Sunday 7 October
We have been trying to grow Florentine fennel in our garden since 2007; sometimes we've gotten as many as two bulbs out of a packet of seeds.
But this year, Barbara got seven plants to sprout and prosper in the garden. She watered them, mulched them, and mounded up the earth around them so they'd grow bigger bulbs. And as they show signs of going to seed (fennel pollen, anyone?), she sacrificed the first one, for Dora to enjoy as a plaything, and for us to enjoy as a side dish for tonight's dinner.
Once we tore the cat loose from the fronds, the fennel bulb was sliced thin and sautéed in butter, then braised in white wine until tender. The only seasoning it needed was a little salt, a little pepper.
You'll never believe it, but we still had some inch-thick veal chops from Antipastos in Canada in the freezer. We felt quite nostalgic as we patted them with chopped rosemary and thyme, pan-fried them until brown, then finished them in a 350º oven.
We deglazed the pan with white wine, and when it had reduced, a big splash of balsamic vinegar. Finally we monter-ed au beurre, and poured the sauce over the rested chops.
Marvelous on both counts.