Almost everyone at the farmers market had fennel this week, so I decided to try this ingredient out. I've never cooked with fennel before, although I've seen it numerous times on TV and such. I nibbled on the leaves to figure out the flavor, and I instantly thought of soup. So here's what I came up with.
Ingredients (serves about 4):
1 bulb large fennel
½ bulb large white onion (thinly sliced)
5-6 large shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
6-8 white mushrooms (sliced)
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups some other stock (I made a scallop/mushroom stock)
also: sea salt, fresh ground pepper, parsley, oregano, olive oil, garlic powder
Prepare the fennel:
Cut the fennel lengthwise, drizzle heavily with olive oil. Season sparingly with sea salt, black pepper and oregano. Bake at about 350º for about 30 minutes, keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn completely. Bake it enough so its soft and tender, but not overcooked so it still has a little bit of firmness on the outside. Remove it from heat and let it cool so you can cut it.
In a medium sized pot, sautee onions and mushrooms with the olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. After cooking these for a little bit, slice up the fennel like an onion and add to the mix. After a few more minutes, the salt should have pulled out a lot of the water, add the soup stocks. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, letting all the flavors mix and become harmonious. Take off heat, put the mix into a blender and pulse it briefly just to chop it up a little more and you can pour the soup directly into bowls from here. Finely chop up some parsley and sprinkle on top, and you're done.
To go with the soup, I decided to make one of my favorites, a halibut bake. This one is really easy.
Ingredients (1 serving):
2-3 white mushrooms (sliced)
2-3 shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
1/4 pack of enoki mushrooms (sperated)
1/8 bulb white onion (thinly sliced)
also: sea salt, black pepper, lemon slice, white wine, mayonnaise
On sizable sheet of foil, place the halibut in the middle. Season with salt and pepper, and turn up the sides of the foil to make something that will resemble a boat (think water tight, after baking there will be a lot of liquid). Throw the onions and mushrooms all around and on top the fish, season a little more with salt and pepper. Add about ½ tablespoon of mayo on top, splash with about a tablespoon of white wine, throw a small stalk of fennel leaf and the lemon slice on top. Close off the top of the foil boat, and bake at 350º for about 20 minutes. When you remove from the oven, if you hear the liquid sizzling/boiling, thats confirmation that it's done. Be careful because the liquid will be hot. Carefully open the foil (steam will be hot too), and you can eat directly. Bon appetit!
* A little fresh ground black pepper on top of the soup adds a nice finishing touch.
* For people who like acid, squeeze some extra lemon on top of the halibut right before eating.
* Complements to Jon who made a nice bruschetta as an appetizer.
May 14, 2008
One of my absolute favorite things at the Santa Monica Farmers Market: The famous Pretzel Roll by the Röckenwagner Bakery. All of their baked goods are amazing, but these delectable soft mounds of goodness (oh yea) are simply amazing. With a traditional tough outer skin that has just the right chewiness sprinkled, and a super soft and moist interior, this is definitely a must have for all you pretzel lovers out there.
12835 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
They also have a cool cafe in Venice:
3 Square Café + Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
May 13, 2008
Had to make room in my frig for the farmers market tomorrow, so I made an omlette with leftover ingredients.
Nothing special this time, so I won't list a step by step recipe, but inside the eggs are spinach, artichokes and cheese. Pretty basic. Wish I had some mushrooms. Gotta love omelettes for dinner.
May 8, 2008
May 7, 2008
Today's Dish - Shiso & Artichoke Fettucini
One of my favorite recent discoveries, the baby artichoke is very sweet and easy to eat, it's a lot more practical than the adult form when you want to combine artichoke into dishes. I instantly knew I wanted to make an artichoke pasta today while walking around the Farmers Market, but it wasn't until I found Shiso at the Japanese stand that I thought to combine the two.
Stuffs (for one serving):
8-9 Baby Artichokes
4-5 Oba (large) Shiso leaves (aka Perilla)
2 Large cloves of garlic
1 bunch Komatsuna (aka Japanese Spinach)
1-2 servings of Fettucini
Also: Sea salt, fresh coarse ground pepper, crushed red pepper, extra virgin olive oil, basil and cheese (i used a 3 cheese blend: asiago, parmesan and romano).
Chop up the Shiso into thin slivers and dice the garlic into small pieces, but not too small. Put both aside for later use. Rinse both artichokes and komatsuna to get rid of any dirt.
Komatsuna - Chop into thirds, not too small (will shrink when cooked). Put aside for later use.
Boil pasta - Probably around 10 minutes for al dente.
Artichokes - Cut ends and tops off artichokes.
Boil artichokes in plenty of water in a large pot. Wait until water is completely boiling before throwing the artichokes in. Don't overcook, about 10 minutes should be enough. When you can poke through the bottom of the artichoke with a chopstick or toothpick with little resistance, they're done. Drain.
Rinse with cold water so they cool off and to stop internal cooking, and peel off the outer green petals. When the petals start to turn a yellowish color you can stop. Split down the middle and make sure there are no thorns attatched to the top of the petals, if there are throns, just grab them with your fingers and yank them out.
Cooking (start with a few min left cooking pasta):
In a regular sized saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil; sautee the garlic cloves. When they barely start to brown, but not too much, throw the halved artichokes into the saucepan. Season with sea salt, coarse ground black pepper (I like a lot!), crushed red pepper and basil. When artichokes start to brown on the edges, throw in Komatsuna and cook for 30 seconds. By this time the pasta should be finished, drain, and throw into saucepan with the artichokes. Toss for a few minutes, add a little more salt if you'd like.
Don't cook too long or else pasta will get too hard, dried out. Dish onto a large plate, then sprinkle cheese on top, and then sprinkle the Shiso sparingly on top of that. Done (see top for finished view).
* Charred sections of the artichoke will have a lot of flavor.
* Save the Shiso so you have some for every bite.
* Notice the sweet overtones of artichoke in contrast to everything else.