Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Like 99% of all New Yorkers, every day I walk by a corner pizza shop on the way from the subway to my apartment. Regardless of how questionable the establishment is, it’s always tempting to stop in for a slice whether it’s 3 pm or 3 am. On particularly grey, rainy days like yesterday, my cravings for gooey cheese go through the roof. However, on the rare occasion that I do get a slice, I’m often disappointed. The cheese is tasteless, the sprinkled parmesan resembles sand and worst of all, I wake up the next morning with no leftovers. (For anybody that knows me well, I have contemplated calling in sick rather than showing up at work with no lunch.)
This is where Baked Polenta Surprise comes in. It satisfies the exact same craving but it’s tastier and gives me lunch for a few days. I never used to make polenta because like risotto and McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, you have to stir it for way too long. But recently I discovered “An Elegant Gruel: Polenta” on New York Times’ Recipes for Health and now polenta is a fixture.
All you do is mix one cup of corn meal with 4 cups of water and a bit of salt and throw it in the oven at 350. Fifty minutes later you have a nice, firm polenta to form the base for whatever you want to throw on top (i.e. the substitute for the pizza crust).
From here you can use your imagination. I like to cook up fresh tomatoes, garlic and spinach, layer it on the polenta, cover with cheese and bake for a few more minutes. Mushrooms and gorgonzola are a good topping too. I can imagine that sausage, tomatoes and basil would be delicious. Ham and pineapple? Not so much.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Lately I have been waking up at 5 a.m. I think it’s a combination of flying back and forth between London and New York all summer, fear of bedbugs and a total absence of hangovers. The other morning I was actually craving a hangover simply because I so desperately wanted to still be asleep. Anyways, my early morning activities have consisted of washing down all my spices and spice rack, laundering the sub-leasers sheets and emailing my grandparents. If I’m feeling really wild, I indulge in watching Netflix in bed on my iphone. Crazy stuff.
This weekend I was home with my family in Boston so I decided to take advantage of the peaceful, early morning kitchen and make blueberry muffins at the crack of dawn instead. I followed Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffin recipe.
I used those tiny wild blueberries which were amazing – although difficult to stir in without dying the entire muffin purple. I opted for sour cream over yoghurt since good, full fat yoghurt has all but disappeared from the shelves of suburban US supermarkets. (This is a major pet peeve of mine). These muffins aren’t sweet so don’t expect that sugar encrusted NYC deli muffin. Do expect to win major points with your family even if you are 34 years old and have been mooching off their stocked fridge for four days straight.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I’m obsessed with lentils. Not only do I include them whenever possible in salads, soups, side dishes, etc. but the word is usually part of my password if you ever want to access my dwindling back account. I don’t think it would work as a little boy’s name but there is definitely a cat in my future named Lentil.
Anyways, after weeks of traveling and gorging myself on Jamón Serrano, deep fried peppers, short ribs, Toast Skagen (fancy way of saying shrimp with mayo) and Swedish meatballs, I was happy to be back at home and cooking up some basic lentils. This is one of my favorite lentil soup recipes. It’s adapted from 101 Cookbooks’ Coconut Red Lentil Soup.
1) Rinse 1 cup of yellow split peas and one cup of red lentils until the water runs clear. Cover with 7 cups of water and bring to a boil.
2) Add 1-2 diced carrots and two tbsp of diced ginger. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3) In the meantime, sauté another 2 tbsp of ginger, a bunch of diced scallions and 2 tbsp curry powder in a big pat of butter (or two!) for a few minutes. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste.
4) Add this mixture and one can of coconut milk to the lentils. Let cook for another 15 minutes or so until the lentils are soft. Season with salt.
5) Serve topped with cilantro and green onions. Add Sriracha for extra kick.