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The lovely new cookbook The Farm Cooking School offers recipes based on the four seasons. Here’s a fall idea that seems perfect for a holiday table. Apple Tarte Tatin you may have relished. How about savory? How about fennel?

This striking photograph, by Guy Ambrosino, may cause you to adjust your Thanksgiving menu. You’ll be thankful you do.

The recipe in the book calls for puff pastry, made according to the book’s recipe. For Thanksgiving week, I suspect you are busy. So, since this dish is made literally like an upside‑down cake, just buy puff pastry and arrange it as needed for your baking dish or pan.

Fennel Tarte Tatin

Yield: serves 6


  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, and some fronds reserved for garnish
  • ½ cup crumbled fresh goat’s milk cheese
  • ½ cup capers in brine, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 package puff pastry


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice the fennel bulbs lengthwise into ½-inch wedges. Blanch the fennel in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Strain the fennel and reserve.

In a small bowl, stir together the cheese, capers, marjoram, oil, fennel seeds, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Heat the sugar and water in a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until it melts and starts to turn golden. Don’t be tempted to stir the caramel, which can make it crystalize. Instead, swirl the pan occasionally so it caramelizes evenly and brush down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Watch the caramel closely once it starts to color and let it become dark amber, a few shades darker than feels comfortable. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter. Let the pan cool to warm.

Arrange the fennel over the caramel in a pretty pattern. Scatter the cheese mixture over the fennel.

Roll the pastry out to a 10-inch round, then place the pastry on top of the fennel, tucking the edges in slightly around the edge of the skillet. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the tarte cool slightly in the skillet, about 10 minutes, then cover the skillet with a baking sheet or serving plate and carefully invert the tarte. Scatter some reserved fronds over the tarte, then slice and serve.

Source: The Farm Cooking School by Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman [Burgess Lee Press, 2017]