6 quick ways with Fennel
by Chris Halpin
Fennel is one of those things that I can’t explain why I like so much or why I had such a hard time settling on only six recipes to write about. As a general rule, I hate liquorice flavours! I would never drink pernod or sambuca! Maybe it’s the overtones of celery that temper it for me. At any rate – if you like liquorice, then you will love these recipes. If you’re on the fence, then try these recipes and you will be a convert.
Fennel and fig flatbread with St. Agur, black pepper
Fennel and figs meld in such a way, that it is a perfect foil for blue cheese. Preheat the oven to 450°. Shave ½ a fennel bulb, place in a bowl with 2 T. olive oil, ½ t. salt and toss to evenly coat, set aside for later. In a large bowl, put 1 c. warm water, 1 t. salt, 1 t. sugar, 2 t. instant yeast and stir to dissolve. Stir in 2 c. flour and work into a ball. Coat your hands with olive oil and stretch the dough into a disc and place on a baking pan that you have sprinkled with cornmeal. Evenly spread ¼ c. fig jam and arrange the fennel, drizzle 2 T. whipping cream and dot with little bits of St. Agur blue cheese, about ½ c., generously grind black pepper over top and place in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until well browned and bubbling. Serves 2 to 4.
Lemon fennel chicken with peppers and mushrooms
Preserved lemon is key to getting an intense lemon flavour, without it being too acidic. Preheat oven to 375°. Finely chop the rind of 1 preserved lemon and place in a bowl. To this add 1 t. ground fennel seed, ½ t. chile flakes, 1 t. salt, 2 garlic cloves, finely minced, ¼ c. olive oil, mix well. Add 4 chicken thighs and rub this mixture into the skin. Then add 1 fennel bulb, sliced, 1 red pepper, sliced and 12 mushrooms cut in half. Give this a quick mix-up, place all in a casserole dish. Place in the oven and roast for about 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken skin is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. Serves 2 to 4.
Shaved fennel bulb and radicchio salad with grapefruit and seared scallops
This is a fantastic starter salad. When I sear scallops, I use a technique that I learned from a person from Digby. I sear them from almost frozen. This allows you to get a beautifully browned crust, but still juicy and tender inside. Remove 6 large scallops from the freezer and run under cold water to remove any ice that may have collected on them. Place on a paper towel for later. Into a bowl put ½ a fennel bulb, finely shaved, 1 small radicchio, finely shaved, ¼ c. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, mix well and set aside. With a knife, cut the rind away from 1 grapefruit, then cut out the segments and place on a plate for later. Place a pan over high heat and allow it to get very hot before adding ¼ c. canola oil. Sprinkle the scallops with 1 t. ground cumin seed, salt and pepper to taste. Place them into the pan and sear both sides for about 2 minutes or until evenly browned and crispy. Remove from pan and allow them to rest for about a minute. To plate, arrange some of the salad onto 2 plates, top with 3 scallops each, divide up the grapefruit segments and arrange over top of the scallops and drizzle with mirin. Serves 2.
Pork chops with fennel, green olives and black plums
The fennel, olives and plums make a wonderful melange that seems more like a sauce. Salt and pepper 2 pork chops. Place a skillet over high heat and allow the pan to get very hot before adding 2 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil. When the butter has melted, sear the pork on both sides for 4 minutes each. Reduce the heat to medium and add ½ a fennel bulb, diced, 1 shallot, diced, and sauté for about 5 minutes, turning the chops from time to time. When the pork is cooked to your liking, remove from the skillet and set aside. To the skillet add 1 c. green olives packed in brine, 2 under-ripe plums, sliced and sauté for a minute before adding ¼ c. white wine and 2 T. lemon juice, stir and adjust the salt. To serve, arrange the chops on 2 plates and spoon some of the sauce over each. Serve 2.
Chicken sausage with fennel, cannellini beans and grape tomatoes
This is the quintessential dinner in a pan, with an Italian twist. Drain and rinse 1 can of cannellini beans and set aside. In a skillet over medium heat put 2 T. butter, and allow this to melt before adding 4 chicken apple sausages, brown them on both sides for about 3 minutes each. Then add 1 fennel bulb, rough chopped, 1 small onion, rough chopped, 1 t. salt and sauté for another 5 minutes, also turning the sausages from time to time. When the fennel is tender, add the beans and 2 c. grape tomatoes. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer for another 5 minutes. When the sausages are cooked, remove from the skillet and set aside. To the skillet add 4 basil leaves, thinly sliced, 1 garlic clove, minced and give it a stir to evenly mix. Serve 2 to 4.
Fennel orange whoopie pies with brown butter icing
Whoopie pies are cookies that want to be cake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Into a bowl put 2 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. ground fennel, a pinch of salt, mix well. Into another bowl, put ¼ c. orange marmalade and 1 egg, whisk together. Then add ½ c. canola oil, ½ c. water and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drop 24, 2 T. sized balls of batter. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and they spring back when you poke the centre. Remove and allow to cool. While the pies are baking, make the icing. Into a pot, put ½ c. butter, place over medium-high heat and allow the butter to brown, about 5 minutes or until it smells nutty and is a medium dark brown. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ t. vanilla and 2 c. icing sugar. When the whoopie pies have fully cooled, smear some of the icing on one cookie and sandwich with another.