Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Unexpected

Apparently Mother Nature has not checked her calendar recently.  Yes, this photo is for real and was not photo shopped. An unexpected November snowfall at the lake. Now this seems wayyyyyyyyyyyy too early. Lucky yesterday we worked well into the dark of the evening raking leaves.

30 clever and easy ways to decorate your Thanksgiving table from buzzfeed.
Some ideas include
Ice Cream Cone Cornucopia

Pear Turkey

Fennel Bulbs
Cook's notes: I have noticed there seems to be a surge in popularity using fennel in a variety of recipes. It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses. The taste is similar to anise or licorice. 
Fennel seeds are a staple flavoring agent for baked goods such as cookies, bread and cakes. Use the leaves in salads. Sauté and roast the stems and leaves as a delicate vegetable dish. Fresh or dried leaves, if finely chopped, become a very good addition to meat and fish dishes. Also use the herb in spicy meat mixtures and sausages. The feathery fennel leaves have a milder taste than the seeds. Use them in fresh salads, soups and vegetables. It is particularly good with pork recipes, fish and stronger game dishes like wild boar. Salads, soups and vinaigrette sauces are improved with the finely chopped leaves. Use the seeds to flavor fish, cheese, vegetables and pastries. Italian cookery utilizes the fennel flavor in many classic recipes.

Pear and Fennel Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe pears, sliced about 1/8 inch thick 
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced paper thin (I use a mandoline) 
  • squeeze of  a lemon 
  • 1 small bag of mixed greens  
  • 1/3 cup, or so, toasted walnuts 
  • 1/3 cup, or so, crumbled feta or Parmesan cheese

Dressing Ingredients:
  • 2 parts white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 part maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 part olive oil
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Thinly slice fennel into a small bowl (using a mandoline, ideally). Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil, a small squeeze of lemon, and sprinkle some salt on fennel. Toss and set aside. (I find that marinating the fennel like this for a few minutes helps it become more tender). 
  • Whisk together vinegar and maple syrup. While whisking, add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to adjust the oil-sugar-acid ratios to suit your tastes.
  • In a larger bowl, toss together the pears, arugula, fennel, most of the feta, and most of the walnuts. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Assemble on a platter and top with the remaining feta or Parmesan cheese, walnuts, and fennel fonds or mint leaves. 
Mandoline is a useful culinary tool. It is an extremely sharp slicing tool that makes perfectly even, paper-thin (or however thick you want) slices or ribbons of annoying-to-stabilize vegetables.

Try cucumbers and carrots for salads, zucchini ribbons for pasta, potatoes, parsnips, and other root vegetables for chips and gratins, and even garlic for sauces and vegetable sautés. Use it to make waffle slices of almost any vegetable—which never fails to impress—or matchstick cuts of firm fruits and veggies that you’d otherwise spend way too much time preparing.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Sue, I am so sorry. Yes, way too early for snow. Glad to hear you finished the yard work.