Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Polenta every which way

Polenta alert! Perfect for cold weather, pasta boredom and cheap eating. Also the leftovers are fantastic in that the next day you have an entirely different substance to work with: after the soft polenta has cooled and hardened, you can fry it up in some olive oil to serve it in an entirely different manner. It's a colliod! You can use it to teach physics or chemistry or whatever. I made a short rib/mushroom sauce to put over my soft polenta but it is excellent with just a simple sauté of mushrooms on top as well.Get a cup of coarse-ground cornmeal. Bring 1 cup of milk to a boil with 2 cups of water and turn to a simmer. Add your cornmeal in slowly and whisk it as you go (This is the annoying part. You need, like, 3 arms. Just do your best). After all the polenta is in, make sure it is lightly simmering, rather than bubbly-boiling. Stir often, making sure to pull it in from the sides and bottom of the pan as you go.If it gets too thick you can always add in a little bit of water or stock. After 30 minutes you should have a creamy pudding-like polenta going on.Turn off the heat and add in 2 tablespoons of butter...And grate in some parmesan cheese.You can try adding other cheeses--I once used goat cheese and it was lovely and tangy. A little blue cheese would be good too, especially with mushrooms. After the cheeses have melted in and everything is cohesive, spoon out your servings.And top with whatever deliciousness you feel like! Like I said, this was beef short ribs cooked in tomatoes and red wine, along with a rosemary-mushroom sauté.After dinner, pour your leftover polenta into a shallow baking dish and set it in the fridge to harden up overnight. Cut out squares and sauté them in olive oil until they get firm and crispy-golden brown.Just keep turning them over the heat until they're nice and golden. You can add a little more cheese if you like or just sprinkle with salt to perk up the flavor.Perfect on top of a green salad for a light dinner. This is just arugula and sliced baby cucumbers in a simple vinaigrette.

Friday, January 08, 2010

First night at a new house

Not a bad way to start off the new year! Pretty soon I'll be cooking in a new kitchen. So far though, my first meal prepared was frozen pizza. I think you'll find it amusing that I screwed it up.Yeah, I baked it with the cardboard still on. Whoops.Ah well, champagne makes everything better.