Whether you took my advice and ate in last night, or went out on the town to celebrate your Valentine, I hope you had a delicious holiday
I adore fennel. I’m not a black licorice fan and shy away from pretty much anything that smells like Ouzo or Sambuca but, a bulb of anise scented fennel will win me over any day. Shaved raw in a salad it adds serious crunch and assertive flavor, perfect paired with shaved Parmigano, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Cooking transforms the bulb entirely. The texture softens and the the licorice becomes secondary to the vegetable’s sweetness. In the NY Times, David Tanis makes Fennel al Forno by giving it a quick blanch, then baking it with fresh mozzarella, fennel seed, chile flakes, and parsley. Lighter than a typical gratin, the dish really gives the fennel a deserved chance to show off.
The word “casserole” doesn’t sound that appealing, does it? What if I say “cazuela”? Yep, sexier for sure. A cazuela is really just a Mexican casserole but rarely does it include a can of this and a can of that, like it’s American cousin. In today’s Washington Post, Patricia Jinich writes about gathering with friends to enjoy her cazuela’s, all inspired by traditional Mexican recipes. There is the Chicken and Tortilla Aztec version-think lasagne with tortillas and a Latin flair. You could also try her Meaty Tamal Casserole, saving you the time of assembling individual tamales. I’m going for the Cazuela de Arroz con Hongos, or the Mexican Rice Casserole with Mushrooms. The ingredient list is extensive but each one adds a dimension to what is sure to be your next go-to pot luck dish.
Pancakes for dinner? Heck yes. Breakfast for dinner happens at least once a week at my house. I my previous life I’m fairly sure I was a line-cook in a pancake house, I make so many of them around here. But, mine are usually the buttermilk variety. In the Oregonian you’ll find international inspiration for more savory dinner time pancakes. From Korea, there is a scallion pancake dotted with fresh seafood and shredded cabbage, or a “pajeon” – topped with a little kimchi and a sesame-soy sauce..wow. Over in eastern Europe, you’ll find a version of the potato pancake-Parsnip, Sweet Potato, and Leek Pancakes and you can top these with a bit of sour cream and smoked salmon, of course. If indulging in something sweet is what you really need, there is a recipe from Sweden called Saffranspannkaka (try saying that ten times fast!). It’s a baked pancake made with a base that resembles rice pudding, enriched with cream, saffron, and almonds. Hoping at least one of these recipes will help you get pancakes on your own dinner table.
Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.