I posted my Civet of Venison recipe yesterday and hinted at a beautiful polenta for it to sit on, so I wanted to share my new polenta recipe today! Polenta is so filling in the winter and so incredibly easy to make, I am obsessed! You can buy “polenta” in beautifully decorated baggies or boxes for $6 to serve four, or you can stroll to the international market and buy a couple pounds of Semolina for a dollar or two. I choose the latter.
We have been planning a lot of soups and stews here to get through a rather chilly January, and I have been looking forward to making a stew with some of the beautiful dried mushrooms I brought back from the open air markets in Barcelona. I wanted something healthy and hearty and full of earthy flavors, and decided to use Porcini and Chanterelle mushrooms for my stew.
Soup is one of Nico’s favorite “food categories” and has been perfect through this strange cold spell on the east coast these past few weeks. Nico made a request for some kind of pumpkin soup, so I figured we would go for a butternut squash and carrot. I like to roast the squash and carrots to shorten the soup cooking time but also to give a sweetness and smokiness to the vegetables that is generally not activated with just boiling them.
We are on a roll with Russian recipes from our Domestic Union celebration, so here is another! This one belongs to my mom. She taught me this recipe when I was a kid. For every family gathering or celebration, we all gathered in the kitchen and chopped…we chopped up eggs, potatoes and carrots, pickles and cucumbers…it seemed like the chopping went on for hours, but Olivier was always ready by lunchtime as a snack while we cooked the rest of the meal.
My filling, inspired by chef Alain Ducasse, had some lambs brain in it for a bit of extra flavor. If you want to add it, a half a lamb’s brain will do, or perhaps a bit of prosciutto or some pancetta.
To start off our meal, and to placate everyone while I was finishing cooking, I served a baked Camembert with sautéed porcini mushrooms and shallots sweetened with some fig jam. I love cheese, but have never been a fan of Camembert on my cheese plate, but I do love it baked with some jam! Imagine a baked brie enveloped by puff pastry and topped with some raspberries and walnuts, what could be better? I wanted to make our dish a bit more savory and a tad less buttery so I went with searing some porcini with shallots baked over the Camembert. Everything can be assembled ahead of time, and just stick it in the oven for 10 minutes to warm up before serving. The temperature is not really important, so you can add it to the oven with your turkey/goat/lamb/ham or whatever else is roasting in there!
Today, I wanted to make some fried green tomatoes, but figured the acidic baby tomatoes would be a great topping for a sweet corn velouté. A velouté is a French term meaning velvet. It refers to soups that are thickened with butter and cream and eggs. I have made a Celery and Asparagus Veloutés with Bacon Croutons, both are Nico’s favorite soups. My friend Anwar handed me 8 ears of corn earlier this week, which felt like a rarity for the season, I decided they would make a perfect velvety soup! In this iteration, I thicken the soup with cream, potatoes, and a bit of duck fat to pair with the Fried Green Tomatoes which are fried in duck fat.
In comes Crudités! The harvest season seems a bit longer this year, due to the strange weather, so the farmer’s market is still awash with beautiful fall vegetables. I wanted to showcase their beauty and color. You can use any variety of veggies that you can get your hands on. Our platter had 2 varieties of radishes, green beans, Persian cucumbers, carrots, radicchio, baby bell peppers, asparagus, and some pistachios for crunch. We served our veggies with two sauces, a homemade aioli and homemade Caesar dressing.