|¾ pounds||Fennel bulb (up to 1)|
|25||Pitted green olives (recommend Picholino olives) (up to 30)|
|¼ teaspoon||Cayenne pepper|
|½ cup||Cre'me fraiche (sour cream is ok, but delute it with some Half and Half for the right flavor)|
|1 tablespoon||Lemon juice (fresh is preferred)|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
|Pernod or other French pastis aperitif to taste|
(an anitelle syrup, such as Vedrenne, may serve as an non-alcoholic substitute, in which case you should increase the lemon juice to off set the sugar in the syrup)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the fennel bulb in half, removing the short green stalks. (Retain the stalks.) Rub the bulb halves with salad oil, place in a baking dish, and put in the oven at mid-level. Allow the bulb to soften (use a cover) for about 40 minutes, longer if necessary.
Meanwhile, finely chop the green stalk and save ¼ cup. Remove the softened fennel and let it cool. Then chop the fennel into coarse dice and place in a food processor with the all purpose blade installed. Add the pitted olives, cayenne, cre'me fraiche, mayonnaise and lemon juice. (Don't forget to save the chopped stalks, and be sure Not to put them into the processor.) Process the mixture until it produces a smooth spreadable texture-not like peanut butter, but smooth nonetheless. Add more mayonnaise and cre'me fraiche in a 1-to-4 proportion if you need more liquid to make the mixture more spreadable, but don't let the mixture get too creamy.
Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then add anywhere from 1 to 3 tablespoons of Pernod. The idea is to import a subtle suggestion of anise, not to produce a licorice-flavored spread. Then add and blend in the chopped fennel stalks by hand, not with the processor blade in a fresh bowl. Serve after allowing to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Add more salt, if required. Then spread on toasted (optional) rounds of baguette loaves. Melba toasts are surprisingly good for this. This is a spread that contrasts nicely with Tapenade Noire.
Posted to FOODWINE Digest 12 Sep 96 From: Joe Ames <ames@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 18:12:33 -0400
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