Domesticity Nouveau

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fried Rice

Domesticity Nouveau recently had the pleasure of creating a guest post for Ginger Lemon Girl's 30 Days Gluten Free Quick & Easy Meals.  Carrie's kitchen focus is on cooking gluten-free whole grains, low sugar, and healthy fats and protein sources.  Her blog is a great resource and has loads of tasty recipes just calling out for you to get into the kitchen and start cooking!

Below is the post I shared, plus a few more versions to inspire your palette!

How many times do you look in the fridge and declare “There is nothing to eat?” all the while knowing full well that there is, it just isn't appetizing.  Rather, it just isn't appetizing in its current form. The quick meal that our home always goes to is Fried Rice.

Plain rice is a constant staple to be found in our ice-box.  On its own, it will fill the hole and stop the grumbling, but it yearns to be something greater.  It dreams of being as tasty as it was the day of its creation when it was smothered in a scrumptious sauce.  It longs to become a taste filled expression of culinary art.  It pines for adoration from gastronomic brilliance.  It covets the cravings we express for pizza. It aches to become….

Okay, okay, I know it is just plain rice, but like us all, it holds so many possibilities to become something magnificent!  Although fried rice is commonly thought of as a Chinese dish, it is more a cooking technique that easily lends itself to other cuisines.

The key to good fried rice is day old, very cold rice.  I make big batches of brown rice every week, so it is always available and I freeze potions so it is ready anytime we need it.  Another key to successful fried rice is an extremely hot pan. For this reason, do not use a non-stick pan, since Teflon will release toxins at high heat.

I don’t normally follow a precise recipe for fried rice, since it is happens to be whatever is in my fridge, but I do have several versions that have served us well.  Here are the basics and six different versions to inspire your pantry creations!

Fried Rice Basics
for 2 servings :

1 1/2 cup cooked rice, any variety
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 cup veggies
2 eggs, scrambled
1/2 cup protein, diced
1-2 tbsp aromatics
Salt & pepper to taste

Rice – day old, cold rice of any kind
Oil – Vegetable oil, bacon grease, schmaltz, coconut oil, olive oil
Protein – Egg, seafood, poultry, pork, tofu, beans, bacon
Veggies – carrots, celery, green beans, peas, a bag of whatever is frozen in the freezer
Aromatics – soy sauce, roasted Szechwan salt and pepper, herbs, spices, garlic, sesame oil, citrus zest or juice, Caribbean seasoning, Greek seasoning, Bragg’s liquid Aminos
Garnish – green onions, feta cheese, seeds, nuts, fresh herbs, fruit

The basic technique:
Have all ingredients prepped and at the ready.
1.  Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat.  Add a bit of oil and fry eggs; remove from pan and set to the side.
2.  Add a bit more oil and stir-fry vegetables (and protein if uncooked) until crisp tender.
3.  If needed, add a bit more oil and bring to high temperature.  Add cold rice and stir-fry until hot.
 4.  Add aromatics, protein (pre-cooked) and eggs, tossing to distribute evenly.
5.  Transfer to serving dish, garnish and serve with a smile.

Chinese Fried Rice

1 1/2 cup rice
2-3 tbsp oil
1 1/2 cup carrots and peas
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced pork or chicken or shrimp
1-2 tbsp gluten-free, low sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s to taste
1/4 tsp roasted Szechwan salt and pepper (optional)
Garnish with sliced green onions

Chicken and Celery Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil or schmaltz
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1/2 cup chicken
2 Tbsp gluten-free, low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Garnish Options:
Sesame seeds or sliced almonds

Greek Fried Rice
(Top Photo)

1 1/2 cups rice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups green beans, diced carrots, sweet peppers & onions
1 large handful of spinach torn into smaller pieces
1/2 cup chicken
2 tsp Greek seasoning
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp fresh dill, or 1/4 tsp dried
Garnish Options:
Kalamata olives
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh chopped mint

Add spinach and aromatics just prior to adding rice.

Tropical Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups rice
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced sweet pepper
1/2 cup diced ham
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp orange zest
1-2 Tbsp gluten-free, low sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s to taste
Garnish Options:
1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained or 1/2 cup diced mango
Chopped macadamia nuts or cashews
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt to taste

Add ginger just prior to adding rice

Mexican Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups rice
3 Tbsp oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup cooked shrimp or chicken
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup sweet pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Garnish Options:
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
avocado and tomato wedges
Salt and pepper to taste

Add aromatics just prior to adding rice

Irish Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups rice
3 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup diced corned beef
Salt and pepper to taste

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Roasted Szechwan Salt and Pepper

It is sometimes the most simple of things that make drastic differences.

Salt is one of those simple things, just ask any slug.

A little sprinkle of salt can take an avocado from good, to delectable.  A few grains can resuscitate a bitter cup of coffee.   Sea salt caramels and chocolate covered pretzels bring candy to a whole new level of PMS satisfaction by combining salty and sweet.

Sodium balances bitter and brings out sweetness, but too much of a good thing and somebody is going to cry-out about health and nutrition.  Party poopers. 

Recently it came to my attention that the USDA recommendation for daily sodium intake dropped from 2,300 mg to 1,500 mg.  That means it dropped from just under 1 1/4tsp of table salt to 3/4 tsp per day.  3/4 tsp for a whole day.  Not just a meal, but a whole day!  I am probably nowhere near the ideal, and I make everything from scratch.  I can only imagine what sodium intake would look like for people who use the conveniences of the grocery market products, let alone frozen and fast food meals!

So here is the part where I throw that new knowledge about the RDA of sodium out the window.  I’m not saying you should pour it on, but salt makes food better!  A bit of salt on bland foods, like rice, can bring out a nuttiness and add depth.  A sprinkle on vegetables will highlight the natural sweetness. 

But plain ol’ salt can get boring.  Specialty sea salts can add a snazzy and hip finish to a dish, but if you really want to bring out the WOW factor of a salt, roasted Szechwan salt and pepper is where it is at!  It adds a subtle exoticness, slightly floral, camphor-like pungency that is delicate and bold in one swoosh.

Roasted Szechwan salt and pepper is an incredibly simple and quick seasoning to make.  It makes a great hostess gift and a few minutes of work will last you several months.

Because this seasoning has only two ingredients, salt and Szechwan peppercorns, it is important that you invest in quality ingredients.  Thankfully this is one place where you get huge bang for your buck as both are inexpensive.

From my experience, Diamond Kosher Salt is the only way to go.  Unlike other brands, it does not contain any additional anti-caking ingredients; it is just clean tasting salt. 

Szechwan peppercorns may not be at your local market, but that doesn’t mean they are difficult to find.  If you are lucky enough to have a Penzey’s Spice house near you, make a visit, but set aside some time because to a passionate cook, it is like a candy store to a kid.  If you don’t have a Penzey’s near you, you can order from them online.  Once you are signed up on their mailing list, you get catalogs that have coupons for free jars of spices, another bonus to this fabulous company!

Regardless of where you purchase your peppercorns, there are a few things you should look for.  You should be able to smell them through the bag and there should be a minimum of twigs, thorns and the bitter black seeds.

A batch lasts our house about 3-4 months.  We use it on everything:  scrambled eggs, popcorn, vegetables, in place of the salt called for in stir-fries, on fried rice, to marinate meat, on salad, in soup, I can’t think of a place where its flavor wouldn’t be welcome!

Roasted Szechwan Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup whole Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 cup Kosher Salt

Pick through peppercorns and remove any twigs or thorns.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat for a minute or two, until hot.  Add peppercorns and salt.  Stir gently for about 5 minutes until salt begins to turn off white and peppercorns begin to barely smoke.  (See before picture on left, and after picture on right)   Do not let peppercorns burn.

Transfer the hot mixture to a food processor and let it whirl for a minute to turn into a fine powder.  Pass the powder through a fine mesh sieve to remove the husks from the peppercorns.  Store in a dry, airtight bottle.

Monday, June 14, 2010


No judgment.  Really.  What we are about to discuss will disturb some of you.  Some will be disturbed and intrigued.  Some will try it.  Many will want to try it.   And some have been doing it already.

I’m talking about rendering animal fat.  Depending on which nutritional school you follow, this is either a fantastic idea or absolutely horrible.  Since I’m going to tell you how to do it, you can be certain that I’m in the fantastic idea camp!

Rendered chicken (and goose) fat is also called schmaltz, schmalts, schmalz.  It is a golden yellow color and works just like butter does in your cooking.  In kosher cooking, meat and dairy must be kept separate so, for example, schmaltz could be used instead of butter in meals that contain meat.

In rendered animal fats, the protein and water have been removed; therefore it does not spoil easily.  In France (and other places) meat is preserved by submerging and cooking it in rendered fat, allowing it to cool, and storing it in a cool dark place for up to several months.  Confit of goose and duck are common in Southwest France.   I’m not sure about this, but I’m sure that fresh, it is tasty!  How can you go wrong with cooking something by submerging it in fat?!?!

If you make the investment in quality organic poultry, either financially or by raising your own, then I’m sure you want to make the most of that investment.  By saving the fat from your broth making, you can get a large amount of schmaltz.  A little goes a long way when it comes to adding flavor and it helps keep money in your pocket by not buying cooking oil or butter.

This may sound like a very foreign concept, rendering fat, but if you have ever saved the grease from cooking bacon, you have rendered fat.  If you have ever used ghee in Indian cooking, it is rendered fat.  The “rendering part” is cooking out the water and removing any particles so you have a pure fat product that will keep indefinitely with proper handling.

Here are the step by steps...


Collect your fat.  I spoon it from the top of my stock pot into a tall container.  Let it rest until room temperature, this allows the liquids and particles to sink to the bottom.  Carefully cover and move to the refrigerator, chill overnight.

Remove the chilled fat from container to a saucepan, leaving as much of the liquid and particles behind as possible.  Over medium or medium-low heat, melt the schmaltz.  When it is hot enough, any liquid that is still in the fat will start to bubble out.  Once the bubbling has stopped, give it a stir or two to make sure all the liquid has boiled out.  Pour into a sterile glass jar, screw on the cap and allow to cool to room temperature before moving to the fridge.  Scoop out with a clean spoon when needed.

Another method is to save any little bit of chicken skin and fat that you come across.  Keep it in a bag in the freezer till you have enough, then fry it all in a skillet as you would bacon, until the skins are a deep golden brown and the fat has crispy bits in it.  Strain all the particles and store in a sterile glass jar in the fridge.  You might consider adding a chopped onion with the raw skin and fat, which is traditional.

So what do you do with schmaltz?

Use it anywhere you would butter or oil… to sauté veggies for a risotto, mixed with oil for fried rice, mixed with butter or shortening in a pie crust for a chicken pot pie, to brown onions in for bean soup, in place of butter when cooking rice, fry up left over mashed potatoes shaped into patties… anywhere you need a form of fat and chicken flavor would be welcome.

Notes about fat in general:  Fat is an excellent carrier for flavors, which means that whatever was in the pot at the time the fat was collected will be a flavoring in your finished product.  If you make a broth that is heavy in ginger, the schmaltz will be heavy in ginger.  Not that this is necessarily bad, just something to be aware of and maybe used to your advantage.  Fat can also be a collection point in the animal’s body for toxins, which is why this is best done with chicken you know the history of from a butcher you trust.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chicken Stock, Chicken Broth

I have to disagree with one of my favorite cooking references, Cooks Illustrated, who says “Rare is the cook who has the time for the slowly simmered perfection of homemade chicken stock.”  WHAT?!?  Chicken stock is one of the easiest things to make and really does not take much active time in the kitchen.  I suppose they could be right if you take into consideration how long it bubbles away on the stove, but that is passive time that you can spend doing something better, like taking a nap, teaching the dog to vacuum, or building squirrel agility courses.

When it comes to frugality, quality and kitchen fundamentals, stocks and broths have to be at the top of the list.  To take scraps from your kitchen and turn them into something more magnificent than you could ever buy at the store is certainly a bit of kitchen alchemy.

So what is the difference between stock and broth?  Well, in my world, not much.  However, traditionally there are a couple of small differences.  Stock is made with more boney bits and broth is made with more meaty bits.  The more bone, the more gelatin is released and therefore the thicker, silkier, and deeper the finished product.  Stock is thicker and heartier; broth is thinner and more delicate.  Broths are for eating straight up, as in chicken soup; stocks are for enriching other preparations, such as risotto, pan sauce or a pot pie. 

Making stock is as simple as making tea; soak something yummy in boiling water until concentrated to your liking, then remove it.  However, there are a few things that can make the difference between good, better, and best.  There are four basic components to your stock:

Meat:  You can toss it in raw, but a quick broil will bring out so much more depth and color to your finished product.  You can also save the bones and scraps from roasted chickens, even the bones that your family has gnawed on, GASP!  They’ll be boiled and cooked long enough that any germs wouldn’t stand a chance.  The Thanksgiving turkey carcass is perfect for this!  Start a bag in the freezer to collect your chicken parts as they cross your path.  If you buy whole chickens and separate them yourself, throw the backs in a bag in the freezer until you have enough.  And if you don’t have scraps, or freezer space to store them, you can easily use a whole chicken; just whack it into a few large hunks with a clever so the bones are exposed and can release their flavor.

Veggies:  Mirepoix, the fancy French way of saying a base of carrots, celery and onion, are part of any good stock.  You can save the outer layer of onions, the tops, bottoms and peelings of carrots and celery in a freezer bag until it’s time to cook.  As with the meat, a quick broil will add more flavor and color, but you can always toss them in raw or frozen.

Aromatics:  These are the flavorings that really add character to your stock.  Peppercorns, ginger, garlic, herbs or other fruits and veggies.    This is where you define the personality of your broth.

Water:  Since this is the most abundant ingredient, it is worth taking into consideration.  If your tap water is less than desirable for drinking, it will remain that way, and even concentrate more unfavorably in your broth.  If you filter your tap water to drink it, I would recommend filtering it for your stock.

A note about salt.  PLEASE don’t add any salt to your stock.  The time for salt is when you are making an actual meal with your stock.  By adding salt your stock you run the risk of it condensing it into a saline solution that fish won’t even swim in.

Every cook has their kitchen failures.  My most recent was putting too hot of broth into the freezer and the resulting broken jar.  In all the years I have made broth, this was my first broken jar.  To avoid this happening in your freezer, there are a few essential steps to ensure your success.  Leave enough head room for the broth to expand as it freezes, about 1 1/2 inches should be sufficient for a quart jar, about 1 inch for pint jars; wide mouth jars are better suited for this process.  Allow your hot broth to come to room temperature at the very least, better to chill further in the fridge, before putting in the freezer.  You must NOT store broth using a water bath canning process, it just isn’t sufficient enough to preserve its freshness, you’ll need to either freeze your broth, or use it within 3-4 days.  I’m thinking there are probably pressure canning methods for broth, but I haven’t ventured into pressure cooking… yet.

Chicken Stock

3 1/2 to 4 pounds chicken bones
2 celery stalks, in chunks
2 carrots, in chunks
1 medium onion, in chunks
5 quarts cold water
Aromatics (see below)

Optional:  Broil chicken bones on a baking sheet, on middle rack, for 10-15 minutes until starting to turn golden brown
Optional:  Broil vegetable chunks on a baking sheet, on middle rack, for 5-10 minutes until starting to brown.  (I do this while the chicken is coming to a boil)

Place chicken in large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring barely to a boil for 5-10 minutes until a thick foam forms.  Turn heat to low and skim as much scum as possible from the top of the liquid and discard.  Add vegetables and aromatics and bring to the barest of simmers.  Slowly simmer from 4-24 hours, reducing volume by 1/3 to 1/2.  Do not stir, I know it will be tempting, but leave the stock undisturbed until reduced.  Put the spoon down, and step away from the stock pot!

When stock is reduced in volume, strain the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheese cloth into a large bowl.  Allow to settle, then spoon off the fat that rises to the top.  (You can save the fat to make schmaltz or discard it.)  Ladle the stock into your storage containers, making sure to stir well with each scoop to assure that whatever fat is remaining be distributed evenly between the containers.  Allow to cool to room temperature and place in freezer or fridge. 

When the solid parts in the strainer are cool, you can pick through to claim the chicken meat to use in another dish.


(inspired by China Moon Cookbook, Barbara Tropp)
1” thumb of fresh ginger, sliced into 4-5 pieces
3 scallions, in chunks
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole white peppercorns
1 heaping tsp whole Szechwan peppercorns

(inspired by my garden)
3 large bay leaves
5 large sage leaves
Large handful of fresh thyme
1/2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns

(inspired by Grandmas everywhere)
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 clove of garlic, peeled

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chocolate Mint Satisfaction!

Brownies sell cookies I can’t eat.  It makes me sad.  Even though the Girl Scout cookie season has come and gone around here, I’m still a bit jealous that I wasn’t able to hide in the closet with a box of Thin Mints.

I stumbled across some copy-cat recipes for Girl Scout Cookies, and I thought about transitioning them to gluten-free.  And that is where it stopped.  I thought about doing it, and maybe someday I will, but what I really needed was quick satisfaction to my craving.  I needed the quickness that comes from buying the box from an adorable young woman hocking her sugary treats outside the market.  I needed the satisfaction that comes from ripping the box open as I drive away and eating the whole thing on the way home in a bliss induced stupor that makes me wonder how the car got itself into the garage.  I needed instant; not the hassle of recalculating a recipe, fussing with precise cutting of thin chocolate mint circles, baking them, waiting for them to cool and the tedious process of tempering chocolate to dip cookies in one by one, then waiting for them to cool.  It’s a lot of work for a cookie binge!

I happened to have a bag of gluten-free bun mix hanging out on the counter.  (I like to make up baggies of things I commonly bake so I don’t have to go to the hassle later on.  I just mix the dry ingredients together, stick in a note listing the remaining ingredients and directions.)  I had run out of yeast when I mixed up the last batch, so this bag was patiently waiting to be completed, but was re-purposed for my chocolate mint craving.  After reading though too many brownie recipes to count, I took my notes and created the following recipe, which surprisingly, worked out on the first try!!!

These brownies are more cake-like than fudgy, but I like them that way.  To conquer my craving for Thin Mints, I frosted them with peppermint icing.  Not exactly a Girl Scout cookie, but I was still able to hide in the closet with a grin on my face!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Brownies

5.6 oz Brown Rice Flour
1.7 oz Potato Starch
1 oz Tapioca Flour
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp egg replacer (I use Ener-G)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick butter, melted
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup warm water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer.  With paddle attachment, mix the melted butter and oil into the dry ingredients, then add the eggs one at a time.  Add the water and mix for 2 minutes.  It will be more like dough than batter.

Place in the baking dish, and with wet hands, press the mixture into an even layer.  Bake for 30 minutes.

You can cut the recipe in 1/2 and bake in a square 8x8 or 9x9 for about 20 minutes.  You can also just make the regular batch and freeze some if a giant pan of brownies is too much bliss for you to handle at once.

Frost or leave plain or cut into the shape of Girl Scouts and frost little uniforms onto them.

Once you make these and you know you like them, I recommend making up a few containers of brownie mix to have in your cupboard for those times when you need a quick fix of chocolate. 

Peppermint Frosting

3 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cream, half and half, or milk
1/4 – 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Whip the butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in 2 cups of powdered sugar until incorporated.  While still mixing, add cream and peppermint extract, then the remaining sugar.  Use extra cream or powdered sugar until your desired consistency.  Peppermint extract is really strong, so start with a 1/4 tsp and work your way up until you get your desired minty-ness.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cream, half and half, or milk
1  tsp vanilla extract

Whip the peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in 2 cups of powdered sugar until incorporated.  While still mixing, add cream and vanilla extract, then the remaining sugar.  Use extra cream or powdered sugar until your desired consistency.

Gluten-Free Brownies on Foodista

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Can Make the Sun Shine

It’s been raining a lot lately.  Almost a month straight.  With only a tease of sunshine here and there.  Not even a full day of sun.  It’s getting to be a bit too much grey, even for this Northwest gal.

The closest I can come to recreating that happy, yellow, golden ball of warmth in my kitchen is polenta. 

Polenta has a history as a peasant food, and is often the case, has now transitioned into something fancy-schmancy.  Lobster is another peasant food that has made this transition (it used to be prison food!) but thankfully polenta hasn’t seen the same price increase, therefore making it a very favorable option in my kitchen.

It’s cheap.  It’s easy.  It’s versatile.  It’s gluten-free.  It’s a whole grain.  It’s a happy, sunshine-yellow, comfort food.

The recipe is incredibly basic, which allows for numerous adaptations to suit what you have in the pantry or are craving.  Take coarsely ground corn meal, slowly stir into simmering liquid, and gently stir until done.  Even easier than a box of anything you can buy in the store!

Below is the basic recipe, and then a couple of my recent concoctions.  Take a look in the cupboard, think about what you want to make a happy belly and then get cooking!


1 cup polenta
4 cups simmering liquid
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil

Bring liquid, salt and butter/oil to a simmer in a sauce pan.  Slowly stir in polenta.  Turn heat to medium low and cook until done, 10-30 minutes, stirring frequently, especially at the end.  Cooking time depends on the coarseness of grind of the corn.   It’s done when it makes lava-like bubbles that gurgle and blop, the corn grains are soft and it is becoming  gelatinous.   If you want a softer result, add a cup or two more liquid.  As the polenta sits, it will firm up.

Serve as you would mashed potatoes by making it softer with more liquid and smothering in butter.
When done cooking, pour into a baking dish and allow to cool.  Then slice and serve, warm or cold.  

Customize your sunshine!

The first way to customize is your choice of liquid.  Water works just fine, but chicken or vegetable broths add a lot of flavor.  Milk makes an extra creamy polenta.  Or a combination of any of those.  I recently used the drippings from a roast chicken and water.

You can stir in anything flavorful near the end of cooking:  2 Tbsp fresh minced herbs or 1 tsp dried, a minced jalapeño, a can of green chilies, several cloves of roasted or fresh garlic, a handful of finely sliced green onions or chives, a flavored oil, chopped sundried tomato., sliced black olives, crumbled bacon, cubed ham or bits of sausage, slices of roasted red pepper decorating the top.

Cheese makes everything better in my world.  For those who can tolerate dairy, when the polenta is finished, stir in 4 oz of cubed cream cheese or a cup of shredded cheddar.  Or both!  Or try  1 cup of shredded parmesan or top with spicy pepper jack or smother in smoked gouda.

Cut into fancy shapes with cookie cutters and serve alongside a salad, like a crouton.  Grill slabs on a well oiled grill and serve with baked beans and barbequed meat or grilled vegetables.  Pan fry slices and serve in a pool of enchilada sauce, topped with black beans.    Bake cheesy polenta slices until golden brown and top with sautéed green beans with garlic and almonds.

Smother in a sauce.  Spaghetti sauce, pepperoni and black olives on top can satisfy a pizza craving very well.  Left over gravy from a roast turkey or chicken.  Nacho cheese sauce if you are craving that neon orange cheese satisfaction.  Sautéed mushrooms in a wine reduction. 

Get as fancy or as ghetto-fabulous as you like.

My most recent concoction used the drippings from a roast chicken mixed with water to make 4 cups of liquid.  6 cloves roasted garlic (that roasted while the chicken roasted) with a handful of fresh thyme  made a rich tasting polenta that had lots of chicken-flavored goodness with the hearty satisfaction of garlic and herbs.

My go to recipe is a pint of broth plus enough water to make 5 cups liquid.  Add polenta and cook until still loose in consistency.  Stir in 4 oz cubed cream cheese until melted.  A little extra salt makes the cream cheese really pop and you have sunshine clouds of cheesy bliss.

Spaghetti sauce with black olives, and pepperoni if I have it, is my favorite.  But so far, I haven’t found a way I didn’t like it!

Polenta is a blank canvas for your creation.  Play with your food, paint yourself a sunny picture and enjoy the sunshine-yellow even if it is grey outside!