Archive for March, 2011

Polenta is so versatile!

Polenta has been on my list of dishes to master. While I am far from mastering it, I was happy to have successfully made a batch yesterday. I bought a package of ground corn in a Red Mill polenta package. I cooked it with beef stock, butter, salt and grated parmesan cheese. After cooking it for about an hour, I approved the final tasting and combined it with some sauteed greens and balsamic vinegar.

Today, after letting the polenta harden over night in the fridge, I fried a square of it and ate it with chili and an fried egg. Polenta is so versatile, I can’t wait to try more combinations.

Soft polenta with greens

Fried polenta with chili


Paneer cheese is easy!

My co-worker recently explained how she makes paneer cheese from scratch. I have been meaning to attempt cheese making but had no one to suggest methods. The cheese turned out delicious!

-1 gallon whole milk
-three lemons (lemon juice)
-2 T. curry powder
-.25 C. kosher salt

Bring milk to a boil and then immediately turn off heat. Add all other ingredients and wait for the curds to collect! I had to play around with the amount of acid and heat, but eventually it curdled as desired. I strained for a bit in a cheese cloth and then fried it lightly in slices. I put it on top of sauteed spinach and onions, yummy!

One of my Indian friend’s mom was mortified that I added flavoring to the cheese while making it…but, it tastes good! 🙂

Curry flavored paneer cheese

Almost vegetarian chili

Yesterday I made a big pot of beef stock and today was contemplating how to use it, besides the usual soup option. Eureka! It was time for a chili batch. Chili is really easy and can be adjusted to anyone’s taste, diet and budget. I say mine was almost vegetarian because of the beef stock as well as the rendered bacon before adding the vegetables. A little fat goes a long way!

My chili recipe this evening:
-2 onions
-2 yellow squash
-1 zucchini
-2 carrots
-2 celery
-1 bunch of kale (blanched prior to adding)
-.5 C barley (boiled in 1 quart of beef broth until soft prior to adding)
-1 quart beef broth used with the barley
-1 red bell pepper
-1 poblano pepper
-3 jalapeno peppers
-1 huge, fresh shitake mushroom
-1 large can roasted tomatoes, whole
-1 small can of black beans (pre-cooked)
-.5 C. of your favorite chili seasonings (I cheated and used a spice shop’s mix)
-salt/pepper/sugar to taste
-a dusting of masa harina (corn flour) at the end to thicken it a little.

Dump everything together and let it cook until tasty. 🙂 I topped it with grated chiahuahua cheese, broken tortilla chips, cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.

Fancy chili for a Chicago winter night.

Pancake Breakfasts!

My roommate and I have a tradition of having pancake breakfasts. Anne is the pancake master and I occasionally help with condiments. This past weekend, our pancakes were made extraordinary by adding my mom’s frozen strawberry jam on top. Yummm.

Tall stack!

Winter soups: NY Times article