I realize that it has been weeks and quite possibly longer since I’ve posted something savory. ‘Tis the Season! But don’t worry mom, I have been eating my vegetables – it’s just so fun to talk about sugar.
That changes today. Sort of. There is still sugar in the recipe but there is also an ingredient that you may be unfamiliar with – fennel pollen.
Thanks to the lovely Jennifer Perillo from “In Jennie’s Kitchen”, I was gifted a generous supply of this sweet spice.
Peggy Knickbocker wrote, in an article for Saveur, “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” I couldn’t agree more. Anything that resembles fennel in its sweet anise flavor is a winner in my book but fennel pollen goes above and beyond anise. It’s as if it takes all that is good with that subtley sweet licorice essence and makes it a thousand times better. The aroma is floral and intoxicating. One smell and I suddenly wish I was a bee so I could cover myself in it. I guess I don’t have to be a bee to do that but it would be quite expensive as fennel pollen is nearly as costly as saffron.
The recipe for these fennel pollen cookies is nearly the same as yesterday’s chocolate chip shortbread with a touch more salt and minus the vanilla. I served them with a tart and sweet onion jam and a smokey blue cheese from Rogue River Creamery and let me just tell you the angels were singing. In one bite I tasted sweet, salty, smokey and a soft vinegar bite. The finishing taste was the fennel pollen as it lingered on my tongue, hanging there for a bit – I begged it not to go but once it did I popped another one in my mouth.
If time allows I hope to give all those I love dearly a little jar of onion jam and package of the fennel pollen shortbread. They will be happy.
Continue along for the recipes.
adapted from Food & Wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium sweet onions, julienned
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup grenadine
Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until soft and just translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sugar, wine, vinegar, grenadine and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the liquid thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 35 minutes. Transfer the onion jam to a bowl and let cool.
Note: I doubled the recipe and it worked beautifully. The cooking time was 45 minutes to 1hour.
Fennel Pollen Shortbread
Wild Fennel Pollen can be ordered online. Besides shortbread, fennel pollen, makes an incredible rub on lamb and pork. Sprinkle on salads or roasted vegetables to give an intriguing floral-anise flavor.
adapted from Ina Garten
3/4 pound butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen, plus more for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the fennel pollen. In a medium bowl, sift together, with a whisk, flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle a generous amount of fennel pollen to cover the the log. Cover in wax paper or parchment. Chill until firm.
Carefully slice the log into 1/4″ cookies. Place the cookies on an sheet pan covered with parchment. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.