Fresh Fennel is a little jewel to include in your garden. The fragrant green fronds create a rich green pesto, another little jewel from the Bijouxs kitchen.
FENNEL IN THE GARDEN
I have always included fennel in my gardens, even now in my tiny garden at my bungalow up the Central Coast. I was gifted a large fennel plant from a neighbor’s garden. Fennel bulbs multiple, so my neighbors dug up a large clump of bulbs to share. Turns out fennel is fussy about a transplant, there is a long tap root and you really have to keep if watered during its adjustment time. I cut back the fronds and planted in rich planting mix, after a few months my fennel is thriving.
FENNEL IN THE KITCHEN
I have used the bulbs in a variety of recipes, cooked and raw in salads. Fennel has a mild anise/licorice taste. You will see many times fennel a part of Italian cuisine. The bulbs can be braised, with cream and cheese, also roasted and put into salads and pasta. One of my favorites is this Blood Orange, Fennel & Radicchio Salad. Thinly sliced fennel adds the crisp crunch to the beautiful salad made colorful with rich hues from Blood Oranges.
So, what to do with all the luxuriant fronds that accompany the fennel plant? What came to mind was a pesto, which I have made with greens other than basil. After a checking the internet I discovered that you can basically just substitute fennel fronds in place of the basil-so simple. Many times, if I do not have pine nuts, I swap out walnuts in my pesto, as I did in this recipe. I used the basic ratios of my original basil pesto recipe.
There are of course many ways to use the pesto, just as you would use basil pesto. I liked this pesto as a dip for a steamed artichoke or spread on a sandwich or tossed with pasta. Fennel a little garden jewel.
Let’s get pickled. Spiced Pickled Grapes are sweet, crisp and spiced–another simple Little Jewel from the Bijouxs Kitchen.
Pickles can be much more than cucumbers. I love to make pickled vegetables and fruits. They are easy to make, no canning required. The result is crisp, fresh and tangy sides which make great condiments for meats and salads. In the Spring it’s time for these wonderful Pickled Peaches with Brandy topping both both savory and sweet dishes. Spice up your cocktail hour with Quick & Spicy Pickled Vegetables. This Quick Thai Cucumber Pickle makes a simple side salad and uses just one cucumber.
My recipes are often driven by the need to not to waste food. We used to pickle to preserve food. My Grandmother pickled or preserved just about every vegetable and fruit she grew. After surviving the Great Depression she planned ahead. My favorite book with introduces the concept of “cooking with economy and grace” in An Everlasting Meal. This is a lovely book that I needed back in 2011 with a job loss looming, not so far off in today’s work climate. This pickle is a take on Tamar Alder’s pickle recipe.
SPICED PICKLED GRAPES
I had an extra bunch of sweet red grapes left from a charcuterie board I served recently. Feeling it’s now time for some fresh flavors as Winter begins to turn to Spring. Quick pickling is a method to capture the freshness of the ingredient and flavor with a sweet-tart vinegar based brine-don’t worry it is easy.
First, up make the brining liquid which consists of vinegar, brown sugar and some flavorful spices. Bring to a simmer then pour the hot brine over the grapes in a heat-proof bowl.
Allow to cool to room temperature. Place in glass jar and store in the refrigerator. They should keep tighly sealed for about a month. I always check by a quick smell to make sure food is still fresh.
Honestly, I have been snacking on the grapes right from the jar. Think also of using the grapes along with creamy goat cheese tossed in a simple salad of tender baby greens.
Preserving today is a little jewel.
Everyone has their holiday memories of food. This recipe is my Sis’s Curry Mixed Nuts. Great snacking for guests or for the chef cooking the holiday meal. Family recipes are always a Little Jewel from the Kitchen. Continue reading Sis’s Curry Mixed Nuts