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Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms and Cauilflower

polenta and mushrooms and cauliflower

It’s the middle of summer and I’m making a very comforting winter-like meal. Sometimes I just need a break from the salads and lean meals and dive into a bowl of creamy, savory comfort food. Polenta goes so well with almost any protein and vegetable. It’s a perfect blank canvas for anything you want to put in it. I just so happened to have mushrooms and cauliflower in my pantry. So just be creative with whatever you have in stock. I eventually put a poached egg on top after I took this picture just because I wanted more creamy yolky goodness.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of corn grits (fine cornmeal or quick cooking-polenta)
  • 2 tablespoon of butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (any cheese you like, pecorino romano, goat, asiago, manchego, cheddar…)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb of mushrooms (whichever you like)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thyme leaves from 3 sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (optional if you have a lemon)
  • cauliflower florets from 1/2 head of cauliflower

Bring vegetable broth and milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Slowly incorporate the grits in a slow stream and lower the heat to just about simmering. Constantly stir until liquid is absorbed and the polenta is thick and soft, 15 mins. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and season with salt and pepper.

While the polenta is cooking, heat a large skillet with olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, without stirring, until browned on the bottom, about 3 mins. Continue to cook until the mushrooms are browned and tender, about 6 mins. Add the garlic and cook about 1 min. Stir in thyme, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a bowl.

Wipe the skillet down with a paper towel, and return to heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the cauliflower, 3 mins. Add the garlic and cook about 1 min. Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable broth into pan and continue to cook the cauliflower until they’re al dente. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the creamy polenta with mushrooms and cauliflower. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired. I topped this dish with a poached egg (drools!).

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Poached Eggs and Hollandaise

eggs benedict

Not my prettiest picture.

I used spam (lite!) because I didn’t have canadian bacon on stock. If you haven’t notice I only make things that I have readily at hand. I’m not always a great planner when I cook and I’m usually very hungry so I don’t have patience for grocery shopping. That’s why I always encourage creativity and similar substitutions for ingredients. Anyways, this post is just a refresher for poached eggs since I posted a similar recipe a long time ago and hollandaise sauce.

Poached Eggs

What you need: fresh eggs, pot of water, white vinegar

  • Heat a pot of water, half way filled, to the point where its just about to simmer.
  • Crack the egg into a small container (ramekin, teacup, expresso cup) for easy pouring.
  • Put a splash of vinegar into the hot water.
  • Using a whisk, create a whirlpool with the water.
  • Gently drop the egg in the direction of the moving water.
  • Don’t be alarm, the egg white will gradually wrap itself around the egg.
  • Let it cook depending on how runny you want your yolk (I leave it in for a few minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, taking the edge of the spoon to scrap and cut the stands of egg whites that have not adhere to the egg.
  • I usually carefully run the spoon and egg under a gentle stream of cold water to stop the cooking process (too lazy to make a bowl of ice water).
  • Place on paper towel to drain excess water.

Easy Hollandaise

(I use the double boiler method sometimes, but using a blender is great/easy)

What you need: 2 large egg yolks, 1 tbsp of warm water, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 stick of unsalted butter (melted), blender.

  • In a blender, combine egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and salt; blend until frothy.
  • With blender running, pour in melted butter in a very thin stream, blending until sauce is thick and emulsified.

 

 

Grilled Vegetable Salad

grilled vegetable salad

Happy Birthday Paula!!! This post is dedicated to you:

I’ve certainly been taking advantage of this fine summer weather by grilling very often, preparing summer vegetables and eating light so that I don’t look like a lardo at the pool/beach. I made this dish yesterday for my vegan neighbor. She came over with an empty stomach and I wanted to whip up something quick. Since is was pouring rain, we confined ourselves to the apartment. Luckily I had a medley of summer vegetables: eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini. I used the grill pan on the stove top, but you can certainly use an outdoor grill.

Ingredients

  • 1 japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 yellow squashes, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
  • olive oil for brushing
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

Heat grill or grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, few minutes on each side. The trick to getting nice grill marks is to not move the vegetables once they are placed on the hot grill. Arrange on a platter/plate.

Make the dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over vegetables and garnish with parsley.

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad

vietchickensalad

I love being known for food and cooking around my friends and coworkers. I am the go-to for recommendations for good eats for family and friends (which necessarily isn’t a perk). What I love most is that I receive a lot of great food gifts, goodies and kitchen accessories. Most recently, my coworkers have been giving me herbs from their garden. Works out perfectly for me since I live in a box with indirect sunlight and the only plant that has survived is a cute little cactus plant. I’ll take anything I can get. My coworker got me a bag full of mint, one of my favorite herbs! I wanted to make something fresh AND refreshing. Vietnamese salad came to mind and since I had leftover grilled chicken breasts and vegetables, I had the perfect combination for a hearty summer Vietnamese salad. I used mint soley, but you can add whichever herbs you want: coriander, thai basil, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 english cucumber, thinly sliced (however you like)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced (red onion works great too)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • peanuts, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 inch ginger, finely grated (garlic works great if you don’t have ginger)
  • 1 fresh bird’s eye chili, deseeded and finely minced (optional, if you like spicy, sriracha or dried red pepper flakes works great if you don’t have fresh chilis)

Combine all the ingredients for the salad besides the peanuts. To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients with a few tbsp of water to dilute the concentrated dressing, to taste; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Drizzle over the salad and garnish with peanuts.

This dish is a great vegetarian/vegan dish, just exclude the protein 🙂

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