food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘fennel

fennel and seafood salad

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Here in the southern hemisphere we recently celebrated the Summer Solstice. Our feast began with this salad, a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from the cookbook Ottolenghi, cooked by Fifi. It looked magnificent and tasted even better.

Trim the tops and bottoms of four fennel bulbs then slice them crosswise as thinly as you can. In a large bowl combine the sliced fennel with ½ a finely sliced red onion, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime2 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons of chopped dill, 2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 seeded and diced red chilli, ½ a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and set aside. Prepare 8 large tiger prawns (shrimp) by removing their heads, shelling the body (leave the tail intact) and de-veining. Toss the prawns and 350g (12 oz) of cleaned baby squid in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Heat a heavy pan or griddle and cook the prawns and squid in batches until just cooked. Cut the cooked squid into rings and when the seafood has cooled add it to the salad bowl along with some tomato wedges and toss to combine. If you are not serving the salad immediately it will keep in the fridge for up to a day. To serve stir in 1 tablespoon of sumac and 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander (cilantro) and adjust the seasoning to taste.


Written by michelle picker

January 2, 2019 at 12:26 am

Posted in fish & seafood, vegetables

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pork cotoletta + 3 veg, pork

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Cotoletta is the Italian version of the ubiquitous Schnitzel. Unlike schnitzel, though, it is not usually breaded with egg but dipped in oil and then breadcrumbs and often grilled, not fried. It’s also often cooked with the bone in. Traditionally veal, I chose pork for this meal and made Italian vegetable accompaniments. The 3 veg I served with my meal were carrots tossed in parmesan; zucchini with onions and peas; and potatoes baked with fennel and porcini mushrooms.


For the Cotoletta, make sure you have free-range, good quality pork cutlets. Coat them with breadcrumbs (by whichever method you prefer) which are seasoned and flavoured with oregano. Cook over medium heat until the meat is just cooked and the crumbs are golden.


This carrot recipe is adapted from Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen by Janet Ross & Michael Waterfield. Slice the carrots into thick rounds and cook in a little water until just tender. Set aside, retaining the cooking liquid. In a saucepan melt 30g (1 oz) of butter and add 30g (1 oz) of flour. Cook this roux then add the remaining carrot stock and reduce until the sauce is the thickness of double cream. Add 30g (1 oz) each of cheddar and parmesan and return the carrots, mixing well until the cheese is melted and the carrots well coated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Thickly slice some zucchinis and onions. Place them in a saucepan or frypan with a lid along with some olive oil, oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Close the lid and cook over moderate to high heat, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini is browning a little but still firm. Add some peas and continue to cook until both the zucchini and peas are just cooked. Drizzle with a little lemon juice before serving.



This potato, fennel and porcini recipe appears in River Cafe Cook Book Two by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Soak 60g (3 oz) of dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and retain the soaking liquid. In a little olive oil fry the porcini with a little minced garlic and when browning, add 3 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the porcini are soft. In a very large saucepan heat some more olive oil and add some slivers of garlic and 1cm (¼”) slices of fennel, cut lengthways. Cook until soft. Now add 1cm (¼”) potato slices and the porcini mushrooms, seasoning well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then transfer to a baking tray and bake until the potatoes are cooked.

Written by michelle picker

October 19, 2016 at 4:50 am

salmon on mash + roasted fennel & kale

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A fresh piece of salmon with sweet mash, lemon roasted fennel and crisp kale.


Preheat the oven to 200ºC (390ºF).

THE MASH: Steam equal amounts of potato and sweet potato until very soft and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan, add 1 finely chopped shallot and cook gently. Add ¼ of a finely sliced cauliflower, a bay leaf, ⅓ of a cup each of milk and water, ¼ of a teaspoon of ground white pepper and salt to taste. Cook until the cauliflower is soft then add the potato and sweet potato to reheat them. Remove the bay leaf and mash to a coarse consistency, adding more butter, milk and salt if necessary.

THE FENNEL: Remove any fronds from the fennel and set aside. Slice the fennel into thin wedges and lay them in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of ½ a lemon, sprinkle with a little lemon zest and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.

THE KALE: Wash the kale, remove stems and tear into pieces. Allow to dry in a colander then spread into a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes. Bake for 20 minutes.

THE SALMON: Pat the pieces of salmon dry. Finely chop the fennel fronds and some fresh tarragon. Combine with salt (I used a smoked salt), freshly ground black pepper, ground fennel powder and a little brown sugar. Press this mixture onto the salmon filets. Drizzle with a little vegetable oil, making sure to get some oil underneath the fish. Heat an oven-proof fry-pan to very hot and sprinkle some salt into it. Place the salmon skin-side down into the pan and allow to cook for 1 minute, toss some capers over the fish and put the pan into the oven for a further 7 minutes.

Serve the fish on a bed of the mash with the roasted fennel and kale on the side.

Written by michelle picker

August 27, 2014 at 6:03 am

roasted and raw cauliflower, fennel and white bean salad

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Here’s an interesting, substantial and very delicious salad.


Cut half a head of cauilflower into florets and season with salt and pepper. Toss in a little olive oil and either fry or roast in a hot oven until browning. Finely slice the other half of the cauliflower as well as a large fennel bulb (a mandoline makes this easier). Combine in a bowl with 1 can of drained cannellini beans, ½ a cup of walnuts and a handful of fresh sliced mint. Add the cooled cooked caulflower and dress with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice. Season again with salt and pepper.

Written by michelle picker

February 9, 2013 at 9:24 am

braised fennel with peas

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This makes an excellent accompaniment for fish and seafood or can be served as an antipasto dish.

Trim and cut your fennel bulbs into even sized wedges. Put them into a wide saucepan and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Add the juice and finely grated rind of ½ a lemon and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally. When the fennel is nearly cooked add fresh or frozen peas and toss until just tender.

Written by michelle picker

September 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

roasted monkfish with crushed potatoes

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Once  known as poor man’s lobster (before the price of fish went up) Monkfish has firm sweet flesh and the fillets have no bones as the fish is generally over a metre long. The recipe is adapted from one by Rick Stein.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Season the monkfish with salt and set it aside for 15 minutes. Cook the potatoes in well-salted boiling water until tender. Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a large ovenproof frying-pan. Pat the monkfish dry with kitchen paper then sear for three to four minutes until nicely browned. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes. The fish should be cooked through but still moist in the centre. Remove onto a warm plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for five minutes. Heat some more olive oil in the pan and add the well-drained potatoes. Gently crush each potato with the back of a fork until it just bursts open. Season with salt and pepper. Place the crushed potatoes onto warmed plates and put the monkfish on top. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then sprinkle around a few sea-salt flakes and coarsely crushed black pepper. The original recipe included watercress but instead I served it with a salad of roquette, fennel and red pepper seasoned and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

roast vegetable lasagna

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A delicious layering of roast vegetables, pasta and fresh ricotta with napoli sauce and grated pecorino.

For this lasagna I used eggplant (aubergine), pumpkin, onions, peppers, zucchini and  fennel. Whichever vegetables you choose, cut them into thin slices and lay them on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a moderate to hot oven until just cooked. Meanwhile take 2-3 cans of diced tomato and place them in a saucepan with some olive oil and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. Bring this to a simmer and allow to cook, covered, for approximately 20 minutes. Now the lasagna is ready to be assembled. First, lay lasagna sheets over the bottom of your baking dish and cover with some tomato sauce. My first layer was slices of eggplant followed by more pasta and tomato. The next layer should be ricotta. Just slice the fresh ricotta and spread it over the pasta, sprinkling with grated pecorino. Another layer of pasta and tomato and my next layer was fennel and zucchini. Repeat the ricotta layer and then one more layer of vegetables – mine was pumpkin, onions and peppers. The final sheets of pasta go over the top, well covered with tomato and topped with a good melting cheese such as Colby or Mozarella as well as pecorino. Bake in a moderate oven for approximately 45 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Written by michelle picker

July 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm