Showing posts with label polenta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polenta. Show all posts

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Please welcome guest Denise Swanson & #Giveaway

I'm thrilled to welcome our guest Denise Swanson to Mystery Lovers Kitchen!  Denise and I share a "book birthday" on Tuesday, July 4.  Don't miss the latest in her Devereaux's Dime Store Series!

Lions and Tigers and Murder Oh My, the sixth book in my Devereaux’s Dime Store series debuts July 4 and to celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy. Just leave a comment below to enter.
In this book, Dev is both trying to solve a kidnapping that turns into a murder and figure out which guy she really loves. Since a wedding might be on the horizon, I decided to help Dev eat a little healthier. With that in mind, I’m sharing my Turkey Sausage Ragù Over Polenta recipe. This recipe has a reasonable number of calories, is tasty, and doesn’t make you feel as if you’re leaving the table hungry. Just add a salad and you have a hearty, healthy dinner.

Turkey Sausage Ragù over Polenta

1 tablespoon olive oil
I lb. hot Italian turkey sausage (remove casing)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion
10 oz. shredded carrot
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 (15-oz.) can unsalted tomato sauce
2/3 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in pepper. Remove sausage mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Remove pan from heat (do not wipe out pan).

Add onion, carrot, and garlic to pan, return pan to medium-high and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add sausage mixture, 1/2 cup water, and tomato sauce to pan; cook 1 minute.

Bring remaining 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in polenta. Reduce heat; cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently with a whisk or spoon. Stir in cheese. Serve polenta with ragù. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson lives in rural IL and writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime store mysteries, as well as the Change of Heart and Delicious Love romances. She loves to cook, especially now that her own personal hero has retired and become her sous-chef.  
Denise is currently working on the first book in her new Chef-to-Go mystery series and Dangerously Delicious, the second in her Delicious Love romance series. 
To help celebrate the publication of Lions and Tigers and Murder Oh My, Denise will send a copy of the book to one of the people who comments on this post. US only, please. Her post office in rural Illinois has difficulty handling non-US mail. Her last attempt to mail something to Australia ended up in Austria. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baked Garden Greens and Cheesy Grits with Cucumber Salad

Kids and my brother with Bandit, Tommy Moe, and Chubby Checkers

Back in the days when the kids were little, we didn't have any trouble disposing of our extra chard--we fed it to the pet guinea pigs! These days, when the garden really gets cooking, I have to work at coming up with recipes.

By now you know I'm crazy for cheese grits (AKA polenta), so when I saw a recipe starring greens and grits, I couldn't resist tweaking. This is a good meal for the night after you've indulged in an enormous burger, maybe with bacon and cheese on it, and you're feeling a craving for vegetables:) (If you are not in a vegetable mode, stop before the egg is added (see below) and top with Bolognese sauce.)

The grits:

2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water
1 cup cornmeal grits (polenta)
1 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 cup grated cheese

Heat 2 cups of chicken broth and one cup water to boiling. Pour in one cup of yellow cornmeal grits, stirring so it doesn't get lumpy. Cook this on low heat until it's thick, stirring frequently. Take the grits off the heat, stir in one tablespoon butter (if desired) and half a cup of grated cheese of your choice. (I chose cheddar.) When the grits have cooled, beat in one egg.

Meanwhile, chop one smallish onion and saute until soft. Wash and chop one large bunch of greens (kale, chard, or spinach.) Add them to the frying onions and continue to cook until the greens are soft.

In a well-oiled 8 by 8 inch pan, layer half the grits, then the greens mixture, then the rest of the grits. Top with another half a cup of grated cheddar and grate several tablespoons of Parmesan over all.

Bake at 375 until bubbly and beginning to brown, about 25 min.

I served this with a Japanese-style cucumber salad, which made a small dent in our cuke harvest. This fabulous recipe is courtesy of Joan Emerson, who had tasted something like this at a restaurant.

She did the hard work of teasing out the best flavors.

Thinly slice two large cucumbers
Finely chop three scallions (I used 1/2 onion instead)

For the dressing, mix:

Two tablespoons soy sauce
One tablespoon sesame oil
One tablespoon sugar
Four tablespoons vinegar

Gently toss together with cukes and onion; let stand at least one hour before serving. Make more than you think you'll eat--it goes fast!

Lucy is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, available wherever books are sold! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheesy Polenta with Spring Vegetables and Parmesan Crisps

LUCY BURDETTE: A couple of times a year I have the pleasure of going to New York City. It's a very big place, as you can imagine. Even so, I somehow end up visiting the same spots--one of them is an amazing bookstore called the Strand and the other is a food shop/cheese market/pasta store/restaurant/meat market/gelato purveyor (you get the idea) called Eataly. There are lots of little mini-restaurants inside the Eataly building. John and I have eaten there three visits in a row, and I've managed to talk him into the vegetarian place all three times. And that is because the food is so good!
 The dish he ordered this last time was amazing and I decided I should try to make my own version. Here's what it looked like at Eataly before John dug in.

I think you can use whatever vegetables appeal to you. I shopped at the farmer's market, and came up with carrots, a white onion, broccolini, radishes (which he was lukewarm about) and then some snow peas from our garden.



3 carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 radishes, quartered
small white onion
big handful of snow peas
cup of broccolini or broccoli florets
(May substitute asparagus, fiddleheads, green beans, etc.)

Clean all the veggies and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Parmesan crisps:

2 oz. fresh parmesan, grated (This should be a block of cheese, not the stuff in a green can)

Grate the parmesan with the large holes of a grater. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie pan covered with parchment paper (or use silpat on the cookie sheet.) Mound the grated cheese, about 1 Tbsp per wafer, leaving an inch or more between them. Bake at 400 for about 4-5 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. At first the cheese will melt and bubble, then it will gradually turn golden. Take them out quick!

Cheesy Polenta:

1 cup cornmeal grits
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water 

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

  Bring three cups of water and broth to a boil, and slowly add the grits or polenta. Reduce to low heat and simmer about 1/2 hour, whisking often to keep lumps from forming, and so it doesn't stick to the pan. (Take care because the grits will "pop" and can burn.) Mix in the cheese and 2 tablespoons butter, and set aside. 

Quickly stir-fry the vegetables in olive oil until tender but still crisp. Serve them on the hot polenta, garnished with Parmesan wafers.

And though we may be biased, we declared this dinner delicious:).


Lucy's Key West food critic mysteries can be found wherever books are sold! Follow Lucy on Twitter and "like" her on Facebook.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flat-Out Delicious

Kitchen-dwellers, I am delighted to introduce today's guest blogger, Jessica Park.  If you are not friends with Jessica on Facebook, do yourself a favor and start stalking her.  Honestly, reading Jessica's status updates is often the highlight of my (admittedly dull) days.  She's also a fantastic writer (see below) and an enthusiastic foodie.  So join me in welcoming Jessica to the kitchen!


Hello, Mystery Lover’s Kitchen! I love coming here to visit and was so happy to get an invite from Wendy. Now that I’m not writing culinary mysteries, it’s hard to have an excuse to beg for a chance to guest blog, so Wendy saved me the humiliation! But, I’m still as food-obsessed as ever, and getting back into fall cooking after months of fresh summer salads and grilling. This is a dish that is now on the menu once a week, and I really can’t get enough of it. Obviously anything with bacon is always good, but the combination of bacon against the artichoke hearts, capers, and lemon is really awesome. Yes, I know. This dish sounds really strange, but I assure you that it’s delicious.

Fast, Easy, One-Pot, Scrumptious, Perfect-for-Weeknight-Suppers Shrimp Reminiscent of Scampi But Amped Up and Better

Serves two. Or so. I don’t really know. Depends how much you eat.

3 slices of bacon, chopped into ½” strips
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
2 T. butter
One big handful of cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup canned tomato puree or a good handful of chopped fresh tomato
5 canned artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
2 T. capers
One big squeeze of lemon juice
2 springs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
12 fresh or frozen shrimp, deveined and tails off (Do not skimp on the shrimp. Frozen can be absolutely fabulous, but avoid cheap brands where the shrimp are covered in frost. You get what you pay for.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the bacon over medium-high heat until just browned. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp, and cook at a medium simmer, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is wilted and tender without being soggy (about 15-20 minutes).  There should be a very nice amount of broth, so add more stock if you need it. Add in the shrimp and season, and then cook for a few minutes until the shrimp are no longer translucent, about 3-4 minutes. If you’ve used fresh thyme, pull the springs because no one needs to chew on little twigs.

Note: Good quality shrimp will release a wonderful flavor into this and limit how much you need to doctor the dish. If you need an extra kick, you can add a splash of white wine and/or a good sprinkle of Cajun seasoning.

Serve over polenta cakes:

If you feel like hanging out stirring a pot of polenta for ages, be my guest, but there is nothing wrong with these delicious rolls. Cylinders. Whatever they are. 

Slice into ½” thick patties (about 4 per person), dust with flour, and fry in a little olive oil over medium-low/medium heat until lightly brown and crispy on both sides. These take longer than you’d think, so plan on at least six minutes per side.

This dish would also be perfect over rice or pasta, of course, but I’m a polenta nut.

Seriously awesome book!
My latest book, Flat-Out Love has nothing to do with food. Although the family in this novel does enjoy regular takeout…. But I hope that you food lovers will consider checking it out nonetheless. It’s a young adult book in many ways because the main characters are college students, but there is a much broader story about the complex family structure that truly makes this book accessible to readers of all ages. By some miracle, Flat-Out Love has spent the past five weeks as the #1 Top-Rated Romance on Amazon’s Kindle, and I’ve been amazed at what lovely reviews the book has been getting. It’s available for most e-readers and also in paperback from Amazon.

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

It's not what you know--or when you see--that matters. It's about a journey.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Jessica Park
Facebook: jumby24
Twitter: JessicaPark24

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Polenta Pie

Texas continues to wilt beneath a brutal heat wave.  All but six of our 254 counties have burn bans in effect. I can't actually remember the last time it rained.

Still, a girl cannot live on fruit, salad, and frozen treats forever.  Mr. Wendy has been lobbying (at first subtly, lately more loudly) for something a bit heartier.

Heartier, but not too fatty or rich.  After all, our household has recently returned to Weight Watchers.  And, again, it's like an oven outside ... fatty and rich might kill us on the spot.

The perfect compromise?  This tasty polenta pie.  The original recipe is from one of the Moosewood cookbooks.  I don't know which one (definitely not one I own); I got the recipe from a friend.  The original makes a single pie with a thicker, softer polenta base topped with sliced veg and a little cheese.

Polenta Pie with Faux Sausage, Tomatoes, and Mushrooms

I've modified the heck out of the original, turning it into something closer to deep dish pizza ... but, again, without all the fat and goo.  Adding a little garlic powder and parmesan to the polenta gives it a flavor boost and helps it crisp up a bit.  Dividing the polenta between two 9-inch pie pans (instead of the original, single 10-inch pan) brings the texture and thickness closer to a hearty pizza crust.

I've also mixed up the filling, adding more tomato and some Gimme Lean sausage to simulate Chicago-style pizza toppings.

For you meat eaters out there, you could use half a pound of ground sausage instead of the soy substitute ... just brown and drain off the excess fat before you add the mushrooms.  You could also use any pizza toppings you want to (onions? olives?); just be sure you cook out most of the liquid from any vegetables and that you precook all meats.  An added bonus?  The crust is gluten-free!  (The Gimme Lean is NOT gluten free, however, so celiacs need to modify the filling.)

Mr. Wendy declared this a "keeper" and it's now gone into our reserve of Weight Watchers-friendly comfort food.  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Polenta Pie


1 1/2 c. coarse corn meal (or corn grits, if you live in the south)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 c. cold water
2 c. hot water
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. olive oil


2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 tsp. olive oil
7 oz. Gimme Lean (sausage style -- NOT gluten free)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained well in a colander
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

For the crust:  Preheat oven to 375.  Spray 2 9-inch pie plates with nonstick spray.  Combine the corn meal, salt, garlic powder, and cold water in a bowl.  Heat the 2 c. water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, whisking.  Immediately reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook (just below a simmer) for about 10 minutes, whisking often.  Polenta will thicken considerably.

Mix in olive oil and parmesan cheese.  Divide mixture between the two pie pans.  Spread with a spatula or wet hands to cover the bottom and sloping sides of the pans.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Filling:  About 15 minutes before the crusts are done, heat the remaining tsp. of olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown the sausage, breaking the pieces into fairly small bits.  Once the sausage is fairly well cooked, add the mushrooms and herbs.  Saute until the mushrooms are starting to brown (they will shrink and give off most of their liquid ... you want the liquid to evaporate).  Add the drained tomatoes and heat through.

When the crust is done, remove from the oven.  Immediately heat the oven to a high broil.  Sprinkle a half-cup of shredded cheese in the bottom of each crust.  Top with the filling (divided between the two pans).  Top with remaining cheese.  Return to the oven and let "broil" (in the middle of the oven) for 5 - 7 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown a bit on top.

** Since there are only two of us, there's no way we could eat all this food.  I made both crusts and all of the filling, but I only assembled one pie the first night.  I stored the second crust and the remaining filling SEPARATELY overnight.  I then reheated both separately before I assembled the second pie.  I think that's the way to go, to prevent the crust from becoming soggy.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Long Quiche Goodbye - new recipe

As many of you know, I've been touring to launch my debut book, The Long Quiche Goodbye. What fun this has been. So many people, so many cities. I'm in a bit of a fog. But delighted! I'll detail it all in my next newsletter (see link below), but in the meantime, I wanted to share a few tidbits.

Mare F, a cozy aficionado and regular commenter to this blog, came to the book signing in Canton, CT. I was thrilled to see her. She surprised me by bringing
me these delightful handmade items.

A "cozy" that is not for teapots but for carafes, so it'll keep a pot of iced tea, or my favorite a carafe of wine, covered while on the porch.

And a knit bag that will carry groceries! Aren't they beautiful???

Talk about making me feel special.

Thank you so much, Mare.

Look for a "Long Quiche Goodbye" refrigerator magnet as a real thank you.

Today I'd like to share another recipe from The Long Quiche Goodbye: Polenta with Basil and Taleggio.

As you know, Grandpere's barbecue sauce [shared July 5 on the blog] was mentioned in the book, but it wasn't a recipe included at the end. This one is. There are four recipes.

Polenta is pretty darned simple. This is a dressed up version. I've included the recipe here, but you'll also find it right before the sneak preview chapter of book two: Lost and Fondue, on page 313.

There's something wonderfully comforting about polenta. It has a melt-in-your mouth texture. Add a strip of taleggio on top, and it's double-melt-in-your-mouth. Taleggio is a washed rind, cow's milk cheese from the Lombardy region of Italy. It has a strong aroma but a mild taste and melts great.

But here's the thing. Polenta can be scary to cook. It pops, it bubbles, it spits at you. It's sort of like a dragon! Be prepared. Use a tall pot, use a long spoon, and definitely wear a cooking mitt.


[6-8 portions]

4 cups water

1 tsp. salt

1 cup polenta corn meal

1 cup fresh basil leaves separated

2-4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz. Taleggio cheese, thinly sliced

Bring water and salt to a boil.

Add polenta corn meal in a thin stream. Keep stirring until corn meal pulls away from sides of pan. (No lumps) Turn down heat to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

While it is cooking, stir-fry the basil in olive oil until crispy, then drain on paper towels.

Spoon hot polenta on to each plate. Lay a couple of slices of Taleggio cheese on each portion and finish with the fried basil.



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