First of all apologies for not being on my blog for the last two weeks, but it is winter in South Africa and I took my winter hibernating break! Well, it wasn’t that much hibernating as I went on a short holiday to the Cape, which is the wine producing region of SA and I tasted some lovely wines from a variety of vineyards, will write later more in detail about it. Back again I worked on my spring and summer catering menu, which I will publish shortly, some of the photos didn’t come out the way I wanted it so I have to make some of the recipes again, style the food, re-shoot and hope for a better set this time around.
Everybody always rave about the liquorice smell and taste of fennel and yes it is the primary smell and taste, but fennel transports me back to Parys (not in France, but the one in the Free State province of SA) where my grandparents lived. The ground is rich from the fertile waters of the Vaal River and my grandfather’s mulch of good compost and around this time of the year during the winter school break we would go and visit. Above ground stood the proud fennel stalks with these beautiful and most delicate leaves, fragrant and sweet when you start to chew on it. O, and the the best part was when my grandfather would lift a bulb out of the ground, pure white and so inviting to use as best as you could.
One of my grandmother’s recipes was roasted fennel with the Sunday lamb roast and I thought I would like to repeat her recipe for you here as it really goes so well with about anything. All three recipes are vegetarian and part of my dedication to and support of Meat Free Mondays. Enjoy and hope they’ll bring you as much nourishment both physically and emotionally and spiritually as they do for me! Woolworths and most of the good Fruit and Veggie Shops have these fat bulbs available at the moment, so pack them in and try these recipes for Meat Free Monday!
Oven Roasted Fennel
- 3-4 large fennel bulbs
- 60ml olive oil
- 40ml balsamic vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Additional olive oil
- Cut the long stalks off and quarter the bulbs lengthwise.
- Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic and rub the fennel quarters with this mixture and then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle some of the additional oil on your baking sheet, arrange the fennel on the tray and bake in the oven for 40-50minutes at 180°C.
- Serves about 4-6 people and great with a roasted chicken, fish or beef.
This is a wonderful terrine and goes well with trout and salmon. It can be served cold or once sliced you can pan fry the slices if you would prefer it hot. The great advantage of this recipe is that you must make it the day before as the terrine needs a good 24hours to set in the fridge. If you want to you can add more layers of other vegetables such as spinach leaves or ribboned carrots that have been blanched. It will add flavour and colour.
- 6 – 8 medium potatoes (choose a waxy variety which will give you the sticky type of consistency)
- 1 Fennel bulb
- 1 punnet (250g) of Shitake Mushrooms
- 5ml crushed garlic
- 125ml Milk
- 150g Butter
- 1ml Grounded Fennel Seeds Salt & Pepper to taste
- Additional olive oil
Potatoes: Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil in salt water until soft but still firm. While waiting for potatoes to cook, drizzle some olive oil in a 220x110x65mm loaf tin, with your fingers rub the oil to cover the whole pan and then line with about two lengths of perforated glad wrap, some of the glad wrap must overlap the pan to cover the terrine once made. Also finely chop a good handful of the fennel leaves to be added to your mash. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove and drain and make your mash by adding salt, pepper and the ground fennel seeds as well as 75g of the butter and adding the milk as needed. You need a fairly firm mash, so add just enough milk to make the mash bind together. You’ll need 700g of mash to make the terrine. Set a side.
Mushrooms: Remove the stems of the mushrooms and then heat 75g of butter in a pan and add some olive oil as well. Once the oil is hot place the mushrooms bottoms down in the pan and fry, once they have absorbed all the oil and butter and start to smell smoky, turn around and fry until soft. Once fried, add salt & pepper to taste and the garlic, set aside on paper towels to allow excess water to drain away.
Fennel: Remove the stalks and wash. Reserve a good bunch of the fine hair like leaves if the fennel to be chopped and added to your mash. With a mandolin slicer, thinly slice your fennel lengthwise. Bring 2 litres of water, 10ml salt and 5ml lemon juice to the boil. Once the water is boiling, blanch the sliced fennel for 3-4 minutes, remove and refresh in cold water. Set aside.
To assemble: Spread 220g of the mash in the bottom of the loaf tin. Then layer the whole mushrooms. Spread another 220g layer of mash. Now add your layer of blanched fennel. Finally spread the remaining 260g of mash on top of the fennel layer. Take the overlapping pieces of glad wrap and cover your terrine. Once covered, use your hands and firmly press the terrine to ensure that you have a well compacted terrine. Refrigerate for 24hours. After the refrigeration, remove your terrine from the loaf tine, the glad wrap should make it very easy to remove, set and slice on a platter and decorate with some reserved fennel leaves. Serve about 6-8 portions.
Fennel & Potato Pot Pie
This is such and easy recipe and can also be made well in advanced. If I don’t serve it on its own as part of a vegetarian dish, I like to serve it with roasted pork belly or mackerel. There is a little cheating in terms of the pastry, but still a great way to present it to your guests. Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your ramekins.
- 1 roll of puff pastry 400g
- 1 egg
- 5ml Maldon Salt (it must be the large flaky salt)
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 3ml fennel seeds
- 5-6 spring onions
- 250g sliced shitake mushrooms
- 2ml crushed garlic
- 50g butter and 30ml olive oil
- 125ml vegetable or chicken stock
- 60ml dry white wine
- 30ml Cognac or good brandy
- 125ml double cream or Crème Fraiche
- Salt & Pepper to taste
For the Pastry: Defrost and thaw your pastry. Flour a work surface well, unroll the dough onto the flour and using a cookie cutter, cut 4-6 forms that will fit on top of your pie. Transfer to a baking tray, egg washes the pastries and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 15-20minutes until golden brown and puffed. Set aside. Note: You can reheat them for a few minutes in the oven if they have cooled down too much.
For the Pie: Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil in salt water until soft but still firm. Slice the fennel with some of the stalks and the spring onions. Fry them in the oil and butter mix with the fennel seeds and mushrooms until soft. Add your stock of choice, cognac, white wine and potatoes and reduce by half. Add your cream and seasoning and reduce the liquid until your have a stew like consistency. Remove from the heat and divide into individual ramekins. Set a pastry on top and serve immediately with pan-fried ostrich fillets, duck or beef fillet or smoked mackerel.