Recipe du Jour

Apples, Fennel, and Onions with Caraway

caraway

Among my many idiosyncrasies is my unabashed love of caraway seed.  There are only a couple of spices that I am in love with , and caraway is one of them.  (Don’t tell cardamom…she will get jealous!)

In the west caraway seeds are most associated with breads, notably rye bread. Those who find rye bread disagreeable can blame the caraway. The flavor is heady, like a strong combination of thyme and dill, and is sometimes considered an acquired taste.

Caraway is found in all kinds of foods throughout northern Europe and Scandinavia, paired often with cabbage and root vegetables, meats, cheeses, and even fruits. It is also a major component of aquavit, a herbal Scandinavian distilled liquor.

Caraway is an ancient herb. It was found among Neolithic ruins of Europe, and it was known in the Middle Ages as a useful anti-gas remedy. Aren’t you glad you know that now! You never know when you may be trapped somewhere with nothing but gas and caraway.
caraway flowers
The seed is the most commonly used part of the herb, but the rest is used too. The stems and leaves have a mild flavor similar to parsley. The roots have a sweet, parsnip flavor and can be cooked and eaten boiled or fried.

As with all spices, it is better to toast and grind whole spices as needed. Ground spices loose their flavor and aroma rapidly.
The flavors of this dish are so deliciously complimentary, this is destined to be a new family favorite. It makes a terrific accompaniment to roasted poultry, pork, or sausage.

INGREDIENTS

4 TB. butter
1 TB. caraway seed, crushed
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. sea salt

METHOD

  1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over high heat. Add caraway seed and toast until fragrant, 1 or 2 minutes. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add fennel and apples, reduce heat, and continue cooking until everything is golden brown and caramelized.
  2. Deglaze with white wine, and cook until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat, add salt, and serve warm.

carawaypicture

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Techniques

Peeling and Chopping Apples

dorky-image
This basic skill is all too often done in a wasteful and inefficient manner, which I find highly annoying. It is such a tedious job that I want to get the most yield for the least amount of effort.

Peeling is best done with a peeler. Do not try to impress me by peeling off the skin in one long strip, like your granny taught you. That method takes too long, and removes too much of the useable fruit.

Coring an apple is not necessary, unless the recipe is meant to keep the apple intact, as in baked apples. Apple cores are rarely perfectly symmetrical, so the coring tool usually ends up taking more apple out of the center than necessary. It’s better to slice the apple core out as needed.

For apple wedges, peel, then quarter the apple. Lay each quarter on its side and slice the core out at an angle.

Dicing an apple can be a little weird, because its round. Slice one side off as close to the core as possible. Lay the apple flat so that it doesn’t roll, slice off remaining sides close to the core, then dice to the size you need.

Apples will begin to oxidize once cut. To prevent the apple from browning, you can submerge it in acidulated water (water with a bit of acid added, usually lemon juice). This process is good for apples that are going to be used raw. But apples that will be cooked do not need to be acidulated. Cooking will turn them brown anyway, and soaking in water will cause them to absorb unwanted water, which can muck up some recipes.

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