Eric Ripert’s summer chicken paillard with tomatoes, fennel and olives


In true Eric Ripert style (chef of the extraordinary restaurant in New York called “Le Bernadin”) this is a light and very flavorful summer dish with pure, refreshing flavors.

Serves 4
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and lightly pounded flat
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3/4 cup thinly sliced fennel
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in white wine
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons capers
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced julienne
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F
Toss the tomatoes, fennel, green olives, shallots, pine nuts, raisins, caper, thyme leaves, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Drizzle most of the olive oil over the vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a single layer on a large baking dish. Cover the chicken with the tomato mixture and drizzle the remaining olive oil over and around the chicken.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the parsley over the chicken and serve immediately.


Orange scented halibut with fennel, orange, red onions and oregano

This is the loveliest, simplest and lightest summery dish. I have modified this recipe which originally came from Rachel Ray. The Sicilian flavor combo of orange, red onion, oregano and fennel is such a stunningly tangy combination with the sauteed fish.

Serves 4

4 (6 ounce) halibut fillets
Extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp plus some for drizzling
Salt and pepper
Grated rind of 2 oranges, keep the rest of the orange for the warm salad part of the recipe
3 to 4 medium bulbs of fennel, quartered, core removed and thinly sliced
1 large red onion, or two smaller ones, thinly sliced
3 tbsp red wine vinegar, a couple of splashes
A good handful of Italian parsley, chopped
1 1/2 heaped tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves.

Heat the oven to 450 F
Drizzle the olive oil over the fish and season with the salt, pepper and grated orange rind. Let the fish sit in the marinade to soak up the oils of the grated orange zest while you prepare the oranges.

Peel the oranges as you would a melon; cut off the ends, stand them upright and cut the pith in thin strips from top to bottom. Cut the orange across into thin slices.

Put about 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the halibut and sear on one side for about 5 minutes.
While it is searing, preheat another skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil to the pan, about two turns of the pan, then add the fennel and onions, season well with salt and pepper and cook 5 to 8 minutes until seared and beginning to soften.
While the fennel is cooking, turn the halibut and sear for about 3 minutes.
Put the frying pan with the halibut into the top of the hot oven for about 4 minutes while you’re finishing off the fennel dish and plating it.
Add the vinegar to the fennel mixture and give the pan a shake. Remove from the heat and toss in the orange slices, the parsley and oregano. Mix together gently.
Adjust seasoning and serve it on dinner plates topped with the halibut.

Pine-nut cookies


The perfect thing with a glass of wine. The ground fennel seed is divine in these cookies.

Makes about 24 to 36 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsps ground fennel seed
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, fennel seed and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg.
Add the flour and mix just until blended
Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a 8 inch long log. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a heavy, large baking tray with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices.
Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart.
Press the pine nuts decoratively atop the cookies.
Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.


Slow-roast salmon with fennel, citrus and chiles

This is slow roasted, succulent salmon that gathers together the flavors of the fennel, lemon and chili.  You can also try it with halibut, cod or turbot fillets. Thank you to Bon Appetite magaxine for this beauty.

Serves 4

1 medium fennel; bulb, thinly sliced
1 blood or navel orange, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 Meyer or regular lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
4 sprigs dill, plus more for serving
1 red Fresno chili or jalapeno with seeds, thinly sliced
kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 lb skinless salmon fillet, preferably center-cut
3/4 cup olive oil
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preheat the oven to 275 F
Toss the fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, chili and 4 dill sprigs in a shallow 3 qt baking dish.
Season with kosher salt and ground pepper. Season the salmon with salt and place on top of the fennel mixture.
Pour over the oil.

Roast until the salmon is just cooked (the tip of the knife will slide through easily and the flesh will be slightly opaque), 30 to 40 minutes for medium rare.

Transfer the salmon to a platter, breaking it into large pieces as you go.
Spoon the fennel mixture and oil from the baking dish over it.
Discard the dill sprigs.
Season with sea salt and ground pepper and top with the fresh dill sprigs.

A "one pot meal"- Baked bacon wrapped sausages with sweet potato and fennel

A gem from the BBC Good Food website, and all thrown together in one baking dish.
How easy is this to do when you get home from work!

Serves 4

1lb sweet potatoes, roughly chopped into medium sized chunks
1 bulb fennel, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
3 large garlic cloves
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
8 good quality sausages of your choice
8 thick rashers of bacon
1 tbsp plain flour (or GF flour)
4 fl oz apple juice
2 fl oz dry white wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme or fennel fronds if you can find them

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Place the sweet potato and fennel in a large roasting tin with the garlic, celery seeds and brown sugar.
Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a good muddle so all the vegetables are coated and seasoned well.

Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon so it looks mummified and then nestle them in with the vegetables.
Roast the whole lot in the oven for about 25 minutes

Lightly sprinkle over the flour and jiggle the tin until it’s disappeared and has been incorporated among the vegetables.
Pour over the apple juice, white wine and balsamic vinegar, add the herbs, then continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Check for seasoning and serve immediately

Cornbread dressing with sausage and fennel

A lovely recipe adapted from Bon Appetite magazine.

Make this weeks ahead, freeze and bring out the day before you need it, to thaw slowly.

8 cups cornbread cubes (dried out)
1lb bulk Italian sweet sausage meat or chorizo
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 large fennel bulb, chopped, plus some fronds for serving
4 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
10 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Comice pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dried sage leaves
2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 extra large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 300F
If you don’t buy the pre-bagged cornbread cubes, then divide your cornbread cubes between two baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage meat in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until dark brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage meat to a small bowl. Let cool

Reduce the heat to medium and heat 8 tbsp butter in the same skillet. Add the fennel, celery, scallions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the pears and wine, increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
Combine sausage, fennel mixture, parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage and 1 1/2 cups broth in a large bowl.
Add the cornbread and toss to combine: season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 10 minutes, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth and toss, adding more broth if necessary. (The bread should be moist not soggy)
Add the eggs and mix gently just to combine.
Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and dot with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.

Cover the dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the dressing is golden and crisp on top, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Serve topped with the fennel fronds.


Roasted vegetable couscous salad with harissa-style dressing

I am not a vegetarian but seem to have a lot of vegetarian recipes on this blog. I adore vegetarian food and always feel better when eating it, I just can’t do without the other stuff!

This is one of, if not the best vegetarian salads you can make.
Delia Smith is a genius in combining these vegetables, lettuces and grains into something you will remember for a long time.

Serve 4 as a main or 8 as a starter

For the roasted vegetables
1 small eggplant
2 medium zucchini
1lb cherry tomatoes, skinned, if you have the patience!
1 small red pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 small bulb fennel, chopped
1 large onion, sliced and cut into 1 inch squares
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn so that they stay visible
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 heaped tbsp capers, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous
10 oz medium couscous
18 fl oz vegetable stock, put on to boil. (If you are not vegetarian, it’s nice to use chicken stock)
4oz firm goat’s cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1 x 3oz packet mixed lettuce leaves (such as lettuce, cilantro leaves, flat leaf parsley, arugula, spring mix etc)

For the dressing
4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 rounded tsp cayenne pepper
2 level tbsp ground cumin (I use home roasted)
2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

To garnish
1 level tbsp black onion seeds

You will need a large shallow roasting tin for the vegetables

First, prepare the roasted vegetables;
Prepare the eggplant and zucchini ahead of time by cutting them into 1 inch dice, leaving their skins on. Then toss the dice in a level dessertspoon of salt and pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the plate. Leave them on one side for a hour so that some of the bitter juices drain out (Put a bowl underneath to catch the liquid)
After that, squeeze out any juices left and dry the dice thoroughly in a clean cloth.

Preheat the oven to 475 F
Now arrange the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, fennel and onions in the roasting tin, sprinkle with the crushed garlic, basil and olive oil, toss everything around in the olive oil to get a good coating and season well with salt and pepper.
Place the tin on the highest shelf in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are toasted brown at the edges. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the chopped olives and the capers then remove them to a plate to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the salad, first place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl, then pour the boiling stock over it, add some salt and pepper, stir it with a fork then leave on one side for 5 minutes, by which time it will have absorbed all the stock and softened.
Meanwhile cut the cheese into sugar-cube sized pieces.
Make up the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, then pour into a serving pitcher.

To serve this wonderful salad, place the couscous in a large, wide salad bowl, (a clear bowl is lovely so you can see the layers, see the picture)
Gently fork in the cubes of cheese along with the roasted vegetables.
Next arrange the salad leaves on top and just before serving, drizzle a little of the dressing over the top followed by a sprinkling of onion seeds and hand the rest of the dressing around separately.

Note – Onion seeds look gorgeous on this salad, but beware, they can get stuck in your teeth which can make you look like you have a mouth full of fillings!


Sauteed caramelized fennel

Serves 4 to 6

4 medium-sized heads fennel
1 oz butter
1 rounded tsp granulated sugar
10 fl oz medium cider (I use the non alcoholic, non sparkling cider)
2 fl oz cider vinegar

You will need a wide saucepan with a lid., about 9 to 10 inches in diameter into which the trimmed fennel will fit snuggly.

To prepare the fennel bulbs, first cut off the leafy fronds and reserve them for a garnish.
Now trim off the green shoot by cutting diagonally to make a V- shape.
Then slice off the root part at the other end, keeping the bulb intact and remove any tough or brown layers then slice across each bulb to cut it in half

Place the fennel in a fan steamer set in a saucepan with 1 inch of boiling water under it.
Cover and steam for 10 minutes then remove them from the steamer, throw out the water, wipe the inside of the pan with kitchen paper and return it to the heat.

Next, melt the butter and sugar in the saucepan and when it starts to foam, stir it around the pan until the sugar dissolves, then add the fennel, cut side down.
Keeping the heat fairly high, brown it for about 5 minutes then turn the pieces over and brown them on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Now combine the cider, cider vinegar and a little salt and pour this into the pan, then keeping the cut side of the fennel facing upwards, cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
After that, turn the fennel over again, then continue to cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes. (this time uncovered)
Watch carefully during the last 10 minutes and test to see if it is cooked by inserting a skewer.

When the fennel is tender enough, raise the heat so that the remaining juices reduce to a glaze.
Shake the pan carefully to give an even coating of the caramel glaze.
Now transfer the whole lot to a warm serving dish with the cut surfaces upwards and scatter with the chopped fennel fronds as a garnish


Grilled fennel & walnut & lentil tabouleh with pomegranate

Truly different, exotic and quite exciting to taste! Make sure the fennel is well grilled and if you don’t think it’s soft enough, put them on a baking tray in a very hot oven for about 10 minutes max.

Serves 4 -6

200 g Puy lentils (I used the vacuum packed ones you can buy)
5 medium fennel bulbs
30 ml white wine vinegar
80 ml pomegranate molasses
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
300 g walnuts, roasted and chopped
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 red onion, finely diced
zest and juice of 2 lemons
seeds of 1 pomegranate or 1 packet of pomegranate seeds

In a large saucepan, boil the lentils until al dente (20 to 30 mins). Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Open a ready cooked vacuum pack of puy lentils, measure out 200 g, put them into a microwave dish and heat up for 2 minutes, then break apart the lentils with a fork and set aside.

Cut each fennel bulb lengthwise into 6 wedges Grill or bbq over medium heat for about 20 minutes until tender. Set aside. (You could use a George Foreman grill for this too)

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, pomegranate molasses and olive oil and season well.
Season the yoghurt with sea salt and black pepper and refrigerate

Combine the remaining ingredients except the pomegranate seeds and season

Serve the tabouleh over the fennel slices, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and drizzle with the dressing and the yoghurt

Good with a Sauvignon Blanc