F is for Fennel and Figs
I think I'm still going with the cocktail party theme...
We only ever ate fennel one way when I was a kid. That is, you take a small bowl and fill it 1/2 way up with olive oil, then you add coarse salt and pepper. You chop up the core of the fennel bulb, removing most of the green stalks and leaves and dip the pieces in this mixture to eat it.
You can steep the green parts in boiling water for fennel tea which is supposed to be good for nursing moms...
Fig Jam with cheese.
Take about 2 dozen ripe figs, cut or pull off the hard bit at the top. Slice the figs into quarters. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, 1/4 cup fresh orange juice and a tbsp honey. You can add some small pieces of orange zest here too, if you like it. Simmer until the figs begin to break down, if it looks too dry or like it might start to burn, add water or more oj about a tbsp at a time stirring it in to get a jammy consistency. Figs vary alot in how much juice they let off so you have to use your judgement. Let cool in a jar and refrigerate.
Serve the fig jam with goat cheese over whole wheat crackers. (I especially like Carr's Whole Wheat crackers with this.)