orange

fennel confit with orange and bay

Fennel Confit by Olaiya Land

Hello beautiful people,

I’m back in Seattle after seven weeks of teaching and traveling in Europe. I had an amazing time leading workshops with Yossy and Eva and seeing friends in Portugal and Paris. But holy shiz does it feel good to be home after being on the road for so long.

Seeing my home with fresh eyes has been a real gift. Working for myself means a lot of hours logged from home; sometimes all I notice is the laundry that needs folding, the dishes that need washing and the weeds that need pulling. 

Fennel Confit by Olaiya Land

When I walked in the door after this last trip I was overcome with love for our little house. After weeks of sleeping in hotel beds and navigating other people’s rented homes, being in my own house was pure joy. I could see all the time and effort Beau and I have put into making this space a haven and a home. 

Since I got back, I’ve been trying to keep things simple. Waking up without an alarm clock. Afternoon walks in the park. Reading instead of binging on TV. And simple meals like this Fennel Confit with Orange and Bay.

Fennel Confit by Olaiya Land

I made this for the guests of the Paris workshop I hosted with Yossy. It takes almost zero work--just a slow braise in a low oven, during which you can do any number of things (I propose a glass of rosé and a book in the backyard). When it comes out of the oven, the fennel is meltingly tender and infused with the flavors of the the south of France. You can use it as a base for fish or chicken, stir it into a white bean salad, or--my favorite--spoon it straight out of the pan onto slices of baguette then drizzle some of the garlicky olive oil over the top.

I’ll be back soon with images from my travels. In the meantime, I hope this recipe serves as a little reminder to savor all the simple pleasures in your life.

xo,

Olaiya

P.S. For anyone who wants to come cook, shoot and explore in Paris with me this fall, there are still a few spots left in my food & photography workshop with Yossy Arefi!


Fennel Confit with Orange and Bay

  • 3 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and halved
  • Extra-virgin live oil
  • 4-5 strips orange zest
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice of one orange
  • Kosher or sea salt

*Note: This is delicious served hot or room temperature. It can be made a day in advance and reheated in a low oven or brought to room temperature by removing it from the fridge a few hours before serving.

Fennel Confit with Orange and Bay.jpg

Preheat your oven to 350°F (150°C). Place the fennel cut-side-down in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the baking dish by about 1/4 inch (6mm). Add the orange zest, garlic and bay, making sure to submerge them at least partially in the oil. Squeeze the orange juice over the fennel and salt generously.

Cook, basting occasionally with the oil and orange juice, until the fennel is very tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. (The time will vary based on how large your fennel bulbs are. For small bulbs, start checking at 30 minutes.) Set aside to cool slightly before slicing as desired and serving with the infused oil and garlic from the pan. 

Makes 6-8 appetizer or first-course servings.

Fennel Confit by Olaiya Land

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alison roman's slow roasted pork with garlic, citrus and cilantro

slow roasted pork // image: Olaiya Land

Hello people!

I’m back with the latest installment of the Holiday-Fun-Time-Blog-Party-Extravaganza Megan from Cream + Honey and I have put together for you!  

This week I want to talk about traditions--honoring old ones, creating new ones and ditching the ones that don’t serve us anymore.

Time-honored rituals can provide a comforting sense of continuity. They remind us of family ties and Christmases past. In the things they include and leave out, they contribute to our sense of identity: Are you the sort of person who strings popcorn on the tree while sipping a mug of mulled cider and singing carols? Or the sort of person who decks a Charlie Brown tree in mismatched lights while getting lit on eggnog and watching arthouse holiday films on your laptop? 

slow roasted pork // image: Olaiya Land

I think traditions are great. As long as they make you feel good! But in observing my own life and those of people around me, I see a lot of holiday ties that bind instead of anchor. The season can be filled with a sense of obligation: We buy gifts because we always have. We cook the same meal because that’s the way we’ve always done it. We schlep ourselves and our families from one gathering to the next with barely any time for real connections.

Here’s my radical holiday suggestion: wipe all the shoulds off the slate and only do the things that really gave you joy. Sledding with the kids on Christmas day instead of driving to the in-laws. Skipping the office holiday party to watch old movies on the couch with your special someone. Hiking to a remote cabin in the woods to spend the day in peaceful solitude. Cooking an elaborate multi-course holiday meal with each dish based on one of the Seven Dwarves. Whatever floats your boat!

I know this might feel selfish to some of you. It certainly did to me when I stopped doing all the things I was “supposed to do” for the holidays: give lots of gifts, bake a million cookies, send cards to friends and family, throw an amazing Christmas party. But I’m a big fan of quality over quantity when it comes to time with loved ones. Quality time can only come when we aren’t frazzled and harried and cracking under the stress of a mile-long to-do list.

slow roasted pork // image: Olaiya Land

This year, I’m giving you permission (because sometimes we need that) to ditch the whole host of holiday obligations. Spend some time thinking about what you’d love to do this holiday--whether it's celebrating old traditions, creating new ones or forgoing tradition all together--and follow that instinct. 

And for those of you looking for something festive and decidedly un-traditional to cook this Christmas, I’m nominating this Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Garlic, Citrus and Cilantro from Alison Roman’s magnificent Dining In. If you’ve been following my stories on Instagram, you know I’m in love with this cookbook. I've been cooking out of it like crazy and gifting it to all my favorite people. (If you’re giving gifts this year and have friends who like to cook, this needs to be at the top of your shopping list!) But back to this stunning roast... It’s easy, can be made in advance and would make a brilliant centerpiece for a California- or Mexico-themed holiday supper. Most importantly, it's crazy-delicious.

For more non-traditional-but-super-sexy holiday deliciouness, click on over to Cream + Honey to check out Megan's Potato, Cheddar and Onion Focaccia.

I’m off to pack up all the holiday cookies I baked (a tradition I realized I love once I stopped forcing myself to do it!). I’ll be back next week with more tips for keeping the season fun and bright!

XO,

Olaiya


Alison Roman's Slow Roasted Pork with Garlic, Citrus and Cilantro

  • 1 3 ½ - to 4-pound boneless, skinless pork shoulder
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral tasting high-heat oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 2 heads garlic, halved lenghtwise
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 chiles de árbol or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 4 limes

*Note: Pork can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Heat in a 325° F oven until warmed through.

Preheat your oven to 325° F. 

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. (I used a Dutch oven.) Sear the pork, fat-side down, until it's really well browned, 8-10 minutes. Turn the pork and brown on the other side, another 8-10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a large serving platter or cutting board, and drain the pot of all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Add the halved orange and garlic to the pot, cut-side down, followed by the thyme, bay leaves, chiles, and coriander. Cook, stirring for a second, to lightly brown the oranges and garlic. Add the orange juice and 2 cups of water, stirring to scrape up any bits. Return the pork to the pot (the liquid should come a little less than halfway up the pork--add more if it doesn't). Cover and transfer it to the oven.

Roast the pork until it is super tender but not quite falling apart (you want to be able to slice it, not shred it). If you're using a thermometer, this is when the pork reaches around 175-180° F. (Alison states a cook time to 3-4 hours but my 4-pound roast was done in about 2. I'd start checking for doneness at around an hour and a half if I were you.)

Remove the pot from the oven and, using tongs or two large serving utensils, carefully transfer the pork to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut the cilantro stems from the tender tops, tie them together with kitchen twine and add them to the pot with the juices. Cook until the juices have thickened slightly then remove the cilantro stems and discard them.

Slice the pork and place it on a serving platter along with the oranges, garlic and chiles (if desired). Pour the juices over the pork. Slice the limes into halves or quarters and arrange them on the platter for guests to squeeze over their pork. Pick some leaves and/or tender stems from the cilantro tops and scatter over the pork before serving.

Adapted slightly from Dining In by Alison Roman

slow roasted pork // image: Olaiya Land

orange-pistachio semolina cake

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land
orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land

Hello lovely people,

I’m back in Seattle after seven glorious weeks in Europe. And by glorious I mean crazy chaotic and jam-packed with work! I think I might be constitutionally incapable of being realistic about my own limitations. If a project sounds fun/interesting/novel/challenging, I feel compelled to say yes. Sleep and sanity be damned.

I’m not complaining. I got to discover beautiful Bordeaux. And collaborate with talented artists. And people-watch in Paris. And eat amazing food from my favorite chefs. And see friends. And make new ones. And drink a little too much deliciously funky French champagne. 

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land

But I landed in Seattle sort of flattened from all those weeks of living out of a suitcase and navigating the stress of travel abroad. (Not once, but twice, restaurants I had booked for my retreat guests lost our reservation. One for 12 people on a Saturday night during Paris fashion week!) 

So since I got home, I’ve tried to be extra kind to myself. I’ve been making space for ample amounts of sleep. (I actually just woke up from a long Friday afternoon nap, which is unheard of for me.) Plenty of water and nourishing food. Runs through the fall foliage. Lots of laughter and connection with friends and family. And just generally more pleasure. You know--all those things we know we should be doing but don’t.

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land

I have a mountain of images from my trip to sift through and I can’t wait to share them with you! But as part of taking my foot off the gas for a moment, I decided to opt for something a little easier this week. This superb cake was left over from a cooking class I taught at Book Larder. It wasn’t really on my agenda to shoot it and put it up on the blog. But then I woke up the day after my class and realized I had a delicious, fully-baked cake in my possession and that it would be pretty easy-peasy to shoot and share it.

Now don’t go thinking I’d throw any old junk up here on the blog; this cake is ridiculously good. I hadn’t made it in a couple of years and had forgotten how truly fantastic it is. When I cut myself a slice in class, topped it with a mound of delicately floral orange blossom whipped cream and took a bite, I was momentarily transported.

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land

In line with this week’s theme of keeping things easy, this cake comes together with very little fuss. No egg whites to whip up. No need to remember to bring your ingredients to room temperature. You don’t even need a mixer. So if you also want to be extra nice to yourself this weekend, this cake is for you!

I’ll be back soon to share new work from my Paris and Portugal trips with you. In the meantime, I’ll be spending my weekend cooking, listening to records, watching the rain come down, and hopefully fitting in a nap or two.


Orange-Pistachio Semolina Cake

  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice (zest the orange before juicing and reserve zest)
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter

To serve

  • 1 recipe Orange Blossom Whipped Cream (below)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped pistachios

 

*Note: This cake is better the next day, so make it in advance if you have time. Leave it covered out of the refrigerator overnight. 

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar, water, cinnamon stick and a small pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened slightly, 5-6 minutes minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange juice. Set aside to cool until the cake is done.

Butter an  8” x 8” square or 9” round cake pan. 

Combine the pistachios and sugar in a blender or food processor. Process into a fine powder. Sift the pistachio sugar, flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and semolina into a large bowl. (The pistachios won't fit through a fine-mesh sieve, so if you don't have a medium-mesh sieve, use a fork or whisk to aerate your ingredients and remove lumps.) Add 1 teaspoon of the reserved orange zest and whisk to combine. Use your fingers to break up any remaining lumps.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan then transfer to a medium bowl. Heat the milk in the same pan over medium-low heat until it feels warm to the touch. Add to the bowl with the butter and whisk to combine. Add the milk and butter to the semolina mixture and stir to combine, making sure there are no pockets of dry semolina at the bottom of the bowl. 

Pour the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
 
When the cake is done, remove the cinnamon stick from the syrup. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Let the cake sit until the liquid has been fully absorbed and the cake has cooled to room temperature. Cut the cake into roughly 3-inch squares or diamonds. Top slices with Orange Blossom Whipped Cream and sprinkle with chopped pistachios before serving. 

Makes 8-10 servings.


Orange Blossom Whipped Cream 

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (preferably superfine), or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon orange blossom water

 

Place the cream, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the orange blossom water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until the sugar has mostly dissolved. (You can also whip the cream with a hand blender or by hand with a whisk.) Taste and add more orange blossom water and/or sugar if desired. Beat until soft peaks form and serve.

Makes about 2 cups.

orange pistachio semolina cake || Image: Olaiya Land