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Dinner out is often the best inspiration for me, even if the creation that comes from it barely looks or tastes like the thing that inspired me in the first place. This is one of those examples. Don’t worry, I don’t believe this to be a special talent. I know it’s like that for most people but it’s still loads of fun when it happens.  Dinner out for us this week meant a lovely invitation to a friends house. I was excited. Not only is she a fabulous cook, but it meant a lovely break from the kitchen. A recent hand injury made creating and cooking more of a chore than the enjoyable experience that it usually is. This was the perfect treat. I eat better at most of my friends houses than I do in restaurants and for that I am very grateful.

Back to the meal, enough blabbing. The whole meal was incredible but the crab cakes with an ouzo cream and crispy parsley were definitely the highlight. Those of you looking for a fattening recipe, I am sorry to disappoint, there will be no crab cakes in a whip cream sauce. You’ll have to sign up for the newsletter to hear about the “Guilty Pleasure” of the month. However if you did decide to give these a try, I know that I would quickly redeem myself.

I will stay true to my theme here and convert a less healthy recipe into something just as delightful without any of the guilt associated with fried food and cream sauces.  I have also been wanting to make a version of these parsnip wild rice cakes from my favorite vegetarian cookbook, Cafe Paridiso  (available on the right hand Amazon widget) and with those 2 recipes in my back pocket, Parsnip and Wild Rice Cakes with Pear and a Fennel Cream is what transpired.

Here’s a quick run down about the nutritional content of the ingredients I will be featuring. Here’s why you should be excited about pears. Pears are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The presence of boron helps our bodies retain calcium which means a reduced chance of menopausal osteoporosis. Also it’s fiber content means that our colon health will thank us later. But here’s a biggy, it has been seen to lower blood pressure, diminish the chance of stroke and lower cholesterol levels. There’s a lot more but these are just the highlights. Now onto parsnips.

Parsnips are most commonly seen in northern countries because they need frost to develop their flavor. They look like a pale sickly version of it’s cousin, the carrot, but don’t be fooled, there’s nothing sickly about this fab vegetable. It has substantial health benefits. High in fiber, (you’ll have a happy pooper), high in folate and potassium. Folate is required for the growth of healthy cells. That’s pretty important. With a light nutty and peppery flavor they replace potatoes easily and are common in diets for weight loss.

The last note is about fennel. The cream sauce is actually pureed fennel. Brilliant. There’s a little cream added to thin the sauce and to add depth and richness. Fennel is also high in fiber, folate and vitamin C. Fennel is also a great source of phytonutrients that have been shown to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer.

It’s no surprise that pears and parsnips pair beautifully. These 2 have been seen as partners in crime in a puree or in a soup and even in casseroles. It was Sunday night and I felt like doing something special and I was excited about the combination of sweet and earthy with wild rice adding in for texture. Those of you doing the workshop already know about the benefits of baking wild rice so this recipe will come as no surprise.

I encourage all of you to try these delightful little patties either as an elegant appetizer or as a side to something else fantastic. We served ours with a pan fried trout and also tried it with paprika shrimp. Both were delicious accompaniments, but chicken would be equally as nice.

Fennel Cream

Adaption of Fennel Cream by Troy Thompsom

  • 1/4 cup cream
    1 fennel bulb
    1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
    1/2 cup milk
    salt and pepper
    1 Tbsp butter
    2 garlic cloves
    Pernod to taste (1-2 Tbsp)

Slice the fennel bulb and thinly slice the garlic. Sautee fennel and garlic in a sauce pan for 10 minutes with 1 Tbsp butter.  Add broth and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Place the contents of this pan in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional broth as needed to thin while blending. Pour through a sieve and return to a sauce pan. Add milk and whisk until well blended. Bring to a simmer and add cream as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Add pernod, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the Parsnip Cakes

Parsnip and Wild Rice Cakes with Pear

  • 2 parsnips grated
    1 bosc pear grated
    2 cups cooked wild rice
    1 handful chopped parsley
    1/2 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper
    2 tbsp bread crumbs
    2 eggs beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. This is a great way of cooking them without any of the oil associated with pan frying. The best part is they still come out crispy on the outside and moist yet cooked through on the inside.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Take a 1/4 cup of the parsnip mixture and  form into patties. Bake at 400 F on parchment paper for 20-22 minutes. Makes 10-12 patties serves 4.

Serve with Fennel “Cream”



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