Creamy Cheddar Polenta with Sausage and Charred Ramps

Polenta with Charred Ramps and Sausage

Polenta with Charred Ramps and SausageCreamy, cheesy Cheddar polenta with charred ramps (wild garlic) and grilled sausages: a dish made for Spring. The sweetness in the corn pairs beautifully with extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and a topping of garlicky grilled ramps is as delicious as it is simple. If ramps are not available, scallions make a great substitute. The addition of good quality sausages turns it into a meal. 

There comes a time for most people when they experience a food in a totally different way from how they’ve been used to. For us, that revelation was stone-ground polenta. For the longest time, we’d stuck to the packaged tubes of pre-cooked polenta that you slice up and grill. Now, there’s nothing wrong with them, and we still cook with that variety from time to time, but can we tell you, the first time we had really good, slow-cooked traditional polenta, it was like night and day.

Of course we, along with the rest of the world, have been stuck inside our home so we’ve been craving something warm and comforting even more than usual. When we found a bag of really good polenta, we knew exactly what we wanted to do with it — combine it with our favorite extra-sharp cheddar cheese from our friends at Cabot Creamery.

This cheddar polenta is a sponsored recipe in partnership with Cabot Cheese.

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Everything-Seasoned Gougères with Scallion-Cream Cheese Filling

Everything-seasoned Gougeres

Just like in Seinfeld’s “The Muffin Tops” where Elaine sets out to prove that nobody really wants to eat a whole muffin, we’re largely in the camp that believes that nobody really wants to eat a whole bagel. And judging by the range of “bagel-light” hybrids (flagel, crogel, and the like), we’re not alone. Bagels are big. They’re doughy. And even though they’re inevitably filled with something delicious, you still have to bite through an inch of starch to get to the stuff inside. In our opinion, the crust flavor and the filling are the selling points of a bagel. If we can get those flavors in something more delicate, let’s do it. So we turned to the airy cheese puffs known as gougères to see if they could replace our morning favorite.

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Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Sweet, fruity, cheesy blintzes are a great Mother’s Day treat for the Mom in your life. But let’s face it, they’re equally awesome as a weekend splurge you can make for yourself!

Breakfasts at the Nerds household are probably a lot like breakfasts at your house. During the week, we never have time to indulge in anything luxurious – it’s grab-a-slice-of-toast, open-a-yogurt, pour-a-quick-coffee time. So the weekend is when we really get to enjoy ourselves. And when it’s a special weekend like Mother’s Day, we really feel like going for the luxury option. These blintzes … well, let’s just say, if they were on the breakfast-in-bed menu at a classy hotel, I would not look at anything else. No, not the pancakes. No, not the eggs benedict. Well, maybe the eggs benedict, but I’d ALSO order a round of these blintzes. But here’s the thing – I’ve never seen them on a hotel menu, and maybe I’m going to the wrong hotels. but that’s all by-the-by because I’m making them at home now. And yes, they are as good as they look.

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Stir Fried Farro with Garlicky Kale and Poached Egg

Tender stir fried farro, garlicky sautéed kale, and a perfectly poached egg. If that’s not a good breakfast, we don’t know what is. This simple, healthy grain bowl is packed with everything you need to start your day off right. 

Breakfast isn’t typically an ideal meal for slow food. Our modern lives pack our days with tasks demanding attention: we have kids to get to school, work deadlines to meet, errands pulling us in twenty directions. But while a cup of coffee and a quick carbohydrate filler, like a bowl of cereal or piece of toast, may get us up and out of the house quickly, they hardly constitute a satisfying and well-rounded meal. That’s why when we’re able to, dedicating a little more time to a breakfast that actually provides a whammy of flavor, as well as going some way to fulfill those balanced-food-groups and five-a-day promises, is a worthy goal.

Note: This recipe is part of our series with Serious Eats.

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Kimchi Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese doesn’t have to be eaten in a sandwich – and neither does it need to contain pimento. Say what?! Before you flay us alive for our heresy, let us hurriedly explain that we replaced the pickled pepper with fermented home-made kimchi. And we, frankly, think it’s even better. 

Pimento cheese, the iconic spread of the American south, turns out not to be very southern at all – at least in terms of its origins. It’s so associated with the south that it’s hard to imagine the spread (a mix of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise and diced red pimentos) as coming from anywhere else, but our friends at Serious Eats did a little digging and discovered that pimento cheese actually got its start up north, in New York, as a way to market the burgeoning production of cream cheese.

In the 1870s, New York farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese, similar to Neufchâtel, that eventually evolved into cream cheese. Around the same time, Spain started exporting canned red peppers — or “pimiento” — to the United States. Eventually a combination of the cheese, peppers and mayonnaise became the spread we know today and like any good origin story, the lore soon outgrew its humble beginnings and pimento cheese became a staple of church picnics and neighborhood potlucks and fancy restaurants all over the southern U.S.

While most loved between two slices of bread, the cheese spread is versatile enough to lend itself to a variety of uses – as a dip, as a topping (think cheeseburgers, or our favorite, patty melts), and even as a stuffing for meats like chicken breasts, or pork chops.

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Croque MadameS

Two croquet madames in a frying pan

The croque madame is a quintessential dish in the French culinary canon. Essentially a ham and cheese sandwich, this beauty is elevated by two generous layers of creamy béchamel, broiled until bubbly and golden, and topped with a perfectly fried egg. With a little help from our friends at Le Creuset, we’ve used both their new recipe book and their bakeware to put together a perfect brunch dish.

We’ve mentioned before in the blog that there are certain kitchen items that we can’t do without. We just can’t, we’d be lost and flailing. A microplane for fine grating, a silicone spatula for mixing cake batter: these critical objects are non-negotiable. Another, of course, is a good, heavy, enameled cast iron skillet. You can pre-heat it on the stove to get it to a high temperature for quick cooking, you can transfer it to an oven or broiler for a finishing step, and if you take care of it, it will last forever. Also, if you choose well, it can be beautiful enough to be the centerpiece on your table.

We’re always keen to find new ways of using our pan, and when Le Creuset asked us to make a recipe from their new cookbook (which you can buy from their site through the link) our decision wasn’t hard: we wanted to make our favorite Parisian lunch, croque madame.

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