Tag Archives: vegetarian

Creamy Sage Polenta with Roasted Shiitakes, Red Onion & Valdeón

The urge to cook overtook me last Sunday. I wanted a hearty, savory, and wholesome dish.  But this culinary escapade was far more than just an impulsive experiment. In fact, many events came together to inspire this meal.

The week prior, Christian and I had purchased some Valdeón bleu cheese at Whole Foods Market. Peter Murphy, our guest at the time, can attest to the Valdeón’s overall exquisiteness relative to other bleu cheeses.

Last Saturday, I had an inkling to make cornbread, but to my dismay, I discovered that I didn’t have enough cornmeal in the pantry. So my loyal servant (read: my husband) went to fetch me some more. But now I had an excess of cornmeal! What to do, what to do? A memory of distant past soon revisited me. When I asked Chef Sean Fulford of Flat Creek Estate what the difference was between cornmeal and polenta, he promptly replied, “one’s Italian.” And with that thought in mind, I decided to revisit my apprenticeship days and attempt to recreate Sean’s creamy sage polenta.

While at the grocery store on Sunday, I noticed that the shiitakes looked particularly ravishing, so I decided to buy some.  “How to cook these?” I asked myself. And I harkened back to the good ole days of being a Food & Wine subscriber. I vaguely remembered a roasted shitake recipe with bleu cheese (I had that in the fridge!) and red onions (I could buy that real cheap!).   So, all the ingredients assembled, I racked my memory, and this is what I came up with…

Creamy Sage Polenta á la Sean with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms, Red Onion & Valdeón

INGREDIENTS

For the polenta

1 ½ c. of cornmeal
1 ½ c. light cream
1 ½ c. lowfat milk
1 c. low-sodium chicken stock
¼ c. fresh sage leaves, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 T. unsalted butter
½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the mushrooms

1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1 red onion, sliced in ¼-inch-thick half moons
½ c. Valdeón cheese, crumbled
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

For the mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 425o F. Toss the mushrooms and red onion together with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Roast for 30 min., tossing every 10 min.  Just before serving, toss in the bleu cheese.

For the polenta

Everything good begins with butter

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sauté the garlic and sage for 1 min. until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and milk and bring to a low boil. Add the cornmeal ½ c. at a time, whisking rapidly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until lumps have disappeared and polenta is thick and creamy. Slowly add the chicken stock until the polenta reaches the desired consistency (it should be thick and creamy, slightly less thick than mashed potatoes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, mix in Parmesan cheese.

Serve polenta topped with roasted mushrooms and a glass of red wine on the side. Indulge.

Another happy customer chez nous!

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Recipes

Smoked Ribs, a Tribute to the Zü

Christian and I don’t eat a lot of meat these days. We’re not vegetarians, but we are recovering graduate students and meat lightens our pockets more quickly than vegetables do. During my senior year of college, I lived in a vegetarian COOP called “the Zü.”  Initially, I was non-too-pleased about the idea of eating meat just once a week. (I’m from the Midwest, where the main food groups are meat and potatoes and sweet corn is considered a “vegetable.”) However, I am forever grateful to my “crunchy granola” housemates for teaching me that vegetarian food doesn’t have to taste like cardboard and leave you severely malnourished. They helped me re-imagine my dinner plate. Vegetables went from being “side dishes” flanking over-portioned hunks of animal protein, to center plate all-stars laced with flavor and accented by lesser-known proteins, like lentils, peanuts, black beans, chickpeas, yogurt, eggs, and quinoa.

Look at all us hippies!

On the rare occasion that we cooked meat at the Zü – about once a month – the meal took on ritualistic proportions. We savored every moment of the process, from prep to first bite. Meatlovers would come out of the woodwork, following the wafting scents into the kitchen.

Peeling crawfish in the Zü kitchen

In loving memory of those nights in the Zü kitchen with barbeque slow-cooking in the oven, I decided to smoke some ribs…

St. Louis-style ribs from WFM

Christian and I bought these ribs from Whole Foods Market. It was an impulse buy; we were cruising past the meat counter, and these babies caught our eye. One look at each other and there was a mutual understanding that this meat needed to be in our bellies and not behind a glass counter.

Rubbed ribs

A nice trick learned from Tyler Florence (TFlo)…Mix lime juice, water, and white vinegar, add to BBQ rub of choice to form a paste that will adhere to the ribs and create a thick, savory crust when cooked. Caution: be sure your BBQ rub isn’t overly salty. We learned that the hard way.

Cedar planks courtsey of Betty Hahn

First, I placed the ribs over soaked cedar planks to protect them from the hot coals. They cooked this way for about 30 minutes.

Smokin'

When the ribs were nearly cooked through, I threw the wet planks on top of the coals and placed the ribs on the hot grate.

We bought this grill for $25 off some grad students

I covered the grill and let the ribs smoke for another 10 minutes or so. Then I took the lid off and fed the fire, which created a good charred crust on the meat.

Deliciousness.

Isn’t that beautiful???

My first ribs

Helloooooo ribs!!!

Man eats rib.

Satisfied husband = Mission accomplished

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Nostalgia