Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mexican Polenta Pie

Mr. Snowgoose will tell you that we've been a) eating a lot of polenta and b) eating a lot of Mexican, yet he still was willing to make the polenta pie last weekend for Sunday supper. Given that he had dinner duty on the account I was at a writing conference most of the weekend,he needed something that was foolproof and we already owned all of the ingredients. This was it.

From Better Homes and Gardens

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound uncooked ground turkey
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup bottled salsa
2 16-ounce tubes refrigerated cooked polenta
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2/3 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. In a 12-inch skillet cook onion, sweet pepper, and garlic in 1 tablespoon hot oil until tender. Add turkey, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until turkey is no longer pink, stirring to break up the meat. Add beans, undrained canned tomatoes, and salsa. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer gently, uncovered, 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cut 1 tube of polenta into 1/2-inch cubes and press evenly into prepared baking dish. Halve remaining polenta lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; set aside. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over polenta in dish. Top with meat mixture. Arrange sliced polenta over meat; sprinkle with remaining cheese and fresh tomato. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cilantro. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

black bean cakes

In an effort to help the planet, we've been going meatless on Mondays. Last week we tried polenta cakes. This week we kept the cake theme with a recipe from Health magazine.


3 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained
2 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco (pasteurized)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 cup salsa fresca
Minced fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place beans in a large bowl; mash lightly with a fork. Add eggs and cheese; whisk with fork until combined.
2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in onion and garlic; cook until onion is soft and golden (2-3 minutes), stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro; remove from heat.
3. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper (taking into account how well-seasoned your beans were initially) into bowl with beans. Add onion mixture; stir with fork just until combined. (The consistency should be like thick cookie dough. If not, add a bit of flour).
4. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, and set aside. Using a large spoon or your hands, form bean mixture into 8 cakes; place onto prepared pan. Bake until golden and crisp (about 30 minutes); serve hot or at room temperature with salsa and cilantro, if desired.

Cook's Notes

1. These were quite time consuming but good. They'd make a good replacement for veggie burgers at our next cookout.

2. We used regular cheddar cheese instead of queso fresco.

3. I served them with arugula and cheese quesadillas.

Lamb meatballs with cous cous and feta

We've been on a Greek food kick recently. For someone who used to shy away from lamb, I'm sure cooking a lot of it these days.

From Real Simple magazine October 2010 issue

1 pound ground lamb or beef
1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup couscous
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
4 ounces Feta, crumbled


1.Heat broiler. In a medium bowl, combine the meat, apricots, coriander, chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
2.Form the meat into 1 ½-inch balls (about 20) and place them on a broilerproof baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
3.Meanwhile, place the couscous in a bowl. Add 1 cup hot tap water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
4.In a small bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
5.Serve the couscous with the meatballs, tomatoes, cucumber, Feta, and sliced onion. Drizzle with the dressing.

Cook's Notes

1. I made lamb meatballs/ burgers a few weeks back and used garlic and egg and yellow onions and they tasted much better. The apricots and red onion are a little much.

2. I also roasted potatoes with the meal.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

white bean and olive tapanade

When the end of the month rolls around, we get more creative in the kitchen. It's like Iron Chef where we see what we can make with whatever we have left. I had some cherry tomatoes that were getting wrinkles and a bunch of leftover olives, feta cheese, and white beans from a greek themed dinner we ate earlier in the week.

I combined:
1/2 cup white beans
1/4 cup feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I roasted them first)
minced garlic
1/4 cup olives
olive oil

and threw it into a baking dish for 10 minutes at 350.

Serve with crackers

Crispy polenta cakes with garlicky mushrooms

In an effort to go meatless a couple of times a week, Mr. Snowgoose and I have been trying new recipes. Last night I felt ambitious and made these polenta cakes. Now, I've experimented with them before, though never Mark Bittaman's way. A few years ago I had polenta jenga sticks at a Boston-area vegetarian restaraunt and loved them.

Most of the time when I make polenta (from scratch), we just eat it in it's soupy form. The other week I tried to make cakes and it was a disaster. Last night, not so much.

This recipe came from Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook


1 cup course cornmeal
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound mushrooms
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic


1. Cook cornmeal according to directions (ie whisk the cornmeal into the water and milk until it is lump free and thick)

2. Grease a baking sheet with oil. Pour hot polenta onto the sheet and spread with spatula so it is about 1/2 inch thick. brush the top with oil, cover, and refridgerate it for a minimum of two hours.

3. Heat oven to 375. Grease a new baking sheet and cut polenta into 12 squares or shapes. Put cakes on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes (outside will be toasted while the inside is soft).

4. Meanwhile cook mushrooms and garlic in oil. Add thyme if you'd like. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and then add wine and let it bubble for a few minutes until the wine has cooked off.

5. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms on each cake.

Cook's Notes

1. I added some parm cheese to the polenta in the pot since we like it cheesy. I also served it with roasted brussels sprouts with a basalmic glaze.

2. Mr. Snowgoose enjoyed it.

3. Since it is so time consuming, I'd advise to make a larger batch because it will get eaten immediately. We'll make this again.