Tag Archives: food

21 August 2018: Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad

2018-Aug-16_Fournightsaweek_2602The July/August 2018 issue of Eating Well has, as you might expect, some terrific recipes taking advantage of summer harvests. This recipe from Julia Clancy, a recipe developer from EatingWell,  is a perfect example. Is there anything better than a hot-off-the-vine tomato? I don’t think so.  

I’ve been intimidated by making my own polenta for a while. This week, finally, I gave this recipe a try, and I have to admit the difference is amazing! I’ll be hard-pressed to buy the ready-made products from now on. 

The only “downside” to this recipe is that it takes quite a while to complete – the polenta cooking and cooling period is about 3 hours total.  I made the polenta ahead of time, marinated the salad together in the refrigerator and, since we were having one of those unpredictable dinner times, assembled everything in about 20 minutes. This is definitely a great meal to prep ahead of time and put together later.

Served with a crisp, dry rose, this was a terrific mid-summer vegetarian meal.

Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad by Julia Clancy

Ingredients

For the Polenta:

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (please, not the canned dust!)
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Salad

  • 2 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, halved & seeded
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 TBSP red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP chopped FRESH herbs (basil, mint and/or tarragon)

Method:

  1. To prepare polenta: Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is creamy and reduce to about 4 cups (50 or 60 minutes). If the mixture is too stiff, loosen with 2 TBSP water.
  2. Add corn, Parmesan, butter, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the corn is tender – about 5 minutes. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the polenta and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm – about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. To prepare the salad: Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Place peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet (I lined with foil). Broil, rotating the pan once, until softened and charred – 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Rub off blistered skin and coarsely chop the peppers. Combine with tomatoes, 2 TBSP oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Cut the polenta into 12 squares and place on baking sheet. Brush both sides of the polenta with the remaining 1 TBSP oil. Broil, turning once until golden brown – 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. To serve: Arrange the polenta and tomato salad on a large serving platter and top with herbs.

To make ahead: Prepare up to Step 4; refrigerate polenta and salad separately for up to 1 day. Serve salad at room temperature.

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8 February 2018: Lemony Carrot & Cauliflower Soup Meets Wine Club Arneis

2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1756_edited-1When I make soup, it very often is a vegetable-based soup. Here’s a creamy – without the cream – soup that is a welcome variation on carrot-based soups. This one uses carrot, cauliflower, and light miso to blend together. It made a satisfying weeknight dinner soup.  Take Melissa Clark’s advice: don’t let the recipe hinder creativity: this is a basic roadmap for infinite variety.

Now what else to serve? Wine of course! I chose a Ceretto Arneis, a selection from our Wine Club (notes below the recipe) to pair with the soup.

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Link to original here)

Melissa Clark for NYTimes.

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP coriander seeds
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 medium carrots (1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups). (I used a variety of carrots, purple, yellow, white, orange)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP white miso (I used yellow miso because I had it – no harm, no foul)
  • 1 small (or half a large head) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (I used more)
  • Smokey chile powder (for serving)
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)
  • Cilantro leaves (for serving)

Method

  1. In large dry pot over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and dark golden-brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar & pestle and coarsely crush (or use the back of a spoon on a chopping board – just crush them)
  2. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, 7-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots, crushed coriander, salt and 6 cups water to the pot. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and cook, covered over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from heat. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice just before serving. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chile, sea salt and cilantro leaves.

Ceretto Langhe DOC Arneis, 2016

We joined Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese’s Wine Club last summer and honestly, we have 2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1742been delighted by some exceptional wines. I don’t think we’ve had one bottle in the last 6 months that we did not love.  

The Ceretto Arneis is one of those finds we never would have considered on our own. It has a minerally freshness with a slight sparkle that, now that I’ve discovered it, I know I’ll be returning to. The Arneis grape, grown in the Piedemonte region of Italy, were near extinction in the 1960s. Luckily they’ve been rescued! For tasting notes from the vintner and more about this wine, click here.

Looking to expand your exposure to some terrific wines? Check out Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Wine Club here.

 


10 January 2018: Red Curry Cauliflower with Tofu

2018-Jan-04_FourNightsAWeek2018_1597_edited-1The recipe for this is purposely MIA today. Meyers + Chang At Home is not only a cookbook it is a primer on Asian cooking that should not be missed. Want to know how to shape dumplings? Shop for Asian food products? This is the book. Seriously. Go get it.

The first dish I tried was this one, Red Curry Cauliflower with Tofu (found on pages 182-183). Yes I did make my own Vegetarian Curry Sauce (p 183). Bring on the heat! And, if you don’t have other plans for the leftover coconut milk, try Coconut Rice Pudding, also posted on the FourNightsAWeek blog.

Paired with a very dry hard cider it was delicious. And, should you find yourself in Boston, be sure to treat yourself to a visit to Meyers + Chang on Washington Street.

For blog regulars, be sure to check out our upcoming recipe sharings. We’re delighted to be offering some suggestions for wine pairings courtesy of Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Shop owner Wendi Wilkins. 


5 August 2017: Coconut Cornmeal Cake

2017-Aug-05_FourNightsAWeek_1356CAKE2Seriously, Thug Kitchen, this cake is the bomb.  As the Thugs say, “… save frosting for something that needs the help.” This does not.  And it didn’t need butter or eggs either.  Little bit of fresh fruit on top and we will be good to go for tonight’s dessert. If this makes it until then.  I have a feeling there will be some taste testing going on really soon. [Edited for  the delicate or children.]

From: Thug Kitchen LLC. Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck.  (2014). Emmaus, PA: Rodale. p.200.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. First, heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grab an 8-inch cake pan, grease it, and dust it with flour to make sure your cake doesn’t stick. If you are still consumed with fear, cut a round out of parchment paper the same size as the pan and stick that in the bottom to be extra ——- sure your cake will come out in one piece. Now relax, you got this —-.
  2. Get a big bowl and whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a crater in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and stir it all up until there are no dry pockets and very few lumps.
  3. Pour that batter into your cake pan that you prepped earlier because you followed the g-d directions. Let somebody else lick the spoon and bowl because 1)The batter is tasty as —- and 2)They will now owe you one. Cash in that favor the next time you need help moving. You’re ——-welcome.
  4. Bake the cake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to finish cooling until you’re ready for it.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 


Changes, changes

This blog has been in hibernation for more months than I want to admit, partly due to schedule demands and partly due to a major shift in eating.

About 6 months ago I started to notice how s-l-o-w my metabolism had become and how little energy I had. Substitute sources for proteins in our mostly vegetarian diet were no longer easily digested.

One change that I made was to join a fitness and training facility, SLS Fitness. Right across the street from the school in which I work, I no longer had an excuse about “getting to the gym” and with several colleagues also going, there was strength in number. The day Sherri Sarrouf came to talk to us about starting an exercise program was one of the best days of my life – everything she described made perfectly logical sense. Using rest-based training (Metabolic Effect), over the last six months my energy levels have been climbing and I am building more muscle.

Stage II of the process involved working with Susan Kirby, a trainer and nutrition coach at SLS.  And here is where we’ve made some major changes to what and how we eat.

While I no longer am strictly vegetarian, I am careful to eat lean proteins: chicken, turkey, lean fish.  I am using olive and coconut oils and eat so that at least half of my plate is vegetable.

I compute hormonal carbs (carbohydrates – fiber – protein) and try to keep that number around 15 while I keep fats to 10 or less each meal.  I eat something about every 3-4 hours using the principles of Metabolic Effect as a guide. This is helping me keep insulin levels more level. Given that I was able to do this with very little trouble while on vacation, I think it’s a eating lifestyle I can deal with.

We still cook and prepare meals at least 4 nights each week and eat very few prepared foods. So while this blog of collected recipes will no longer be strictly vegetarian, there still will be lots of ideas for home cooks who are vested in healthy eating.

Enjoy!


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