Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

I’m always amazed that my appetites change right along with the seasons. It’s clockwork; the last days of summer are turning to fall and I feel it from my first step outside in the morning, when there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t the day before.

Dinner starts to require something more than just a salad + something off the grill, and I’ll be thinking about what to cook at 4 o’clock rather than the relaxed summer schedule that sometimes doesn’t start until after 6…or whenever.

Polenta is often what I make when that fall feeling hits. I’m generous with butter and Parmesan cheese because they are made for each other (face it, polenta would be bland without it), tempered by a happy amount of roasted vegetables. It’s all good.

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Ingredients

1 each red, yellow and orange bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 small or 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal

1 – 2 teaspoons salt

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the peppers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beginning to soften and turn brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the zucchini, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini is bright green and slightly tender (not mushy).
  3. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Gradually pour the polenta into the water while whisking at the same time. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and continue to cook the polenta about 20 minutes or until it thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cheese and butter and add additional salt to taste if needed.
  4. Serve the polenta in bowls with the roasted vegetables and their juices over the top; sprinkle with additional cheese if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/roasted-vegetables-and-parmesan-polenta/

Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Peaches Poached in Prosecco

I had an image of a classic, sparkling Bellini in my head while I was deciding what to do with some late summer fruit; and then I went from cocktail thoughts to the idea of sweet, chilled peaches in syrup, which made me want a crunchy little something to go with it, which led me to the oven to make some amaretti cookies. If you give a mouse a glass of Prosecco…

Poaching a peach softens its texture a bit, so it’s a good idea to use fruits that aren’t fully tree-ripened and ready to eat (if you’re lucky enough to get some of those), but not rock-hard, which is the way you’ll find most peaches when you bring them home from the cold-storage chill of the grocery store.  Getting the fruit a day in advance and leaving them out at room temperature overnight seems to do the trick.

These amaretti cookies are a lot like macaroons in texture – I prefer to very slightly underbake them to get a crunchy exterior and a chewy inside. The recipe makes more cookies than you’ll probably need for dipping into the peachy syrup, but they keep for weeks in an airtight container. They would be delicious crumbled over chocolate gelato or ice cream and a little whipped cream.

Homemade Amaretti Cookies

Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Serving Size: about 4 servings

Ingredients

4 peaches (freestone)

1 bottle Prosecco or dry sparkling wine

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon peach flavored liqueur

Pinch sea salt

Lemon verbena leaves, optional

For the amaretti cookies:

1 2/3 cups blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted and cooled

2 cups powdered sugar

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon Amaretto (or add another teaspoon almond extract)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Score an X on the bottom of each peach with a small sharp knife. Drop the peaches into a 3 -or 4 -quart saucepan of boiling water and simmer 5 minutes. Drain them and let cool for a few minutes before slipping off the skins. Slice the peaches into halves and remove the pits.
  2. Pour 3 cups Prosecco into the same saucepan. If the Prosecco is nice and cold, pour the remaining ½ cup into a glass and take a sip. If for some reason you’re not indulging in the bubbly, just pour the whole bottle into the pan (sadly).
  3. Stir the sugar, lemon juice, liqueur, salt and lemon verbena leaves if using into the Prosecco.
  4. Bring to a simmer and gently drop the peaches into the pan. Simmer the peaches until just tender when you poke them with a toothpick but not mushy, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours. Discard the lemon verbena leaves.
  5. To make the cookies: Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Grind the almonds with the powdered sugar in a food processor until finely ground, being careful not to grind too much or you’ll make almond paste.
  7. Whip the egg whites in a standing mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Add the extract and amaretto; with the mixer running gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the egg whites are very stiff and fluffy.
  8. Pour the almond mixture over the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scoop the batter into tablespoon-sized mounds 1-inch apart on the baking sheets (I like to use this stainless steel cookie scoop).
  9. Bake 12 – 15 minutes for a lightly golden cookie with a soft and chewy interior. Rotate the pans from front to back  and top to bottom halfway through baking so they bake evenly. Cool the cookies completely.
  10. Serve the peaches in small bowls with the cookies along side or crumbled over.

Notes

Amaretti recipe adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich.

http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/peaches-poached-in-prosecco-with-homemade-amaretti/

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices and Raita

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices
During the summer, there’s not much that makes me happier than sitting outside with a glass of wine in my hand while the entire dinner cooks on the grill – this is a recipe that allow you to do just that.

Using a cedar plank to grill salmon has a few bonuses: It adds a distinctive smoky flavor, it’s an easier way to cook fragile salmon fillets on the grill, and it makes a great presentation on the table.

Grilling corn for the accompanying relish pulls everything together with the salmon, along with an Indian-inspired spice butter and cooling yogurt raita on the side.

Planked Salmon with Indian Spices and Raita

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

4 ears corn, shucked

1 serrano chile pepper

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons tandoori spice mix *

¼ cup butter, softened

1 ½ pounds skin-on salmon filet

1 cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup chopped seedless cucumber

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Soak a cedar grilling plank in a shallow pan of water (a roasting pan works well) until saturated, at least 2 hours ahead of cooking.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect grilling or heat a gas grill to medium high. Roast the corn on the grill until browned on all sides, turning every few minutes. Cool, then slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife. Combine the corn, chile, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  3. Put the cedar plank on the grill rack and heat until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mash together the spice mix and butter until blended. Lay the salmon on the cedar plank and season with salt and pepper. Smear the butter over the salmon and place the plank back on the grill. Cover the grill and cook 12 – 15 minutes, or until the salmon is translucent and begins to flake.
  5. Stir together the yogurt, cucumber and cilantro.
  6. Cut the salmon into 4 portions, but not through the skin. Slide each portion off the skin with a spatula. Serve the salmon with some corn relish and raita on the side.

Notes

* To make your own tandoori spice blend stir together ¼ teaspoon each ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper.

http://familystylefood.com/2012/08/planked-salmon-with-indian-spices-and-raita/