I started with a recipe I found on Cleveland Foodie's site, Jonathon Sawyer's Chopped Chicken Liver, served along with some crusty bread. I used fresh chicken livers from Plum Creek Farm but they are also readily available at the Westside Market. The first step was to make a chicken liver mousse and and then add a mixture of onion, pickle, hard boiled egg, caper, & vinegar to it. The mousse by itself was amazing so if you are short on time or think the combination of ingredients sounds weird, don't be afraid to try the mousse alone. My sister, who made a nasty face when I told her what I was serving her, was even seen going back for seconds (and thirds...) so I think this was a big success.
While everyone was munching on the chicken liver I was working hard on the rest of the meal. The second course was Michael Symon's Shaved Fennel Salad, the third course was an amazing garlic soup (picture below), the main course was tagliatelle pasta with homemade duck ragu sauce, and since I don't enjoy baking or making desserts I picked up a carrot cake from Heinen's.
Delicious Garlic Soup with Crunchy Croutons
Prepping this meal definitely gave me a lot more respect for real chefs go through on a day to do basis. Unfortunately, shopping for all the ingredients took much of the day so I didn't start cooking until 4 and our guests showed up at 5. I felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef trying to execute each of these dishes, but it was worth the hard work when we were all enjoying dinner.
Now onto the reason for the blog, Michael Symon's Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill, and Watercress from page 73 of Live to Cook.
All the Ingredients Except the Garlic
The first step to make the salad is to zest one orange and peel and segment all the oranges. I'd never segmented any fruit before but I found it pretty quick and easy to do. It would be even easier if I owned a sharp knife. Make sure to segment over a bowl to catch any orange juice that may squeeze out while you are holding it.
Based on the suggestion of a clerk at Whole Foods, I used two different kinds of oranges, regular navel & Cara Cara. I was not familiar with Cara Cara oranges, which are a special type of navel orange distinguished by their rosy color. While they look like grapefruit in the picture above, they taste very sweet and juicy and have a low acid content. Cara Cara oranges are in peak season during the winter, specifically in December and January, but I highly recommend checking them out if you see them in your grocery store.
The dressing for the salad consisted of lemon & orange zest & juice, garlic, shallot, & salt whisked together.
Shaved Fennel Salad Minus the Oranges & Watercress
I wasn't sure how to shave the fennel so I just used a vegetable peeler and cut each bulb into slices like I was peeling an apple. The picture in the book shows much smaller shavings but I was happy with the result with the vegetable peeler.
I added the shaved fennel, dill, orange segments, watercress, olive oil and spices to the vinaigrette and gently mixed it all together. I wasn't sure what fennel fronds are so I ignored that portion of the recipe.
Dining Room Table Waiting for Guests
I plated each salad individually and set them on the table to greet our guests when we all sat down.
I wasn't sure if I would like this salad. I am not a fan of black licorice (something else with a strong anise flavor) and while I've had more than my fair share of Jagermeister, the red bull it's typically mixed with masks the anise flavor Jagermeister shares with fennel & black licorice. I had only tried fennel on one or two occasions and don't remember liking or disliking it.
The salad was crisp and refreshing. The sweet citrus from the Cara Cara oranges was very refreshing, so much so that I may or may not have drank the leftover juice on my plate as I was clearing the table. I would definitely make this salad again and I'd likely serve it as a palate cleansing course. From a plating & timing perspective it was easier for me to have the salad plated when we sat down to eat and then serve the soup hot when we were ready for the next course. However, this salad would have been perfect to break of the richness of the garlic soup and the duck ragu and also allowed us to savor the complexity of the ragu. Michael Symon also suggests that in addition to a nice side salad, the salad makes a nice base for a lean white fish.
CostI will provide the approximate cost for each recipe in the book, as well as the source of the products used.
It cost about $15.61* to make the Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill, and Watercress from Michael Symon's Live to Cook.
All ingredients came from Whole Foods unless otherwise noted. Yes, I really drive 45 minutes from Avon Lake to University Heights to go to Whole Foods but only if I combine it with a trip to the Shaker Square or Coit Road Farmers Market.
Oranges - $3.50
Organic Fennel - $6.12
Watercress - $2.99
Miscellaneous (garlic, salt, pepper, coriander (Spicehound), dill (Heinen's - the dill at Whole Foods looked old), lemon, olive oil (Olive Tap), shallot) - $3
*This is what it cost to make a single batch. I doubled the recipe to serve 6 people.