Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Foeniculum vulgare, Lizis boozivum
& Rummius rusticana

According to Carol Asher’s terrific book Herbs: Cultivating and Cuisine, Fennel, called marathon by the Greeks and foenum by the Romans, cures, according to legend, a number of human ills and suppresses appetite, improves eyesight, freshens breath and wards off witches.
One imagines that beleaguered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might appreciate a stomach-settling dose of fennel, as photocopies of yesterday’s USAToday memo are now available on the Smoking Gun.
Our addled Liza could benefit from the plant's appetite suppressant and witch warding properties though not in time to ward this entertaining ramble from Manhattan fossil and Liza bridesmaid Cindy Adams.
So, dear reader, if your breath smells like an overtaxed Washington bureaucrat or you seek protection from celebrity demons try an herbal flank attack at mealtime with this delicious gratin.

Potato & Fennel Gratin
Preheat oven 350

2 Tbsp Butter (or Olive Oil)
3 Cups White Onion, sliced
3 medium Fennel Bulbs, cored and sliced, reserve fronds
2 lbs Red Potatoes, boiled til just tender, cooled and sliced
1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Saute Onion and Fennel slices in butter until Onion just translucent, cool.
In buttered baking dish layer Potatoes alternately with layers of Fennel and Onion. Season each layer and sprinkle with reserved Fennel fronds and Parmesan cheese.
In a saucepan bring Chicken stock and Cream to a boil and pour mixture over vegetables.
Bake uncovered 60-70 minutes or until top is a deep golden brown.

Deliciously different!

Photos: AFP, Reuters

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