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Tag: fennel

From the Dept. of Sick Days: Shrimp & Fennel Stew

Merf. Today I am feeling unaccountably barfy and, since the snow day that was foretold did not, helas, materialize, I stayed home and slept most of the day. I did, however, manage to sklathe myself out of bed just long enough to accomplish one thing; I took a few snaps of this shrimp stew while the sun tried to shine. Why? Because this simple dish is so ridiculously good I couldn’t wait any longer to share it.

Seriously, this is shockingly tasty, particularly for something that involves little more than a quick chop and simmer. I was quite blown away by its robust and warming deliciousity. Mr. T, too, was unusually effusive in his praise.

The depth of flavor is remarkable; everything–from the pungent onion and anise-y fennel to the acid tomato and briny shrimp–seems to stack together into a greater whole rather than cancelling each other out. In thinking about it now, it may be the backbone of subtle sweetness that those primary ingredients all share that brings it all together.

Oh, and if you’re worried about the fennel and it’s licorice-y taste, two things: one, you’re wrong, it is delicious; and two, it’s very mild and background-y by the time the dish is complete. Try it anyway. It’s a perfect gateway for the delights of fennel.

I would be happy to serve this for company with some good bread and a salad of soft lettuces. It’s perfectly cockle-warming, a good thing now that it seems winter has finally decided to arrive.

And now, back to bed with me.

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Menu Monday: Back to School with Apples & Squash

If there was a ever a time I wish I vlogged, it would be now, so I could give you all a big ol’ “HELLO!” a la My Drunk Kitchen. (MDK is totally worth the clicks, btw. Harto’s antics crack me up without fail, and that’s saying something, Frederick!) Sadly, they say the camera adds 10lbs, so my video debut is still SEVERAL Pilates sessions away.

In any case, though, I can assure you I’m back from, well… let’s see: late-summer blogger malaise, crazy work (it’s year-end for Feds, and that’s about as much fun as a barrel of bubonic monkeys), serial party-throwing, and, oh yeah, a faboo week in Costa Rica (looks tragic, right?) communing with birds and frogs and snakes and monkeys of the non-bubonic variety.

Now, while I am absolutely a-twizzle with new fun things to write , I did want go get back into the swing of doing Menu Mondays. It’s one of the few things I’ve gotten good (ok, ANY) feedback on lately, so tally ho. And, since we’ve been luxuriating in deliciously crispy fall weather here in D.C. for the past few days, I thought a tasty meal that celebrated back-to-school, the impending harvest, and the no-longer-so-far-away holidays would be just the thing.

We kick off with a crisp, juicy salad of fennel and apples with a bright cider vinaigrette, and continue in that sweet-savory vein with a toothsome combination of roasted butternut squash, kale, and raisins tossed with pasta and Parmesan cheese. Plums nestled in a almond-y batter and quickly baked off make a suitably autumnal conclusion.
These dishes’ dependence on seasonal produce links them together in a very appealling fashion. If, however, you’re like Mr. T and look slightly askance at sweet-savory pairings, you can omit the raisins from the pasta and reduce the cider in the vinaigrette. I absolutely love them as they are, however, and I’d encourage you to try them as-is first.

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Direct from the Sweetest Place on Earth: Salad!

I spent last week “on travel” in Middle-of-Nowhere, PA. To give you an idea of the depth of the country vibe, the Holiday Inn where we stayed at was packed–PACKED–for Thursday night’s double threat of line dancing and–eeeugh–hot wings. You can imagine how thrilled I was with this situation. Fortunately, the resort town of Hershey is only 20 minutes away from the Middle-of-Nowhere, PA–who knew? And, while I’m not a fan of Hershey’s chocolate (see the lovely Cybele at candyblog for THAT story), their restaurants weren’t half bad. Being an inveterate foodie AND a total snot, I pushed hard for the higher end of the dining spectrum and we were rewarded accordingly. Aside from one horrifically salty pizza, everything was really quite good.

I’ve cribbed this salad of thinly shaved apple, fennel and arugula from them, though I think I’ve improved on it by adding additional layers of apple-y goodness (as any good acolyte of Suzanne Goin would) to the dressing. Using both apple cider vinegar and boiled cider adds a really nice depth and dimensionality to the whole.  And even the leftovers remained crisply tasty (if not quite guest-ready).

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For the Love of BMs…


Try this tasty farro salad. I’ve been eating more grains this year and I’ve always had a soft-spot for farro, an Italian grain related to spelt. I love its chewiness and in this salad, coupled with black olives, carrots and fennel, it takes on an even more rustic flavor. I often serve a split roasted cornish hen on top of this salad–makes it look like a bird’s nest, especially with the shards of jagged carrots sticking out.   Served as a side, there’s usually plenty of leftovers, perfect to take to work for several midweek lunches.

Not a very inspired post today but neither is this gloomy weather. Nor are the farmers’ markets right now. Sad that the weather today feels like spring and yet it’s only late January.

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Salad for a New Year; A Vinaigrette for All Times

grapefruitAnd I’m back. Yay! Sorry for the radio silence, campers. The demands of not feeling so hot and the excitement of celebrating the holidays Johnson-style with Mr. T, the Wonder Twins, and other assorted relatives of delight have kept me away. But no longer! It’s a new year, a new decade, and time for a salad, yes? Yes, indeed. It’s also peak time for most citrus, and in the spirit of freshness, I present my very favorite fennel and grapefruit salad with a super-awesome grapefruit vinaigrette.

While the salad is definitely a lush and delicious company-worthy combo of crunchy-sweet fennel, bitter greens, bright grapefruit, meaty pecans and tangy goat cheese, I am most pleased with the vinaigrette. Tonic, a former neighborhood haunt of ours, had the most lovely, intensely lemony salad dressing. It was just… lemony; it didn’t have any bitter pithiness to it, nor was it harshly acidic, and I still don’t know quite how they did it.

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Porker Face Part II: The Crostini


So, I’m back to my initial woes over crostini versus bruschetta. What is this dish? Who knows, but it’s rather delicious.

In coming up with a signature item to make and serve for our launch party, I wanted to play around with Nigella Lawson’s porchetta recipe from her book, Forever Summer. I have made this before and served it on toasted ciabatta rolls, as instructed. But I wanted to build a crostini/bruschetta and play with the ingredients. Read more

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