F is for Fennel


I never used to eat Fennel.  In Australia it is uncommon and often difficult to find. That changed when I moved to France where it is treated as a common vegetable always sitting somewhere between the lettuce and cucumbers.   In France not only is it affordable it is simply prepared. Most commonly it is served as a side salad, roughly cut with a squeeze of lemon.

One of my favourite fennel recipes is salmon pasta with a fennel side salad, but as this site requires an unusual principal ingredient, the recipe will have to wait for another time.

When selecting your fennel bulb do not choose one with flowers as this means the bulb is too old. You want a bulb without discolouration that is clean and solid. Fennel is best used within 3-4 days of purchasing and stored in the vegetable crisper, wrapped in plastic.

Fennel is very good for you with high levels of Vitamin C.  Pleasingly fennel has no fat and it contains Phytonutrients that have shown to reduce inflammation, and in animal testing prevent cancer and reduce the risk of liver disease.

I am making fennel pizza because it showcases the subtle flavour of the fennel and caramelised fennel is to die for.


Serves 4


  • 1 pizza base
  • garlic oil (recipe below)
  • 1 baby turnip, peeled and very thinly sliced (a mandoline works beautifully here)
  • caramelized fennel (recipe below)
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • chunks of fresh mozarella, optional
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (1/2 cup or so)
  • reserved fennel fronds

Preheat oven to 450 with rack on the bottom. Stretch out the dough into a 16-inch or so rectangle or circle, depending on your pan, using flour to keep everything from sticking. Brush the dough from edge to edge with garlic oil. Layer with turnips, caramelised fennel and onion slices and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Par-bake pizza for 6 – 7 minutes.

Add goat cheese and mozzarella, if using, and return to oven until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Top with fennel fronds and dressed greens.

Dressed greens:

  • baby spinach or arugula
  • 2 tablespoons garlic oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • squeeze of dijon

Whisk together last three ingredients, season with salt and pepper and toss with greens just before topping pizza.

Garlic oil:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Heat oil and garlic together on medium heat in a small pan, just until bubbles begin to show around edges of garlic. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove garlic cloves and store in a repurposed glass jar at room temperature.  Make ahead: will keep for up to six months.

Caramelized fennel:

  • 1 large fennel bulb (fronds trimmed, reserved) sliced thinly through the root end
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • few drops maple syrup
  • coarse salt
  • fennel seeds

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high. Add half the fennel and arrange in a single layer, allowing to cook until golden-brown on the bottom. Flip each slice and sprinkle with salt and a half teaspoon of fennel seeds; sprinkle a few drops of maple syrup around the pan and cook until fennel is caramelized, lowering heat if browning too quickly. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining fennel slices. Make ahead: store covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours.


Participatory Media Scenario


Participatory Media, there’s that buzzword again.  However, you and I  will have to get used to it over the next couple of weeks as I begin to compose my Participatory Media scenario.

My tutor Jonathon Hutchinson who will be referred to by the excellent abbreviation “JH” (I feel it gives him an element of street cred) suggested that we choose to work with something we love. Bearing this in mind  I have chosen to work in a area I am passionate about – holidays. This will not be travel per se but more the embodiment of escapism from day to day life.

The concept is the development of portable houses ‘pods’ and to have these located on people’s property where they have access to land and are looking at generating additional income.  People will be directed to this accommodation via a website that has a database of travel tips that give detailed advice on things to see and do in the areas that surround the pods. The level of detail and suggestions in an area will determine the number of pods. This will allow the company an insight into preferred travel destinations and create an online media source that has a real world connection with the data it collects.

How to create this online community is where the lecture from JH was very interesting.  He introduced me to the concept of seeding, creating content on platforms that reflect what you would like to see contributed to the site. This creates a hook for people who will be the first visitors to the site. Engaging people is also vital and JH put it right when he said “go where the people are”. At the moment this is Facebook and that means that my retail scenario will have to have a strong presence on Facebook if it is to survive.

The asset of my scenario is the sharing of data by fellow holiday makers. JH spoke about barriers that prevent people from contributing and I need to make this as easy as possible to grow my database. If I think about social media sites that I enjoy being part of, Pinterest is an excellent example, I rarely contribute to the content of these platforms. I need to assess what makes me not contribute and look at how best to encourage people to be a part of my online community.

I also need to find a way to create hype and buzz around my idea to generate interest. The hype needs to fit with my brand story and create a strong image of what my brand will be about. It must be news worthy and encourage people to get involved. Maybe I could offer free accommodation to those that contribute an article of significant value to my website? This could be an ongoing competition and one that utilises the talent of people who want to write professionally? I could capitalise on student travel stories and low budgets? The possibilities are endless and I am excited about beginning to work on building my own online community.

Today people expect and are capable of participating within a brand’s story. Due to this most companies will require some form of Participatory Media. The richness that companies get from the feedback and subsequent engagement with a brand is priceless, a skill that companies must master as they head forward into a digital age.