Tag Archives: Thyme

Savory Herbed Polenta ~ Creamy, Grilled or Sauteed

Savory Herbed Polenta ~ Creamy, Grilled or Sauteed

Cooking main dishes are pretty easy but sometimes finding good starches that are interestingly prepared are another matter.  I know different types of rice; from Basmati, Jasmine, Wild all the way to Arborio and how to cook them all up (did I mention I’m South Asian and we have this thing for rice?).  I can also whip up a variety of potato inspired dishes.  But Corn based dishes like Polenta or Grits have kind of not worked out for me in the past.  Mostly because I didn’t want to stand around stirring for an hour.  Who wants to dedicate that kind of time to a carbohydrate?  But this Polenta dish is great!  You know why?  THE OVEN.  You don’t have to stand around forever stirring the Polenta, the oven works just as great.  I think a crock pot would work as well but I’ve not messed around with that yet.  What I enjoy about Polenta is you can serve it hot and creamy or you can refrigerate the leftovers and then grill or saute them later in fun little shapes.  What’s not to like about that? I added thyme to mine along with onions and garlic.  Some people are purists and want to have plain Polenta.  I am not good with plain anything.  I have to add herbs, or spices or something! The thyme is mild enough that it enhances the flavor without interfering with any other main dish it is served with.  I had some great pork chops with it last night.

The cast of characters!

Saute the red onion with Thyme and salt. Add garlic when onions are tender and translucent.

Add Chicken stock and bring to a simmer

Add the milk and bring to a boil

Slowly add the cornmeal in a steady stream while whisking to avoid lumps

When all the cornmeal is incorporated, cover with a lid

Put the whole pan in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Make sure and stir every 10 minutes to avoid lumps

After 35-40 minutes, take out of oven and add butter

Add freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and stir to incorporate

Delicious creamy herbed Polenta

Put leftovers (or as an alternative serving method) in a parchment lined 9 x 13 pan and refrigerate

Cut the cooled Polenta into any shape your little heart desires

Grill or saute in a frying pan with a little olive oil brushed on the surface

Serve it with any main dish...This is spiced pork chops with red beans

Here’s the recipe:

Savory Herbed Polenta ~Creamy, Grilled or Sauteed

Olive oil (for grilling and for sauteing)

1/2 red onion chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp fresh Thyme, minced

2 cups chicken stock or broth would also work

2 cups milk ( I like a fuller fat version like whole or at least 2%)

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (Polenta)

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2-3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

In an oven safe saucepan heat a little olive oil (a couple of tablespoons will do) and saute the onions with the thyme.  When onions are translucent add the garlic and saute until all the flavors are released.  I like to add 1 tsp of Kosher salt to this mixture and save the 1/2 tsp to add later.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the milk to this mixture and bring everything to a boil.  Slowly add the cornmeal in a thin stream as you whisk.  This is very important so the cornmeal doesn’t begin to clump up. Once all the cornmeal is incorporated, cover the sauce pan and place it into a pre-heated 350 degree oven.  The Polenta needs to cook for about 30-40 minutes total.  Every 10 minutes take out the pan and stir the cornmeal mixture so it stays creamy and lump free.

Once the Polenta is creamy (35-40 minutes later) take out of the oven and add the remaining salt (this is a good time to taste and decide if you want to add the additional salt or not) freshly ground pepper and butter.  Stir until all the butter is melted and incorporated into the mixture.  Add Parmesan cheese and stir that in until it’s melted.  Serve immediately as a creamy Polenta with any chicken, pork or beef dish.  Goes great with roasted chicken.  OR…you can pour the Polenta into a parchment lined 9 x 13 inch pan and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.  Once the Polenta is nice and set you can cut it into any shapes (little circles, squares, triangles) brush with olive oil and saute in a non-stick skillet or grill on a grill.  It’s really delightful.  A great way to re-use leftovers!

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

As a dietitian I get asked all the time about gluten-free recipes and food ideas since so many people it seems, either are diagnosed with Celiac Sprue or have developed wheat or wheat-related allergies.  One of the great things about food from different parts of the world, especially South Asia is that a variety of non-wheat based flours are used in cooking.  In any Indian, Bengali or Pakistani grocery store you will find “Besan” which is chickpea flour, split gram flour (a type of lentil), rice flours, potato flour and a myriad of other flours.  They are routinely used for everyday cooking in a variety of ways.  They are much less expensive to buy at an ethnic store than at a “specialty” or “health-food”  store. Not only are these delicious but they add a depth of nutritional content that is not found in traditional processed all-purpose wheat flour.  One of the complaints I hear about those having to go gluten-free is the lack of breads and crackers that taste delicious.  I recently made some homemade Thyme and Rosemary crackers http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/thyme-and-rosemary-edam-crackers/ and decided that I could make a variation of that using non-wheat flour and the results were truly, truly delicious.  The rice flour adds a crunch to these crackers that make them so addictive that I must confess I ate most of the crackers by myself.  It was a little embarrassing.

Ingredients at a glance

Cream the butter and add the herbs, garlic and cheeses

Roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap - refrigerate at least 30 minutes

Slice refrigerated dough into 1/8 inch slices

Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment or silpat lined pan

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup of goat cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1  tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried thyme

1 whole clove garlic, pressed through garlic press

1 cup rice flour

1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan)

1-2 tsp water (use only if the dough is not coming together)

In a medium-sized bowl cream butter with an electric mixer.  Add in herbs, garlic and cheese and continue mixing until well incorporated.  Slowly add in both the chickpea and the rice flour, add the water if needed for the dough to come together.  I did not add any salt to this recipe since goat cheese is pretty salty.  You can add some kosher salt to taste if you’d prefer. Roll into about a 9″ log and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and cut the log into 1/8 to 3/8 inch rounds with a sharp knife.  Place on a parchment or silpat  lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a cooling rack before serving.  Makes about 24-28 crackers but you can tell others it only makes 6 (which is what I had to do because I ate most of them myself)

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

I enjoy finding bargains and especially food bargains.  Today on my grocery store run, I discovered some Edam cheese on sale for only  75 cents for an 8 ounce package.  I couldn’t pass up that deal so I decided to buy a few packages.  I really enjoy different kinds of cheese but Edam was fairly new to me so I decided to try it out.  I loved the soft texture and the medium flavor.  I decided that it would be great to try to make homemade crackers with them.  How hard could it be?  I’d made plain cheese crackers before and thought it would be nice to balance out the flavors of this cheese with some fresh herbs.  So, here it is, my little creation.  They were fantastic with some fresh salad that had D’Anjou pears in them.

Ingredients at a glance

Rub together the minced Thyme and Rosemary with the Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to release flavors

Cream the butter

Add the herbs and salt mixture along with the shredded Edam

After adding the flour and about a tablespoon of water a soft dough should form

Roll into a log and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes

Slice dough into about 1/4 inch thickness

Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

It was awesome with some fresh salad.

Here’s the recipe:

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup shredded Edam cheese

1 tsp fresh Thyme, minced

1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary, minced

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon water (may take a little less or more)

1 1/4 cup flour

Mix together Rosemary and Thyme with the salt and pepper and rub it together to release the flavors.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl cream the butter until smooth and add the cheese and the herb mixture.  Slowly add in flour and keep mixing at low speed.  If necessary use the tablespoon of water (may take a little more or less depending on the humidity) to make the dough come together.  Take out of the bowl and roll into a 9 inch log.  Wrap the log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat liner.  Using a very sharp knife cut the log into 1/4 or 3/8 inch slices.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes.  They should be a beautiful golden brown color.  Cool and enjoy as an appetizer or with any kind of salad.  They are wonderful with some D’Anjou pears sliced thinly on top as well.  Makes about 28 crackers.

Spanakopita ~ Greek Spinach Triangles

Spanakopita ~ Greek Spinach Triangles

One of the most vivid memories I have of visiting Greece as a teenager is the amazing food.  Everything tasted wonderful and different from foods that I was used to at that time.  I loved the pastries, the meats and the delicate flavors.  It’s during that trip that I began a serious love affair with Spanakopita, a crispy, delicate and delicious Spinach Pie.  I seriously could eat huge quantities of Spanakopita.  Every year in September, my city has a big Greek Festival.  I try to go annually to load up on Greek delicacies that I don’t have time to make.  For years I used to pig out on Spanakopita at the festival, when finally a few years ago I got smart.  I decided that I’d asked all of my Greek friends to give me their very best versions of Spanakopita recipes so I could try them all.  My friends were very helpful and passed on several recipes and over the last several years I’ve combined the things I liked from all of them to come up with this current recipe.  Some families like to make Spanakopita in a large pan and cut them into squares, while others prefer to make them into triangle shapes.  I love the versatility of the triangle shape since it’s so portable and because I can freeze them and bake them up individually (or a whole bunch) whenever I have a craving!

Ingredients at a glance

Saute the onions, garlic, herbs and kosher salt together

When the onions are tender, add the Spinach

Mix in eggs, cheeses and lemon juice to spinach mixture

Cover Fillo dough with a damp paper towel to keep it from drying out

Brush Fillo with melted butter

Cut buttered Fillo sheets into three equal strips

Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of spinach mixture on the corner of one strip

Fold into a triangle

Fold it over on itself until it's a complete triangle

Place on a cookie sheet and brush with melted butter before baking

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes

Here’s the recipe:

Spanakopita ~ Greek Spinach Triangles

1 box Fillo Dough

2 pounds frozen chopped Spinach (you can use fresh but in this recipe there is very little difference)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp basil (I like to use fresh basil)

1 tsp dill

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (you can use dry thyme)

1 tsp kosher salt

5 stalks of Scallions

7 oz crumbled Feta

1/2 cup Ricotta

1/2 cup Cottage cheese

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

3/4 lb (3 sticks) of unsalted butter

4 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Defrost Spinach and squeeze out all excess water and set aside.  In a large skillet heat olive oil and saute onions, scallions, garlic, salt and herbs.  After onions are tender, add Spinach to the mixture and stir fry for a few minutes.  Take off heat and pour it into a large bowl.  Add eggs, cheeses and lemon juice  to the Spinach mixture.  Stir to mix well.

Take out Fillo dough from package and put them on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.  Melt 3 sticks of butter in a microwave safe bowl  and get a pastry brush.  Place a piece of Fillo dough on a large cutting board and brush it with melted butter, working quickly so the fillo doesn’t dry out, place another sheet on top and brush that with butter as well.  Repeat with three sheets of Fillo.  Using a pizza cutter, cut three equal long strips on the Fillo.  Place a large 1 1/2 tablespoon of spinach filling on the top of one of the strips and fold it at an angle so it forms a triangle.  Keep folding the triangle onto itself until all the filling is enclosed in a triangular shape.  Place it on a cookie sheet and brush the completed triangle with melted butter.  Repeat the procedure withe the other two strips.  Continue making triangles with three sheets of buttered Fillo at a time.  Should yield about 42-46 individual Spanakopitas.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.  Serve warm.