Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Post For A While

I'm in the process of moving, so my weekends have been and are dedicated to cardboard. My next post will be the second week in October. I miss not being able to cook new things; I keep making the same one-pot dishes. Thanks for your patience!

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Favorite

Now this may not be the prettiest meal you ever eat, but it's so good. This is my favorite weekend lunch. Even my little brother likes it (the taste not the texture). Then again, neither of us likes grits. However, I will throw down on some polenta.
I've been trying to figure out why I like polenta, but not grits. With the exception of my friend Lauren's shrimp and grits, people have presented plates of bland white grainy stuff with butter floating on top seasoned with salt and pepper. Uggh. My polenta has dimension. (at least in my mind).
Let's do it. For the polenta, bring three parts chicken stock and one part milk to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add one part polenta. If you've never cooked polenta or grits before, you have to make it rain. The polenta needs to be sprinkled in smoothly. Whisk immediately to avoid lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon. Sorry. No pics because I didn't want lumps in my food.
Once the polenta is done (I use the quick-cooking kind), check your seasonings and add a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. Sometimes, right before I add the cheese, I throw in chopped fresh sage. None in the house on this day. I've been making this dish for at least five years and I always think my texture is off, so I'm not going to attempt to describe it to you. I swear it's because I didn't grow up eating grits.
You have to multitask with this dish. Fry up some bacon (turkey for me). Remove the bacon and save the fond.
Add anchovy paste and a touch of olive oil. Kudos to whoever thought of putting anchovy and tomato paste in tubes. Looks kinda gross doesn't it?
The paste will melt into the oil.
Chop some garlic and add it to the pan. I forgot, but red pepper flakes would be a great addition right now. While the oil infuses and the garlic softens, chop some kalamata olives. Grab some capers (packed in brine) and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.
I add the olives and capers together. Toss them around and let them heat through. I think I see steam wafting. My point-and-shoot photography may be improving.
I add the sun-dried tomatoes last. If you add them earlier, they start to reconstitute and get soggy from the moisture in the other stuff. I like their original chewy texture.
Give everything a toss and heat through.
Plate the polenta. Too stiff, huh?
Top with the veggies.
Finish with the turkey bacon and chopped basil. Pure heaven.

Tools of the trade:


It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of a good friend and trusted partner. I had to throw away my Polder thermometer today. It had served me well for quite a few years. Today, as I was preparing to bake bread, I thought the temperature of the water for my sponge should have been a lot lower than what the thermometer was reading.
I pulled out the deep frying thermometer to confirm my suspicions. Alas, I was right. I still wasn't ready to say goodbye, so I tried to recalibrate my trusty Polder. You're supposed to stick it in ice water until it registers 23-41 F. Not so much as you can see by the photo below.
Goodbye, Polder! Parting is such sweet sorrow.