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SmellyBlog

Asian Pear & Fennel Salad

Fall fruits are flavourful, fragrant and full of interesting textures. Such are Asian pears (Pyrus serotina) - they absorb the summer sun and turn it into a crisp, crunchy texture full of intriguing subtle flavours reminiscent of pineapple and ripe quince rosiness - yet without that very hard core or need of cooking. Its aroma is subtle yet floral and robust. This must be because of the unique esters in it - which if you get a tree-ripened fruit, will really shine through. The supermarket variety just don't cut it (though they still got the crunchy texture).

I particularly enjoy using Asian pears in savoury salads, as their texture is firm and they hold their shape through the tossing, turning or even marinating that I like to put my sturdy vegetables through. They are also not nearly as sweet as other pears, and are just a little more neutral and readily get along with other flavours.

Asian pears are particularly fantastic with crunchy, fresh fennel bulbs. I slice them as thinly as possible, add some shaved carrots (creative use for your vegetable peeler!) and toss them with pine nuts, goji berries and some pomegranate seeds if I happen to have some. And the best part is that this salad will taste amazing the next day, once the fennel seeds have soaked up some moisture and release more of their licorice-like sweetness. For this particular salad I used fresh, still green fennel seeds, so no marinating was necessary. If you are lucky to have some growing in your garden - or out in the wild - this is a marvelous way to use fresh spice.
I also was lucky to have a jar of marinated sweet & spicy butternut squash around and add it the first time around. I will post a recipe for marinated butternut squash another time!

1 bulb fresh fennel laved or quartered and then thinly sliced
1 ripe and firm Asian pear, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1-2 Tbs raw pine nuts
2 Tbs dried goji berries
2 Tbs fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (I prefer the Lebanese, Israeli or Greek oils; the majority of Italian olive oils that are imported to North America are dull and inferior)
Juice from half a lemon (about 1 Tbs)
1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds


Prepare all fruit and vegetables and toss in a salad bowl with the dressing. Garnish with pine nuts, goji berries and pomegranate seeds (if available). Serve immediately, or the next day (it will taste wonderful each time!).

Hibiscus Rhubarb Iced Tea


P1070149, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Late discoverer of rhubarb, I'm having a blast this summer playing with the possibilities that this tart red stalk has to offer.
After pondering the possibilities of a rhubonade - a tangy refreshing infusion a-la-lemonade, I set on using freshly sliced rhubarb to a summery iced tea - rather than cooking them up with sugar and strawberries (as I've seen in some recipes).

Hibiscus flowers create a deep red infusion when steeped in boiling water. They usually form the base (along with rosehips) for fruity-flavoured tisanes. On its own, hibiscus tea is very popular in Egypt as well as South America. While it can be served warm, it has a far more appealing character when chilled, making it a wonderful, refreshing summer drink. I added a tad of honey to balance the tartness, and also the goji berries contribute their own flavour and sweetness, yet without being toothachingly sweet.

1.5 L fresh water
30 gr dried hibiscus flowers
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. dried goji berries
1 stalk of fresh rhubarb

Place hibiscus flowers in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add goji berries and honey, and transfer to a pitcher. Bring down to room temperature. Slice the rhubarb thinly, and add to water. Refrigerate overnight and serve either strained or with a couple of rhubarb slices and some goji berries in each glass.


Rhubarb Hibiscus Iced Tea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.


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