Roasted and Raw Citrus Fennel Salad

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot of since returning to work full time is roasting vegetables at night, after dinner, while I’m on my evening stroll. Read More

Isn’t Stalking Fun?

This week I’m co-hosting a weekly blogging event with my good friend Selma @selmastable that has become a fondly anticipated part of my week, maybe the only fondly anticipated part of my week these days as I am, ahem, up to my ears in self promoting and self-selling as I stalk out a job.  I’m stalking attorneys, stalking my fellow party goers at Fiesta Friday #50 to see what they’ve brought, so I might as well be stalking in my kitchen. Read More

Apple-Lakrids Pie (Apple + Black Liquorice) with Rye Crust

I’m not sure what business apples have growing right now in Redondo Beach, CA, but when my husband texted me the other day, “Hey Sue, I just picked some apples from our school’s community garden tree, do you think you can make a pie?”, I figured, why not?  I’ll make an apple-black liquorice pie and bring it to Fiesta Friday #22. Just what you would do in the middle of summer, right?

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These apples were very odd-shaped!

The poor fella thinks he’s getting a normal All-American apple pie, but he’s not, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. See I’ve had black liquorice on my brain ever since reading about New York’s $10 latte — the libation made with the wonderfully sweet and pungent raw Danish black liquorice powder called Lakrids, served at Budin, and I wanted to see if I could incorporate the flavor of black liquorice into a pie.

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I thought since fennel paired well with apples, that the flavor of wild fennel (which I thought was the same as liquorice) would pair well with apple in a pie.  Also my husband was really going to town on the black liquorice chews I’d bought for my homemade attempt at the $10 latte, so I thought he might like it in his apple pie!

It all started with our walk a couple weeks ago when we spotted acres of wild anise growing on the side of the road and the smell was making me dizzy (in a good way) . . . which led to wild fennel tea . . . and deviled eggs with fennel pollen.  Then I read about the Danish liquorice latte and made one at home earlier this week.

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Our Version of the Budin Lakrids Latte

As I was researching black liquorice, however, I was really surprised to find that it is not botanically related to fennel, even though the flavor is almost identical. The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. Most liquorice is actually used as a flavoring agent for tobacco.  Liquorice in candy/chew form is popular in Scandinavian countries, and in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink.

Liquorice is reported to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach ulcers, as well as bronchitis.  It is also used topically to treat skin disorders such as excema and psoriasis.  Moreover, liquorice extract is a known natural brightening agent for skin pigmentation disorders or irritation.

I thought the liquorice flavor, with apples, would pair nicely with a rye flour crust, so I made an all-butter crust with half whole grain rye flour (that I got, freshly milled, at San Francisco’s The Mill, a joint venture between Josey the Baker and Blue Bottle Coffee).

Here’s the Recipe:

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Peel and Core 4 medium sized apples

Slice Apples 1/4 inch thick and soak in water with juice of 1/2 lemon

Slice Apples 1/4 inch thick and soak in water with juice of 1/2 lemon

Prepare a Pie Crust using half all purpose flour, half rye flour, sugar, salt and butter.  See my lemon meringue pie recipe for a standard pie dough recipe.

Prepare a Pie Crust using half all purpose flour, half rye flour, sugar, salt and butter. See my lemon meringue pie recipe for a standard pie dough recipe.

After pre-baking pie crust, fill with filling:  4 oz. black licorice, 1 Tbps Lakrids powder, 2 egg yolks and 1 egg blended for 2 minutes in a blender.

After pre-baking pie crust, fill with filling: 4 oz. black liquorice, 1 Tbps Lakrids powder, 2 egg yolks and 1 egg blended for 2 minutes in a blender.

Toss Apple slices with a pinch of flour and sugar and water and place over licorice filling

Toss Apple slices with a pinch of flour and sugar and water and place over licorice filling

Cover pie with foil or parchment and cook for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Uncover and cook at 375 degrees for 20 more minutes.

Cover pie with foil or parchment and cook for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Uncover and cook at 375 degrees for 20 more minutes.

Let the pie cool for at least 1/2 hour.  Serve with raw apple slices and raw fennel fronds if you like, which nicely brightens the earthiness of the rye crust.

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*Update:  he liked it!

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Deviled Eggs with Smoked Trout and Fennel Pollen

Foeniculum_vulgare_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-148A few days ago we were taking a long walk through Palisades Park in Santa Monica, to the “totem pole” at the north of the park, then down through the canyon and back home.  On this route and throughout Samo Canyon there is an abundance of wild fennel (anise).  It’s everywhere and the smell is literally intoxicating.

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Here in California, fennel is considered a weed, albeit a delicious one! You are probably familiar with the fennel bulb and seeds, but the flowers are also edible and the pollen is a supernatural, aromatic spice. If you’re fortunate enough to live near wild fennel, take advantage of the opportunity to forage.  This is a particular imperative when you consider that the price of fennel pollen is nearly as expensive as saffron.  This is because it takes hundreds of fennel flowers to produce even a small amount of the pollen.  The flavor is incredible, like taking the fennel seed, sweetening it and then intensifying it a hundred times. In an article for Saveur magazine, Peggy Knickerbocker wrote, “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” She writes:

“I first encountered fennel pollen in the Tuscan village of Panzano-in-Chianti, where butcher Dario Cecchini harvests it from fennel growing wild in the region and uses it to flavor the pork and poultry that he sells. Its heady, honeylike, herbaceous aroma was so intoxicating that I bought several bags of the stuff. Back home in San Francisco, I sprinkled a pinch of it on fish before grilling. I scattered a bit over roasted vegetables, and then I tried it on a pork roast. The effect, in every case, was positively transformative.”

Fennel also has purportedly amazing health benefits, including relieving respiratory ailments, improving digestion and immunity, and improving your libido and decreasing your appetite!!!  Read all about them here.  Last week I made a tea using wild anise fronds and seeds, with honey and lemon.  It was very floral and delicious and it really did have some digestive benefits I noticed.

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Then, as I read more about various uses of the whole plant, I decided to take a massive foraging walk to harvest some fennel pollen and seeds.

High summer is a busy time if you are into fennel because the plant is setting seeds and is in full flower. What you do is gather the flowers, tie the stems together, and place them in a paper bag in a dry place, preferably one that gets a little sun.  As the flowers dry the pollen will fall off.  You can also of course dry them on newspaper or parchment paper outside, but be sure that the pollen doesn’t blow away!

Here is a wonderful deviled egg recipe using fennel poll that is very elegant and unique, perfect for a special occasion appetizer.

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Served with Bacon Of Course

 

Makes 6 eggs (12 egg halves)

Ingredients:

6 large eggs, hard-boiled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like Sir Kensington brand)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces smoked trout (Trader Joe’s sells a great canned version, but you could also go gourmet and purchase fresh)
Dill, chervil, parsley or other herbs to garnish (I used the very peppery Upland Cress leaves)

Pinch of Fennel Pollen

Good quality, strong and fruity olive oil

Preparation:

Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and a couple grinds of pepper. Using your hands, break up the trout into small pieces and add to the bowl. Mash the mixture together with a fork until very smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Fit a pastry bag with a large tip and fill with the yolk mixture. Pipe into the egg white halves and garnish with fresh herbs before serving.

Drizzle olive oil over eggs and a pinch of fennel pollen.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

The Art of Supper: Avocado Walnut Tartine

Big Colorful Bowl

Big Colorful Bowl

I like the word “supper.”  It just has a homey, civilized vibe.  Supper was traditionally known as a midday meal, the main meal of the day.  Now that the standard main meal of the day is at nighttime, supper became dinner.  My best childhood grade-school friend, Annette, was German and when I would go to her house after school (almost every day) to watch cartoons and play outside, her mother would be preparing supper, to be eaten at around 3 p.m.  The house always smelled so good!  Usually some type of stew or braised meat or hearty soup, some potatoes, maybe sauerkraut or a hot green vegetable, rye bread and a green salad were served.  Sadly, when I heard the clank of the plates as the supper table was set, that was my cue to journey home.

At my own home, if I came directly from school, my mother always served up a snack, but it was a snack and not a meal . . . usually orange sections with a little sugar on them, a glass of milk with date bread, or some pretzels with lebanon bologna (a tart, salami-type, but not hard, bologna with origins in Lebanon, Pennsylvania) and hard cheese.

My preference has always been to eat my main meal at midday, even though I either feel pressured or have some sort of filing deadline right around lunchtime so that at work half an hour, and a “snack” seems more acceptable.  I like to skip breakfast and be truly hungry when I eat . . . and I prefer a light dinner of some broth and a few noodles, and a vegetable, maybe a roasted beet with salt, or half a sweet potato.  If I eat a proper breakfast, at home or out, I don’t eat lunch and will have my default dinner of burger on top of greens.  I like to give my tummy some long hours to rest and digest between feedings, rather than snacking and eating little meals often throughout the day.

So my habit has become to work through the lunch hour and then around 2:30 or 3 p.m. disappear for an hour and enjoy a real meal, usually a meal I have packed for myself.  My default lunch is a couple of hard boiled eggs or a can of tuna, an avocado, a bag of leafy greens, and a couple tablespoons of fermented vegetable.  I usually mix everything together, throw a dollop of yoghurt and squeeze half a lemon in to moisten, crack some pepper on top, and eat with a spoon.  If I am really hungry and/or have worked out vigorously in the morning, I will lay a base of cooked grain on the bottom.  Often I will have a little thermos of broth too.

This week I wanted to make a salad based on the wonderful creation from Farmshop with arugula, big fat fresh walnuts, walnut oil, sherry vinegar, poached beets, avocado, shaved fennel and quinoa that I’ve eaten many times.  In place of quinoa I used wheat berries; in place of arugula I used purple mizuna; I added purple asparagus and asparagus “coins” (they remind me of lentils) I found at this week’s Farmer’s Market; and, I added yoghurt so the salad would “stick together” and I could place it on toast.  It. Was. Delicious.

Here’s a very rough narrative recipe:

First slice off 2″ of the tops of the asparagus, and then slice thinly about 2″ of the remaining (non-woody part) of the stalks.

Asparagus "Coins"

Asparagus “Coins”

Then roast your asparagus heads for about 5 minutes with olive oil and salt, poach a large beet and cut into sections, and assemble the rest of your ingredients: the asparagus “coins,” some leafy greens, an avocado, walnuts, wheat berries or another chewy grain, shaved fennel and some torn fennel fronds.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Place in a bowl with salt and pepper, toss with walnut oil and some sherry or other delicious vinegar.  The walnut oil is very important and I encourage you to find a good quality one and use it.  It adds such a wonderful flavor to the salad. Add a dollup of yoghurt (greek).

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Toss well.  I had to transfer to a bigger bowl so as to not spill all over my living room (photo studio) floor.

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What I like to do next is mound the mixture onto a piece of toast.

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In Tartine Form — I like to spoon up my salad with torn pieces of bread, but tartines look better!

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It’s a little wooley beast of a tartine!

 

Lazy Person’s Lemon Farro Muffins with Golden Raisin Embellishment

This is what I do with my leftover citrus after I’ve squeezed the living daylights out of it:

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