Jul 4, 2013

D117: Putting the luck in 'pot luck'

Fennel, Chicken & Veggie risotto
I've led a pretty sheltered life in the world of food.  Life on the farm was mostly meat-and-three-veg.  Italian was spag bol; Indian was kedgeree; Chinese was fried rice.   This is not me complaining - I made spag and fried rice myself.  And I loved Mum's cooking.  Every single meal, in my memory, was a comfort meal.  From the crumbed lamb cutlets and roasts to the fish fingers, egg bread not to mention the desserts. 

Have I not mentioned this before?  Well, if I had to choose I think my favourite would be crepes, which we had with syrup and with lemon & sugar.  I would have seven: three with each topping, one rolled and cut, one cut flat and one rolled and eaten with fingers, plus one that way I felt like today. Self-saucing chocolate pudding was good too. And chocolate steamed pudding, or college pudding, or upside-down pineapple cake, or chocolate cake, or a crumble, or golden syrup dumplings, or baked apples, or apple sponge, or lemon delicious... and if, somehow, a hot desert wasn't on the cards, there was always a bottled fruit in the pantry to go with ice-cream.  Or we could make ice-cream sandwiches with wafers and Milo.  Or have bananas and ice-cream... I'm telling you, life was grand.  Mum is awesome.

Anyway, I digress.
Here's what I was trying to get to today...  What the hell do you do with fennel?!

So, I was going to go into great detail about my slow adaption to a regular food delivery service and how our household shopping habits have had to adjust.  I'll cut to the chase though and admit that today, after our third delivery this morning*, we went to the supermarket to buy meats and a few more fruits for the week.  I wish I'd been able to get these from the delivery, but the fruit and veggies arrive after Thursday's order closes, so when I don't know what's coming I'm not sure how to prepare.  Maybe, one day, we'll be one of those households that always has some chicken and beef in the freezer, just in case.  At the moment though, our fresh food is bought as needed.

Last week, our Aussie Farmers Direct Couples box included half a red cabbage. This is starting to look a bit forlorn in the fridge's bottom drawer, as I've not yet  found a use for it.  (Yeah, live up to your name now, Crisper.)
This week we got apples, bananas, mandarins, oranges (which Bub has just cottoned onto), a Chinese wombok cabbage, another bag of carrots, another bag of potatoes, celery, coriander, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes and a fennel.  The potatoes are fine; I'm planning chips with those now that I know Bub will eat them.   The carrots and onions will keep, and the fruit is easily taken up with purees, brekkies and desserts.  But the rest?  Hmmm... I really didn't want another abandoned veggie in the fridge!

So this is what I came up with: Risotto!

  • 1 onion (any colour), diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, grated or minced
  • 300g chicken mince
  • 3 small carrots, diced
  • Half a wombok cabbage, sliced or shredded
  • 1/2 cup of baby peas
  • 1 1/5 cup aborio rice
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • A lemon
To make:
  1. Fry the onion and fennel in a large frying pan till soft, add minced chicken and stir till cooked.
  2. Add carrot and cabbage.  
  3. Add rice and stir till that all wet.
  4. Add 1L of the stock and stir till its absorbed.
  5. Add peas.
  6. Add one cup of liquid at a time, stirring till each is absorbed.  Stop adding liquid when the rice is cooked.
  7. Serve with a slice of lemon.
I almost added dill, but I'm even less familiar with that flavour and didn't want to find out it was a bad idea on a big pan of made food.  Of course, you should season your meal as you like.

As soon as the box arrived, after I'd looked at the contents with Bub and said "Last one of these I think!", I started searching with "fennel cabbage recipe".  Amongst all the coleslaw recipes, I saw someone had written something like "Don't be put off by the fragrance of the fennel, it lessens on cooking."  Thank goodness, because I found it quite aniseedy when chopping and I wasn't a fan at all.  But this?  This I'd have again.  Good thing too, coz there's about 6 serves of it!

Maybe we will do another Couples box though... We'll see what's left come Tuesday! :)

*So, quick note: AFD deliver fruit & veg on Wednesday only.  Diary, bakery things, meat, deli, meals, pasta, and all the rest are delivered on Monday and Thursday.  Monday's order closes Sat @1pm, but the other two are 1pm the day prior.

**This risotto is cheese free.  We can't do cheese at the moment with Bub's tummy, but I'm not sure it would work with this recipe anyway.  The creaminess is still there thanks to the frequent stirring of the aborio rice.


  1. I got those boxes for a long time, before my garden started supplying the majority of our vegetable needs. I used to do what I called refrigerator soup or pasta (much as you have done). I'd throw what ever veggies I had (chopped up) into the slow cooker with a tin of tomatoes or some chickpeas or both with some herbs etc and let it cook for a few hours. The pasta was diced cooked veggies (whatever was left) a tin of tomatoes and some herbs tossed through cooked pasta. Put in a baking dish, top with cheese and bread crumbs and bake.

    But if you get another fennel look up a recipe for braised fennel (delicious) or try this one http://thenewgoodlife.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/slow-cooked-thursday-lamb-shank-fennel-and-vegetable-soup/.

    Oh and braised red cabbage with red wine vinegar also delicious with a grilled steak or something similar.

    And to finish with a couple of tips for the boxes if you do keep getting them. 1) You can check what's coming at the start of the week on their website which can be helpful to plan meals and shopping and give you time to get creative. 2) We got them fortnightly and went with a pick and pack in between. But even so I still found we always had too many spuds and carrots at times (and lettuce too from memory).

    1. Goodness! There's the 'see what's in this week's box' link right there! Can't believe I missed that! Tanks for the tip :)
      The 'all in' soup is often a goer for us. I did have a slow cooker for a while but I think it was too slow... Err. Obviously that could be done bette, probably with a better slow cooker. But, yes, I think the all in soup is about third or fourth on our rotation. ;)
      Should we get fennel again I'll definitely check out the shank recipe - looks lovey! We don't often do steaks, or meat in that kind of way, for some reason, but i'll have a look at the braised cabbage and see if it's suits. I'm currently looking into a relish or pickled something to use the red cabbage. I think the other half of the wombok is about to be fried with an onion and go onto some filo triangles with the freezer's rejected baby mash. Wish me luck there! :). Thanks for the help!