So, the ingredients for this month's joust were fennel, pear and ginger. Three lovely ingredients indeed and so many dishes they can star in ... but I've got to keep this short. I got some inspiration for this dish from a snippet in the December 2009 issue of Food & Wine highlighting a fennel mustard by Thomas Keller (this master chef's version is just fennel cooked in white vinegar then pureed with mustard powder). I, on the other hand, cooked down some roughly chopped fennel and pear with a pinch of ground ginger in some white vinegar, then pureed it with dry mustard powder and thyme honey. Can you say Mmmmmmmm?
Now, one of my favorite things to eat with mustard is a good potato knish. A knish, if I am not mistaken, is Yiddish for a fried turnover/dumpling filled with potato more often than not although there are a number of varieties that also include ground meat, spinach and other fillings. My favorite is the potato, slathered with lots of whole grain mustard. So after making this homemade mustard of sorts, I had to try it with something potato-y ... hence these Ginger Leek Potato Croquettes that fit beautifully in with the Royal Foodie Joust, paired amazingly well with the Fennel Pear Honey Mustard and, even more importantly, took care of my sudden craving for a knish ... which come to think about it I haven't had in years.
And just so you can understand how delicious these are: my son upon popping two in his mouth jumped up and exclaimed, "Mmmm, Mama! These are yummy in my tummy!" What can I say? The kid's got a distinguished palate ... and he's only three!
Ginger Leek Potato Croquettes with a Fennel Pear Honey Mustard
For 1 1/2 cups of mustard:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 pears, peeled and diced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Pinch of ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon thyme honey
Salt, to taste
In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the fennel and pear over low heat until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and ground ginger and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more. Once done, place the contents of the skillet into the bowl of a food processor, add the mustard powder and honey and blend until pureed. Spoon the mustard into a bowl, let cool, then season with salt and store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The mustard is best made at least one day ahead, if not more.
For the Ginger Leek Potato Croquettes:
2 large potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and quartered
1 large leek, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
Pinch of grated ginger
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs (one for mixture, one for coating before frying)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil for frying
In a medium saucepan, place leeks and potatoes in enough water to cover and boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the cooking water then place saucepan with the leeks and potatoes briefly back over the heat to evaporate any excess water.
Transfer the potatoes and leeks to the bowl of a food processor along with the ginger, salt and pepper. Pulse until pureed then spoon the potato mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs and one egg, adding more breadcrumbs as necessary to more easily form the mixture into croquettes. If you have the time, place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes for better handling. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and set aside. Heat about an inch of olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Wet your hands slightly and begin forming the potato mixture into croquettes, about one inch in diameter. Coat the croquettes in the egg and fry until golden on each side. Drain briefly on a plate lined with paper towel.
Serve hot or warm alongside the Fennel Pear Honey Mustard.