Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Creamy Polenta with Shiitake Mushrooms & Truffle Oil

This polenta dish is my new go-to weeknight favorite. It is an ultimate comfort meal but also looks and tastes quite sophisticated to deserve a place at a sit-down dinner! 

Polenta serves as a departure from the usual noodles and pastas that attend the weeknight last minute meals. Sometimes varierty is all your need to keep weeknight dinner rotations interesting!

The Creamy Polenta:
I use Bob's Red Mill's polenta corn grits. The regular corn meal might work as well, but this one is specially made for polenta and it cooks up really quickly. I use the ratio 1:5 for a ceamy polenta - ie, add 1C corn grits to 5C of hot water gradually stirring constantly. Then drizzle in some olive oil, add salt to taste and let it cook away partially covered for about 20-25 minutes stirring every few mins. 

I use a large pot to cook polenta because it sputters a lot and can sting your hands while stirring, so be careful!

Mushroom and Tomato Sauce:
While the polenta is cooking, I start the sauce. While any mushrooms will work, I must say I am absolutely in love with the fresh shiitake mushrooms our farmer's market carries, particularly in the rainy season, they are just a delight to cook with and devour! I highly recommend you to try buying freshly picked Shiitake if you can, but if not any regular supermarket mushrooms will do.

Heat olive oil in a pan, add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, pinch of chilli flakes and saute for a minute or two until oil is fragrant with garlic and chillis. Then add handful of chopped mushrooms, season with salt & pepper and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms have released all their juices. Then add 2 large tomatoes chopped, season with fresh or dried basil and cook for 5 more minutes until tomatoes have softened. If tomatoes aren't very juicy, please feel free to add 1/4C water along-with tomatoes to create "sauce". 

Finishing Touches:
To serve: add creamy polenta to a small pan or bowl. Then laddle some sauce and drizzle with a good quality truffle oil (or just regular olive oil if no truffle oil at hand) and finish with some finely chopped basil. 

Eat while warm and enjoy!  

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Holidays - Holiday Baking!

It is that time of the year again - when homes everywhere are adorning beautiful Christmas trees dazzling with twinkling lights, cherishing family memories over the years as pretty ornaments. Love and laughter of friends and family is everywhere. And the tiny kitchens and ovens become stars of the homes churning out wonderful dishes and wafting beautiful baking aromas that are so reminiscent of the holidays!

When my daughter turned two, we started an annual Christmas Eve cookie baking tradition - we don't have many traditions in our house, but we have that one and we have been on it year after year. As a toddler, all she could do was lick the dough and be the eager taster - but now, she helps select recipes, makes dough and takes charge of decorating half the batch. 

Life gets soo busy and stressful year around that I have really come to cherish these small pleasures and tiny moments of baking together on Christmas Eve!

We rarely bake cookies otherwise in the whole year, so it's something we both eager look forward to just as December rolls in.

This year we made 3 cookies:
  1. Simple sugar cookies which we decorated with icing. 
  2. Gingerbread cookies
  3. For grown-ups of the house, a fresh batch of almond biscotti to dip into afternoon tea or coffee.
Of the three biscotti's were my favorite. I skipped almond liquor but instead added almond extract. It came out wonderful. At baking times of 35-10-15 mins, the biscotti were not super hard - a pleasure to dunk in but also could it on it's own too. I'll definitely be making these again and again!

I made only one change to the gingerbread cookies recipe. I really avoid to buy large portion of an ingredient, when only a little bit is used in a year - so in the spirit of limiting waste, I substituted molasses with dark honey we bought from farmer's market the day before. It turned out just fine.

This year we also experimented a lot with icing decorations - specially using unique patterns by mixing colors using toothpicks. A cookie then becomes only but an empty canvas to express yourself with colors - as my daughter called it, it's just like painting!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my friends and readers! 

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This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.