Tag Archive | recipe

Sunshine Polenta Casserole

Seriously, the weather in DC has been gorgeous for the last week or two. Warm, sunny but without the humidity that makes you die a little that happens in the summer. So I wanted to celebrate the sunshine a bit and have a sunshine-y meal. Naturally, this meant lots of yellow. I was considering lemon cupcakes, but instead I decided to make a casserole. So – I used yellow as my base – polenta – and yellow as my main veggie – yellow bell pepper. The result was very pretty.

sunshine casserole

Sunshine Polenta Casserole
3/4 cup polenta
2 1/4 cup water
1/3 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/3 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
gouda cheese, grated
olive oil

Boil the water with some salt. Add the polenta and boil, stirring constantly, making sure to get rid of any lumps that formed. Cook until soft and no longer grainy. Spread in a casserole dish and set aside. Toss the onion, bell pepper, and garlic with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the polenta. Then add the dried basil and the grated cheese. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until it starts turning golden. Serve warm.

Oh this was soo good. Fairly simple and easy to throw together, and the flavors all mesh well together. It tastes a little sweet and I think it is very sunshine-y, which of course was the goal. I had this with a Malbec-Syrah blend from Argentina. It might not be cold yet, but I’ve switched to red wine from white. Song of the week: Sunshine Superman by Donovan. I love Donovan; even though his quality is uneven at best his good stuff is gold. This isn’t actually my favorite Donovan song, but it seems particularly apt for the week.

Using Up Strawberries for Dessert

Ok, I admit it. Last week I was a slight dessert tease at work. I had planned to make some kind of strawberry dessert for me and my coworker on night shift last week – I even double checked that he wasn’t allergic to strawberries. But then I was too tired and didn’t follow through (he was mildly disappointed, but understanding). But I still had a ton of strawberries in my apartment when the weekend rolled around. So I decided to make little strawberry trifles, although I still made them just for myself.

strawberry trifle

Step 1: The Pastry Cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a heat-proof bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add in the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until little bubbles are forming around the edges. Remove from heat and slowly mix it with the egg-sugar-flour mixture in the bowl, stirring constantly. Once you’ve finished that, pour the all of it back into the saucepan. Reheat and stir constantly as it thickens. Once thick, let the cream boil for 10-15 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cover and stick it in the fridge to cool for several hours-a couple days.

Step 2: The Sponge Cake
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup flour

Beat 1 egg (in theory you are supposed to beat it for 5 minutes or till it gets thick – I declare this to be absurd). Then mix in the sugar, then the water and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. Pour into an 8X8 pan (greased and floured of course) and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes (or until its springy when you touch it). Let it cool.

Step 3: Assembly
Pastry Cream
Sponge Cake
1 lb fresh strawberries
chambord (or liqueur of your choice)

In a smallish glass bowl (I use these adorable ice cream bowls) stick a piece of the sponge cake. Pour maybe a tablespoon of chambord over it. Add a layer of pastry cream, then strawberries. Then more sponge cake/chambord, pastry cream, and strawberries. Stick it in the fridge, covered, for a bit to let the whole thing settle. Then enjoy!

This was really good, especially for a nice summer dessert. It’s a bit time consuming, particularly compared to opening a thing of ice cream, but worth doing every now and then. My only slight issue with it is that the pastry cream is a little to thick for this. I’m not sure how to make it less so for the future – less flour probably? Song of the Week: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Number 5. I had a rough couple of days and no one does pathos quite like the Russians in my opinion.

Honey-Goat Cheese Filo Turnovers

Even if you freeze it, eventually an open package of filo dough will dry out. It is a tragic truth I have learned to live with. However, the result of this is that I needed to finish off a package of filo dough that didn’t have too many sheets left over. And I hit on this recipe: Honey-Goat Cheese Filo Triangles. Also it looked delicious! I made a smaller recipe though, and made a couple minor adjustments, but it’s basically the same.

5-6 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg white
5 sheets filo dough
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon

Blend the goat cheese, egg white and 2 tablespoons of honey together with an electric beater. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Once you’ve done that, melt the butter and the remaining honey together. Brush over a sheet of filo dough and fold it into thirds. Add some of the goat cheese mixture to the bottom edge and then fold up the sheet like a flag. Brush the top with more butter-honey and prick the top to let steam out. Stick on a baking sheet. When you’ve used all the filling, bake at 375 until golden.

The might have exploded a little in the oven...

The might have exploded a little in the oven…

These were good! More savory than I expected, so its not really a dessert per se. One or two of these with a salad makes a nice meal. However this brings me to my issue with the recipe. While these make perfectly good big turnovers, I think they’d probably be way better as little appetizer sized ones, made with a half-sheet of filo. But I haven’t had a chance to test this theory yet. These aren’t super sweet, but they are sweet enough they don’t pair super well with dry wines – I’d suggest a reisling would probably work well – my favorite is the Chateau St. Michelle, which is usually around $10. Song of the week: For the Longest Time by Billy Joel, as sung on How I Met Your Mother. Cheesy? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.

Masa Harina-Lime Cookies

I have multiple cookbooks that have recipes for cornmeal cookies. The concept seemed absurd to me, but over the last few weeks I’ve become intrigued by the concept. I don’t even like cornbread, but I love polenta and various things I’ve made with masa harina, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Some recipes suggest lemon, and others lime. I went with lime for this one, for the very logical reason that I don’t have any standard cornmeal in my apartment – I have masa harina. Since masa is treated with lime, going with lime for the citrus flavor seemed logical to me.

masa-lime cookies

3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
zest from 1-2 limes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
juice from 1 lime

Mix the dry ingredients, the cornmeal, flour, soda, salt, and zest in a bowl and set aside. It’s way easier to zest a lime before you cut it in half to squeeze out the juice, which is why I bother suggesting the two bowls method. Otherwise it seems to me to get extra dishes dirty for no good reason. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat those in, then add the lime juice. Dump in all the dry ingredients and mix those in as well. Place spoonfuls on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 400. Be careful not to over bake them – the tops don’t really brown, so you should check the bottom edges. I might have slight burnt the bottoms of my first batch …

The result: Easy and surprisingly good. The cornmeal adds some texture without being distracting about it, and the overall cookies have just a hint of lime. Just enough you know it’s there, but not enough to be overpowered by it. They aren’t quite savory cookies, but they aren’t overly sweet either. If I had to make one modification, it would be adding the zest of a second lime to the dough – I only used one. I’ve asked a friend come over and test them for a second opinion later today – hopefully he will like them as much as I do (I’ll make sure he doesn’t eat any of the singed ones). Song of the Week: The Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I’ve been listening to a ton of Tchaikovsky the last few days, and while much of what I’m listened to has been much darker, I love this waltz. Partially because Sleeping Beauty was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was little and this waltz is in the movie.

Zucchini Pizza-Tart

Honestly, I don’t know if I should call this thing a tart or a pizza. I was going to make a zucchini tart, but I didn’t want to make tart dough, I wanted pizza dough. So I decided to pull it all together like that, and make a sauce-less pizza or a yeast-based tart thing. Eh, definitions are overrated.

1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4-1 cup flour

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water, and let it sit til the yeast gets all foamy, about 10 minutes or so. Add the olive oil, and then mix in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is elastic, then set aside to rise for like an hour. This recipe will make either two little pizza-tarts, or one larger one. Adjust the toppings accordingly.

3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
6 kalamata olives, halved
1-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Roll out the dough and put in on whatever you are planning to bake it on (pizza stone, cookie sheet, baking pan). Place the zucchini slices in a pretty pattern on the dough. I opted not to have the slices overlap, but you can do that if you want. Add the olives in the pattern, and then scatter the cheese and garlic over the whole thing. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, and enjoy warm.

zucchini pizza thing

This was actually really good. Not that I thought it wouldn’t, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. I think I could have done more zucchini though, and next time I will. I guess this was more pizza then savory tart-like. As you can see, I had this with a Vinho Verde rose, which is a great summer wine. Seriously, go with something light, fruity, and cold for this one. Song of the week: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. It’s been fitting my mood perfectly for nearly a week now, and I just broke down and bought the album on iTunes.