Tag Archives: Fennel

RECIPE – Hake and scallops with a red pepper and fennel purée and grilled aubergines

 

Last night, herself brought home glistening fresh hake and “some scallops, for a treat”. Four whacking great kings, as it happened. Treat indeed.

Foraging in the fridge for potential accompaniments I came across a bulb of fennel, complete with fronds that looked like it could do with eating up. From the fruit bowl, a pristine red pepper winked at me. Improvisation, something I do a lot of, became the buzzword. I chopped both into small pieces, added a teaspoon of fennel seeds to get more oomph – a good tip, this – and boiled them in a light stock. Then, out with the stick blender, whizz them into a purée and back on a low heat. Taste. Add a little salt, must have been a very light stock. More blending, needs to be smoother. Taste again. Hmmm… not quite there. “Cooking on my feet”, I added a tiny splash of Cognac and a slight swirl of cream. Oh yes, joy.

While this was going on I was fettling aubergines on the ridged griddle. I always cut them on the bias into slices, looks pretty and, after experimenting, I’m convinced it gives a nicer texture and better flavour. Got the griddle raging hot. Put the slices on and sprinkled some cumin and some truffle salt on the topside, gave them a minute or so then drizzled a little olive oil over. When the underneath showed dark brown char-lines (3-4 mins) I turned them over and anointed the slices with more cumin, salt and oil. Turn them back and forth a couple of times, you can get a nice lattice effect with the charring if you want. As soon as they were cooked through I put the slices into a low oven to keep warm.

Meanwhile the matchstick chips were pirouetting nicely in the Actifry (see review http://forkncork.com/on-test-tefal-actifry/ here), aided and abetted by a tablespoon of goose fat.

The hake was lightly floured and then pan-fried 2-3 mins per side. The griddle sorted the scallops a treat, lovely caramelisation, two minutes tops. Re-heated the purée, brought it altogether and plated up.

What’s that? Oh yes, there are peas in the piccy. Yes, petit pois (frozen) with a heap of chopped garden mint, a little butter and a grind of black pepper. Because I thought the palette would be improved by a touch of green and surprise, surprise, I didn’t have any ‘samfer’ to hand.

 

This repast was accompanied a treat by Jeffrey Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling 2008, a Clare Valley superstar and one of my favourite wines.

 

4 hake fillets

4 king scallops

flour, pepper and salt to dust hake

oil for frying (olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed to choice)

 

1 large aubergine cut on the bias into 20mm slices

truffle or sea salt

powdered cumin

extra virgin olive oil for the purée (which can be made in advance)

 

1 large bulb fennel, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

dash of cognac

1 tbsp single cream

2 cupfuls water or light stock

 

Something green!

Serves 4. Instructions in the text above.

Fennel & apple salad with juniper

Finnochio or ‘Florence fennel’ – the bulbed variety, not the feathery herb is easy to grow and I love it. This is a very pleasing autumnal salad.

1 fennel bulb
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12-15 juniper berries

Trim the fennel, but keep some of the feathery fronds for garnish. Slice the fennel thinly, against the grain. Cut the apple into very thin slices. Toss them both together with the lemon juice, oil, pepper and salt. Crush the juniper berries with a hammer, the butt of a large knife or in a coffee grinder. Stir into the salad just before serving and garnish with fennel fronds.

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