Sunday, January 27, 2013


It's time for our weekly Food Matters Project recipe. Our host this week is Sandra of Meadows Cooks. Sandra chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Polenta Cakes with Garlicky Mushrooms. The garlicky mushrooms sounded divine however I was serving mushrooms at a small dinner party this weekend so I went with a fresh herb and Gorgonzola take on this recipe.

I mixed the polenta with milk and water and stirred until it started pulling away from the sides of the pan. When it was creamy and thick, I added some Parmesan cheese, butter, and fresh herbs. Spread all of this on an oiled baking sheet in let it firm up in the fridge for a few hours. When firm, cut the polenta into squares (or any shape you want) and top with a slice of Gorgonzola cheese. Back in a 400~ oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.

I would call this comfort food all dressed up! I served this as a side with a grilled beef tenderloin but this would make a fantastic appetizer.


1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal
3 cups water
3/4 cup milk
1 TBSP. chopped fresh basil
1 TBSP. chopped fresh thyme
1 TBSP. chopped fresh rosemary
5 TBSP. grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 TBSP. butter or olive oil
8 oz. Gorgonzola

Put the cornmeal and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in the water and milk until smooth. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking continuously. Lower heat and whisk until thick, 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter (or olive oil) Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and pour polenta onto the pan. Spread with a spatula until about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 400~. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Cut firm polenta into squares or any shape you like. Top each square with a slice of Gorgonzola cheese. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbly.

For our other members take on the recipe click here.

Monday, January 21, 2013


It's another Food Matters Project Monday and our host this week is Erin of The Goodness Life. Erin chose Chicken Jook (aka congee or hangover helper) with Lots of Vegetables. I have always enjoyed a nice bowl of jook but have never made it before. This is comfort food in a bowl. It takes a few hours to make but they are relaxing hours as you stir a bit and watch the rice break down and  thicken as it simmers away.

I followed the recipe from the book which you can find here. I added a squeeze of lemon when I served it that  really elevated the flavor of the jook.

You can read what our other members made here on our Food Matters Project site. Want to join in but don't have the book? Drop us a note at and we will send you the recipe.

Monday, January 14, 2013


It's Monday and that means another recipe project from the Food Matters Cookbook. This week our host is Sara from Pidge's Pantry. Sara chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Sesame Noodles with Spinach and Salmon. His recipe uses the flavors of oshitashi (a Japanese spinach salad) and pairs it with salmon and noodles. I went down to the harbor with this recipe in mind but when I saw the fresh ahi being prepped for the finest restaurants in town my plans changed and I snagged a piece. I deconstructed the recipe and made a cold oshitashi salad by cooking the spinach until slightly wilted. After squeezing out the water I rolled it in a sushi mat.

Then cut it in to small serving pieces, topped with ponzu sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

The pasta was a whole wheat fettuccine tossed with a spicy peanut sauce.

For my ahi, I lightly brushed the fish with grapeseed oil. Heated a cast iron skillet until smoking hot and then seared the ahi for about 1 minute per side. I served the ahi on a bed of Kaffir lime leaves and a drizzle of Ponzu sauce. The Kaffir leaves infused the hot ahi with a wonderful citrusy flavor. I grow this lime tree just for the leaves. You can read more about it here.

You can find Mark Bittman's recipe on Sara's blog here. For all the other members creative takes on this recipe click here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


What's not to love about  fried anything? I tried to make it a little healthy by topping it with greens. :) So, every once in a while I fry something, not often, but if you are going to fry make sure it's worth it. This vegetarian take on veal Milanese is tender, crispy, and full of flavor. The peppery arugula, salty Parmesan cheese, and  a squeeze of lemon puts this dish over the top.


1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1-inch thick slices
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 large egg, whisked with 1 TBSP. water
2 cups panko or coarse homemade bread crumbs
1 cup olive oil, for frying
2 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Lemon wedges for serving

Arrange eggplant in a large colander and season generously with salt. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. 

Divide flour, egg mixture, and bread crumbs among 3 shallow bowls. Dip each eggplant slice, turning to coat and shaking off excess, in the flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in a 12" skillet (oil should be about 1/2 inch deep) over medium heat, and, working in batches, fry eggplant until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper.

Top each cutlet with arugula, Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4

Recipe from

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hippie Rice. That was Gracie's recipe pick this week. We are a group of bloggers cooking together using Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook as our inspiration. The recipe had raisins and nuts and broccoli. It sounded really good but the raisins made me think about my love for Persian rice and all Persian food for that matter. So I made Persian rice with currants, dried apricots, onions, garlic, and mint. A sauce of pomegranate molasses, tamarind paste, garlic, onions, and more apricots and currants. Can you taste it? This is good food. Stuff some bell peppers with the rice and bake it in the oven for a light and flavorful meal. Look for more Persian recipes to come. This is my year to master Persian cuisine.

For all the creative takes on Hippie Rice click over here to our Food Matters Project, and if you like what we are doing join in the fun! Next week we are making Sesame Noodles with Spinach and Salmon.


For the rice:

2 cups Basmati rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
3/4 cup currants
1/4 cup dried apricots, minced
1 TBSP. chopped fresh mint
1 TBSP. salt
2 tsp. tumeric

6 medium sized bell peppers

For the sauce:

1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP. vegetable oil
4 dried apricots, chopped
1 TBSP. currants
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tsp. tamarind paste
1 tsp. salt or to taste

Bring 2 cups rice and 4 cups water to a boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain the rice and set aside.

Brown the onions in 1/4 cup vegetable oil until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cumin seeds. Cook until seeds have toasted.

Remove from heat and add the currants, apricots, mint, salt, and tumeric. Mix well and add the rice back in. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

For the sauce, Brown the onions until golden, add the garlic and brown. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Add water as needed to make a nice sauce.

Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the core and seeds. Lightly baste the outsides of the peppers with olive oil. Fill with the rice mixture. Top with the sauce and bake at 375~ for 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from