Showing posts with label fennel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fennel. Show all posts

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fennel Orange Cod en Papillote #FishFridayFoodies

A filet of cod atop sliced fennel and covered in slices of blood orange is cooked in a parchment parcel - en papillote - which makes the most delicate of broths, the perfect accompaniment to the tender fish. 

Here’s the thing about cod, like all white fish, it doesn’t have the oil of its darker brethren so there is a real danger of overcooking it and drying it out. Cooking any kind of fish or seafood en papillote, or wrapped in a foil or parchment pouch minimizes that risk, by essentially steaming the fish and keeping the juices locked in. This month our Fish Friday Foodie event is hosted by Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories and she’s got us all cooking en papillote. As you will see by the wonderful recipes at the bottom of this post, the variations are myriad, but they are all delicious.

Ingredients per person
1 piece cod – about 7 oz or 200g
Black pepper
2-3 slices fennel bulb plus a few fronds
Minced red chili pepper
2 slices orange – I used a variety of blood orange
2 teaspoons butter, plus more to grease parchment paper
1 tablespoon extra dry vermouth

Note: One fennel bulb and one orange, both sliced thinly, and one small red chili pepper are sufficient for three cod en papillote.

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C. Fold your parchment paper in half and cut it into the shape of a heart. Butter it on both sides of the fold on the inside.

Lay the fennel slices on one side of the fold, leaving a gap between the fold and the fennel.

Note: I have mine too close to the fold in these photos and had to scoot the whole thing over about half an inch or one centimeter to the right to close the parchment heart.

Lay the cod filet on top of the fennel and season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle on a few bits of minced red chili pepper.

Top with two slices of orange. Add one teaspoon of butter to the top of each orange and then a sprinkle of fennel fronds.

Fold the heart over to close. Starting at the top of the heart, fold and crimp the parchment to seal it around the edges.

When you get to the very bottom, pour in the vermouth and twist the point of the heart. Tuck it under.

Place parchment packet on a baking pan and bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before opening.

Choose a plate with a rim or shallow bowl to serve because you don’t want to lose any of the lovely fragrant broth that is created by cooking the cod in parchment.

Garnish with a few more fennel fronds.


Check out all the other lovely seafood dishes cooked en papillote.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dimbleby's Breastfeeding Bread #BreadBakers

A flavorful, low gluten bread made with spelt flour, this subtly spiced loaf is divine toasted, which enhances the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

First, let me set your mind at ease by saying that I am not going to tell you my lactation stories, although I did nurse both daughters until they were 13 months old. Nor will there be a single photo of anyone’s breastal region, although I firmly back your right to bare yours if you are feeding your baby, even in public. (Oh, the strange and wonderful places that I have bared mine for the cause... but I promised.)

The name of this bread recipe comes from its creator, one Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the highly successful Leon restaurants and food writer for the Guardian, who wanted to use up a packet of spices given to him to make an infusion for his wife, supposedly to stimulate her milk production, just after she had given birth. He made the hot drink, tasted it and decided that his wife had suffered enough. So he used the rest of the spices to bake bread, which seemed to have the desired effect in a much more appetizing package. He assures his readers, so I duly assure you on his behalf, that it works only on lactating women; the rest of us can enjoy it for the taste.

This month Bread Bakers is hosted by Robin of A Shaggy Dough Story, who challenged us all to make bread using only ancient grains, defined loosely as grains that have remained largely unchanged/un-hybridized over the last several hundred years, which means NO MODERN WHEAT. Some examples include spelt, quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, teff, freekeh, chia seeds, farro, kamut and einkorn. I already had a bag of spelt flour hanging out in my freezer from before I made these super fudgy brownies, so that’s where I started my recipe search. Many thanks to Robin for this most excellent challenge! If you haven't read A Shaggy Dough Story, do head over there. Robin is an over-achiever that grinds her own flour, bakes gorgeous loaves and takes beautiful photographs, but I love her most because of her fabulous sense of humor.

Mr. Dimbleby’s recipe makes three loaves so I have adapted the ingredients for only one deliciously nutty spelt loaf. Check out the original, if you’d like three on hand. He says they freeze well in freezer bags.

Soft butter, for greasing your loaf pan

For the bread dough:
1 teaspoon aniseed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek
4 1/8 cups or 500g strong wholemeal spelt flour
7g fast-acting dried yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise.)
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (Use less if yours is fine grain.)
1/4 cup or 50g pine nuts of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
1/4 cup or 50g pumpkin seeds of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
1/4 cup or 50g  sunflower seeds of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
3 tablespoons or 45ml extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups or 350ml warm water

For the egg wash:
1 egg
Splash water

To decorate:
1 tablespoon of each of the pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, set aside from the original amounts for the dough.

Grease your bread pan generously with softened butter and set aside, along with your one tablespoon of each pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for decorating.

Grind your spices with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Mix all of your dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a bowl large enough to knead the dough in.

Add in the oil and mix well.

Add in the warm water and mix again.

Knead with your bread hook or by hand in your bowl for just a few minutes, until smooth. Mr. Dimbleby says you can add more flour if necessary but “wetter is better.” I was using my bread hook so I just kept going. The dough was very slack and it would have been very sticky to knead by hand, so do what you need to, if you don’t have a machine.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and use damp hands to shape it into a loaf and pop it into your buttered loaf pan.

Whisk the egg with a splash of water to create an egg wash.

Cut some slashes into the top of the dough and then brush it with your egg wash.

Sprinkle on the reserved seeds and nuts, tapping them down gently so they stick.

Place in a large plastic bag in warm place and leave to rise until doubled. When my kitchen is cold, as it is this time of year, I like to partially fill one basin of my sink with hot tap water (about halfway up the loaf pan) and place the loaf pan in the water, covering the whole basin with a large cutting board and “sealing” the gaps with multiple dishcloths. Behold!

When your dough is nearly ready, preheat your oven to 450°F or 220°C.

Bake the bread for the first 20 minutes at that temperature, then turn the oven down to 400°F or 200°C for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cover with foil if your toppings look like they might begin to scorch.

Turn out to cool on a wire rack.


Do you like to bake using ancient grains? Hope we inspire you to try if you haven't before. And give you a few new ideas if you are already a fan. Here's what our creative bakers came up with.
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Seared Spice-encrusted Tuna Steaks

There’s just something about Sunday Brunch that’s special.  The dressing up, the champagne, the extravagant variety of choices, and most especially, the occasion.   Because if you are going to Sunday Brunch, there is probably a reason.  Even if it is just to celebrate summer!  When we were living in Kuala Lumpur, one of our favorite brunches was at the Westin hotel.  Along with the generous buffet where we could help ourselves, the wait staff also delivered delicious morsels to our table, all afternoon.  Plus Champagne.

One such morsel was tuna, coated in spices and seared till it was golden on the outside but still vibrantly pink on the inside.  The last time we were there, I examined it closely, tasting bite after bite, purely for research, you understand. And this is my best approximation of that lovely dish.  You can serve it alone, tapas style, in which case, drizzle it with some good olive oil in the serving dish, or on a bed of greens and rice salad on a small plate for a starter, or in a larger bowl for a complete meal. 

2 tuna steaks – about 9 oz or 255g each

For the spice mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

For the wet coating
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil – plus more for the frying pan

Lay your tuna steaks out between paper towels to dry.

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices finely.

The pink is Himalayan sea salt.  Use any sea salt you have. 

Mix the whole grain mustard thoroughly with the olive oil.

Spread half of the mustard mixture on one side of the tuna steaks and then sprinkle with half of the spice mix.

Put the tuna on a piece of cling film, which will make it easier for you to flip it over into the frying pan.  Repeat the seasoning on the other side, first mustard, then spices.

Heat a non-stick frying pan until it is very hot and then drizzle in a little olive oil.  Cook one side of the tuna for just a couple of minutes before turning it to the other side.

Watch the side of the tuna and you can see the cooked part coming up.  You want to leave a good amount of pink still in the middle.

Sear the other side for just a minute or two and then remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Slice into thin pieces with a serrated knife, using a sawing motion so you don't mash the tuna.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Grilled Fennel Salad

Grilled fennel and purple onions, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, make a lovely fresh salad.

When I was a young girl, I didn’t know anyone with a food allergy.   By the time my own babies came along and grew to school-age, a couple of their classmates were mildly allergic to nuts.   Now it seems like allergies and intolerances are rampant and many have become life-threatening.  Which is rather scary.  I am in awe of the parents who work hard to make life normal for those children, working on recipes that eliminate the offending ingredients but still taste great.

Our host for this week’s Sunday Supper , Bea of The Not So Cheesy Kitchen, is one such mom.  Her daughters cannot eat milk sugar (lactose) in any form, so her blog is a fabulous dairy-free resource with delicious recipes.  Most posts include photos of her adorable daughters offering their opinion on the dishes with one or two thumbs up, which means that Bea’s recipes are not only healthy but kid-friendly and approved.  Which, I am sure you will agree, is very important to a successful Sunday Supper.

This week the Sunday Supper group explores “free-from” recipes, so there are tasty options for everyone, no matter what their food allergies or diet restrictions.

1 large or 2-3 small fennel bulbs, preferably with some fronds
1 small purple onion
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt
Black pepper

Cut the frond off of the fennel bulbs and set aside.  Trim the tough stems and discard.  Now cut the bulbs from top to bottom into slices which are a little skinnier than half an inch or 1 cm thick.

Slice the onion very thinly.

Put the onion in your salad bowl and sprinkle with sea salt.  Squeeze over the juice of your lemon.  Set aside.  This will take some of the sharpness out of the raw onion.

Heat your griddle pan till it is searing hot.  Lay the fennel slices on the griddle and weigh them down with something heavy, like a full kettle.  Cook for three to four minutes or until the fennel softens just slightly and there are lovely char marks on one side.

Turn the fennel slices over and weigh them down again.  Cook for another three or four minutes, making sure to get some charred lines on the other side.

Remove the fennel to a cutting board and allow to cool.

Chop the grilled fennel up and add it to the salad bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Give the whole thing a good stir and add more salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

Top with the chopped fennel fronds.

I served this alongside the smothered pork chops and potatoes from my recent Mothers' Day post.     It is a great fresh complement to a rich meal.


Have a look at all the wonderful "free from" recipes this week.  It's a fabulous round up of flavor!


  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut & Soy Free Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding by girlichef
  • Dairy & Nut and Sugar Free Blueberry Tangerine Muffins by Vintage Kitchen
  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut, and Soy Free Homemade Mango Jam Recipe by Masala Herb

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