Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Philly's a little seedy sometimes

There's some kind of zen going on in this picture...maybe it's the accidental placement of the bay leaves so that they vaguely resemble

In any case, when I was mixing up my seeds and spices for Braised Cauliflower with Three-Seed Sauce from VwaV, I was struck by how pretty they were, so I snapped a picture [or five].  This was my first time cooking with fennel seeds and I can't say I wasn't a little leery.  I have not had much experience with licorice outside of these beauties:

The idea of integrating the taste of a popular childhood candy into my dinner made me both cautious and curious about the outcome, but one whiff of the newly opened spice had my head spinning with ways to integrate it into at least one recipe of my next round of creativity.  It came out really well and what was really fun was discovering the flavor of each bite - sometimes it was fennel-heavy, then just when you weren't expecting it at all, a smack of cumin would take over and recolor the whole experience.

I served it over bulghur because I had forgotten Jasmine rice cooks as long as brown rice (okay, maybe not for forever but at least for 40 minutes) and I didn't start it early enough.  It neither complimented nor distracted from the dish - the cauliflower and tomatoes definitely shone.  I used Fire Roasted diced tomatoes because I like the flavor they lend to Indian-style dishes.  It was a very pleasant inaugural dinner after our vacation, including a flavor-packed mixed greens salad, topped with carrots, strawberries, and kalamata olives.  I dare you to imagine that flavor combination - it was unique, but definitely worked.

Here's the thing that blows my mind, though: I found this recipe in the Side Dishes section of VwaV.  Granted, Isa does say you could serve it over a grain and turn it into an entree, but seriously - what feast would this be a side dish for??

Yes, that is my full to the brim 3-quart saute pan.  I did add a 15 oz can of beans, but I really don't think that made a huge difference since I was already regretting my use of the saute pan rather than the higher-sided 6-quart stock pot by the time I added the cauliflower to the seeds.

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