Roasted Fennel and Potato Purée
The fennel bulbs are fabulous with a silky artichoke like flavor once roasted.
about 4-6 fennel bulbs, cleaned, leaves removed but saved, and cut in half
about 4 tbsp olive oil
about 2 tbsp butter plus 4 more tbsp butter for processing
about 1 tbsp of onion powder
salt and pepper
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into similarly-sized chunks
about 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
salt and pepper taste
Place fennel bulbs in a single layer in a roasting pan cut side up. Sprinkle some olive oil over them evenly and cut up the 2 tbsp of butter and distribute evenly over the bulbs. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and onion powder over them. Cover.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. I usually take the cover off in about 30 minutes so they can develop a brown edging. Test for done-ness by sticking a fork into the core part of the bulb - if it is tender, they are ready to come out.
Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water until tender (about 12-20 minutes). Once potatoes are done, drain, put back into pot, and steam-dry them by shaking and stirring the over low heat just until a light film coats bottom of pot (about 3 minutes).
Let things get cool enough to handle, but keep warm as possible. Add fennel and potatoes and 4 additional tbsp of butter to food processor or blender and process until smooth and well mixed. Also add some of the fennel frond at this point - gives it a nice springy fresh taste and adds to complexity of flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with more finely chopped fennel fronds sprinkled over top. Fresh parsley would be lovely as well...
Cauliflower and Bay Purée
This also works with the big chartreuse heads of Romanesco Broccoli or on yellow colored cauliflower varieties. (I wouldn't use purple cauliflowers for this recipe....)
1 large head or 2 smaller heads of cauliflower (rinsed and cut into evenly sized chunks)
5-10 bay leaves
freshly ground fresh black pepper
4 tbsp butter (cut into slices)
heavy cream (optional)
Boil a large pot of water. Add cauliflower chunks and bay leaves and cook at a gentle boil until cauliflower is soft when poked with a fork. Strain and remove bay leaves.
Put hot cauliflower into a food processor, and lay butter slices over them so the butter melts. Once butter melts, start food processor and process until the purée runs nice and smooth. Add a dollop or two of heavy cream if you want. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you want.
Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and simply reheat for another day. Heats up quickly in a sauce pan on the stove - use low heat and stir often, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.