Category: Fennel

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Back in the day when I was a philosophy student, one of our tutors used to give us moral problems to solve. You know the sort of thing. Would you push one person into the path of an oncoming train to save a hundred people? Well today I am going to talk to you about a food bloggers dilemma – The Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade conundrum.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade10

What if you had an item of food that tasted really good. Awesomely good. And it took no time to make and is a perfect addition to a Christmas, or any, cheese platter. Only thing is, it is really, really ugly.

Seriously ugly.

Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it.

The Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade looks like a turd.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade11

What do you do? Post it anyway? Then cringe in a corner and wait for the sounds of international guffaws to reach your ears?

Or simply not post ? And deprive the world…well a small segment thereof of a definite snicker and a delightful addition to their cheeseboard in all it’s pooh looking glory?

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade5

Well you know what? Damn the torpedoes! Maybe 2016 can become the year of keeping the internet real and we can all be free to post picture of ugly food free of ridicule.

Starting with the Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade6This may be the ugliest thing you have seen but it tastes…welll:

By itself – good

With Cheese – amazing

With cheese and a glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry or a Sparkling Shiraz – mind blowingly awesome!!!!!

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade9

This recipe for the Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade came to me via my friend Pam who gave me one of these ugly but awesome rolls for Christmas last year. I ate mine in one go.  And I don’t even like figs! 

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade7I gave one of these to my boss the other day… I wrapped it in the paper and cellophane with the red ribbon as in the photo below.  Because as one of my friend’s commented.  “if you leave one on his desk unwrapped, it just looks like you’re being passive aggressive”.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade1He later told me that he and his family enjoyed it very much so it was taken in the spirit of good cheer and Christmas spirit in which it was given. And I warned him beforehand that it was of dubious looks so he was fully prepared. An added advantage is that my bosses wife who is coeliac could also enjoy this because it is totally gluten-free.

Mine were also vegan because I used maple syrup not honey as the sweetener.

nel and Pistachio Roulade3

People of the world, close your eyes, think of England, do whatever you have to do but please, please, please make this.  You will  not be disappointed.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Adapted from my friend Pam who got the recipe here:


  • 500g (2½ cups) dried figs, stems removed
  • 100g (1 cup) pistachios, lightly toasted, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • rice flour, to dust


  • Using a large knife, chop figs until they form a chunky paste. Or if you are lazy like me put them through a food processor until they break down into the same.
  • Place figs in a large bowl with the pistachios, spices, maple syrup and brandy. Knead mixture for 4 minutes or until it starts to come together, adding extra brandy if mixture is too dry.
  • Lightly dust a work surface with rice flour. Shape dough into a 20 cm-long log, then roll in rice flour, to coat.
  • Wrap log in baking paper and twist ends to seal. Place in a large container with a plate on top, weighed down with a tin. Set aside in a cool, dry place for 3 days to dry out before slicing to serve. Fig roulade will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.


Adapted from my friend Pam who got the recipe here:

And whilst we’re speaking of the holidays, here is one of my favorite Christmas stories courtesy of David Sedaris. 

I read this on the train on the way to work one day and I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself.  This is quite honestly the funniest thing I have ever read.

And for the non-readers, here is a you tube.

Let it be known that this is the year I gave you a Christmas present that looks like a pooh. And 6-8 black men.

I hope you love them both as much as I love you for reading and commenting and being a part of my little space of the internet.

Merry Christmas!Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2

The Dishiest Dish- Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts

I have wondered for a long time how to get more posts out each week and I think I have finally figured out how to do it.  My plan is that each week I will do a very quick post on the best thing I have made that week.   It may come from the huge list of recipes I want to cook, a Tasty Reads or other cook-along selection or even a retro recipe that I would not have otherwise blogged about. 

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts2

To kick things off, here is a recipe I made for Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts which was super!  This is a recipe which may never have seen the light of day – I have this thing I where, when I go on my mid year holidays, I take a stack of food magazines with me.   Whilst on holiday, I clip all the recipes that appeal.  And they become my “master list” of recipes to cook over the next 12 months. 

Weird and convoluted I know.  But it works for me! 

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts4

When I went through my magazines this year, I found the recipe which was the basis for the Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts.  And I had not even marked it as a recipe to cook when I initially marked up the magazine!

I came quite late to fennel.  I am not a great fan of liquorice //aniseed and so I think, back in 2002 which is where is recipe came from, the double dose of fennel and dill would not have appealed to me.  Now, I love them both!

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts3These toasts were delicious! It is such a great combination of ingredients, the creamy goat’s cheese, the sweet caramelised fennel and onion, the salty olives and the zing of fresh dill and lemon zest.  Add in the crunch of toasted bread and you have a lovely appetizer! 

The mix would be lovely placed on tiny toast rounds for a one bite canape.  Or would be equally amazing as a pizza topping!!! 

The original recipe did not have the goat’s cheese and to make it without would change this from a super vegetarian option to an amazing vegan choice!

Here’s the recipe:

Fennel, Dill and Olive Toasts
My meal of the week! These fennel, dill and olive toasts are super easy, super delicious and look gorgeous!
Write a review
  1. 2 bulbs of baby fennel, ends trimmed, sliced thinly lengthways
  2. 1 small red onion ,cut into thin half moons
  3. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  4. 2 tbsp water
  5. 2x1 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 baguette, cut into 1 cm thick rounds
  7. 40g kalamata olives, sliced
  8. 2 tbsp fresh dill leaves
  9. zest of half a lemon
  10. 100gm goats cheese (optional)
  11. Salt and pepper
  1. Heat one tablespooon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the fennel, onion and garlic and stir until they are well covered in oil.
  3. Add the water and reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Cook, covered, stirring occaisionally, for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is golden.
  5. Preheat your grill to medium high.
  6. Drizzle the baguette slices with the remaining olive oil, place on a baking tray and cook under the grill for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden.
  7. Zest the lemon, then stir the zest, olives and dill into the fennel and onion mixture. Season to taste.
  8. Spread the toasted bread with the goat's cheese, top with the fennel mixture and serve.
  1. Omitting the goat's cheese makes this vegan.
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine 2002
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine 2002
Retro Food For Modern Times
 This week I am excited about cooking:

  • A strawberry cheesecake with a white chocolate and macadamia nut brownie base (adapted from I am making this for a friend’s birthday.  Lord,  I hope turns out well!
  • Duck Meatballs  – we are reading  and cooking from this book for Tasty Reads this month.  A friend lent me her meat grinder so I can make these.  I hope they are worth the effort.
  • The River Cafe Spinach Rotolo for a very long overdue contribution to the Cookbook Guru.
  • This salad from my “to be cooked” list.  The combination of ingredients had me at hello. Oh yeah, I smoked some duck the other night.  For serious.  I feel like Martha.  Or Nigella.  I feel like I should start a girly band called Martha and The Nigellas.  That is how high my domestic goddessery is running this week!  (Dammit, Martha and The Nigellas is a really good blog name…wish I’d thought of it three and a bit years ago!!!). 

Stay tuned, one of these may be the dish of the week next week!

Fennel, Olive and Dill ToastsAnd because I am totally nosy and love to know everyone else’s business, what was the best thing you made this week? 

And, what are you looking forward to making next week? 

Do you even know?  Are you a spontaneous cooker or a mad planner like me?

Let me know in the comments. PLEASE!!!!  I”m dying of curiousity!

Have a fabulous week everyone!  Happy Cooking!

 Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2


A Savage Fennel and Lemon Salad

Many years ago, my mum used to work in a local solicitor’s firm –  and let me tell you right now – forget every glamorous tv legal drama you’ve ever seen.  Sadly, this old chestnut, unfunny though it is, was far more the reality:

Each and every one of them was bonkers.  Nicely bonkers, even sweetly bonkers.  But bonkers all the same.

Downstairs was the domain of a married couple, both lawyers.  They had a super cute boxer dog called Brigeeta who they used to bring to work with them every day.  Nothing nuts about that.  I wish I could take my dogs to work everyday.

Fennel and Lemon Salad 1
Fennel and Lemon Salad 1

What was kooky was that Brigeeta used to have a different outfit every day.  And I mean EVERY DAY.  My mum worked with them for maybe five years.  The dog never wore the same clothes twice. 

And you know, I’m not averse to dogs wearing clothes…Oscar has a pair of pyjamas he wears in winter…

Oscar in his PJ's
Oscar in his PJ’s

But there is a a difference between ONE pair of totally necessary pyjamas and 1500 separate outfits!!!    

Remember that old song “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you?”  Well that could have been written about….well, let’s just call him Mr Magoo…(remember, these people are lawyers, they are familiar with litigation). Mr Magoo was badly in need of glasses but thought that getting them would spoil his handsome boy modelling school good looks.  Which incidentally were fairly spare on the ground.  Glasses were not the issue. 

One morning the lady downstairs cornered him and started showing him photos of the party they had gone to the day before, many of which featured Brigeeta in her latest couture which was a Little Red Riding Hood outfit.  

Later he asked Mum if she’d seen the photos.  She said she had.

He said “Did you see that kid in the red?  Man, that was the ugliest child I’ve ever seen”

Fennel and Lemon Salad 2
Fennel and Lemon Salad 2

Captain of this particular Titanic was a lovely, elderly Italian solicitor.  Now he wasn’t crazy as such he  just sometimes had a bit of trouble with English.  So, for instance, once Mum asked him what he did on the weekend and he replied “We went hunting the savage fennels”.

Have you ever heard anything more adorable in your life?

I LOVE that…

“Hunting the Savage Fennels” sounds like a Maurice Sendak book.  Maybe the lesser known prequel to “Where the Wild Things Are”.

The Savage Fennels
The Savage Fennels

The savage fennels grow in abundance in this neck o’ the woods; they spring up on every  vacant lot and the hills are literally alive with them!

The Savage Fennels
The Savage Fennels

This salad I have adapted from “Salads For All Seasons” is a perfect simple and gorgeous way to feature the savage fennels.  Or the more mild mannered fennel you might find in your local supermarket or green grocer.  I kept mine pretty minimalist but some black olives would be a great addition. 

Fennel and Lemon Salad
Fennel and Lemon Salad

I was a little worried about mixing cream and lemon juice in the dressing…because surely that would curdle?  It didn’t.  

Final tip on the salad – fennel is quite robust so it is perfectly fine to dress the salad and leave it for hours.  I added the dressing in the morning and took this to work and it was still crunchy four or five hours later.

This is a perfect accompaniment to fish but would also be fabulous with a grilled steak!


Fennel and Lemon Salad

Fennel and Lemon Salad


  • 1 head of fennel
  • 1 thin skinned lemon
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional
  • Add some chopped black olives


  • Slice the fennel as thinly as possible. Use a mandoline if you have one.
  • Peel the lemon using a potato peeler or a sharp knife.
  • Remove all the pith and separate into segments.
  • Dice the lemon and mix with the parsley, lemon and chilli.
  • For the Dressing
  • Combine all the dressing ingredients.
  • Shake well.
  • Mix with fennel and serve.

 Have a fabulous week!  And beware the savage fennels!

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2















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