Friday, December 09, 2016

Light 'Em Up: Grilled polenta with mushrooms and gorgonzola

When we start the holiday season, we jump right in.  Over the weekend we attended our town's tree lighting.  We went last year and Thatkid had such a great time I knew we had to return again this year.

For one thing, this gave me a chance to introduce Thatbaby to snow!

Which he loved!  Thatkid got cold relatively quickly but Heaty McHotlegs didn't seem to mind it at all. We couldn't get him out of there.

I ended up taking Thatkid to decorate cookies while his brother played in the snow.

After the cookie decorating, both boys sat for a little face painting.

I'm always surprised at how well Thatbaby sits for face painting.  Thatkid decided they both needed snowmen.

And then it was off to watch hula dancers, carolers, and the main event - the tree lighting!

Thatbaby sat transfixed by it all.  He has a thing for both Christmas trees and Christmas lights, so he was as happy as an be.

After the trees were lit, Thatkid decided he wanted to see Santa.  This was a huge deal because Thatkid has been Santa-shy for the past 4 years.  He likes the idea of Santa, but never wanted to be anywhere near the man in red.  In fact, he had specifically told me that he did NOT want to see Santa at the tree lighting.  

I thought Thatbaby might be equally as interested.  He loves looking at pictures of himself with Santa from last year.  And he went right up to this guy and happily took a candy cane.  But when the time came for lap sitting?  Well he was having none of that.  

But hey, one out of two is better odds than I usually get for Santa pictures!

We made one final stop to visit with the reindeer before heading home for the night.

I'm also starting to get ready for holiday get togethers.  Planning appetizers and desserts that please a crowd.  There's something about cheese that really works for appetizers.  You find it on cheese plates, baked brie, or even a great cheesy dip.   This combines two of my favorite appetizer tricks, cheese and polenta.  I love making polenta ahead of time.  You can cut it into rounds or squares and then top with all sorts of goodies - chutney, salsa, salad, or cheese!  This season I'm topping it with gorgonzola and mushrooms which gives it a warm, tangy, earthy flavor.

 Grilled polenta with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola
1 lb polenta
4 Tbsp olive oil
6 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 oz mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
2 sprigs of thyme, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
1 1/2 cups Parmesan, grated
juice of 1 lemon

  1. Prepare polenta according to package directions.  Pour into a greased pie pan and refrigerate 4 hours.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.  Cut polenta into triangles and and place on hot grill pan for 3-5 minutes, until lightly charred.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook 5 minutes, until translucent.
  4. Turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms.  Cook 4-5 minutes.  
  5. Add the thyme and cook for another minute.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Add the wine and reduce cook until it's reduced by two thirds.
  8. Add the cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced by one third.
  9. Turn the heat down to low.  Add the gorgonzola, Parmesan, and lemon juice, stirring constantly until the cheeses have melted.  Pour over grilled polenta.

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