Fried Polenta with Creamy Mushrooms

polenta

For the polenta
1 cup polenta
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
olive oil

For the creamy mushrooms
2 cups cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tsp white flour
1/3 cup rosé wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

To garnish8712933926_6e65cedecf_b
balsamic vinegar (optional)
4 Tbsp finely grated parmesan
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 handful fresh basil, shredded

Equipment
Large saucepan
Whisk
Rectangular baking dish
Large skillet
Medium skillet
Large knife

1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt. Slowly add polenta and whisk to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until water is fully absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in one tablespoon of butter. Pour into a rectangular dish. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the counter top, then place in refrigerator. Cool for at least four hours, until polenta has set. To speed the process, you can cool it in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes instead.

2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat (about five minutes; watch carefully and don’t let them burn!). Set aside.

3. To make the polenta sticks, turn the dish upside down on a plate or cutting board. The polenta should be fairly loose and slide out easily. If it doesn’t, gently loosen it from the sides of the dish with a splatula. Make sure it is completely cooled through. Using a large knife, cut the polenta loaf into half-inch-wide strips, then half again horizontally, so that you are left with nice polenta sticks (see picture).

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sliced

4. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Place polenta sticks in the skillet and fry on each side until just browned, about ten minutes per side. Flip carefully with a spatula. Each piece of polenta should be ever-so-slightly crispy and golden brown.

frying1

frying

5. Meanwhile, in a smaller pan, melt half the butter for the mushrooms over medium heat. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about five minutes, until mushrooms are just cooked. Deglaze pan with the wine, and continue stirring, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the flavor as the alcohol evaporates. Add the other half of the butter and the flour and stir continuously until a roux is formed. Reduce heat to low. Add cream and stir thoroughly for an additional two or three minutes, until cream is heated through and well mixed. You will now have a very flavorful, creamy mushroom sauce. For a thicker sauce, add flour; for thinner, add water.

6. To serve, splash some balsamic vinegar on each plate (if desired), then add the fried polenta strips, using a slotted spatula to remove them from the pan while draining off most of the grease. Top with a dusting of parmesan, then spoon the creamy mushrooms over the top. Add a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and the shredded basil, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Eric’s Curry Hummus Devilled Eggs

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12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
1 cup Baby Zach’s Smoked Thai Curry Hummus*
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
a few dashes of Cholula sauce, to taste

1. On a clean surface, cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

2.Gently scoop out the yolks with a spoon and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. Add all of the dry ingredients and the Cholula, reserving 1 tablespoon of paprika. Mix thoroughly but gently with a fork.

4. Refill the sliced eggs with the mixture and dust with paprika to garnish.

5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, then serve.

As you can see, Eric likes to over-stuff his eggs. And they’re delicious. Try it!

*We pick ours up on Sunday mornings at the Mueller Farmers Market.

Stella’s Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

This isn’t a proper chile relleno recipe, as my poblanos aren’t battered, nor are they served with a typical tomato-based sauce. But they are super flavorful and deceptively easy, and I’m positive you’ll be as hooked as we are if you try this recipe!  We’ve been making these often lately because they’re is so quick and painless; I was prodded by followers on Instagram to share the recipe.

Of course, you can play around with the fillings, but these are my favorites. The rich, mature flavor of the asiago cheese pairs perfectly with bacon and cream cheese, and this hearty, slightly spicy beef transforms humble chiles into a meal.  Feel free to top with salsa or crema mexicana for extra decadence.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6 large poblano chiles
4 bacon rashers
1/2 white onion, finely diced; halved
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp Cholula or other hot sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
splash Worcestershire sauce
2 cups asiago cheese, grated
4 oz. cream cheese

Also needed:
latex gloves
toothpicks
broiling pan or cookie sheet
aluminum foil

1. In a large skillet (I used a cast iron), cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, turning a few times. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Pour bacon grease into a mason jar and save for future cooking, reserving about 1 teaspoon in the skillet.

2. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about two minutes. Remove half the oven from the pan and set aside. To the rest of the onion, add beef, breaking it up with your spatula, and continue to sauté until cooked through, about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add spices, Cholula, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

3. Meanwhile, wearing latex gloves, cut the tops off the poblanos and seed them. Cut out the ribs, as well. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

4. Once the beef is done, drain the juices and set the meat and onion mixture aside in a bowl. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the previously cooked onion, 1 cup of the grated asiago, and the cream cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon, then crumble bacon into the bowl. Continue to stir until thoroughly combined.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

5. Stuff the poblanos: take one pepper, and stuff it full with the cheese and bacon mixture, compressing the cheese down with a spoon as you stuff. Place the top back on the pepper and secure it with two toothpicks, pushed through the flesh of the pepper’s side and cap (see below). For the other four poblanos, alternately stuff with the plain grated asiago and beef mix until they are also full. Secure tops with toothpicks.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6. Carefully move all the peppers to a broiling pan or foil-lined cookie sheet. Set oven to broil and cook on each side for two to three minutes, turning over once (again, carefully) with a large spatula. The peppers will darken and bubble a bit.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

7. Remove the pan from the oven and allow peppers to cool for a couple of minutes before gently removing them from the pan. Plate as-is and serve immediately with any garnish desired.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

To eat, simply remove the toothpicks and dig in!

Serves 3 as a main, 6 as an appetizer or side.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Guest Post: E’s Rock Candy Bulleit Julep

Bulleit

Guest post from Eric!  With bonus Civil War trivia.

While I wouldn’t normally advise adulterating Bulleit with mint, making mint juleps with Jack Daniels results in a product that is only so-so, although the Jack Daniels honey version is passable. Bulleit is a prudent choice for this kind of thing because it’s a quality Mintbourbon at a reasonable price, so you don’t sacrifice taste and can still feel good about committing the deadliest of all sins (not simply enjoying bourbon for what it is).

This drink is great to make on a summer day in February (can you tell we live in Austin?). The actual work is only about 10 minutes, as most of the process is just letting the syrup cool and congeal in the fridge. If you have to walk to the liquor store, as I did today, that’ll add 20 minutes to the process, but again, it’s Austin so that’s just a bonus.

If you have a non-ironic portrait of Robert E. Lee handy, it’s best to toast it before your first sip. If not, just toast any nearby old people with beards, or walk to the statue on campus and toast the grackles. If you live in Baltimore, walk to the statue of Lee and Jackson on the eve of Chancellorsville and toast the horses. Okay, I’m done.

Ingredients:

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 small piece of rock candy, left over from Christmas
2 tbsp local honey
1 bottle of delicious Bulleit bourbon

Steps:

1. In a small tea pot, combine ripped up mint leaves and honey.

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2. Throw in the rock candy.

3. Add boiling water.

4. Let steep for at least 20 minutes, to make a mint/sugar tea.

5. Pour out mint tea into separate container, and throw in any additional mint that’s handy.

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6. Close container, put in fridge, let cool for at least an hour.

7. Take out container, strain contents (if loose mint is in there)now you have a simple mint syrup.

8. Combine mint syrup and delicious Bulleit1 part mint syrup to 2-3 parts bourbon, to tasteand one or two ice cubes.

9. Consume gleefully.

10. Discuss to anyone present how the South shall rise again.

11. Tip hat.

Bulleit


/INSUFFERABLE HIPSTER IRONY

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayo

Southwestern Chicken Salad

I’ve been thinking about making homemade mayonnaise for a long time.  But I hadn’t gotten past thinking about it until I used my Barnes and Noble Christmas giftcard to buy Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain.  Not only do I highly recommend the latest cookery book (as they say in the UK) from the good-natured Essex maverick, but I also insist that you make this mayo immediately!

Other food-obsessed friends had been telling me for years.  But I don’t eat that much mayo, and figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.

I was wrong.

Not only was it quick and easy, the result was so rich that Eric and I were desperately trying to think of things to use mayo on or in!  We ended up making a huge bowl of chicken salad, and it was so good, I had to share the recipe (see below).

I also used Eric as a food taster, making him do a blind test.  It was quite simple to tell the difference between the mass produced, processed mayo in our fridge and this stuff.  I was afraid the olive oil would be too overpowering (you can cut it with half rapeseed oil for a less robust flavor), but we really liked it.  I’m going to make some of Jamie’s variations soon: basil, garlic, and curry!  Mmm, curry.

Somehow, I didn’t take any pictures of the process; but it’s so straightforward (really, stop worrying and just whisk!).  Here it is.

Stella’s Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from Jamie Oliver
3 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

1. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, only a little bit at a time, while continuing to stir. It’s best if you take up to ten minutes to do this, so the ingredients won’t separate.

2. As the mayo begins to thicken, add the vinegar and lemon juice while continuing to whisk. Continue until it is well mixed and smoothly textured.

3. Add salt to taste; scoop mayo out into a Mason jar or other sealable, refrigerator-safe container.

Yields approximately two cups of mayonnaise. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
 

Southwestern Chicken Salad
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup homemade mayo (see above)
1/4 white onion, finely diced
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce
dash of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili powder, plus more to garnish
4 Tbsp crushed pecans
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Meanwhile, prep other ingredients.

2. Bake chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.

Southwestern Chicken Salad3. Chop or shred chicken to desired consistency. Sometimes, I pull it by hand; for this dish, I cubed it on a cutting board with a knife. Place cubed chicken in large mixing bowl.

4. Add mayo, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Then add hot sauce, vinegar, and paprika, and stir again. Taste, then add salt and pepper as desired.

5. Spoon out chicken salad onto serving plates and garnish with a dusting of chili powder, crushed pecans, and additional cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Refrigerates well; eat within a couple of days.

Southwestern Chicken Salad