About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, May 01, 2006
Autumn Braise
D had to go out for a few hours on Sunday.

"Can you cook dinner, I feel like some potatoes and maybe a frankfurter."

It was one of those cold, rainy days. We had been to our daughter's school fete earlier in the day and had come home completely soaked. Comfort food was what was required, but for some reason my brain had stopped working, maybe it was waterlogged. M and I amused ourselves with drawing and colouring, in between we watched cartoons. I flicked onto a cooking show, it was David Rocco, a hip American/Italian living in an apartment in the old country.

David was doing that Jamie Oliver thing of inviting some mates around and feeding them, before going out to a soccer match. He prepared a few dishes when one of them caught my eye. It was a fennel dish that was cooked in the oven. First the fennel was blanched, then placed in a baking dish, then some herbs, rosemary and sage, were chopped with garlic and strewn over the top. A good drizzle of olive oil was followed by some breadcrumbs and another good splash of olive oil, then baked in the oven until the breadcrumbs were brown.

There was my dinner!

I had been making fish stock earlier in the day and had a fennel bulb leftover, not enough for dinner but a start. Naturally potatoes would be included, taking care of the request. A quick raid of the fridge yielded up a bulb of celeriac and some carrots. This is what I did.


1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
2 or 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bulb celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
3 or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 long sprig rosemary
6 stalks thyme
handful of parsley
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220 c (430 f). If using large fennel, discard tough outer parts, trim stalks and root, cut in half through the root and cut each half into three, keeping some root on each piece. If using small, trim up, cut in half and then half again. Place fennel in a large pot with potatoes, celeriac and carrots, add water and salt and simmer for 8 minutes. While vegetables are simmering, strip the rosemary and thyme leaves from the stalks, place on a chopping board with the parsley and garlic and roughly chop everything together. Drain the vegetables and place in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, then scatter chopped herbs over. Give a good drizzle of olive oil, making sure every vegetable gets a hit, then sprinkle on breadcrumbs then another drizzle of olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned.

D came home to the glorious smells emanating from our oven.

"I'm not hungry, I had some salad."

I knew that if I served some to her, she would not be able to resist. The roasting sweetens up the vegetables, but the killer blow as far as D is concerned is the breadcrumbs. Vegetables Polonnaise style are simply cooked vegetables covered with breadcrumbs fried in butter, something that D absolutely adores.

And so it proved, nothing was left.
  posted at 8:29 am

At 5:03 am, Blogger Angela said...

Sounds delicious. I like fennel roasted. And the breadcrumbs just might send me over the edge.

I am definately trying this one.

Not to sound completely dumb....is celeriac also known as celery?

At 8:33 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Angela, celeriac is part of the celery family, but it's not celery. It's actually a root vegetable that tastes like celery. Yellow/brown, round and knobbly, it's about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. A good greengrocer should have it, just ask, it's pronounced sell-er-e-ak. Cut off the top and bottom and slice the skin off with a sharp knife, then cut into chunks.


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