Close to a year ago, I was a part of the Food Matters Project, a blogging group of people who would make one dish from Mark Bittman's Food Matters cookbook and share their results. We made this dish and it was really good.
Lately I've been wanting to make polenta cakes again and after researching it I found that they are traditionally cooked in a skillet and made with milk. I tried this and I must say that the taste is far and away better then the baked, watery version. I also added shaved California Romano cheese to the top. My husband, who doesn't like cooked mushrooms, ate his just with the cheese and was very happy with them.
March is National Nutrition Month, and while I've spoken about not using dairy products in an effort to be more healthy, choosing low-fat options can increase your calcium levels without increasing your fat intake. Thereby, staving off the dreaded osteoporosis (something that runs in my family). The California Milk Advisory Board, which represents more than 1500 dairy families, is celebrating “dairy good” nutrition by promoting these low-fat options, which lower fat intake while increasing protein to your diet.
Polenta Cakes with Mushrooms
Makes: 4 to 8 servings, adapted from Mark Bittman
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups California Milk
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 pound mushrooms, preferably an assortment (see the headnote), sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
- 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
- Shaved California Romano cheese for garnish
- Bring California Milk and salt to a boil. Gradually sprinkle in cornmeal, whisking continuously until all cornmeal has been added. Simmer until mixture becomes thick, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep cornmeal from sticking to bottom, about every 5-10 minutes. If polenta gets too thick to stir during cooking, add in a little extra water. Once mixture is done cooking, pour it into a lined baking sheet/jelly roll pan, making sure polenta is at least ½” thick. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours (up to 2 days).
- Grease an 8x8 baking pan with some of the oil. While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least 1⁄2 inch thick. Brush the top lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours (or up to a day).
- Using cookie cutter of your choice to cut polenta into 6-8 cakes. Add 1 tablespoon oil and place 4 polenta cakes in a (preferably cast iron) skillet. Grill cakes for 5 minutes, until the pan-side is golden brown. Flip and grill until other side is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining polenta cakes.
- Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms on top of each polenta cake. Add shaved California Romano to each cake.