Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta (with a poached egg)

Today was the first day I cooked in about 2 weeks.

For me, that’s unheard of.  Literally the last thing I made was these Mocha Protein Cupcakes.  No a single thing has been made other than microwaving soup from a box and veggie patties.

I’ve been busy, but let’s not concentrate on that.  Today, I knew I needed to cook.  I needed comfort food.  Usually for me, comfort food is a cookie, but lately, all I’ve wanted is lamb stew.  Umm… random? Yes.

Lamb is a little out of my price range right now, so I went to the store and bought some beef.  I started making beef stew with a bottle of cabernet a friend gave me not too long ago.

With half a bottle of wine and my stew on the first of many hours of stewing, I had a bright idea.

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I enjoyed this with a glass of wine while listening to Boleros.  Boleros is a genre of Spanish music, popular with people my grandmother’s age.  I have the musical taste of an 80 year old hispanic woman.  If we’re being honest, it’s probably my most listened to Pandora station.  It makes me think of my grandmother, who loves to wake up and put on music to listen to with breakfast.

So tonight, with my boyfriend across the country, I listened to sad music, think of my grandma, drank wine and ate a tasty comfort meal.

I’ll stop sounding so melodramatic, because despite the obvious missing of the boyfriend, it was a pretty relaxing meal for me (which was much needed because I’ve felt like I’ve been on the go for the past three weeks).

In terms of benefits to you: This is a super easy meal. It’ll be ready in roughly 15 minutes and it’s pretty healthy and the egg is totally optional, meaning this can be totally vegan.

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Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta

1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used Rosemary and Sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (optional)

In a saucepan, mix together cornmeal and broth.  Put on medium heat.  While it comes to a boil, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add onions cook a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another few minutes (about 5), stirring occasionally.

If you’re not good at multi-tasking, you can do each one at a time, but I’m a fan of multi-tasking so while the mushrooms and onions cooked, I stirred the cornmeal/polenta.  Once the polenta is thick and starts to come off the side of the pan when you stir, divide onto two plates, like so:

polenta

By now the mushrooms should be about ready.  Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add wine and stir.  It’ll bubble, steam and reduce.  Once the majority of the liquid is gone, turn the heat off.  Try a mushroom to make sure you added enough salt, adjust accordingly.  Then divide the mushroom mixture over the polenta.  You can serve it just as it…

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Or you can be a rockstar and add a poached egg, for extra protein and deliciousness.  If you don’t know how to poach an egg… google it?

Just kidding.  Check out this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Place your poached eggs on top of your mushroom-polenta creation.  Sprinkle with paprika, cheese, pepper, whatever else you like and enjoy!

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This recipe is perfect for two people, but it’s easy to make for one (which is what I did and just had leftover mushrooms for tomorrow).

This might be my new comfort dish of choice, because 1. easy, 2. delicious, 3. warm and 4. wine.

What’s your comfort food of choice? 

For me, Ice cream is probably my ultimate comfort food, but if we’re talking about meals: thick fatty soups (think creamy tomato) with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Chocolate-Wine Cake

Learning is a funny thing.  I have no idea how it happens. The question I probably get asked the most is: how did you learn to cook?

I have no idea. There are very few things that I remember anyone actually teaching me to make (among them: handmade tortillas, Rellenitos, and most other Guatemalan dishes I know how to make).  Most of my cooking knowledge comes from observation and experiment.  That’s right.  Experiment.

Try recipes.  Make changes.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

When I worked at a French bakery, I watched the chef make cakes, tarts and galettes full of envy, because I wanted to make things as beautiful and delicious as she did.

Then I went home and tried it.  The result:

Pear Almond Galette.

The Fall Cake.

All because I watched the chef make it, then I wanted to try it myself.  But inspiration doesn’t only come from watching the pros.

Here’s the most recent example of my constant experimentation.

Chocolate-Wine Cake.

An experiment inspired by an experience.  In Italy, I had a chocolate-wine gelato.  I had never had chocolate and wine together.  It seemed like such an unlikely combination, but I was completely intrigued.  I figured it was worth a try in cake form too.

Chocolate-Wine Cake

adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sweet red wine (such as Port or other sweet red wine)
1/2 cup boiling water

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together sugar and oil.  Beat in one egg at a time until just combined.  Alternate mixing in dry ingredients and red wine.  Lastly, stir in boiling water.

Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake 40-50 minutes (this will vary depending on your oven).

Allow to cool completely, turn onto a plate, top with chocolate ganache (optional) and serve!

I thought the chocolate and wine combination was interesting.  The chocolate flavor dominates but the wine is not far behind.  Most definitely a nice break from traditional chocolate cake.    For some, it might seem blasphemous.  Straying from a recipe is a recipe for disaster.  But I like to think of recipes more as guidelines.

From there you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Replacing milk with wine in chocolate cake.  Success.

Using less butter in Italian Buttercream Icing.  Failure.

How else are you supposed to discover the next best thing?

Honey Coconut White Chocolate Chip Ice “Cream”

Do you ever have those days where you spend the day doing random things and you don’t realize time went by SUPER fast?

Today flew by. I woke up late, I think it was 9:00am.  Had pie and cucumbers for breakfast (not together).

Went for a fantastic 5.5 mile run.

Hung out with this lady

Basically we were ridiculous (as we usually are).  We went by Six Mile Creek Vineyard for Sara to pick up some wine.

We also made ice cream (I’ll tell you about that one later in the week) but first let me tell you about this stuff I made at some point last week.

Honey Coconut White Chocolate Chip Ice “Cream”

2 cans of coconut milk**
1/2 cup honey*
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

In a bowl mix together the honey and coconut milk.  Chill for a few minutes in the freezer or in the fridge for a few hours.  Pour into your ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.  In the last 5 minutes of turning, drop in the white chocolate chips and shredded coconut.  Freeze for a few hours in a container before serving.

**I used one can of full fat coconut milk and one of light coconut milk.  You can also use two cans of full fat, which will make it taste even more delicious and the texture will be creamier.  I don’t suggest using two light cans.  I tried that and it turned out too icey.

*To veganify use agave nectar instead and vegan white chocolate chips.

Lovely and (almost) Dairy Free!

It also happened to go perfectly with the champagne brownies I made a few days ago, which by the way turn into full on FUDGE once chilled.

All sorts of amazing.

I need to give Slick Rick back his ice cream maker, ASAP!  There CANNOT be this much ice cream in my freezer!

What was the highlight of your weekend? I had a dinner party last night, super fun. Stay tuned for that!