Spicy Goat Cheese Polenta (with Roasted Beets and Sauteed Mushrooms)

I love, love, love Polenta!  Such an uncomplicated little gem, with its simplest form being nothing more than cornmeal that is cooked in water or broth until it thickens and the grains of the ground corn become tender. Italian in origin, with corn having made its way from the America’s to Italy in the late 16th century, polenta quickly became an important staple for Northern Italian peasants who often relied on it as a daily meal for the long winter months. Today we find a variety of polenta types: coarse-ground, finely ground, instant, white, and pre-cooked tubes found in the refrigerator section of larger stores. Once cooked, it can immediately be served soft with a silken, porridge-like consistency or, if left for a few hours to set up a bit, sliced and grilled, baked,or fried.

Its versatility is truly endless.  It can be used as a base for so many things; topped with roasted/grilled veggies, enrobed with a slow-simmered chunky tomato sauce, as an accompaniment for soups and stews, and even as an alternative to lasagna noodles and sandwich bread, but often the greatest pleasure of all is simply enjoying it with a rich slathering of butter and a liberal sprinkling of cheese such as this delicious polenta recipe shared by Jacob’s Kitchen (pictured above)!

The recipe I am personally sharing with you today is one that I have adapted from Alton Brown’s Savory Polenta recipe.  His recipe is my go-to recipe when making polenta since it is baked in the oven.  This is a rather non-traditional method since it is usually made on top of the cook stove and requires more vigilant attendance. Indeed, I was a very happy girl when I stumbled across his recipe one day and gave it a go.  The end result was all that I had hoped it would be and allows me to make a relatively quick and delicious dinner on even the busiest of days. It can also easily be given a different flavor profile by swapping out ingredients, such as using beef or vegetable broth (or water) instead of chicken, adding your favorite herbs and cheeses, etc. The list is endless!  For this version, I am using chicken broth along with chipotle pepper and goat cheese. The creaminess and slight tang of the goat cheese, along with the smoke and heat of the chipotle pepper, really provide a delicious way to transform ordinary cornmeal into something elevated and truly tasty.

Please forgive the horrible pic!  One of these days I am hoping to have the camera of my dreams to capture truly beautiful photos of my food to share with all of my foodie friends.  Until that time, please bear with me and believe when I say that even though the photos may be lacking, the recipes truly aren’t! 🙂

Spicy Polenta with Roasted Beets and Mushrooms
Spicy Polenta with Roasted Beets and Mushrooms

If you have never before tried polenta, please give it a go.  You will not be disappointed, as it offers a great change-up from pasta, potatoes, and rice. Buon Appetito!

Spicy Goat Cheese Polenta (with Roasted Beets & Sauteed Mushrooms)

Ingredients:

1-1/2 T olive oil
1/2 C red onion, finely diced
2 serrano chiles, finely diced (jalapenos may be substituted)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 C chicken broth (for a vegetarian version substitute vegetable broth)
3/4 C stone-ground Polenta (do not use quick-cooking for this recipe)
2 T butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper (cayenne pepper may be substituted)
3 oz. crumbly goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. In a large oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Add the red onion and saute until they begin to turn translucent.  Turn the heat to low and add the serrano chiles and garlic, saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat to high and add the chicken stock, bringing it to a boil.  While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the coarse cornmeal, stirring until the cornmeal is incorporated and beginning to thicken slightly.  Cover the pan and place in the heated oven.  Allow to bake for 30 to 40 minutes until mixture is creamy, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps from forming.
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in the butter, salt, black pepper, chipotle chili pepper, and the goat cheese.  Serve as is or spread into an 11 x 7 baking pan and refrigerate until firm.  Once chilled, cut into desired shapes, brush with olive oil and either saute until browned or place on a grill.

This tastes especially well the next day when the flavors and spices have had a chance to mingle. One of the ways in which I enjoy this is with roasted beets and sauteed mushrooms drizzled with my go-to vinaigrette (pictured above)… a great vegetarian recipe which I will be sharing with you in an upcoming post.

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How To Make Dark Chocolate Roses

Valentines Day is just two days away. We all know the epitome of this romantic day centers around chocolate and flowers. What better way to impress your loved one(s) than with a beautiful cake or cupcakes decorated with these beautiful chocolate roses!

Here is a great tutorial on how to make these chocolate roses with bittersweet chocolate from fellow food blogger Renee at Sweet Revelations. She provides lots of photos and great direction in the making of these beautiful roses. Surprise your sweetheart this Valentines Day by making these.

SweetRevelations

Last week I was researching places to buy the best modeling chocolate for a special project I am working on.    It didn’t take me long to figure out that it can be fairly expensive and that most bakers make their own.

Remember here, when I made Garden Party Cupcakes and added gumpaste flowers?  Well they sure do look beautiful, but that’s where it ends.  They aren’t really edible just lovely to look at.  Modeling Chocolate however, looks decadent and tastes yummy too.  It’s essentially like playing with the best smelling and tasting play dough ever!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a few obsessions:

1. Dark Chocolate

2. Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3. Beautiful Cupcakes

This is like the culmination of all of  my favourite things!

I’ll follow-up with the recipe for the cupcakes in another post.  It was my first time trying small batch baking because I just wanted a few…

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Baked Honey Curry Chicken

This is a simple and budget friendly curried chicken dish made with just five ingredients from Madey Edlin! Great for busy weeknights… simply serve with a side of rice and your favorite veggies!

Madey Edlin

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This is one of those recipes that is handwritten on a recipe card, that my mom probably collected at a dinner party or a childhood birthday party. It’s from a dear friend of my mother’s whom passed away a few years ago. The recipe card is cherished for the keepsake of her handwriting. It’s only made every once in a while due to my father’s detest of curry, but tonight those who love curry outweigh the one who doesn’t.

I am sitting in my parent’s kitchen waiting for dinner to be finished, smelling the sweet curry scent wafting out of the oven, getting over jet leg and trying to remember what my real life looks like. This past week has been a scramble to catch up on two weeks of homework and catching up with my classes. I am taking a French class this term and it’s going to kill me!…

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