Fennel Fanatics

 

Everything you need to know about fennel | Dear MartiniBack in our days teaching at Draeger’s Cooking School, we bonded over our love for fennel.  We used to joke that one day we would create a cooking class entitled, “I Love Fennel.”  It was a silly idea, but it was certainly a class we would take ourselves.

Fennel bulb top shot Dear MartiniWhy do we love fennel so much?  It’s versatile, available year round (we are so lucky to live in California), and it goes well with the California/Mediterranean style of cuisine we enjoy. We roast fennel with meats, shave it for salads, braise it or cook it in soups, and even throw it on the grill.  It’s sweet, licorice flavor is subtle enough to compliment pork, chicken and fish and goes beautifully into hearty dishes like ratatouille, our Thanksgiving stuffing, or a comforting soup.  When raw, it’s crunchy texture lends well to slaws and salads; in fact, one of our favorite salads of all is a simple combination of shaved fennel, shredded carrot and dried cranberries.

If you are new to fennel, we suggest you start off with this delicious soup.  It’s a hearty soup perfect for cooler months and we hope will inspire you to add fennel to your other favorite recipes.

Be sure to click on the blue links to watch our bite-sized technique videos.  And let us know what you think!

bean soup

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

Serves 4 to 6

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

½ bulb fennel, cored and diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 15-ounce can white beans (or cannellini beans), drained and rinsed

3 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock

1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)

3 cups (1 bunch) Tuscan Kale, chopped

2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium flame and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss around to coat with oil.  Cover and let the vegetable become soft and tender, but not browned, for about 7 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Uncover and add the pepper flakes and beans and toss to coat.  Cook until the beans are hot, about 2 more minutes.  Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to simmer and add the Parmigiano rind, if using.  Simmer for 15 minutes, covered.  Uncover and add the kale. Stir to combine the ingredients and simmer, covered, for another 8 minutes, or until the kale is soft and tender.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle into warmed soup bowls, top with cheese and serve hot.

Fennel_Bulb_Dear_Martini

 

How to Survive Thanksgiving

Dear Martini Thanksgiving

Woohoo, you made it to the main event!  Now we all just have to survive tonight and tomorrow.

How to Survive Thanksgiving–Our tips for surviving tonight and tomorrow… (in no particular order):

1.  Don’t freak out — at this point whatever gets done, gets done.

2.  Don’t stay up too late tonight.

3.  Don’t forget to eat a good breakfast tomorrow morning.

4.  Sip a glass of wine as you go.  Make the mood festive and relaxed.

5.  Don’t announce your mistakes... whatever you are obsessing about that you think everyone will notice— if you don’t say anything they probably won’t notice.

You’re gonna do great.  The food is going to be great.  Even if the worst happens (insert whatever that means to you), it’s all about having a good time with family and friends tomorrow so whatever happens won’t matter.

Don’t forget if you run into trouble tomorrow you can search the technique videos on our site or go straight to our youtube channel for help.  Be sure to watch the Carving Club video for a glimpse of both Mia and Terri’s family Thanksgivings over the years.

If ya wanna be a real-card-carrying-member of Carving Club you gotta spread the word…like it, share it, reblog it, pin it!

For step by step instructions how to carve the turkey watch How to Carve the Bird.

Thanks so much to all of you for supporting our little blog and videos.  You are the reason we continue to do what we do — we give thanks for all of you EVERY day!  Wishing you all a wonderful day with your families.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dear Martini!

Cheers,

Mia and Terri

Strawberry Social – How to Enjoy the End of Strawberry Season

Everybody’s invited to the end-of-the-season strawberry social!  Strawberries are one of our favorite fruits, and they always taste better when they are in season and picked fresh ( May through the end of summer.)  

how_to_make_strawberry_soda

During the month of August when we are knee-deep in delicious berries, we add them to our morning cereal, smoothies, salads, and desserts.  And another delicious way to enjoy strawberries is the homemade strawberry soda.   Packed with delicious strawberries, it contains  minimal sugar and can be enjoyed without guilt.  Homemade strawberry soda is great for brunch or lovely as an apéritif.  Add vodka?  Better hurry!

Strawberry Soda

Serves 6

1 recipe simple syrup (recipe below)

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

1 ½ cups club soda or seltzer water

Puree the strawberries using a food processor or blender.  Strain into a glass measuring cup and set aside.

Fill 6 tall glasses halfway with ice cubes.  Equally divide the strawberry puree among the glasses.  Add a 2 tablespoons of  simple syrup to each glass.  Top with sparkling water and add 2 teaspoons of  lemon juice, to taste.  Gently stir and serve.

 

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup or sugar syrup is a combination of sugar and water that is cooked to a clear syrup.    Used for cocktails, poaching fruits, glazing and moistening cakes, and is the base for sorbet.

Makes 1-3/4 cups syrup

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a full boil.  Boil for 1 minute.   Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely before using.  Store syrup in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.

 Delicious homemade Strawberry Soda

Want more strawberry ideas?

Check out our previous blog post about strawberries for tips on how to choose the best berries, washing and storing, and a great recipe for roasting strawberries.

https://dearmartini.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/strawberries-rule-tips-for-choosing-and-preparing-the-better-berry/

bowl of strawberries 

Dear Martini’s Thanksgiving Menu

Still don’t know what to make for Thanksgiving dinner?  It’s not too late to pull something together!

Here’s a handy list of everything we’ve made for the Thanksgiving holiday and we’re ready to show them to you right now!  Each link takes you to a recipe and corresponding technique videos.  It’s our Thanksgiving Series all in one place!

Two Great Salads 

Spinach and Walnut with apples and warm bacon vinaigrette… or… Frisee with segmented oranges and pomegranates with a hazelnut vinaigrette.  Either way, you win.  These are the tastiest, most mouth-watering salads that complement any Turkey Day menu.

Pumpkin Soup

Imagine sitting down to a silky, savory soup to kick off your Thanksgiving feast!  Packed with fresh veggies – it’s so true that soup is GOOD FOOD!

Sautéed Greens

A great recipe using delicious local greens such as kale, Swiss chard or collard greens (our favorite is Dino Kale!)

Apple and Fennel Seed Cornbread Stuffing

Our favorite Go-To stuffing recipe.  Sweet and savory, nutty and spicy… this one pleases every palate — even the picky eaters!

Roast Turkey

The most hassle-free way to cook a delicious turkey.  We promise!  We even have a video on how to carve the turkey!

The Plentiful Pumpkin

For all of the vegetarian or meatfree Thanksgiving diners out there – this one’s for you!  A roasted pumpkin packed with delicious veggies, grains,nuts and cranberries.  It’s a feast for the eyes, the body and the soul.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Love them or hate them, this seasonal vegetable is a great side dish to your menu.

Cranberry and Candied Ginger Sauce

The traditional tart and sweet cranberry sauce gets a makeover!  Deep and spicy but still fruity and fresh!

Turkey Pan Gravy

Make the gravy right in the roasting pan for maximum flavor!

How-to Videos!

Check out our Vimeo Portfolio of all Thanksgiving-related video content:

All of our Thanksgiving content is also available on YouTube:  The Thanksgiving Collection

Dear Martini wishes you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!