Instead of worrying if I'd have time or where I'd find time to come update with posts and recipe, I thought I'd start a mini series of posts instead. Shorter posts with recipes geared toward the upcoming holidays or inspired by the plethora of produce and items I find every weekend at the farmers market.
Depending on the time and subject at hand, some post might be shorter than others but this blog is a place of stress relief and comfort first and foremost. For you and for me. For my mom too so that she can see I don't "forget to eat". Seriously. Forgetting to eat? She had to be thinking about someone else.
In the spirit of making it count and making something good, I want to share a side dish we have been eating twice already this week: Orange & Pastis Braised Baby Fennel. Sweet, a little tart and full of the wonderful aroma of anise and citrus. B. said it was like eating candied vegetables and I am so glad I put 2 bunches of baby fennel in my basket at the farmers marker last weekend. He frowned. Now he's rubbing his belly in approval. Ahah!
I am keeping this as my secret weapon depending on our final menu for Thanksgiving. I must confess that I *can't* wait for Thanksgiving this year as Tami from Running With Tweezers, her boyfriend Mike, Broderick from Savory Exposure and Chris from Mele Cotte are making the drive from Atlanta to Charleston to spend a few days and celebrate Thanksgiving at our house. Food! Slumber Party! Happy Hour! Farmers Market! Walks!
We have been talking about the food for a few weeks now and there are some wonderful dishes in the works! Be prepared for some sneak peeks and posts about our dinners. That's what you get when bloggers, bakers, food stylists, food photographers, food enthusiasts gather together around the table!
I am thankful for their gift of friendship and love to us. These folks are like my second family and I am a lucky to have these few days with them in our gorgeous city.
** You still have until Sunday to enter the giveaway for Gluten Free Girl and The Chef Cookbook! Just head over there and put your name in the virtual hat! **
Orange and Pastis Braised Baby Fennel
Notes: It's one of those dishes that require little in the form of active hands on preparation and that cooks on its own while you can tend to more pressing issues. You can definitely use regular sized fennel for this recipe and do without the pastis by using a couple of anise seeds and broth or water instead. The anise should be subtle enough to play up the natural aroma of the fennel while the orange gives it a nice floral and sweet note.
2 bunches baby fennel or 2 medium bulbs fennel (fronds discarded - keep them for salads!)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (clementines right now are perfect for this in the South East)
zest of one orange
1/4 to 1/3 cup Pastis (or equivalent in water + 2 star anise)
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the baby fennels in half lengthwise. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan (I like to use cast iron as much as possible) set over medium high heat and sautee the baby fennels until they start to get golden. Add the orange juice, orange zest, Pastis and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the baby fennel is fork tender, 40 minutes to an hour. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the liquids reduce to a syrup and coat the fennel completely. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.