So I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after reading through books 1 and half of 2 of the trilogy. Un-happy. This is why I am such a big advocate of reading the books after watching the movies (if you have that option). I know I would have enjoyed this movie if I hadn’t read the books. I would have read the books after and loved them even more. It’s win/win really. I was currently reading The Girl on the train too, which I have now put down since the trailer started playing. This way if I watch the movie first then read the books, it’s like filling in the blanks rather than leaving a movie feeling empty, cold and bothered inside. Anyone else feeling this way? Feel free to shoot this idea down since I know I’m in the minority.
And while we are on the subject of books/movies… can we talk about the fact that all the Harry Potter films are coming back to theaters… in IMAX… all of them… at the same time… Def buying the weekend pass and spending 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday at the movies. My ass is going to be sore and I’ll have more popcorn in my teeth than I will care to admit. Super excited.
Fennel is in. Yea boyyyy. On the low, it’s one of my favorite vegetables because it’s one of those ones you can braise, fry, roast, or eat raw. Multi purpose veg. Here, I’ve braised it in a saffron and orange juice broth after searing it in butter. The color is gorgeous. Totally Fall. It works really well on top of hummus but you can just as easily serve it as is, for Thanksgiving maybe *wink*. Dukkah, or duqqa, is an Egyptian mixture of nuts, seeds and spices. It comes from the Arabic word meaning “to pound” since it’s usually made with a pestle and mortar. Each person makes their mix a bit differently but I use hazelnuts (classic), coriander and fennel seeds, sesame seeds (both roasted and black), za’atar, and Maldon Salt. It’s delicious on a baked sweet potato with tons, like tons, of butter… mmm. The hummus looks light because I’ve made it extra tahini-y and twice as tasty. Try it sometime.
BRAISED SAFFRON FENNEL & HUMMUS
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
¼ cup hazelnuts
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp black sesame seeds
½ tsp za’atar
½ tsp Maldon salt
BRAISED SAFFRON FENNEL
¼ tsp saffron
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 bulbs fennel, tops removed & quartered through core
1 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup Thompson raisins
FOR THE HUMMUS: Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with lots of water. Soak overnight; at least 12 hours.
Drain and place the soaked chickpeas in a stockpot. Cover with lots of water. There should be at least 3-inches of water above the chickpeas. Add the baking soda and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, it will begin to foam. You want to skim away all that foam. Boil for 2 minutes while skimming. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, uncovered stirring often, for 20-45 minutes, this will depend on how long you soaked your chickpeas. You should be able to mash the chickpeas with your fingers when they’re ready. Turn the heat off and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, drain the chickpeas SAVING AT LEAST A HALF CUP OF COOKING LIQUID! Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process on high until a thick paste forms, about a minute or two. Add the tahini, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Process high for at least one minute until smooth. If the hummus is too thick, slowly stream in a little of the chickpea cooking liquid to loosen it up. You may not need to add any liquid at all. It should be smooth with the texture of soft served ice cream. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and lemon juice.
FOR THE DUKKAH: Crush the hazelnuts, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar keeping the mixture coarse. Stir in the toasted and black sesame seeds, za’atar, and salt.
FOR THE BRAISED SAFFRON FENNEL: Place the saffron in a small bowl and cover with about 1/3 cup hot water to bloom.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large sauteuse, or sauté pan with lid, over medium-high. Once the butter bubbles, add the fennel and sauté until nicely browned on all sides, about 7-9 minutes. Add the saffron “tea”, stock, orange juice, sugar, and raisins. Season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, turning and basting the fennel occasionally. Once the fennel is cooked through, remove the lid, turn the heat to high and reduce the sauce until it’s concentrated while basting the fennel.
Serve the fennel on top of the hummus with lots of dukkah. Garnish with fennel fronds.