vary depending on my mood, or the phase of the moon or whether my cat threw up again. ;-)

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As Franci notes above, it's great raw in salads and goes extremely well with black olives and oranges.

I had recently am amazing dish with orange juice braised fennel.

I used to slice fennel into rounds about half an inch thick, do the same with an onion, fry in olive oil and butter until well browned on both sides, then add orange juice and green olives. I really like it, but haven't done it in a few years.

Lately, I usually braise equal parts endive and fennel in some chicken stock.

Edited by davidkeay (log)
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A very lovely fennel salad has orange slices, very thin slices of fennel and red onion and dry black olives, and is dressed with fruity olive oil and a little sherry vinegar.

Fennel is also popular with fish and shellfish such as turbot, bream, salmon, lobster, crab, mussels, clams, scallops. You could pickle or ferment it and serve it with smoked fish as well. For example for 2kg mussels you can saute a few cloves of sliced garlic in olive oil, add thyme and 1/2 cup white wine, reduce by half, add 2-3 crushed tomatoes and a sliced bulb of fennel, reduce by half again, add a splash of Pernod and then steam the mussels, covered, over high heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

Confit or grilled fennel is a good accompaniment for game birds, lamb or pork and apples.

Fennel and brown lentils are nice together.

Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)
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Don't discard the fronds.

Put them in the bottom of a casserole, place a couple of pork chops/steaks on top and pour some cream over the lot. Sprinkle with salt and a few green peppercorns and cook at (I'm guessing - haven't done it for a while) 160°C until the meat is cooked through and gently browned on top. If all goes well, the cream will have thickened slightly (pour it off and encourage it in a pan if not) and it and the meat will have picked up fragrance from the fennel.

It's actually optional after all this whether you eat the fennel fronds, but we do.

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