Monday, January 23, 2012

Polenta, Chorizo & Mushroom Lasagne

my daughter's curiosity in the kitchen is growing. she is no longer interested in whisking together ingredients or cracking eggs. she wants to advance to more difficult tasks as cutting vegetables with a knife. after numerous occasions of me saying 'no', i thought i'd give it a go. i took extra precautions, and hovered on the sidelines pacing and trying to hide my anxiety, as she attacked mushrooms with a very dull butter knife. it went well. i talked about finger placement repeatedly. it was difficult for me, but i am learning to trust my daughter in the kitchen. and what did we make with those mushrooms? polenta lasagna with chorizo, spinach and mushrooms! there was a sledding party saturday morning with a potluck afterwards. i secretly love potlucks. i love the variety of dishes spread out across any given counter top. crock pots full of bubbling chilies. assortments of hot dishes, and let's not forget the bars. it is such a mid western thriller! anyway, we made the lasagna. i have been on a polenta kick lately, and had glanced over a recipe using polenta instead of traditional lasagna noodles, and was inspired. the chorizo paired great with the polenta, and the mushrooms and spinach were great add ins too! i used pre-made polenta which comes packaged in a tube, and you simply slice it to layer in your lasagna. the hard-core traditionalist in me frowned upon this, but the manic, sleep deprived mother who i also am, gladly gave it my approval. here's a recipe/ ingredient list. have fun, and belly up!!

for the sausage/ mushroom/ spinach:
 1 pound of chorizo sausage
1 pound mushrooms- i used crimini
4 cloves garlic, minced
half pound of spinach
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
saute about a pound of chorizo in a skillet. once the chorizo is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat, spoon out the sauasage- leaving the pan drippings in the pan. return the pan to the heat. if there's not enough pan drippings to coat the bottom of the pan, add a splash of olive oil. add the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes. add the garlic, spinach, and herbs and saute briefly to wilt the spinach slightly.

for the ricotta mixture:
  1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan
2 egg yolks
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
stir the above ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

to assemble:
  1 1/2 tubes of polenta, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 jar of marinara
1/2 pound mozzarella, grated
1/2 pound parmesan, shredded
grease a 9x13 pan with olive oil. place a layer of marinara in the bottom of the pan. layer as such: polenta sausage-mushroom-spinach mixture ricotta mixture shredded mozzarella and parmesan marinara polenta sausage- mushroom- spinach mixture ricotta mixture shredded mozzarella and parmesan marinara bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and lightly golden on top.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


i just got into work this morning. i have done little more than mutter a brief hello to my coworkers. last night we arrived home from a quick trip to st. louis, with a stop on the way to visit friends near chicago. i have menus and new food ideas covering the kitchen table. but this morning, i'll admit, i have very little time to offer up a recipe. instead i thought i'd offer a list of my favorite things for the new year. i am thankful for my life. my family is amazing! it's all darn great right now! i know that only more great things await, so if it seems like i am moving too fast, it's because i don't want to miss anything. or i'm simply trying to keep up. either way. it's a good way to roll. i am thankful for the co-op and the lovely workers therein. we're a great team, and they are constantly having to listen to me think out loud about new food ideas, and try experiments and new foods we've whipped up in the deli. i am forever grateful. i am thankful for my experience and education in food. without it, many things wouldn't be. my pantry would suffer too. things that are in my pantry and fridge that make we smile: toasted sesame oil. it's toasted sesame flavor marries well with venison and wild rice- my two favorite local eats. caramelized onion cheddar. it's sweet, salty, tangy, creaminess always make me so incredibly happy. cilantro. it's so fresh. it's so alive. it makes a great pesto when paired with chilies and toasted pine nuts. i'll talk more about that later. whole wheat pastry flour. it gives pastries such a delicate crumb. it being a whole wheat flour, one might expect a dense and hearty end product, but this flour is so light and it just rocks with pastries. thanks to everyone who reads this blog!i promise more recipes, more pictures, and more food chit chat to come!! belly up!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Champagne Cupcakes with Grapefruit Curd

okay. it's the new year. i bypassed the typical resolution list, and went right for a dollop of leftover champagne frosting to nosh on with my morning coffee. one breathe at a time is an except able plan. i must elaborate on the champagne cupcakes with grapefruit curd and the previously mentioned champagne frosting. i woke up new year's morning and did my usual morning routine. i tickled my daughter, i fed and loved up the dog, coffee, early morning jumping competition on the bed while my fiance is desperately holding onto his last few moments of sleep, more tickling, and then i opened a bottle of prosecco that my fantastic coworker donated to the cause. the cause being the cupcakes. i read about the cupcakes on this website: i was baffled. what a great idea! the recipe went together very easily, and the end results were amazing! i regret that i didn't share this sooner, so that everyone could partake in a new year's eve devouring of cupcakes, but these cupcakes are so special! i can think of at least a dozen occasions for which to make these. wedding celebration. valentine's day. birthday party. easter? baby shower. fridays. mondays. fourth of july. you just received a raise party. graduations. housewarming. the first snow....there. that's 12. whew! i whipped up a batch and shared them with my coworkers, and i feel that all of our moods were uplifted. belly up!!
Champagne Cupcakes with Grapefruit Curd
The Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup champagne, prosecco, or your choice of sparkling wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream. Add the four mixture alternately with the champagne mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated. Batter will be thick. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Grapefruit Curd: refer to my previous post on grapefruit curd. a half batch should be enough for filling the cupcakes.

Champagne Frosting:
  1 cup plus 1 tbls champagne or prosecco
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pout in the reduced 2 tbls of champagne plus the 1 tbls champagne from the bottle and mix well. Note- I did a batch and a half of frosting, which made enough to pipe a fairly large dollop atop each cupcake. Fill and frost the cupcakes and enjoy!!