Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fennel Gratin and Pheasant Soup (Week "Lucky 13")

Tick-tock, tick-tock.....the days of lent are passing by and I am getting emails from my Facebook friends (plus a few verbal comments -- how rare!) that I am going straight to hell because my blog posts are showing up on Facebook.  Truth is the auto-post features on Blogger.Com are doing the sinning for me!!  So, what have I learned thus far in my Lenten journey? The "home page" is similar to the invasion of the body snatchers!  I had an interesting conversation with a BFF recently (on the way to an absolutely fabulous food and wine gig at Trelio in Clovis -- Great job Mike and Chris) about the venomous techno-vortex that one gets sucked into reading the Facebook "home" page.  I swear you click on and you brain shifts in to "park"!  Minutes turn to hours!   I will admit it has been a huge challenge staying off my personal page and that dreaded home page since I am responsible for doing the postings and upkeep for the College (, all seven departments and two of our centers/institutes.  I remain resolute!!

On to my reason for being .....FOOD - GLORIOUS FOOD!!  Here we are at week 13.  13 has always been a lucky number for me (met my husband on the 13th so we do the dorky thing and celebrate all 13's) so here is a little something on our table to celebrate 13 with Dana and Wojtek.  

Fennel Gratin

  • 2 lbs. of fennel bulbs (purchased this week at the Vineyard Farmers Market from Angel Farms in Laton) - 3 to 4 bulbs
  • Sea salt (always!)
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Bari orange infused olive oil (you can use unflavored EVO but the orange goes well with the fennel)
  • 1/2 C. Bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme (I usually get mine from my Mom or KMK in Kingsburg)
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese.
  • chopped fronds for garnish

Cut fronds and stems of the fennel and save them for another dish.  Great in stocks and broth.  Cut bulbs in quarters, then in 1-2 inch pieces.  Discard the woody core.

Grease the casserole pan with 1 tsp of oil and preheat over at 375.
Went fast!  I am lucky have even half a pan to show you.
 Boll the fennel in a pot of salty water for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender.  Drain well and toss with a tablespoon of oil.  Mix parmesan, thyme and breadcrumbs then mix half that mixture with the fennel.  Add the fennel to the casserole in an even layer.  Top with mozzarella cheese then the rest of the bread crumb mixture.  Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over the top.

Cover the casserole and bake for 20 minutes.  Take cover off and bake until well browned 9about 15 minutes). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Country French Pheasant Soup

  • 2 small pheasant carcasses, drumsticks, wings, etc. (breast meat removed and deboned for another dish)
  • 1 large onion sliced thick
  • 2 large ORANGE or white potatoes (No purple. We don't talk about THAT experimental soup), chopped in large chunks
  • 1 large celery rib, corasly chopped
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 springs of parsley
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of pepper corns
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • Cheese cloth

My husband and my son went pheasant hunting.....$140 per person and four little birds total.  Yes, folks....that's $70 a bird so we must make the most of this catch!

Place the carcass in a foil lined pan and bake at 450 oven, stirring once or twice after about 30 minutes.  Add in the veggies and continue to brown.  Should take another 30 to 40 minutes. This gives the stock a rich wonderful flavor.  Once the bones look nicely browned and cooled, place in cheese cloth (to keep the bone fragments from making a mess) and loosely tie OR you can dump it all in and strain later with the cheese cloth.  The only problem is that the herbs and such get filtered out and I happen to like them :-)

Put water in stock pot and bring to boil.  Add a little water to the baking pan and deglaze, scraping the bits.  Add this to the stock.  Add the remainder of the ingredients above and simmer for about 2 hours skimming the froth.

When done, strain and set aside.

  • 1 c. wild rice
  • 1/2 c. diced carrots
  • 1/2 c. diced onions
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 1/2 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 c. dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse rice and add to stock.  Bring to boil and continue cooking till rice is tender.  Heat saute pan and melt butter.  Saute veggies will lightly cooked.  Add sherry to the veggies, swish around and add to the soup when the rice is finished.
I managed to snag this picture right before the butter melted.....
As you can see, this soup goes wonderfully well with a warm slice of La Brea's Rosemary Olive Oil Round.  La Brea bread is available at The Market (for those of you in the Fresno area)

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