I must admit, I was pretty excited when I saw the ingredients for this month’s Foodie Joust: Fennel, Dairy, and Parsley. I’ve never been a fan of licorice or anise-flavored anything, but sometime over the last couple of years I fell in love with fresh fennel. The anise-y-ness is mild enough to be tolerable, and it evolves into a subtle sweetness when the fennel is cooked. So I immediately jotted down four or five recipe ideas – some old favorites, some new inventions – and ran them by Nick. He wanted to try the focaccia with caramelized fennel, parsley, and goat cheese, so I started working on a focaccia recipe.
I have a little bit of starter going in my fridge for bread-baking purposes, and I thought it would give my focaccia the character that so many recipes seem to lack. I have also determined that the potato in focaccia dough is by no means optional. It gives the finished bread an unmistakable texture and helps to keep it moist, too. And it turns out that focaccia is pretty fun to make. Sure, it takes a while, but you can use all that rising time to prep your toppings, cook dinner, answer emails, do a little online shopping… or whatever it is you like to do in idle moments at home.
For this recipe, I essentially braised the fennel: I sliced it thin, browned it in olive oil, then threw in some white wine and tarragon vinegar and let it cook down until the liquid was gone and the fennel was tender. I figured the caramelization process could finish in the oven. As for the parsley, I chopped it up with the fronds from the fennel andmade a sort of paste with a little olive oil. And the cheese? Well, I picked up an awesome little fresh raw-milk chèvre at the market. It had a much fuller and more distinctly goat-y flavor than your average fresh goat cheese, and it stood up well to the bold flavors imparted by the fennel and the parsley.
So head on over to the Leftover Queen’s forum and vote for me! (The voting should start on Thursday, October 2nd, and ends on the 5th.) Keep reading for the recipe…