Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 16:14:31 -0500
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Laura Michaels <Laura.AOL.COM>
Subject: Angelica and Fennel

Thought I'd dig up what my computer software says about Fennel. Haven't seen any of this information covered yet, but I haven't caught up with all my mail yet. Hopefully I'm not repeating much and listmembers will find this interesting.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) also known as Sweet Fennel is a hardy annual. It does not transplant well. Edible parts include leaves, stems, seeds, flowers. It attracts bees and butterflies. It is also used in baths and as breath sweetener, in eye wash and in lotions. It can also be used to make a yellow or brown dye. It's high in vitamins and minerals. Culinary uses include bread, cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, soup, tomato dishes, vinegars. In bouquet symbolism fennel stands for worthy of praise.

From: Esther Czekalski <E.Czekalski.M.BULL.COM>

Potato Fennel Soup with Browned Onions
From Moosewood Cookbook,

1 Tbs butter or oil
4 Cups thinly sliced onions
2 tsp. salt
4 medium potatoes (average fist-size), not necessaritly peeled, and sliced int thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long (see my comments below)
1 cup freshly minced fennel bulb
½ tsp. caraway seeds
4 cups water
white pepper to taste
optional toppings: sour cream, thinned. the feathery tops of the fennel, well minced

1. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add the onions and tsp salt. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are very, very soft and lightly browned

2. Add the potatoes (see note below), another ½ tsp salt, the minced fennel bulb, and the caraway seeds. Saute over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water. Bring to a boil, then partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender ( 10 to 15 minutes

3. Tast to adjust salt, add white pepper. Serve hot, topped with a decorative swirl of thinned sour crearm and/or mince feathery fennel tops.

My comments: I really liked the delicate flavor of the broth but when I make it again I will use a lot less potato than I did (I must have big fists). Also, I don't see the point of sauteeing the potatos in step 2. The onion had held up pretty well in attractive rings but trying to saute the onions at that point was hard on them. I think I will leave them out until after the water is added next time.

Here's one that also looked great. I haven't tried it yet; if someone does let me know how it turns out.

Fennel Braised in Vermouth
From Recipies from a Kitchen Garden (Shepards Garden Seeds)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 lard bulbs fennel, sliced into ½ inch clices
¼ cup dry vermouth
2 tbs minced leafy fennel tops
⅓ cup half and half or cream
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Heat oil in a large deep skillet and saute onion and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add fennel and toss until glazed. Add vermouth and braise the fennel until tender-crisp -- about 8 minutes. Add the fennel tops, the half and half, salt a pepper, and cook another 4 to 5 minutes to reduce and slightly thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese; serve immediately.

From: Laurie Otto <lotto.PTIALASKA.NET>

Been out of town; came back to fascinating discussions about angelica, and some interesting notes about fennel. More about both later. Now for some recipes only. Got inspired to make something with fennel, so I made up

Fennel and Italian Sausage Risotto
1 cup onion chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
2 Italian sausages, removed from casings
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup arborio rice
¾ cup parmesan, freshly grated
¾ cup white wine
3 cups chicken broth
salt and freshly grated pepper

Saute onion and red pepper in olive oil and butter until softened. Mix in garlic, fennel seeds, and sausage, breaking sausage into small pieces as you stir. Season to taste with salt and freshly grated pepper. Add rice and saute for 3 minutes, making sure that rice is well coated with oil. Heat wine and chicken broth. Add ½ cup broth/wine to rice, stirring until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat, adding liquid in ½ cup increments until rice is al dente (this takes 15 to 20 minutes). When rice is done, remove from heat and stir in parmesan and additional freshly grated pepper. This is an easy and delicious one-dish meal, and even better if served with a nice green salad.

NOTE: The parmesan you use in food really makes a difference. If you can get parmagiano reggiano, use that even if it is expensive. Next choice would be an imported grano. Next choice would be an Argentinian cheese called reggianito. Last choice would be freshly grated domestic parmesan. If all you have available is the stuff in the green cans, make something else. If you don't believe me, do a taste test comparing the above cheeses and I bet you'd become a believe fast.

I got so inspired by the large quantity of fennel seeds I pulled out of my cupboard to make the risotto, that I also made fennel oil.

Fennel Oil
6 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 cups olive oil

Heat fennel seed over medium heat, until they begin to release aroma (don't let brown). Put in food grinder, and pulverize. Heat olive oil until just warm. Mix in ground fennel seeds. Pour into very clean jar, and let steep for 2 days. Strain out fennel seeds, and store oil in refrigerator. Use in cooking or salad dressings. This is an easy way to get more flavor in your food. I've also used for tart crusts.

Roasted Fennel
2 fennel bulbs
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 450F. Trim fennel bulb, saving stalks to use to stuff fish, or in soups, salads, or sauces. Cut bulbs in thick wedges. Pour olive oil over, and stir until well-coated. Season well with salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of fennel wedges, or until fennel is slightly softened and brown around the edges. This makes a good accompaniment to meats, or can be used as the basis for a pasta sauce.

From: Joyce Schillen <gardenpg.CDSNET.NET>

>Joyce, I'd love the recipe if you could dig it out.

The fennel cookie recipe is below. I think it's delicious! BTW, you can use the same recipe and add about ⅛ to ¼ cup fresh lavender blossoms for another unique cookie. Don't make the mistake I made once, though! I thought that more blossoms would be better. Wrong!! The cookies tasted like soap!

Spring is in full swing here now, the peonies are over a foot tall, the bleeding heart and catmint are starting to bloom, and it got up to 83 degrees today! Next week it's supposed to cool off again.

National Herb Week (1995) Fennel Cookies
from the International Herb Association

2 cups sugar, divided in half
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 T. orange juice
1 T. water
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

Add fennel seed to 1 cup of sugar and blend briefly in blender to break up some of the fennel seed. Some whole seeds should remain. Combine fennel-sugar with remaining cup of plain sugar and butter and blend together. Add eggs, orange juice and water and mix briefly. Mix remaining dry ingredients together, then add to creamed ingredients. Mix well. This will be a stiff dough.

Divide dough into 4 pieces, making a flattened ball of each. Roll dough out on floured surface until very thin. Cut with cookie cutter and bake on greased ornon-stick cookie sheet until light brown.

Makes 75 crisp 2-inch cookies.

The recipe neglected to give temperature and time, but I baked them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.

Culinary herb FAQ: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/faqs/culi-2-21-fennel.html