What Going on Today: Up waaaaayy too early this morning! Have to start packing boxes. We officially move in 2 weeks. Sad.
Naptime Goals: Make Polenta steaks using my new favorite recipe. Work on address changes, squeeze in a little R&R for me, too.
Tonight's Menu: Chive Polenta Steaks, green salad.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: It's easy to sell kids on a move with the promise of summer on the beach.
I only have a few more webisodes left in this kitchen before I move to a bigger, more gracious space. Unfortunately, in order to get to this space, it means moving out of Manhattan and up to the Connecticut coast. We are only moving a few miles really, but it feels like much longer than that. I'll be sad to leave NYC, though I know it is time for open skies and grassy lawns. My daughter will love it and I'm sure we'll come around, too. But, never fear New Yorkers, I'll be back a lot. This will always be my daughter's hometown and will always be especially close to my heart, as well.
Anyway, in the mean time I'm going to make the best of my current kitchen. I find it spacious and lovely, but it is pretty small and dark compared to what I'll be moving into. I will always be able to say this is where The Naptime Chef all started. Maybe someday the management company will hang a plaque on the wall or even disassemble the whole thing and move it to the Smithsonian. Or not. Either way, this place perfect for making polenta steaks.
It's only recently that I've gotten into making polenta steaks. Until a few months ago I liked to make polenta creamy and loose, like a dense porridge. Then, I stumbled across Ina Garten's Polenta Steak recipe and gave it a shot. I was intrigued by the idea of polenta being a thick bar and cooked like a breast of chicken. Not surprisingly - like everything Ina makes - the flavors were delicious and the texture was perfect. Once I realized the brilliance of polenta steaks my wheels started turning. Why not, I thought, use this method and make new polenta steak flavors we all will enjoy. Since then I've been tinkering with it a bit, adding new flavors and adapting it so that it is perfect for making during naptime.
As you'll see here, the great news is that I've succeeded in doing so. To prepare these steaks I add a little bit of extra cheese and some freshly snipped chives. I love the way this gives them a savory, almost oniony taste. Even better, all the stirring and adding things can be done while my daughter naps. Then the steaks only need to be cut and cooked - steps that take a few minutes - once dinner hour comes around. Enjoy!
Cheddar and Chive Polenta Steaks
loosely adapted from Ina Garten
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. freshly chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
3 c. chicken stock
2 c. half-n-half
2 c. milk (2% preferred)
2 c. Polenta
1/2 c. freshly grated cheddar cheese
1. Place butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow butter to melt fully and stir in the olive oil. Add the garlic and chives and stir for 2 minutes.
2. Add chicken stock, milk and half-n-half. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Once mixture is boiling sprinkle in 2 c. of polenta, whisking constantly to make sure no clumps form. Then, switch to a wooden spoon and stir until mixture is thickened like the dense porridge. About 8-10 minutes.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese. Then, pour it into a 13x9x2 baking dish, spreading it smoothly with the back of a wooden spoon.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to cool and harden. It can be stored this way for up to 48 hours.
5. To prepare for dinner, melt a dash of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Meanwhile, cut the polenta into squares and dust lightly with flour. Then, add it to the hot pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until each side is light brown and crispy. Serve hot.
Naptime Recipe Ideas and Variations: If you want to add a different herb I recommend substituting rosemary or fresh basil for the chives. Don't like cheddar? No problem, just leave it out and add Parmesan instead.
Naptime Stopwatch: Stirring the polenta and pouring it into the pan takes about 35 minutes. Allow it to cool in the pan for at least 2 hours. Cooking them takes about 10 minutes and, voila, dinner is served!
Naptime Reviews: My daughter is slowly coming around to polenta, although she prefers the creamier version. These steaks are great when cut into shapes with cookie cutters, too.