Spicy Meatballs with Sriracha Mayo

These spicy little meatballs pair perfectly with a crisp salad and flat bread.

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Harissa
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sumac
1 lb ground beef 85/15
1/4 c mayo
1 TBSP Sriracha

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Toast fennel, coriander and cumin in a small pan for about 1 minute until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder.

Mix mayo and sriracha sauce and set aside in fridge.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and form into meatballs.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

Serve with sauce.

Makes about 30 small meatballs.

Tomato and Fennel Soup

After a few days of over indulging it’s time for some healthy food! This soup fills the bill and hits the spot! Inspired by a recipe in F&W, I eliminated a lot the oil to make this one healthier.

2 TBSP canola oil
6 plum tomatoes, cored
1/2 TBSP sugar
1/4 c Pernod
2 TBSP olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs—halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c garlic, peeled
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
One 28-ounce can whole Italian peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large medium pan, heat the canola oil until nearly smoking. Add the plum tomatoes and sugar and season with salt. Cook over moderately high heat, turning, until the tomatoes are lightly charred and starting to burst, about 10 minutes.

Add the Pernod and cook over moderately low heat, breaking up the tomatoes, until a chunky sauce forms, about 20 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the fennel, shallots, garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the fennel starts to soften, 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the fennel is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the tomato and fennel
Soup until smooth. Stir the tomato sauce into the saucepan along with the vinegar. Cook over moderately low heat until heated through and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with shaved cheese.

Porchetta, Fennel, and Apple Hand Pies

Trader Joe’s is now selling cooked Porchetta – simply reheat and voila you have dinner, it’s really quite amazing. I decided to use this porky goodness to create a hand pie with fennel, apple, onion and hazelnuts – they turned out delicious!! You can always freeze these for a quick weeknight meal. Serve with salad and your all set.

2 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
8 oz Porchetta, medium dice
1 fennel bulb, medium dice
2 apples, cored, medium dice
1 onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 hazelnuts, toasted, chopped
Egg white

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat.

In a large skillet heat some oil over low heat, add fennel, apple, onion, garlic, thyme and sauté about 10 minutes, until softened. Add pork and hazelnuts stir to combine and remove from heat.

On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry, until it is thin. Cut into rectangles and place about 1/2 c of filling in each (you may need to adjust, you want the pies pretty full), fold over the puffed pastry and form into a crescent shape, crimp the edges and place on baking sheet. Repeat.

Chill pies for 15 – 30 minutes.

Combine 2 TBSP egg white with 1 TBSP water and brush pies with wash.

Bake 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 8 – 12 pies.

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

I’m so backlogged on posting!! This is another amazing dish from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I grilled the chicken and it came out wonderfully. It is also great that next day for lunch.

1 orange, cut into 12 wedges
2 1/2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 1/4 c water
2 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
4 TBSP olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin
1 c cilantro leaves, chopped
2/3 c basil, chopped
2/3 c mint leaves, chopped
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 jalapeño, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan combine orange, honey, saffron, vinegar and water, bring to a boil then simmer gently for an hour. Orange should be soft and liquid reduced to about 1/4 c. Pulse in food processor until smooth.

Mix chicken with 2 TBSP oil and salt and pepper. Grill over medium high heat until cooked through another 6 min per side. When cool enough, tear into nite size pieces.

Combine chicken, sauce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Serves 6.

Panzanella Salad with Fennel


The best part of leftover bread is Panzanella Salad!

4 c country-style bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1 TBSP lemon zest
1/2 c olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
3 c mixed hearty salad greens
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 c chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cbgreen olives, pitted, halved
3 ozs Manchego, shaved
3 oz hard salami, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss bread with lemon zest and 1/4 cup oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Bake, tossing occasionally, until crisp on the outside but still chewy in the center, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, and oregano in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in remaining 1/4 c oil.

Add greens, fennel, parsley, olives, cheese, salami, and bread to dressing; toss to combine.

Serves 4.

Scallops with Fennel


The fish monger at the local farmers market has the most amazing scallops! My other go to vendor had some gorgeous fennel – a little inspiration from F&W and a dish is born!!

1 TBSP olive oil
1lb sea scallops
Salt & pepper
2 TBSP butter
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin, fronds reserved
2 TBSP capers, drained
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP parsley, chopped

Melt butter in a skillet, add fennel and capers; cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and chopped fennel fronds, season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper scallops cook 2 minute per side until nicely seared.

Place fennel on plate top with scallops.

Serves 2.

Fig Stuffed Pork Loin


I spent some quality time cooking from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc cookbook last weekend. This pork dish was out of this world! I served it with caramelizes sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli. I had some left over fig stuffing that I heated and served on the side.

2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tsp canola oil
1 large fennel, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c shallot, minced
1 c fig jam
4 TBSP balsamic glaze
1/4 c chicken stock
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 c white wine

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium sauce pan heat oil over medium heat, add fennel and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and shallot, cook for 3 more minutes until softened. Stir in fig jam, balsamic and chicken stock, cook for 10 minutes until slightly thick. Set aside to cool.

Season your tenderloins with salt and pepper. Cut the tenderloin through the middle almost to through, you want to be able to open it like a book. Full cavity with stuffing, tie gently – you don’t want the stuffing coming out.

In a oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown tenderloin on all sides. Add wine to the skillet and pop in the oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until it reaches 130 for medium rare. Let rest for 10 minutes then slice.

Serves 6 – 8.