GRATINATED FENNEL WITH FETA, ROSEMARY AND HONEY – FINOCCHI GRATINATI CON FETA, ROSMARINO E MIELE

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Because real life has been very very present this week, I completely forgot to tell you who won the set of three photos that was one of the many prizes in the Menu For Hope raffle. Because I know him and I hope you do too! I even know what his kitchen looks like and I suppose that’s where they will hang! But I wonder where Sean of Hedonia will hang them, I can’t see much space left… But they are on the way now.

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It’s fennel season here and I am trying to find ways of preparing it. I like fennel very much, my mother did as well, maybe she still does but it’s difficult to know how much taste means to her anymore because of her advanced state of Alzheimer’s disease. She still eats very well and seems to appreciate food but I just can’t tell what she feels about it. I hope she does enjoy it, there’s not much left for her to really enjoy as I see it but then I don’t know what’s going on in her mind. But taste and smell are such primary senses that I’m convinced that they remain more or less until the end. Anyway, I remember so well her delight in a perfectly cooked fennel bulb served with melted butter and that delight somehow transplanted itself to me, a kind of emulation of her delight if you understand what I mean. So if I could have her back here with me for a meal, this is one of the dishes that I would serve her.
(I wonder if gratinated is the right term, technically it is but I have a feeling that there might be a better term for it in English. Maybe oven baked? Please enlighten me.)

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GRATINATED FENNEL WITH FETA, ROSEMARY AND HONEY – FINOCCHI GRATINATI CON FETA, ROSMARINO E MIELE

1 fennel bulb per person
Feta cheese or some other type of sheep’s or goat’s cheese
Fresh rosemary, preferably
Honey
Salt
Olive oil

– Trim the fennel bulb of damaged outer layers. Cut the top off, leave about 2/3 of the bulb. The you take a small and sharp spoon (or knife if you prefer that) and remove the core of the bulb. The outer ‘wall’ of the fennel bulb shouldn’t be too thick but if it’s too thin it may leak so you have to use your cooking sense (that is the common sense that you develop cooking).
– Boil the empty bulbs in salted water for 2-4 minutes and then leave them to drain off excess liquid standing upside down.
– Chop the parts that you have removed together with the usable parts of the cut off top parts and braise it in olive oil together with the rosemary until soft.
– Mix the braised fennel with as much crumbled Feta as you like and spoon it into the fennel bulbs.
– Bake in a preheated oven (175° C / 347° F) until golden. Don’t forget it as I did!
– Before serving, drizzle some nice honey over the fennel bulbs.

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L