Paul’s Caul – Fennel in all its glory… & ‘the Lido’ crew

We seem to be doing more requests of late and that means someone must actually be reading this, so kudos to us!

Today’s request is from another blogger named “pantryobsession” and we like her for several reasons, her name is cool and she likes us… both brilliant reason’s.

The request is in the same format as my last post, it’s one ingredient, one sweet dish, one savoury dish… and my chosen ingredient is Fennel. No one has clarified whether it’s fennel seed, bulb or the herb so I ‘ve taken it upon myself to use whatever I wish. For those of you that know me would know that I have quite a liking for this product in all forms except the herb, I don’t like that at all!!!

I’ll get back to what I’m going to make in just a while but first I thought I’d take you all to work with me.

I have several different workplaces, I’m part owner in a catering company, I work in a restaurant 3 days a week and for privacy reasons we shall call it “the lido” and I also dance for money at an establishment called “Men, Men, Men” but it’s “the lido” that I want to take you to because it is a fun place where every body knows your name and your always glad you came… oops that’s cheers! But it’s a lot like that place except for well just about everything.

But when I was given this challenge if you can call it that, I instantly thought of “the lido” as it has fennel in both a sweet and savoury dish on the menu. The savoury come’s in several forms from a banging fennel and pernod puree served with pork belly to simply shaved fennel in a salad with the fish, the sweet form of fennel is fennel seed praline and its simple yet utterly delicious.

Let me paint a little picture of this kitchen and its crew, it’s the first kitchen I’ve ever worked in that is made up of mostly women, and not your usual kitchen type’s (you know what I’m talking about ex shot-put champions which have more facial hair then me) instead they are all top notch both cooking and looking (well almost all) the rest of the crew is made up of several nationalities we even have a pet jordie that pumps out an amazing array of pastries. Everything is made in house (as it should be) and all is produced with a certain integrity, which gives me tingles in places I really shouldn’t be tingling in.

If you ever get a chance to work in a professional kitchen (make sure it is professional as if its not, its definitely not fun) grab the opportunity because it really is fun, nothing beats the characters you find in kitchens, if you’re lucky you’ll find a kitchen with a head chef that thinks she’s hilarious (she is quite funny) a pocket sized larder chef that’s got a very dirty mind, a pastry chef willing to speak like a cockney all day with you even though neither of you are from London and an array of like minded individuals. And what is evident from the get go is how with a well organized and professional crew, great food is produced easily… so a tip of the cap to “the lido” crew you’re a good bunch.

Ok I guess I’d better get back to my challenge, just to let you know I actually as I’m writing this have no idea what I’m going to give you. I know what you want me to give you! But that is either impossible or improbable, so take your mind out of the gutter.

I’m thinking I want to use the bulb for a dessert so now to try and blend a dish that already exists… so I now stop writing and open my recipe book… alright I’ve found it, I’m going to make…

‘Fennel & palm sugar panna cotta’ served with a ‘chilli citrus salsa’

400ml cream
200ml milk
75g palm sugar (grated)
50g castor sugar
1 medium sized fennel bulb (washed and chopped in rough pieces)
2 sheets of gelatin

• In a saucepan heat the cream, milk, both sugars & the fennel until it simmers then allow the fennel flavour to infuse, this should take 30 minutes or so.
• Then soak your gelatin sheets in cold water until soft, then whisk them into the cream mixture
• Strain the mixture and pour into either plastic dariole moulds or glasses
• Allow setting for several hours, best to leave over night.

To make the chilli citrus salsa, simply segment 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange and mix with 1 chilli cut into julienne (look it up) and 6 leaves of chiffonaded mint (also look it up)

To serve, either remove panna cotta from mould and serve with salsa or top the glass with salsa.

‘Caramelized fennel hot dogs’

This is not as much of a recipe as it is a concept, simply cook off thinly sliced fennel bulb with butter, salt and pepper until they are nice and coloured then whack them in a roll with your favourite sausage… BAM

As I’ve stated before swap onion for fennel in your favourite recipes to bring them to life… imagine a fennel bulb bolognaise or potato & leek soup with fennel… Amazeballs!!!

“I have to admit I am generally smiling when I notice that Pauly has sent me a new post, and this was no exception. It’s the highlight of my otherwise mundane existence. No, actually the highlight is going to the toilet in the morning but the posts are probably second place… just thought I’d let you know. PS. my next sweet and savoury challenge is dropping soon and the ingredient is choko…” Grazza