Comfort in a Bowl

Polenta with Mushrooms, Cavalo Nero and Gorganzola

I am sure everyone is wondering where I have been for the last two months. I wish I could give you some glamorous answer, but the truth is that life got in my way: work deadlines and a trip to London; and I had a cold which then turned into the flu over the holidays. Now I am back and raring to go.

Winter has finally reared its head here in Israel and all I could think of was making comfort in a bowl. First, I made us a big pot of hearty chicken soup which nurtured Mr BT and me through the cold-flu episode. It healed us, warmed us and comforted us as it always does. Good old chicken soup.

When I finally had the energy to cook again, I decided to make the second best comfort in a bowl recipe, polenta. Soft polenta, stirred clockwise with a wooden paddle over a low flame and served with sautéed White Button mushrooms, King Oyster mushrooms, homegrown Cavolo Nero from my garden and creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Life can’t get much better than that.

I am looking forward to an interesting 2012, filled with new recipes, new adventures and some lovely surprises.

I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.

Polenta with Mushrooms, Leeks, Cavolo Nero and Gorgonzola
For the polenta:
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta not instant
For the vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek pale and green parts only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of Cavolo Nero kale or Swiss Chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 package White Button or Cremini mushrooms wiped clean and sliced
  • 2 large King Oyster mushrooms cut in half and then cut lengthwise
  • 1/4 dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  • 100 g 3.5 oz Gorgonzola Dolce
  1. Place the water and salt in a large saucepan over a low flame. Immediately add the polenta in a steady stream while stirring constantly in a clockwise motion to avoid lumps. Stir ever few minutes in a clockwise motion until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is thick, approximately 30-40 minutes. The polenta should be soft and creamy, not grainy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add the leeks, garlic and Cavolo Nero. Saute until the leeks are slightly soft and barely golden, about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the mushrooms, cooking until they are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the leek mixture and the white wine to the pan. When the wine is cooked down slightly, add the chopped thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the polenta has finished cooking, crumble in half of the Gorgonzola and mix through. Place the polenta on a large platter and form a well in the center. Place the mushroom mixture in the well and crumble the rest of the Gorgonzola on top.
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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

10 thoughts on “Comfort in a Bowl

  1. Welcome back! Glad you and David are feeling better.

    Your polenta looks so enticing, I wish I could pull it right out of the computer! Enriching the polenta by stirring in half the Gorgonzola is a great idea.

    How nice that you have cavolo nero in your garden. I love kale and king oyster mushrooms too. Where do you purchase the mushrooms, and the greens if you don’t have them in your garden?

    1. Hi Faye,
      Thanks! I am so happy to be cooking again. The mushrooms are sold in most supermarkets here in Israel. They at a mushroom farm in Tekoa, which I would like to visit sometime. They grown a variety of mushrooms that are sold in local supermarkets and shuks around the country.

      Supposedly, there is a farmer near Netanya that is growing cavolo nero, but I haven’t seen it in any supermarket or shuk. A good substitute here is swiss chard, which gives a slightly different flavour profile, but it would still work beautifully with the Gorgonzola.

    1. I haven’t seen kale here, but I was at an event last week where someone said you can find kale in the shuk. I am going to have to investigate this.

    1. Hi Tali,
      You can find polenta in some Shufersals, Megas, Eden Teva Market and also at some of the cooking stores.

  2. I wonder which shuk and also what month.

    The CSA has kale on its list, and collards too

    People on the yahoo group Israel food say there is kale at a shop in Ra’anana and in Ma’aleh Adumim.

    I pasted the sites here for you but I kept getting a message that my comment looks like spam and so I deleted them. If you’d like them by email, let me know.

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