IN THE KITCHEN: POLENTA AND MUSHROOMS

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A few nights ago I wanted to tryout a recipe that I had in my brain for awhile, so I made it and it was a success. Polenta with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. It’s funny I am not a fan of white wine, but I do love cooking with it especially with mushrooms it adds a great depth. Plus the polenta absorbs the sauce making it extra tasty. It is really easy to make you can even improvise and add any kind of veggies you have. Again I eyeballed this dish, you can easily visualize how much to make for one person. I really need to start writing everything down. 

INGREDIENTS

  • quick cook polenta

  • olive oil

  • onion, diced

  • button mushrooms, cut in half

  • cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • garlic, minced

  • white wine

  • little vegetable broth

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • Italian parsley

Cook the polenta based on directions. Meanwhile in a pan heat olive oil add onions, mushrooms, pinch of salt and pepper and saute until brown. Add cherry tomatoes and garlic and cook until tomatoes are soft. Add enough white wine that coats the pan and then add some vegetable broth. Scarp any bits off the pan. Cover and cook until the alcohol has burned off about 20 minutes depending on how much liquid is used. 

Add polenta to a dish put mushroom mixture on top and garnish with Italian parsley. 

Enjoy!

{photos by me, recipe by me}

IN THE KITCHEN: SEAFOOD RISOTTO

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I am happy to share a dish that I was dying to make ever since I got the Fresh and Easy cookbook, seafood risotto. I went all out for this recipe, I went to the Santa Monica seafood market and picked up the freshest prawns (they were alive when I bought them…yikes!) clams and squid.

I think the best part about this recipe was the fresh fish broth. I have never made my own broth and surprisingly enough it was super easy. Working with such fresh ingredients really elevates any dish, and this holds true when using the freshest seafood. 

I love visiting the seafood market, I have never had a bad piece of seafood. I think the prawns were the best. It is definitely worth the money to try them out on special occasions. 

IN THE KITCHEN: RUSTIC RATATOUILLE

I know if I am posting what I have made I liked it in some way. This dish from Women’s Health Magazine is hands down one of the best dishes I have made. I love all the veggies and adding the chickpeas makes it a great hearty dinner. I loved this dish so much I think I ate the leftovers two days in a row. This recipe is a great weekday meal, because you cut up everything and throw it in the oven. I also switched up some of the veggies based on the amount I wanted to make. The recipe serves 6, so I cut it in half. I used Japanese eggplant instead of regular eggplant strictly based on size. I also had no thyme, but I had Italian seasoning so I used that and worked just as well.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 medium onions, sliced

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 tsp salt, divided

  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • vegetable oil cooking spray

  • 2 cans (14oz each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 8 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 ½ tsp sherry wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)

  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Heat oven 450 degrees. In a bowl, toss zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and onion with thyme, rosemary, ¾ tsp salt. Coast a rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray. Spread veggies in a pan in a single layer; roast, stirring once. 25 minutes. In same bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste and remaining ¼ tsp salt. Add to pan with veggies in a single layer; roast 10 to 12 minutes more. Toss veggies with vinegar, divide among 6 bowls, sprinkle with basil.

Enjoy!

{photos by me, recipe: Women’s Health Magazine, December 2012}

IN THE KITCHEN: MUSHROOMS WITH FRIED POLENTA

A few nights ago I wanted to do another experiment in the kitchen and only use what I had in the refrigerator and pantry. So I pulled out mushrooms, tomatoes, onion & garlic. I also had some polenta and dry white wine. This dish was so good; I love the taste of white wine and mushrooms. This recipe makes one portion so just up the ingredients by 1.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ white onion

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1 cup, carmine mushrooms. cut in half

  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • ½ cup vegetable broth

  • ¼ cup dry white wine

  • 4 slices of polenta, cut into ¼ inch pieces

  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped for garnish

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Add the white wine and sauté for about 1 minute until the  alcohol has evaporated. Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes (if the liquid starts to evaporate add more broth). Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a saucepan. Once olive oil is hot add the polenta. Cook for 8 minutes on both sides or until golden brown. 

Add polenta to the plate and top the mushrooms and tomatoes on top. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

{photos & recipe by me}

IN THE KITCHEN: ITALIAN VEGGIE MEDLEY

To keep with the theme of archived recipes I decided to make another favorite, Italian veggie medley and yes this is completely vegan. I really enjoy wheat berries they are packed with fiber, protein and low in calories. This dish is super easy, the only time consuming part is cooking the wheat berries for an hour. It is really filling and super healthy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tomato, cut into ½ inch think slices
  • 1 small zucchini, halved and cut into ½ inch thick strips
  • 4 oz fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 oil-packed artichoke hearts, drained and halved, plus 1 tsp. oil from jar
  • ½ small onion, sliced
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper, drained and cut into stripes
  • ½ tsp italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread on grill, close and cook on medium-high 10 minutes, or until veggies are browned. Drizzle with pan juices if desired.

**I adjusted this entire section, since I don’t own a grill. Pre heat oven to 400. Combine all the ingredients and spread them in a baking dish. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until all the veggies are cooked through. Top wheat berries with veggies and enjoy!

{Photos by: Me, recipe from Vegetarian Times March 2011 issue}

FOOD TOUR (STOP 4-6): ITALIAN FARE

My last dinner in SF had to be done properly, so my friend and I had our first stop at Heart a wine bar in the Mission. I liked the warm atmosphere and loved that they serve their wine in small mason jars.

The second stop was a bit of an experience, because it was pouring rain. We took the first available seat outside at Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission, it was pretty fun sitting outside while the rain was falling. We feasted on fresh mozzarella, fried purple cauliflower, squash and artichoke hearts with aioli and Broccoli Raab pizza.

I prefer dessert after dinner, I think it just tops off a great meal. So my last stop for the evening was for some homemade ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery also in the Mission. I love that all the ice cream flavors are the only things that appear in the fogged up freezer. It almost looks like a flavor diagram. I enjoyed a scoop of salted caramel and cookies and cream. Nothing like a frozen treat on a cold rainy evening.

{Photos by: Me}

insalata di caprese

For the past few months I have been on this caprese salad kick. I think I have been eating them so much because it brings me back to eating this salad in Italy. I first started with the more traditional salad (sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil) then I started experimenting with different variations. I think this one is my favorite, still has the basic caprese ingredients but I added arugula, fresh lemon vinaigrette and topped it with anchovies (I love that salty kick). Since heirloom tomatoes are in season I have been using them for added color, in this salad I used a mix of large and small tomatoes. This salad is super easy and I love having it for dinner because it is light and just filling enough to satisfy me through the night. I also have another yummy idea for this salad, but you will just have to wait…Enjoy!

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Tomatoes (preferably heirloom for added color) 1 large sliced thin and a handful of small tomatoes cut in half
  • Basil (handful): I like to julienne them
  • Arugula
  • Mozzarella
  • Anchovies (optional)
  • Lemon juice, I use half a lemon 
  • Olive oil (I taste and pour)
  • Pepper

There is no method to this, I just eyeball everything. I think that is why this salad is so easy

{Photo by: Me}