This looks familiar, doesn’t it?
That’s right, folks, we are back to cooking in the wonderful works of Brian Jacques!
For those who haven’t been following the blog until now, Brian Jacques (may the muses sing his name in his departure) is the author of the Redwall book series. The series follows societies of anthropomorphic woodland creatures in a medieval setting. Think Zootopia or Watership Down meets King Arthur.
Jacques is also known for describing practically every meal and feast in these books with enough mouthwatering detail to make you wonder why the local supermarket doesn’t carry items like acorn flour or bulrushes. A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for Grayling à la Redwall, from the first book in the series, Redwall. This recipe featured broiled trout with white wine cream sauce and honey-roasted hazelnuts. I so happened to post this a few days before Diana from Fiction Food-Café had planned to host a Redwall-themed picnic. One thing led to another, and now we and a collection of other fandom food bloggers decided to host #RedwallAugust. See the whole collection of recipes by clicking here on August 1st.
So today’s recipe is from the book Mossflower, the prequel to Redwall and the second book published in the series. From the kitchens of Bella the Badger Lady of Brockhall, I give you Fennel and Celery Stew with Hazelnut Dumplings.
For this recipe I opted to try making Norfolk dumplings and mix in some fresh tarragon, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese for its nutty taste, and a batch of the honey roasted hazelnuts I had made for Grayling à la Redwall.
Since the good creatures of Mossflower are usually vegetarian with exception to fish, I used vegetable stock for this recipe. Were I to make it again, I’d use beef stock for a richer soup. Fennel and tarragon have a strong anise flavor, so I also sweetened the broth with some ground thyme.
So here it is, a dish to warm the bones after escaping a Wildcat’s prison.
Fennel and Celery Stew with Honeyed Hazelnut Dumplings
Equipment: Flour sifter, wire whisk, large pot, stove top, slotted spoon.
- 2 heads fennel, diced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon cooking sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 cup fennel fronds for garnish
- 2/3 cups shredded Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese
- 1 and 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 stalks tarragon, minced
- 1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the baking tray or roasting pan with foil and pour in hazelnuts. Roast nuts 7-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove tray from oven and transfer nuts to a dish after about a minute or two of cooling.
- Stir in honey and salt until fully coated and scrape mix back onto lined baking tray. Roast another 3 minutes in the oven before removing to let cool completely. Transfer hazelnuts to food processor and pulverize until the consistency of large breadcrumbs.
- Start making the dumplings by sifting flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the hazelnuts, tarragon, cheese, and salt. Slowly pour in water while mixing with a spatula until fully moistened. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until firm. Pinch off golf ball sized pieces and roll into balls. Set aside.
- Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pot over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the diced fennel and celery and stir to coat. After about 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Pour in the vegetable stock, sherry, ground thyme, and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer 15 minutes.
- Lower the dumplings into the pot with the slotted spoon. Raise the heat to medium and boil uncovered for 20 minutes. The dumplings should be floating before you are done cooking.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the remaining butter, and season the stew with more salt to taste. Remove the dumplings with the slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Ladle the soup into bowls and distribute the dumplings among them. Garnish with fennel fronds before serving.