What I make when ... I need comfort
The early winter that has hit New Zealand has made me immediately start craving comfort food and this simple but delicious menu definitely hits the spot.
The mushrooms are creamy and full of earthy flavour, and I love soft polenta as an alternative to the regular carb offerings of rice, mash or pasta. This dish is vegetarian but would team beautifully with pork and fennel sausages if you felt you couldn't forgo a meat accompaniment.
The lemon delicious is my super-lemony take on this old-school classic. I love a good citrus hit but if you like your lemon dishes a little less mouth-puckering, cut the zest back to just half a lemon.
CREAMY MUSHROOMS ON POLENTA
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
1kg mixed mushrooms (I used Portobello, brown, button and oyster)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sherry (or red wine)
1 cup cream
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
450g quick-cooking polenta
1 litre milk
1 cup grated parmesan
Slice the larger mushrooms and quarter or halve the smaller ones. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan with 20g of the butter, add the onion and mushrooms and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
Add the thyme, garlic, sherry, cream and half the parsley and cook a further 5 minutes then set aside while you cook the polenta.
Heat the milk in a large saucepan with 1 litre of water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat then add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you do. Return to a very gentle heat for a few minutes until thickened.
Add the parmesan and remaining butter and season well. If you want to thin it further, just add a little boiling water. Reheat the mushrooms for a minute while then polenta is cooking then serve spooned over the polenta and sprinkled with the remaining parsley.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
60g softened butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
icing sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 170C and lightly grease an 18cm x 24cm baking dish. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks then add the flour, milk and lemon juice and zest and whisk to combine.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks then fold into the lemon mixture, taking care not to knock out too much air. Spoon into the prepared dish and put that into a large roasting dish. Pour boiling water in to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes until golden.
Leave to sit for 3-4 minutes then dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with vanilla icecream.
Sarah Tuck is a food writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer who provides kitchen inspiration in these pages every fortnight.