Blue Sky Farm

My blogging posts and photos are part of me . I think of this as a scrapbook of my life. The names have not been changed.. they are real people who have crossed my path along my journey. Some I know intimately, my family and friends. If their names are mentioned it's a sure sign they are special to me and I love them dearly...come along see for yourself, perhaps you know some of them too..

February 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tastings Food & Flavors

I am going to change Tuesday Herbal Wisdom blog topic to "Tuesday's Tastings of Foods & Flavors" I love to cook and want to share some tidbits & recipes with you.

I know you have seen this in the produce department..have you tried it? This is FENNEL
Fennel is truly a vegetable and should not be confused with the herb, sweet anise. Even though they share a similar mild sweet licorice flavor, fennel comes from an entirely different plant. Fennel has a rounded creamy white bulb, short green stalks and feathery green leaves. Its appearance resembles an extra plump bunch of celery, and it has a unique licorice taste that becomes milder when cooked. It can also be eaten raw and is used as a bad breath neutralizer
Fennel is very popular in Europe and until recently was found primarily in Italian and specialty markets in the United States. It is now found in mainstream supermarkets, however, it is frequently sold incorrectly as sweet anise. Fennel is grown primarily in Italy, France, Greece, and the United States. In the United States, fennel is grown almost exclusively in California

Storage & Selection Fennel can vary significantly in size anywhere from ½ pound to 2 pounds. In my opinion size is very important, as smaller fennel bulbs are more tender and less fibrous than larger bulbs. The bulb has virtually all of the usable meat, and should be a firm, clean creamy white that doesn't show any sign of brown spots, yellowing, splitting, or withering, a sign the fennel is old. Fennel stalks should be straight and the leaves a feathery bright green. Avoid fennel if there are flowers on the stalks because this is a sign that the fennel is over mature. Store fennel in a plastic bag, in the high-humidity crisper section of the refrigerator for no more than three to four days. Fennel loses its flavor quickly so it's best to use it as soon as possible.

SOME IDEAS from The Victory Garden Cookbook
Sprinkle chopped fennel leaves on hot baked oysters or clams.
Add cooked fennel to omelets, quiches, stuffing or sauces.
Add stalks to stocks for their flavor.
Add sliced sautéed fennel to fish chowders.
Cook fennel in your favorite tomato sauce.
Place stalks and leaves on barbeque coals as they do in France. The fennel scent permeates the grilled food.
Slice steamed or blanched fennel, cover with a vinaigrette and serve chilled.
Chop raw fennel and add to tuna fish sandwiches.
Slice fennel thin and layer with raw potatoes, cream and cheese to make a potato au gratin