Week Five is Goat Cheese, and I finally succumbed to a cop-out by using the main ingredient in a simple way. But, I made up for it by baking my own fennel seed crackers from scratch and caramelizing my fresh fennel.
Fennel Seed Crackers with Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese Dip
Fennel Seed Crackers
2—cups unbleached flour
1—tablespoons green fennel seeds
1 1/2—teaspoons salt
Heat oven to 400 with pizza stone on middle rack
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, fennel seeds, sugar, & salt.
Add butter and blend completely
Mix until dough forms a ball (this will be difficult because it will be very dry)
Knead for at least 5 minutes
Form into a ball and cover with a damp towel.
Rest for at least 20 minutes
After dough has rested, divide into 6 even portions.
Work with only one portion at a time, leaving the others under the wet towel.
Roll between palms to form a 6-8 inch long tube
Using a rolling pin, flatten into a thin layer about 12-14 inches long and 2-3 inches wide
Cut into any shape you like and prick each piece several times with a fork
Bake on hot pizza stone until crisp with browning just beginning on edges.
3—large clean fennel bulbs with very tight layers.
1—tablespoon olive oil
3—tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
Juice of one orange
Zest of one orange
1/2—teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste.
Cut off shoots of bulbs and discard.
With a mandolin set on thin, turn fennel bulb top side down and shave into slices.
Use all of one of the bulbs but leave the bottom half of the other two bulbs whole.
Soak reserved bulbs in iced water until needed.
Over low heat, caramelize fennel shavings in olive oil, salt, pepper, fig balsamic, orange juice & zest until liquid is reduced.
Goat Cheese Dip
1—8oz carton crumbled goat cheese
1—6 oz container of honey flavored Greek yogurt
2—tablespoons orange juice
Blend all ingredients with a stick blender until completely smooth
For Presentation (makes two serving plates for passing)
Scoop out 2 halves of an orange and the remaining 2 halves of fennel bulbs to make bowls.
(You will have to use a sharp knife on the fennel bulbs, so be careful. It isn’t easy to do this without cutting through the bulb—or your hand.)
Place one orange half and one fennel half on each serving plate with half of your baked fennel seed crackers.
Fill orange halves with Goat Cheese Dip and Fennel bulbs with caramelized fennel.
Garnish with orange zest.