Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Week F - Feeling the Fennel

Fennel offers an aromatic unique flavor and a wealth of medicinal purposes similar to anise and licorice. A part of the Umbelliferae family, fennel is a relative to celery, carrots and parsley. Do we see anything in common here? Maybe Vitamin C?
Let's also note a great source for potassium and dietary fibers, phosphorus, folic acid, and minerals.
I found a great web site called Organic Facts that shares great information on the health benefits of fennel.
Symptoms of the to relieve intestinal spasms, strengthens the stomach and helps ease constipation. Helps reduce PMS symptoms, Colic babies, eye care, respiratory conditions and more. Please check the web address listed below. Great website. Now lets make some soup!!

Creamy Fennel and Celery Root Soup with Rosemary Lavash Crackers

Ingredients 8 servings

1Tbsp fennel seeds
1Tbsp olive oil
2 med fennel bulbs, quartered, cored and coarsely chopped, feathery fronds from 1 bulb
2 stalks celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 med yellow onion, coarsely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1/2 Cup dry white wine
5 Cup vegetable stock, homemade see Beet Risotto recipe for details:
1 med celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 med potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Bouquet garni:
5 flat-leaf parsley stems, 2 fresh thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied with string
to taste sea salt and pepper

1) In small skillet, toast fennel seeds over med-hi heat, tossing frequently, until fragrant, about 1 min.
2) Let cool then transfer to spice grinder and finely grind. In large pot, heat oil over med heat.
Add chopped fennel bulb, celery and onion, and cook, stirring often, until veg are softened, about 7 minutes.
3) Add wine, increase heat to high and boil until almost all liquid has eveporated, about 5 min.
4) Add stock, celery root, potato and garlic and bouquet garni. Bring to a gentle simmer over med heat. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 45 min. Remove Bouquet garni.
5) Working in batches, puree soup in food processor or blender and return to pot.
6) Season w/salt and pepper.

Rosemary Garlic Lavash Crackers

3 lavash crackers, whole
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp rosemary, dried
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian spice mix
to taste sea salt, fine

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Place lavash bread straight onto rack in the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes depending on oven. You want a hard cracker like texture. Once the lavash is baked, place on cooling rack.
2) Meanwhile, heat small sauce pan with butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted add the garlic and lightly blanch it. Then add the spices and remove from heat.
3) Brush the mixture across the entire bread. If you want to add a little more flavor add a hard cheese and finely shredded it over the cracker before breaking into bite size pieces.