Monday, 25 October 2010

Sweet Autumn Fennel

Sweet Autumn Fennel by Charlotte

Fennel is a top ingredient that should not be confused with celery (for those of you who are strongly against the long stringy stuff). The first time I tried fennel was in Italy, eaten raw and dipped in oil with salt and pepper, which I highly recommend. Last year we had a spate of making a roasted fennel and chestnut side dish - this is also a great dish and in season right now. Maybe go for peeled chestnuts as peeling lots can really test your willpower.

This recipe is taken and adapted from the first Ottolenghi cookbook and has been made twice and tried and tested by lots of friends, who expect a good spread when they come round. Instead of making it in one large baking dish I opted for small ramekins as both occasions were a wee bit special and I decided individual pots were in order. 

Serves 10
4 fennel bulbs
3 tbsp olive oil
Sprigs of thyme, about 6
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
200ml whipping cream
100g Parmesan, grated
300g cherry tomatoes, tasty ones
Crumble top:
100g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar
65g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

- Mix the flour and sugar and rub in the butter to make a crumble topping.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Trim the fennel and slice into  small pieces, place in a bowl with the olive oil thyme leaves, garlic, salt and pepper and mix together.
- Put a small amount in each ramekin, divide the cream and pour over the fennel in the 10 ramekins.
- Mix the crumble topping with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle over the fennel.
- Cover each ramekin with foil and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the foil, arrange 3-4 tomatoes on the top of each ramekin and bake for a further 15 minutes. 


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