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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fennel Leaves, Fennel Stalks, Fennel Seeds and Florentine Fennel Bulb also misri:Recipes for: Misri with Fennel Seeds; Fennel Bulb

FENNEL
Fennel leaves, fennel stalk, fennel root, fennel seeds and the Florentine fennel bulb can all be used in cooking and in other ways too. It’s a very versatile herb and was one of the nine sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxons, which were;-mugwort, plantain, watercress, betony, chamomile, crab apple, chervil, thyme and fennel. It has also been used, in Britain, to keep evil away on Midsummer’s Eve, or the summer solstice, and was hung over doorways with other herbs at this time of year.
It originated in the Mediterranean region and western Asia, but is naturalized in Britain and cultivated all over the world. Italians love it and use the peeled stalks, ’cartucci’ in salads. The edible bulb is called Florentine fennel, and is good either eaten raw in salads or cooked. This has an aniseed flavour and is rich in vitamin C and the mineral potassium.
Pliny wrote that snakes ate the plant and rubbed their eyes on it to help improve their eyesight after they had sloughed their skin. It was used as eyewash, and even modern herbalists recommend its use for pink eye or conjunctivitis. The Romans thought it was efficacious as a treatment for snake bites, and Culpeper agreed with them. He also wrote that it was an antidote for food poisoning after eating the wrong kind of wild mushrooms
The ancient Greeks believed that fennel tea would help reduce weight and some modern herbalists still believe it helps with weight loss. This is because it accelerates the digestion of fatty foods.You should boil ½ tsp fennel seeds (sanf) with one cup of water for 10 to 15 mins, and then cover the pot and leave to cool. Then strain it and drink it. Take a cup of tea three times a day, but you shouldn’t take any more than that, and if you’re pregnant, don’t drink it. This tea will soothe a sore throat and cough, and will relieve stomach pains and cramps. We don’t know about weight loss, as in Pakistan, people chew the seeds to improve their appetite! In Mediaeval England it was used as an appetite suppressor during days of fasting, e.g. Lent.
It features in Greek mythology too, as Prometheus is reported to have brought back fire, which he stole from the god Hephaestus Roman (equivalent Vulcan), to humanity hidden in a stalk of fennel, which was used as kindling. Also the fennel stalk, topped with a fir cone was the thyrsus used by acolytes of Dionysus (Roman equivalent Bacchus).
It is also used to keep fleas away from stables and kennels.
Below is a recipe for the bulb and the seeds. You can use the feathery leaves as a garnish and also with fish recipes. It really is a versatile plant.

LIVER AND FENNEL CASSEROLE
Ingredients
300 gr liver, cleaned and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp paprika
1 glass red wine (white will do)
2 glasses water
oil
salt and pepper to taste


Method
Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, fennel and liver for 5 mins. Add the red wine and stir to remove residue from pan. Add the water, thyme, paprika and seasonings and bring to the boil. Stir well and cover the pot.
Put it in a preheated medium oven and cook for 45 mins.
Serve with mashed potatoes.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


FENNEL SEED AND MISRI APPETISER
Ingredients
200 gr fennel seeds
50 gr almonds, roughly chopped
50 gr pistachio nuts chopped
50 gr walnuts, roughly chopped
10 green cardamom seeds, removed from the pods and crushed
150 gr rock candy sugar (misri)
50 gr sultanas
100 gr butter


Method
Melt the butter in a pan and add the fennel seeds. Fry for about a minute, then when they are cold, grind the fennel seeds. Now mix all the ingredients together including the butter.
Store in a jar in a cool place and have a few spoonfuls each morning, as this will help the body and aid memory. It won’t spoil, which is why this recipe is for a large amount.
You can serve it with drinks of any kind.


MISRI
This is a sugar which was made in Persia and the Indian subcontinent in the 9th century. It is sugar which has been heated to a high temperature and allowed to form into crystals. Apparently we call it rock candy or jaggery. Basically it’s large sugar crystals, you can make it yourself from ordinary sugar and water. But it takes 7 days for the crystals to grow.You can find it in Asian shops and specialist stores.





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