Sunday, August 31, 2008

Food Forward - Roasted Potato and Pancetta Pizza

This was a flavor tour de force. Truly. Two things happened that brought this recipe about, although there really isn't a "Recipe" for Pizza, unless you are talking about the crust and MAYBE the sauce, if any. But I digress.

This meal came about as a testament to one of my extremely talented friends back in Portland (childhood next door neighbor, actually) and the unparalleled delight of finding an Oregon Pinot Noir in Southern California. My friend, Ian Duncan, is the executive chef of Vino Paradiso in Portland's Pearl District. His philosophy is simple, the purpose of wine is not to compliment
food.... The purpose of food, is to compliment the wine. Which, as far as I am concerned, is how it should be.....

That being said, since I had acquired a delicious Pinot Noir from the Oregon Willamette valley, I was in dire need of a dish that would compliment my bottle of heaven from the vine. I checked out the Vino Paradiso website to peruse Ian's seasonal menu for ideas. He was currently serving a Pancetta, Potato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Rosemary and black pepper pizza with their current Oregon Pinot Noir offering. Sounded good to me.... So I got creative... and as luck would have it, I still had roasted baby red potatoes left over from my Fondue evening.

The pizza crust recipe I use is one I picked up from my favorite recipe site, BakeSpace. I always have to mention Larry (Coldhitz) and his fantastic dough recipe. I did alter it slightly by using a mixture of High gluten flour and AP Flour to give the crust a little more chew, and I always make my dough 24 hours in advance and let it slow rise in the refrigerator.

1 cup AP flour
2 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp Smoked Salt
1 cup water 110 degrees
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil; Plus more for rubbing bowl

Heat water to 110 degrees, add yeast and stir, let sit 10 minutes.
Whisk flours and salt together in a medium bowl.
Add water and olive oil to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough is formed.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until a silken elastic dough is formed.
Lubricate a bowl with olive oil, add the dough ball and turn to coat.
Cover dough ball with plastic wrap (on the surface)
Cover the bowl with foil and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Rosemary/Garlic Olive oil
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves minced Garlic
3 branched of Rosemary (About 4 inches long)

Place olive oil in a saucepan, add minced garlic and heat just until garlic begins to color.
Strip the needles from the rosemary branches.
Once garlic begins to turn golden, remove from heat and stir in the rosemary needles.
Cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
If making in advance, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

To Make the pizza
Heat up your stone in the oven to 500 degrees. (This takes about 1 hour)
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 4 pieces.
Fry pancetta until crisp.
Slice potatoes thinly.
Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano
Roll out crust thinly, move to a cornmeal sprinkled peel.
Brush with Rosemary Olive oil.
Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place sliced potatoes and pancetta.
Sprinkle with a little more Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Top with a few grinds of course black pepper.
Drizzle with a little more Rosemary Olive oil.
Sprinkle Pizza stone with cornmeal.
Slide Pizza from Peel to stone and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Slide peel underneath pizza and remove from oven.
Slide pizza from peel to a cutting board and brush the edges of the crust with more rosemary olive oil.
Let sit about 3 minutes before cutting.

Pour a big glass of Oregon Pinot Noir into a burgundy Grand Cru, but by all means, if you have the Reidel glass, use that, cause it really does make a difference in the wine.

Sit back, relax, play some jazz and enjoy.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

K.I.S.S. Dinner - Radish Sandwich; Apple and Cheese

This is one of my favorite sandwich, very delicious, light and simple. One of the things I miss about growing up on a farm is fresh radishes right out of the ground.

4 slices of a baguette or a long of Sourdough
Sweet (unsalted) butter; Softened
2-3 radishes, depending on size.
Grey salt (Sel Gris)

Spread softened butter over slices of sourdough.
Thinly slice the radishes and layer on 2 slices of bread.
Sprinkle radishes with a little grey salt.
Cover with another piece of buttered bread.

Press together gently and serve.

I love cheese. Too much sometimes. I was blessed with finding a Racelette while at the market. Thus, after my simple dinner of Radish Sandwiches, I decided to up the protein ante by indulging in cheese for dessert. Which consisted of something, yet again, simple, but divinely eloquent at the same time. A chunk of Racelette and Granny Smith apple slices...


Friday, August 29, 2008

Food Forward - Classic Swiss Fondue

I still had 4 oz of Gruyere left over from making the tart last night, and since I happened to have some Emmental as well... and it is Friday before a three day weekend, I decided to splurge a little and give in to the cheese. Although I did decided to forgo using a whole loaf of "day old bread" and opt for roasted vegetables as well as a little bread.
Fondue is surprisingly easy, but it is A LOT of cheese.

And I mean A LOT of Cheese... However, I only made a half batch this time, since it was only me.
As far as the dip-ables go, I simply placed all my vegetables on a baking sheet, sprayed them with olive oil and roasted them for about 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven while I made my fondue.

The recipe is so easy, the trick is adding the shredded cheese very slowly and waiting until it is completely melted before adding any more.

1 Clove of Garlic
8 oz Dry White Wine
1 tsp Lemon Juice
8 oz of Grated Gruyere
8 oz of Grated Emmental (You can use Racelette though)
1 1/2 Tsp Corn Flour
1/4 tsp Curry Powder
1 TB Kirsch (Cherry Liquor)

Rub the inside of your fondue pot(mine is enameled cast iron) with the clove of Garlic.
Pour in the wine and lemon juice and heat gently until it just begins to bubble.
Reduce heat to low and gradually stir in the grated cheeses a little at a time.
Continue heating until the cheese melts and is smooth (This does take awhile)
In a small bowl, blend corn flour, curry powder and kirsch, then stir into the cheese mixture and continue cooking for another 2 - 3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
Do not allow the fondue to boil at this point.
Move fondue pot from the stove to your burner stand and keep warm.

The best part is at the end when all that is left in the Caquelon (fondue pot) is whats called Grossmutter in German or La Religieuse in French. The thin crust of fried cheese in the bottom.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food Forward - Broiled Gruyere and Asparagus Tart

I had asparagus left over from last night, so tonight... Something that is a little more involved. Asparagus in a gruyere custard tart crust of Sour cream and cracked peppercorns... I found this recipe online about 8 years ago... It has been copied and re-copied so many times, I have NO idea who or where I originally got it from. But I make it a lot (When I can afford Gruyere) because it is absolutely delicious. The crust is a little refrigerator intensive thus I recommend preparing the tart crust the night before and letting it hang out in the refrigerator until the next evening.

Peppercorn Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
3/4 tsp sugar
13 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 TB sour cream
2 1/2 TB ice water

Blend together flour, salt, pepper, sugar, butter, and shortening with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps.
Stir together sour cream and ice water then stir into dough with a fork until incorporated. Gather dough into a ball.
Flatten dough into a 6-inch square on a lightly floured surface.

Roll out into a roughly 18- by 6-inch rectangle and fold into thirds (like a letter) to form a 6-inch square.
Turn dough so an open-ended side is nearest you, then roll out dough into an 18- by 6-inch rectangle again, dusting work surface with flour as necessary.
Fold into thirds same as above.

Repeat rolling and folding 1 more time, then chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
Roll out pastry dough on a floured surface into a 14 inch round.
Transfer to 11 inch tart pan by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling it across pan.
Roll the pin over the rim of the pan to trim the crust to fit.

Immediately gather the scraps and press together into a cohesive ball, wrap in plastic and return to the refrigerator.
Prick bottom of shell all over with a fork and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes or over night.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice.

Bake in middle of oven until sides are firm, about 20 minutes.
Remove foil and weights carefully and bake shell until golden, about 10 minutes more, then cool.
While the crust is cooling, make the custard filling.

Gruyere Tart
1 lb green asparagus, trimmed to 5 inches and peeled
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp Finely ground White Pepper

Pinch of Kosher Salt
3/4 tsp Mace -or- 1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 1/4 cup finely grated Gruyère

Blanch asparagus in salted water for 1 minute, remove from boiling water to an ice bath to stop the cooling.
Lay the asparagus out on paper towels to dry.
Finely grate the Gruyere.
Whisk together cream, eggs, kosher salt, and nutmeg, then season lightly with pepper.
Pour custard into the cooled tart shell.

Sprinkle custard with two thirds of cheese, then arrange spears in custard, tips out (like the spokes of a wheel).
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
Bake tart in middle of oven until custard is set, about 25 - 30 minutes.

Then broil tart 2 to 3 inches from heat until golden, 1 to 2 minutes -or- use your kitchen torch and brown the top (It's a little quicker)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Food Forward - Eggs Benedict Italiano

Having Pesto sauce left over from last nights dinner, I decided to put an Italian spin on Eggs Benedict. Don't get me wrong, Hollandaise is a little taste of heaven, but I needed to finish off the pesto. I did cheat, as I used 5 minute quick polenta so it would have time to set up for cutting.

1 cup quick polenta
2 1/2 cups Mushroom stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TB butter
1 Oz Parmegiano-Reggiano; Grated
1/2 tsp Tarragon
pinch of kosher salt

Bring mushroom stock and heavy cream to a boil.
Pour in polenta meal in a thin stream while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Cook polenta, stirring constantly, until done (Usually about 5 minutes for instant)
Remove from heat and stir in butter, tarragon and grated Parmegiano-Reggiano.
Pour polenta into a 9x9 baking dish, lined with parchment or wax paper.
Chill until set.
Remove from refrigerator and cut either into rounds with a biscuit cutter or slice into squares.
Rub with olive oil and set aside.

Eggs Benedict Italiano:
4 eggs
1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
8 slices Pancetta
3 TB Fresh Pesto
Extra Virgin Olive oil

Fill a shallow pan with water and set over medium high heat.
Stir in 1 TB Vinegar (This keeps the whites from spreading all over the pan).
Heat another skillet over medium high heat and add about 2 tsp Olive oil.
When skillet is hot, add pancetta and pan fry until crispy.
Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
Pan fry the polenta slices/rounds in pancetta fat for about 2 minutes on each side.
Watch the water in the shallow pan, when there are tiny bubbles all over the bottom of the pan, carefully crack the eggs and drop them into the water.
Remove polenta slices from skillet and plate.
Place 2 slices of warm pancetta on each slice
Drain poached eggs and place on top of pancetta.
Spoon 1 1/2 tsp fresh pesto over the top of each egg.

Serve with blanched asparagus.


Eggs Benedict on Foodista

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Food Forward Redeux - Creamy Pesto

This got slightly derailed since I was sent out of town for 2 weeks earlier this month. So I am, in essence, at this point starting over with the whole food forward concept of carrying over an ingredient from the previous nights meal.
So without further adieu I present Food Forward Redeux.

I prepared a hand chopped pesto earlier this evening (Pesto, Pesto, where for art thou Pesto), as I needed to vent some steam, and nothing is more ventilating than a large crescent knife, a chopping block and a lot of fodder.

The pesto was a success, but then I had to actually consider what to do with my bowl full of garden green deliciousness. One of my fellow BakeSpacers had posted a link to a menu from a restaurant, which I had perused earlier in the day. It had mentioned a creamy pesto sauce. So with 1 lb of Porcini mushroom tortellini on hand, dinner took the form of a creamy pesto sauce of 1/3 cup fresh pesto and 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese. I simply tossed the cooked pasta with the sauce and voila!

Dinner is served.


Pesto, Pesto, where for art thou Pesto?

Pesto made its debut in America in a Sunset Magazine in the late 40’s. However, Fresh basil wasn’t really available in the mega mart until the lat 70’s. Thus Pesto did not really take off until the YUPPIE era in the 80’s.
Now there are many different variations on this theme, from ingredients to methods. And while a Pistachio, Mint, Myzithra, Kalamata Olive oil Pesto or Cilantro, Lime, Queso Asadero, Walnut Pesto are delicious. Still nothing takes the place of the original Basil, Garlic, Pinenut, Grana Padano (or Pecorino Romano, or Parmagiano-Reggiano) concoction of Genoa, Italy. Pesto can be made in many different ways, from Mortar and Pestle or Food processor to my favorite way which is via Mezzaluna (mets - a - LOON - a).

Now I cannot lie about it, this method takes alot longer than the other two, but I think it creates a wider range of textural experience for the palate, as some ingredients get pulverized into almost liquid, with others being only slightly larger, still others being larger than that, and so on and so forth. Besides, while you are chopping the ingredients together, the aroma will send you to a Zen like state and help you work out some frustrations with your boss.
I have always made my pesto by handfuls of this and a little bit of that, but this time I measured and re-measured… converted and multiplied… added and calculated till I came up with my base recipe... so here goes.

3 oz by weight Basil Leaves ONLY (This is a little more than 2 cups depending on how hard you pack them down)
Small pinch of Kosher or Fleur de Sel (I prefer using Sicilian Sea Salt, when I have it)
4 large cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup Toasted Pine Nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (you can use Grana Padano, but Parm is better)
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup Good Extra Virgin Olive oil maybe a little more (Just to cover, but this is for storage purposes, when you go to use it you will probably want to add more.)

Grab a chopping board that you do not mind having green stains on… Cause this will stain your board.
Begin by placing the garlic, pinch of salt and about 1/2 of the basil leaves in the center of the board.
Begin rocking the mezzaluna back and forth over the leaves until they are fairly roughly chopped.

Add another 1/4 of the basil, and chop… and chop, and chop and chop.
Then add 1/2 the pine nuts and chop and chop and chop… you will have to scrape the board every once in awhile to move everything back into a single pile.

Add in 1/2 the remaining basil leaves…. and… Yep you guessed it… Chop Chop Chop.
Add the remaining pine nuts… and….Everybody chop with me now...
Add the remaining basil and ……chop like its 1999 ... er, um. OK, bad pop culture reference. Sorry.
Finally add only 1/2 of the cheese, now even though you are rocking the blade back and forth through the mixture, you are not so much chopping anymore as causing the granular cheese to absorb the essential oils built up during the chopping, the texture of the pesto begins to change.

Once the first amount of cheese has been incorporated, add the remaining and continue rocking the blade through the mixture. It will begin to become a sort of loose paste and will begin to climb the blade.

Once it looks fairly well mixed in, begin packing the naked pesto together into a flattened circle or square, whichever you prefer.

Once you have the naked pesto packed together, move it to the smallest bowl you have that it will fit in, you don’t want a lot of wiggle room here. (Yes, I refer to the pesto as "naked", because it hasn’t been “dressed” with Olive Oil yet)
Dress the pesto paste, starting with 1/4 cup olive oil.

Press the paste down into the oil with a fork.
You want to flatten the pesto just to the point that the very top has a thin coating of Olive oil.

You can always add more oil later if you need to.
Cover pesto and refrigerate until ready to use.
When using, depending on the application, either thin out with more olive oil or 2 TB pasta water, before tossing with the pasta itself.

Pesto on Foodista

Monday, August 25, 2008

BakeSpace Challenge #4 - Childhood Book Recipe

The Mission: Re-Create a recipe from your favorite book.

Solution: Green Eggs and Ham; thanks to my godson Sam (yes, that really is his name)

This is not so much a recipe as a simple preparation

4 egg whites (cooked in pairs)
1 avocado
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
pinch of kosher salt
a few grinds of green peppercorns
1/2 TB sour cream
1 ham steak
1/2 jar Salsa Verde

Smash avocado with a fork and add lime juice to prevent browning.
Stir in sour cream, salt, pepper and finely chopped cilantro
Fry the ham on 1 side for 3 minutes, turn and top with Salsa Verde, fry 3 minutes longer.
Cook egg whites, 2 at a time.
Using a medium scoop, create little mounds of, for lack of a better term, guacamole to form 2 yolks on each of the cooked whites.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

BakeSpace Challenge #3 - Year you Were Born Recipe

The Mission: Re-create a recipe from the year you were born.

Solution: 1969 Flower Pot Bread covered in Hamburger Gravy (Basically SOS)

The most difficult part of this recipe was oiling the 6 terracotta flower pots... I swear I went through 14 gallons of corn oil and they were STILL not properly seasoned... In fact, I had to make rolls twice because the first batch stuck so bad, that it was imperative that the pots were scrubbed down, thus necessitating more seasoning. And so it was, for 2 more days of soaking in oil then baking for 1 hour at 450, let cool and soak again and repeat 450 degree oven, cool down, soak in oil, 450 degree oven, cool down, soak in oil... and repeat, and repeat and repeat... Whew!
I actually dug up an old recipe for Hamburger gravy off the internet - 1969 Armed Forces Recipe Service Card no. L-30
Weight Volume

    Beef, boneless, ground24 lb---
    Flour, wheat, hard
    Pepper, black
    Soup and Gravy base, beef
    2 lb
    4 oz
    4 oz
    1-3/4 qt
    1 tbsp
    6 tbsp
    10 tbsp
    Milk, nonfat, dry
    Water, warm
    Worcestershire sauce
    3 lb 4 oz
    3 qt
    3-1/2 gal

    2 tbsp
Brown beef in its own fat in steam-jacketed kettle or roasting pan. Drain excess fat.
Add flour, pepper, salt, and soup and gravy base to beef; mix thoroughly and cook about 5 minutes until flour is absorbed.
Reconstitute milk; add to beef mixture.
Add Worcestershire sauce; heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened.
Needless to say I had to pare it down a little as 24 lbs of ground beef was definitely more than I could eat in one sitting.
The Flower bot rolls... Simply a standard Yeasted Dinner Roll recipe.

But the result was delicious.......

MMMM S.O.S. Never Looked so good...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Food Forward - Seared Prosciutto Wrapped Endive

I have suddenly noticed a trend in my food preparation... each consecutive night finds 1 ingredient from the previous night. Sort of a leftover carryover. It all started with the Fennel and Apple Salad. I had a part of a fennel bulb left over, so the next night, as posted in "Finocchio Reduex" I mixed that with Parmagiano-Reggiano and Pecans, then stuffed Belgian Endive leaves. Now I had Endive left over, which brings me to this evenings dinner of Seared Endive.

Now, I have to admit that I would love to sooth my conscience by stating that this is just another salad, but, lets call a spade a spade. After all, I stuffed Gorgonzola between the leaves and wrapped it into a nice tidy package with Prosciutto... I am thinking this is more of an appetizer than a salad, regardless of the fact that it is based on endive. I chose to pair this with a nice Muscat Canelli as I like the way the apple and pear flavors play against gorgonzola.

Now I must apologize, because I was so hungry while I was doing this, that I did not stop to take pictures during the process as I have on my other recipes.

Never the less, just as before.... The players:

2 Small Belgian Endive
2 oz Gorgonzola Cheese
2 TB Walnuts
8 Slices of Prosciutto
Olive oil for rubbing

Quarter the Endive lengthwise.
Dice Gorgonzola and place in a small bowl.
Mince walnuts and to the Gorgonzola; toss together.
Lift half the leaves of an endive quarter and stuff with a small amount of the walnut gorg mixture.
Press leaves back together.
Wrap each endive quarter with a slice of prosciutto.
Place a skillet over medium flame.
Brush with olive oil, or even better, with garlic infused or lemon infused olive oil.
Sear all three sides, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, just until the prosciutto starts to become crispy.

Serve hot as an appetizer for 4, with a nice well chilled Muscat Canelli.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Finocchio (fennel) Redeux

Fennel Fascination continued.........
Summer heat combined with the fact that my apartment is on the second floor causes the ambient temperature of my abode to rise rather quickly when the "fire god of the kitchen", AKA: my gas range, is engaged in transforming raw food with the power of flame. Thus, during the summer months I tend to be more of an uncooked food eater. This puts salads at the top of the list of consumables. I was lucky enough, when I picked up my fennel bulb, to find some Belgian endive (on-deeve) as well. So I decided to stuff it with a chopped mixture, and while it makes a hearty salad for one, it also makes a great appetizer for many.

Enter the participants.

1 small Garlic Clove
1/2 tsp Sel Gris
1/2 TB Crème Fraîche
1 TB Lemon Juice
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano; diced (About 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup Fennel bulb; finely diced
1/2 cup Pecans; lightly toasted and chopped
2 TB Flat Leaf Parsley; finely chopped
1 Belgian Endive; leaves separated

Toast pecans until fragrant. I usually do this in a pan on the stove, as it just seems easier to shake a pan on the stove over low heat than to heat up the oven to 350 and have to keep opening it to smell them. Set aside to cool slightly before chopping.

Place the salt and garlic clove in a mortar and grind into a paste with the pestle.
Add garlic paste, olive oil, lemon juice, and Crème Fraîche to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Dice Fennel and add to the dressing; toss to coat.

Dice Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parsley and add to the bowl; toss again.

Separate Endive leaves, then add the pecans to the salad and toss to combine.
Stuff about 1 1/2 TB into each leaf and place on a plate.
Serve as an appetizer or do what I do and grab a glass of chilled Frascati, a light white composed of malvasia and trebbiano grapes, and dig in.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Finocchio (Fennel) and Apple Salad

Fennel; Guilt By AssociationThis extremely misunderstood vegetable really gets a bad rap due to its seeds. People, who dislike the strong anise/licorice taste of fennel seed, often assume that the actual bulb tastes the same. This is not true; for fennel, as a vegetable, has only a very slight hit of the anise flavor of the seeds and a gentle sweetness as well as an appealing texture when either raw or braised. This delightful vegetable bulb is quite popular in Italy, after all, the edible cultivar of wild fennel, which is grown for the seeds and pollen, is more appropriately known as Florence fennel or Finocchio.
Fennel is delicious raw when tossed with extra virgin olive oil and citrus, however it does not blend well with vinegar, so ensure your vinaigrette is a citrus based one. Fennel also pairs well with Parmagiano-Reggiano as well as true Italian Fontina and walnuts. In addition, it also makes a great garnish for Prosciutto wrapped Pork loin when tossed with Orange and Cardamom.
Braised in a little white wine and chicken or vegetable stock, fennel, combined with grilled leeks, can play a superb accompaniment to your main dish, especially those with hints of citrus such as Duck a l'Orange or Chicken Piccata or Game hen with a browned butter and Meyer Lemon sauce.

This is my favorite late summer salad. Sweet thinly sliced fennel mixes well with the tartness of Granny Smith apple and a light tarragon/citrus vinaigrette. When garnished with a few pink peppercorns and some of the feathery fronds, this is quite appetizing dish.

Let me introduce to you the players in this medley of mandible-watering magnificence:

1 TB plus 2 tsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 tsp Tarragon; Chopped
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 TB Orange infused Olive oil; you can substitute more Extra Virgin Olive oil or Macadamia nut oil plus 1/2 tsp fine orange zest
Salt and fresh ground Green Pepper to taste
12 oz Granny Smith apple after peeling, coring and thinly slicing
12 oz Fennel bulb after removing fronds and slicing extremely thin.
(optional) 1/2 tsp Pink Peppercorns (Which are not really Peppercorns, but that's another post)

Whisk the lemon juice, tarragon, olive oils and, if using, the orange zest together in a medium bowl until emulsified.
Add salt and green pepper to taste.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and immediately add them to the vinaigrette to toss - the lemon juice will keep the apples from turning brown.

Remove fronds from the fennel bulb, also remove any of the root that may still be attached (Reserve fronds for plate decor)
Slice fennel extremely thin and add to the bowl with the apples.

Toss to coat.
Add more salt and Green pepper to taste
Divide salad between 4 plates.

Top with reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle with pink peppercorns.