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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Sticky Lemongrass Chicken Thighs with Black Rice Salad

Chicken thighs nestled in black rice on a platter

After a long, hard Northeast winter, nothing makes me happier than looking out on the deck and seeing row upon row of fresh herbs, sitting up in their little pots all bright and perky, like, “what? I was always here.” No, Rosemary, you weren’t. And I know that for a fact because I paid a freaking fortune for a few measly sprigs in January since I just couldn’t bear to use the dry, desiccated jar of rosemary-scented dust that languishes on my spice rack through the winter. 

Even though spring is yet young, the herb garden still feels like a cornucopia. Chives! Mint! Cilantro!  Sure it’s still too cold for the basil, but don’t be greedy, it will be here soon. Anxious for a recipe that uses this green bounty, we decided on a Black Rice Salad which, along with crisp red cabbage, sweet golden raisins and crunchy peanuts, uses a full cup of fresh herbs. We went with cilantro and mint (because that’s what we have) but basil, when it’s fresh, would be fantastic too, especially spicy Thai basil if you’re growing it or can find it in the store. 

A platter of black rice sprinkled with herbs

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Easy Home-made Kimchi

Matt here. Emily’s going to come in with the important tasting notes and all that later in the article, but I just wanted to share an anecdote from our very early cohabitation. When we first moved in together, I remember I was clearing room in the fridge – and at the time, Emily had a really beautiful spacious fridge (I think it was even bigger than the one we have now) and there was plenty of room to hide stuff at the back of the shelves. I was clearing out room to fit in whatever we’d bought together at the store, and I spotted a jar whose contents were unfamiliar to me. I opened the lid and, I don’t remember now, but I probably cursed. I think I might have warned Emily that there was something really bad in there that needed to be thrown away right that second, and preferably triple-bagged. I warned her that we might have to replace the fridge. I warned her that we might have to move.

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French Onion Soup with Garlic Butter Croutons

French Onion Soup with Garlic Butter Croutons

(We’re busy this weekend working with Beacon Farmers Market’s “Soup4Greens” event, where volunteers cook up a whole variety of soups which are sold to fundraise for a program helping local people to buy healthy food. Come and join us if you’re in the area! We’ll be making Sausage, White Bean and Escarole soup, but since we’re on a soup kick, we decided to repost this article from a few years back: one of our favorites and we think it’ll become yours too.)


It. Is. Still. Winter.

Do you feel a disturbance in the force? As though millions of voices cried out in annoyance and were suddenly told to quit whining? That was the entire population of the east coast of the U.S. simultaneously accepting the fact that this winter will never, ever end.

You’ve made your point Nature! Sheesh. No reason to be such a weiner about it.

If you too happen to live in a frozen hell-scape (or just enjoy delicious French Onion Soup), this recipe is a great way to spend a frigid afternoon. Plus, it includes Winter’s top food groups. Bread, cheese and booze. Yes, there is lots and lots of alcohol in this soup. Three different kinds in fact, sherry, cognac and white wine. This might seem excessive (or if you’re like me, quite restrained), but the alcohol is entirely cooked out, leaving just a warm, rich decadence. Yum.

French Onion Soup with Garlic Butter Croutons
Booze, booze, booze!

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Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce Fresh, light and delicious, Vietnamese summer rolls are a great appetizer or light meal any time of the year. Crisp vegetables, bright herbs and shrimp are rolled in a rice paper wrapper, with a side of sweet and salty peanut sauce for dipping. 

If you’ve ever eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant (or had the pleasure of traveling to the country, you adventurer), you’ve probably had summer rolls. They’re sometimes called “fresh spring rolls” or “salad rolls”, but not to be confused with traditional spring rolls, which are often smaller, fried, and filled with cooked vegetables and pork. These are the epitome of fresh and light, filled with finely shredded raw vegetables (we used purple cabbage, carrots, cucumber & scallions, as well as butter lettuce), lots of bright herbs like mint, cilantro and basil, rice vermicelli noodles and poached shrimp, all wrapped up like a translucent burrito in a rice paper wrapper.

We love the flavors of Vietnamese cooking (as you can tell by some of our previous recipes: Vietnamese-style baked chicken and Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa). I first made Vietnamese Summer Rolls over a decade ago and I’ve been wanting to make them again ever since. When we found out we were going to have a weekend houseguest, our 12-year-old niece Charlotte, who is an adventurous eater and a great cook in her own right, we thought these would be a fun dish to make together.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Charlotte making a Summer Roll

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Stir Fried Lo Mein Noodles with Pork and Vegetables

This fast and delicious pork lo mein is loaded with noodles, meat, and plenty of vegetables—a complete meal in one wok (or skillet).

Preparing a stir-fry for us has become a game of time-shaving. A dish that’s already designed for the quick, hot pan treatment is made even more satisfying when you can snip a minute of prep here and there, or improve the efficiency of the cooking stage using that one weird trick (“Chinese restaurants hate them!”). Well, we’re using that one weird trick here, and here’s the essence of it: we soak the pork strips beforehand, for just 15 minutes, in a baking soda solution. This helps the pork stay really tender. More on this below.

Note: This recipe is part of our on-going series with Serious Eats. You can also find this recipe, and other great ones, on their site.

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