Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moroccan Chicken with Perserved Lemons

I went to Morocco almost five years ago... for ONE day.
I know lame... right?
It was a stop on a cruise ship, more lame.
Then...  I had to take a bus tour with everyone else.
On the bright side (lots of those in Morocco) , I got to see lots of sights, wandered through the casbah, kissed my love in a mosaic grotto, shopped for hand painted dishes, Persian rugs,spices and carved wooden camels- - we packed a bunch into one pitiful day.
I had fun, but all's it did was whey my appetite to go back for as long as possible.
Worst part was, I really didn't get to eat any great food... just silly sweet mint tea and sweets in the dancer and firewalker tent right before everyone rode camels.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did NOT get on that squawking camel, just took everyone else's pictures doing it. Camel's smell and they have very large teeth. 

This dish epitomizes what I think the food I would have eaten was like that; exciting, exotic, spicy and filled with glowing warmness. This dish will appeal to many people as Moroccan food is not known to be overly spicy in the fiery sense, and this dish is no exception.  If you are very sensitive to spicy hot, then I might recommend leaving out the red pepper flakes.  I inadvertently made this for a friend who isn't a big lemon/citrus kind of guy, but he really liked it too.

This original recipe for Moroccan Chicken from Tyler Florence got great ratings, but I wanted to make it more simple.  I totally love roasting your spices and grinding them up yourself... except somehow, that almost never happens at my house.  So, I replaced his spices with the more conventional spices in peoples cupboards and we were happy with the outcome. I made the preserved lemons but it takes about a month to make them, so unless you found them in a shop, you may need another way to go. I also believe this dish would be delicious using lemon juice and lemon zest instead, so I have included that option as well. 

One note about any leftovers, I used up the small amount I had leftover by reheating it slowly in a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of Quinoa until it was tender.  It made a terrific dinner for one. I got the idea because I am planning to do a Chicken, Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew later this week. Stay tuned...

Serves 4

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 large pinch saffron (if you have it)
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 preserved lemon, sliced into small strips OR 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1 cup chicken stock

Couscous, or Quinoa for serving

In a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, add the oil, spice mix, garlic, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves and saffron. Mix to a paste. Add chicken, rubbing the marinade over all the pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve any leftover marinade. In a tagine or large casserole over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Put in chicken pieces and lightly brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add onions and cook until just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Rinse preserved lemon well. Scoop out flesh and discard; cut peel into strips and add to pan. Add any reserved marinade, olives, and chicken stock. Add the pre-browned chicken and any juices.

Bring to a boil and cover tightly and cook over medium low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and discard. Taste juices and adjust seasoning. Place chicken on a warm platter. Spoon juices with the preserved lemon, olives, and onions over chicken and serve with Couscous.

Here are some other dishes that I love with Moroccan flavors:
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
Chicken Marbella (OK... technically Spain, but close!!!)
Moroccan Pot Roast (My favorite pot roast recipe of all time!)  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Simple Salmon Chowder

I love easy soup.
This past week has been so crazy, I haven't had as much time to cook as I'd like.  Friday night, even though we were going out to dinner with friends, I still wanted... no needed.. to cook something.

I wasn't going to blog about this one as it feels like I make it all the time, but I see that I haven't done a simple chowder.  This technique would work for almost any fish or seafood but I liked salmon and had fillets in the freezer.  I like the Costco salmon fillets as they are individually packaged, easy to thaw and I already had them.  With this soup, I only thawed the salmon for about 15 minutes, then cut up the fillets while mostly still frozen.  The pieces were easy to cut up and held their shape in the chowder.  I liked having the big tender chunks in the soup. Any type of salmon would work; fresh, frozen, canned or leftover pieces. Leftover or canned salmon would give you flakes of salmon instead of the chunks.

This soup is creamy and satisfying, but it really does not have a lot of cream in it. If you prefer to use milk, then I would reduce the amount of stock to about 4 cups and use 2 1/2 cups of milk. I used potato flakes at the end because I wanted a thicker soup and it adds even more potato flavor.

Serves about 4-6
3 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1 cup white onion, minced
1 cup celery, minced (I use inner stalks and leaves)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp flour
2 Tbsp lemon juice
6 cups stock (fish or chicken)
3 cups yukon gold potatoes, diced (about 5-6 potatoes)
2 salmon fillets, about 1 lb., cut into pieces
2 tsp. dill weed, dried or fresh
Salt and Pepper (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp of salt because my stock was no-salt fish stock)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup instant potato flakes

In a medium stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute for about 3-4 minutes until starting to become limp and translucent.  Add the celery and minced garlic and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add the flour to the veggie mixture and stir until it starts to thicken up about 2-3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, stock and the dill weed and bring to a boil.  Add the diced potato and cook until they are tender, usually about 10 minutes. Drop in the salmon and reduce heat to medium low.  Add the cream and salt and pepper to your likening.

Add the potato flakes to thicken up and serve.

Note- You could simmer this on low heat for another 5-10 minutes if desired, but I found that even the partially frozen salmon pieces cooked almost instantly in the hot soup, and were nice and tender when we tried it.  If you cook it too long, your salmon could become tough.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Iceland for the weekend?

You’re going where in February?
A strange unsettled look on their face as they gaze at you with disbelief.
Like there just might be something wrong with you that they hadn’t considered yet. 
Oh well, I’ve seen that look before.

300,000 people
600,000 sheep
110,000 shaggy little ponies, er, I mean horses, but more about them later.
And 1% of the landscape is covered in trees.
You do the math, what do you think covers the other 99%?
Well, it certainly wasn’t cities and towns with that few of people...  It was snow, snow, snow, glaciers and black volcanic rocks.

I’d been watching the weather for weeks before our departure. 
It always showed about the same weather in Rekyjavik as it did in Seattle.
I didn’t even take snow boots. Silly me.  My point was, I’d just got back from Japan where they had 1-2’ of snow, and didn’t need boots.Why would I need snow boots in Iceland?
Well.. because your feet will be cold and wet as the snow kerplunks into the side of your patent leather flats.  Silly me. Lucky I brought a decent coat that covered more layers of clothing than I have ever worn, a pair of gloves, and a hat.

We made the arrangements months ago when we saw an offer for a “Winter Wellness Getaway” to Iceland for President's Day weekend. 
Winter Wellness? Gosh, everyone needs that! 
We flew all Thursday night, arriving in Iceland early Friday Morning.  No one really seems to sleep on a plane, so the six of us were all disheveled and groggy- - geez, now we needed ‘wellness’ more than ever.  

It was strange to figure out new money, I guess I mistakenly thought that Iceland, being in Europe, was naturally part of the European Union and use Euros. Nope. Icelandic’s refer to “the crisis” which is something you may, or may not, remember as their financial crisis when their three major commercial banks collapsed.  I heard people refer to “the crisis” more than once, as part of regular conversation.  Iceland is not yet in the European Union, I guess the EU has enough other crisis on their hands.

Kroner’s are a bit hard to get used to, but basically you pay 1,000 kroner for a beer. 
The trick is to remove the last two zeros from the price to get the ‘real’ dollar price.  Ten bucks for a draft beer… hey, that’s pretty much a crisis in my books.  Actually, even though removing the two zeros gets you in the right ball part, it’s really a bit better of an exchange at about $8.00 a beer. 
Awesome, right? 
We found out beer was outlawed in Iceland until March 1,1989.
What?  How can that be right?  Apparently there was so much trouble with hard alcohol, like vodka and aquavit, that the government didn’t want to allow more refreshing low alcoholic beverages to the economy. 
 I’d say they were lucky they didn’t have “the crisis” sooner.  We’ve heard that allowing beer in the Icelandic society actually helped reduce the amount of drunkenness.  I knew you’d want some good news after all those “crisis” stories.  March 1st is the national "Beer Day" in Iceland, in case you want to plan your own getaway.

I could go on and on about the beauty of Iceland, and I just might… in a bit… but actually this is a FOOD blog, so I plan on telling you about the food.
I hope you aren’t upset with me.
It might be a bit alarming or shocking to you.
I hope you don’t block me, or unfriend me, but I wanted to talk about it.
To get it off my chest, shall we say?  Having a blog is cheaper than having a counselor.

My hubby pretty much rules the adventurous eater club.  He ordered the putrid shark much to the dismay of the rest of the table.  It comes in a jar… with a TIGHT lid.  That’s because they don’t want to smell up the whole joint when bringing you your dish.  The jar he ordered had two chunks in it.  Our server said that’s because “you only need a little”.  Doesn’t that strike fear into your heart, it did mine.  I tend to be a sensible girl… I said ‘no thank you’. 
Later, it was easy to say “I would have tried it…. But you only had two little pieces”.  Hahaha.

Maybe you’ve heard about the putrid shark dish that is customary in Iceland?   
Putrid is just another word for fermented…. you know beer is fermented, right?
Oh… well let’s just say it’s not quite as refreshing as beer.
They douse it with ammonia (can you say poison?) and bury it in the ground for 6 months and then they hang dry it for a bunch more months.  It stops being poison after that I guess, since someone is still alive and kicking... I've been watching him closely.
It will pretty much clear a room when you open the container.  It’s served with brinniven, a local booze, that effectively cuts the stench from your breath so that you may even think it’s a good idea to try to kiss your wife.  No chance there bucko. I was ready for you. 

The strangest things on the menu, besides putrid shark, have got to be Minke Whale, Foal and Puffins. Oh yowza… who knew they ate all that crazy stuff?
I guess you would too if you lived on one of the newest landmasses in the world that was filled with active volcanoes. Food is very difficult to grow there (except in greenhouses) and proteins have to come from the sea, or be especially hardy livestock. The only local animal indigenous to Iceland is the Arctic fox.  The animals that they have these days are fox, horse, sheep, cows, dogs, cats, chickens and mink (introduced in the 1950’s) and now a rampant pest they are trying to eradicate, but luckily no mink on the menu.

They are very proud of their horses.  Except most people look at those cute little things and automatically say ponies.  They are chubby, short legged, shaggy creatures with a head of hair like Farrah Fawcett in the 1970’s. 

They are immensely hardy and live 100% of the time outside.  They are very, very proud of their horses.  I didn’t ask where the foal came from advertised on the menu.  Proud of their national horses, but not above eating them, I guess.  I didn’t order the foal, but I did try a bite. Yummy… I’d rather not admit it, but it was good- really good.

Minke whale… I don’t feel bad for Eskimos anymore. That stuff is amazing.  Would I order whale anywhere else in the world? No way. It just seems wrong on so many levels. It looks and tastes like tender, rich beefsteak served with a red wine reduction, caramelized red onions and horseradish mashed potatoes you will be happy you ordered it.

Puffins?  Really?
That’s just a crime.  Isn’t a puffin like the cutest bird you ever, ever saw?
Someone in my party (who shall remain nameless to protect the not so innocent) tried to order it.  The waitress said they were “out” as there weren’t enough puffins right now. 
Now, that sort of sounds like a nice way to say‘endangered’, now doesn’t it? 
But the server made it sound like they weren’t ‘in season’, oh... yeah, that’s definitely nicer, huh?  Puffin season?  Who knew? 
Either way, please don’t eat the puffins. 
I heard they taste like gamey birds with a distinct fishy flavor. 
Ummm… that’s just gross.  Leave the puffins to be the national bird, and not dinner. Okay?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Farro, Green Olive & Feta Salad

I've been thinking of this salad for a long time.
Now that I've finally got around to make it and blog about it, I'm so happy to report it is SO EASY to make!
My sister, Perri, brought this salad to a New Year's Eve party and a bunch of us went wild for the flavors.  She said it was in the new Sunset Magazine (Jan 2012)... 
"oh yeah".... I had it upstairs waiting to devour it.  
She used brown rice instead of farro, and it was really fantastic.  If you don't have farro, go ahead and substitute about 2-2 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice, cracked wheat or quinoa.

A couple of things I might suggest.... don't be too hung up on the measurements here.  I used a bit more farro than the original recipe called for, but I wanted to use up what I had.  Also, I may have used more olives because I like them!!!  I did not use any salt in the finished salad, just salted the farro cooking water was enough for me when you combine the cooked farro with salty green olives and feta.  Lastly, I used more pepper because pepper is my best friend!!!

Serves 4-6 at sides
1 cup farro wheat*
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely chopped Meyer lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup feta cheese
2/3 cup mild green olives, sliced

Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil and stir in farro. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook farro until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool and dry a bit, about 5 minutes. 
(Note- just left mine to drain and cool in my colander for about 15 minutes, but you can dirty another pan if you like.)

Whisk oil, lemon juice and zest, pepper, and parsley together in a medium bowl. Stir in feta, olives, and cooked farro.
(Note- I just dumped all this into a bowl, then added the cool farro.  Stirred it together and adjusted the flavors with more lemon juice, salt and pepper).

Here's some other salads you might like that are vegetarian and have some whole grains too!

Couscous Black Bean Salad
Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad
Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad
Quinoa with Roasted Corn and Green Beans
Southwestern Edamame Salad
Whole Wheat Asian Noodle Salad
Whole Wheat Noodles, Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Kale Salad


Monday, February 13, 2012

Burning Ring of Fire Martini

Love is like a burning ring of fire.
I'm sure you've heard Johnny sing it.  
Did you know June Cash, his wife wrote it about her love for him?
Ahhh...isn't that nice?  I mean I think so, I guess.
My husband loves to sing this song... anytime, anyplace.  He actually sings a very good Johnny Cash, which I must admit makes my heart go pitter pat when he sings it around the house to me. It's nice to be someone's burning ring of fire.

He is also a very good sport when I decide I want to invent something new, like a Cinnamon Red Hot Martini that is sort of a burning ring of fire to drink.  It was sweet, spicy, wet and delicious.  I thought we had Atomic Fireball liqueur at home, but instead we only had DeKuyers Hot Damn Cinnamon liqueur.  But the Atomic Fireball... it is the one to have if you like cinnamon and want to make this drink.

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Serves 2

3 jiggers vodka
3 jiggers Atomic Fire Ball or Red Hot Liqueur
2 jiggers seltzer or sparkling water
1/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies
2-3 Tbsp Hot Tamales candies

Pulverize the red hot candies in a blender or food processor until they are a fine sugary dust.  Dip the rim of the martini in water, then in the candy dust.

In the bottom of each glass, add about 5-6 hot tamales, and 10-12 red hot candies.

Mix the vodka and the cinnamon liqueur in an ice filled martini shaker. Shake, shake, shake.  Strain into the glasses and top with the sparkling water. Sip cautiously. 

When you are done with your drink your candies are now conveniently naked... now isn't that nice?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nordy Bars

Nordstrom used to sell these bar cookies in their restaurants and coffee shops.  I loved them.  They are sweet and ooey gooey sweet treat. I have no idea why they stopped selling them. 
Probably because when you ate one you just about went into diabetic shock.  
Still.. they are incredible... just take it easy, cut them smaller than I photographed above.

About 25 years ago, I had this great boss, Sue, who used to make these and share with her co-workers.  We loved, loved, loved them.  Sue also gave me her recipe.  I still chat with Sue from time to time, and asked if I could share it, she agreed.

I'm made these to take to my co-workers for Valentine's Day.  I must get them out of my house.

Makes a 9x13 pan

1/2 cup butter
1 12 oz pkg butterscotch chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 12oz pkg chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9x13 baking pan. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the butterscotch chips and the brown sugar stirring to combine until fully melted, just 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Beat the eggs and vanilla and add to the butterscotch mixture.   Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix.  Add the toasted walnuts, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. 

Mix well and add to the prepared pan.  Spread evenly.  Bake at 350 for 28 minutes.

I know that 28 minutes sounds terribly specific... but mine looked perfect at that time and that's what Sue's recipe said.  Sue was kind of specific.. hahaha.  

Here's the hard part... let them fully cool before cutting into bars.  It's best if you let them cool overnight.  I know, overnight??? Yep... you want everything firm and perfect, don't you?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Japanese Adventure- The Food

Some sort of jelly fish or something.. with a cute little tofu "Hello Kitty" garnish.

Izakaya is Japanese tapas. 
How happy would you be?
Yeah, I was pretty darn happy at the suggestion of such a cool experience.

We ate about 15 different little dishes of stuff that night.  Everything was totally amazing.
I loved the soup we started with on the snowy, blustery day. It reminded of something from Portugal... tomatoes, potatoes, clams, oysters and sausage.  Not what you think of with Japanese soup, but oh... so wonderful and the total flavors of Japan.  The dishes never seemed to stop, and the sake kept pace with the courses, I'm surprised my recall is so good.  There was one dish that I will never forget.  I knew... I just knew that something was different with that one.

The color was white, the appearance smooth and shiny... it tasted of the fresh pure sea.  If you like raw oysters, you would love this.

I promised myself I would eat everything offered to me. And I did.

I knew that white stuff was something... well, unusual.  My Japanese business partner, who has pretty good English, said it was "fish eggs".  Well, I have eaten lots of different caviars and while I am not the biggest fan, I don't hate it.  But fish eggs, roe, caviar- - -whatever you want to call it, looks the same- round.  
I said "no, this can't be fish eggs".  
I'm such a know it all.
I knew it wasn't fish eggs, but I figured the real word was lost somehow in translation.  
Funny, I never considered subterfuge... trickery... whatever you like to call it. I was duped. 

I've been back for about three days and talked a lot about the white stuff I ate.  I described it as blumpy white nobules spiraled on a common cord.  Weird, I know. I Googled it... couldn't come up with anything that sounded right.  Then I Googled "White opaque sashimi".
Uh oh...

He was on the right track, it was kind of the opposite of eggs. The counterpart shall we say?  
It's called Shirako. It's officially white sperm sack (full of sperm)- - -uhhhh.... thanks for that last part.  Right. Yeah. I feel a little sick.
But... you know, it was  good.
Yep, it was. 
Not sure if I will order it again, or maybe I will just tell someone else that it is "fish eggs".  I feel a little mean just thinking of passing along the trickery, but I am smiling right now.  

P.S. I didn't take a picture of the shirako... aren't you glad?

Here is the absolute most tame thing I ate all night. 

I called it a "Jenga Salad" - - -my name for a fantastic daikon salad tossed in dressing and topped with clear seaweed that is crunchy.  You can't see the darling daikon radish rabbits that garnish the side.  I think some of my former Tabletop/China friends will recognize Noritake's Shenandoah pattern that so popular with U.S. Brides in the late 1980's.

Japanese Adventure- Part One 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Japanese Adventure- Part I

Bullet Train

I'd heard about famous bullet trains in Japan since I was a kid, so I was thrilled that I got to take one of my trip.  I didn't want to stand out as a tourist (haha, I did anyway), so I initially refrained from taking a picture.  But, as we waited for the train, I noticed everyone else doing, and they were obviously Japanese... so I did too.   

Bullet trains travel at 140mph, so it was tricky to get any shots of the countryside as we whooshed by. 

Snow at the beach

We traveled to the Northwest coast of Japan as part of our business trip.  I had heard there was snow in the Niigata prefecture, but I wasn't prepared for the extent of snow we came across!
As we left Tokyo on our way to Niigata, the day was clear and crisp.  The trains are excellent so I snuggled in to watch the countryside fly by.  Japan is quite mountainous, so we passed through longer and longer tunnels.. As often happens to me on trains, I fell asleep.  The cozy, lulling dozing that feels good and has you waking refreshed.  
When my eyes opened, I am sure my jaw drooped.
Everything in my view was white.  Pure white... with blowing snow.  It was surreal.  It was like waking up in my very own Japanese Narnia. The snow just kept coming down.  We got to our hotel, famous for it's sunsets over the Sea of Japan.  I sure wasn't going to be enjoying a sunset that night.

Please wear the correct slippers
My room was a beautiful traditional style with a huge veranda for enjoying the scenery.  I must admit I just leaned out to take this picture as there was so much snow on the deck, and the beach.  Being a Puget Sound girl, snow on the beach is something we just don't see. In Murikami, the beach snow was about 8-10 inches thick... it was crazy to me! The wind and surf was roaring, but the snow managed to still fall, and stick on the sand.  Later, as we took a taxi to our meetings, the snow got deeper and deeper the farther we got from the beach.  The roads were all freshly plowed with up to 4 feet 'walls' of snow lining the streets.  I never saw anyone have any issues driving in the snow... not one.  So funny, especially when you see how 6 inches of snow can shut down Seattle.

The hotel is a traditional style resort for families to enjoy the beach, the sunset and the local hot springs.  I didn't partake in the hot springs this time, but I sure plan to on future trips.  The baths are segregated for males and females, and swim suits are not worn. I guess I felt a bit shy taking my big, white self to the baths by myself. There was absolutely no English on any of the hotel signs, or anywhere else... and besides being very short on time, I also was somewhat worried about making some crazy American faux pas.   

My room was beautiful, and apparently it was one of only three in the hotel with Western beds.  All other rooms have Tatami mats. I slept like a baby in my regular bed, but apparently I was supposed to get the authentic version and sleep on the mats.  I hear from co-workers who make the trip, that they are very comfortable, especially if you layer them up a la 'Princess & the Pea' style.

I had been warned about certain unique features of the room, but unprepared for the beauty and tradition that greeted me as I entered.  After unlocking the door, I stepped into a beautiful foyer with a raised platform and three sets of shoji screen doors.  I left my shoes at the door, and selected a pairs of sandals (and white toe socks) from the selection on the shelves near the door.  I have rather large feet, so I am pretty darn certain that I chose one of the 'guy' styles... oh well, a girls gotta do, what a girl's gotta do.

One by one, I slid open the screen and peeked into each door. Toilet on my right, bedroom and living room in front and bath and sink room on the left.  I had been warned that the slippers in the bathroom where "bathroom only" slippers and NOT to be worn into the common areas, or other areas of the room.  Pity... those slippers were by far the most comfortable.  

In each closet was 2-3 robes and a vest to wear over the top.  I'd heard that in seaside resort hotels it is completely acceptable to wear the robe, vest and slippers everywhere in the hotel.  I wish I had done it too, especially when I got to breakfast in the morning, and everyone, but me, was wearing theirs.  Next time, next time...

I was just going to say a little about the trip and share a smattering of pictures that I took.... but as I have written way more than I anticipated this morning. I will write and share more later, especially about Izakaya, which is Japanese 'tapas".  I hope I can remember all the details about the vast selection of beautiful and whimsical dishes we ate that night, I think I can, though there was a fair bit of sake involved that night...

Japanese Food Adventure 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Polenta with Truffle Oil & Arugula

Hungry, tired and wanted something comforting... quickly. 

I flew home this morning from Japan.... it's kind of like time travel.  You leave at 3pm in the afternoon and arrive back in Seattle at 7am on the same day.  Exhausting, but fun. I got my day back, the one that disappeared on my way there!  I need to stay up today in order to get back on the Pacific coast time zone.  I am SOooooo tired. This was just what I wanted.  I've had some fantastic food this last week, but I wanted something that wasn't Japanese.

Just a little note about truffle oil. 
I love it so much...
It's a bit spendy for a small bottle, but there are so many great things you can do with it.  Add a drop or two to your favorite vinaigrette dressing, or drizzled on french fries... pure heaven.

I think I paid about $12 for this about 6 months ago at a larger grocery store. 

Serves 4-6, as a main dish, or side dish
2 Tbsp olive oil, or butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh arugula or spinach
1 cup cornmeal
3 1/2 cups water or stock
1 tsp truffle oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste

Over medium heat, Saute the onions in the olive oil, or butter until they soften and become somewhat translucent. Add the arugula, or spinach, and saute briefly until it wilts, about 2 minutes more.  

Remove the onions and arugula to a plate.

In the same pan (no need to wash it out) add the water, or broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Sprinkle in the cornmeal, while whisking the mixture continuously.  Lower heat to medium and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring the whole time. 

Add the grated cheese, stir until well mixed.  Add the cooked onions and arugula and stir to combine.  Serve at once as a side dish, or main dish.  Any leftovers can be refrigerated to use later.  It firms up, so you can slice off a piece and fry it, or add a bit more cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until warmed throughout.

Here's some other ideas with cornmeal or polenta:

Pork Tenderloin with Cheese Polenta & Sauteed Kale
Sweet & Spicy Moist Mexican Cornbread
Tuscan Pot Roast
Cheddar Cornmeal Waffles with Cheese Gravy