Hi all, the countdown continues:) It has been so lovely having Henry and Josh in Auckland - they are still both sound asleep after a great night out to dinner last night - such a treat to have Nick, Rich and Lil there too, a rare occasion to get all six of us around a table! Tonight they head back to Wellington, laden down with frozen home-made dinners, not that they need them, they are both whiz cooks, but I figure it's nice to have an easy dinner that doesn't take too much effort some nights! This mushrooms on creamy polenta is actually that kind of dish that - super-satisfyng and takes no time or effort to throw together, containing two of my favourite things - creamy, luscious earthy, mushrooms and cheesy, soft polenta - yum. It is a recipe that I put together for Fairfax, but I have been making variations on the same theme for years. The trick to the mushrooms is to cook the cream down with them so that it becomes silky and almost slightly sweet, add to that the zing of the sherry, the hint of pungent garlic and thyme and the result is so very, very good. Obviously this is vegetarian (and gluten free), but if you can't imagine a meal without meat, it would go beautifully with pork and fennel sausages. To me this is right up there with perfectly cooked scrambled eggs in terms of comfort factor.
This time next week I will be frantically cleaning the house in preparation for my gorgeous nephew Will who is coming to house/dog sit, and packing my bags for the flight to Shanghai....can't quite get my head around that when I still have so much to do. Hopefully I'll sneak one last recipe up before I fly out - and then of course I am hanging out for a truck load of inspiration from my foodie discoveries in Shanghai,Tokyo and Kyoto to share with you on my return...can't wait!
2 tablespoons olive oil
100 grams butter
½ onion, finely chopped
1 kilogram mixed mushrooms (I used Portobello, brown, button and oyster)
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup sherry (or red wine)
1 cup cream
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
450 grams quick cooking polenta
1 litre milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Slice larger mushrooms and quarter or halve smaller ones. Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan with 20 grams of the butter; add onion and mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Fry over a medium high heat for 8-10 minutes. Add thyme, garlic, sherry, cream and half of the parsley and cook a further 8-10 minutes and set aside while you cook the polenta (You may need to cook the mushrooms in two lots so as not to crowd the pan, then as they shrink during cooking add the first lot back into the pan). Heat milk in a large pot with 1 litre of water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat then add polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you do. Return to a very gentle heat for a few minutes until thickened. Add Parmesan and remaining butter and season well with salt and pepper. If you want to thin it further just add a little boiling water. Reheat mushrooms for a minute while polenta is cooking then serve spooned over polenta sprinkled with remaining parsley. Serves 6