Sunday, November 16, 2008

Big, Bold, Beautiful.... um Fennel

It was a food-filled weekend for sure. After spending Friday night gorging myself at Renee's with cookbook club, (see Julie's post, and Elizabeth's post) what do I do but get up bright and early Saturday morning to hit the Waverly market.

I always have to start by getting my eggs (rather his eggs) and then walking all the way up to the top of the market, controlling my urges to buy right away, then I turn around and actually do my purchasing on the way back. Yes, uber organized that's me. Well, we started our walk and I almost went crazy because the vegetables were absolutely gorgeous. I desperately wanted turnips but the couscous isn't planned 'til next weekend so we passed them by (good excuse to come back next weekend!) and then I went gaga over the fennel. It was so green, so plump so very um LARGE I had to have it.

We went to a Tapas party at Tiffany and John's Saturday night (I was put in charge of Gambas Al Ajillo) thus I had to wait until tonight to utilize my beautiful bulb.

Here's my fennel, and since I seem to be on the mashed potato fetish (lunch Friday, lunch Saturday lunch Sunday), my sweetie suggests that maybe we want something other than fennel mashed potatoes for dinner tonight. Huh? Ok...

I wasn't quite able to give up the whole potato idea. We pulled out the granny bangers from the freezer that we purchased in Vermont at Singleton's store and I fried them up and made this Fennel-Potato gratin to go with them.

Here's the recipe I cobbled together from the 12 I found on the Internet.

Fennel-Potato Gratin

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

3lb white potatoes peeled and sliced thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 large fennel bulb with fronds, cored and sliced thin.
1 c. bechamel sauce with white pepper
1 c. heavy cream
Parmesan cheese (probably about 1/2 cup but I'm not sure as I microplaned it on)

Butter a 13x9 pan
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in the pan, follow with a mixture of fennel and onion, grate parmesan over the top, add 1/2 c. of cream. Salt to taste. Layer the second 1/2 of the potatoes, the rest of the fennel/onion mixture and top with another layer of parmesan. Pour the 1/2 cup of cream and the bechamel evenly over the top. Decorate with a few fronds of fennel. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are almost done and top has browned. (turn on convection if not adequately browned) Remove from oven and let stand 10-15 minutes so the juices consolidate. Enjoy.