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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Grilling Frenzy

One of the great things about holidays that I love is that you get to prepare lunch at home, when you want. And that means it's always fresh. I normally take sandwiches to work just because i've been used to it since school, but if it's got something like salad in it it gets so soggy and just gross =(. And I don't like taking leftovers or similar because it's not fresh and has been sitting in my bag probably growing bacteria =P. It's just not the same.

So I take every opportunity I get to cook and eat all my meals at home =). I just enjoy it more. Yesterday I had some left over eggplant left from my baba ganouj craze that I needed to use up, and I also had some polenta (corn grits) I bought a few weeks back when I went a bit crazy at the Lebanese grocery shop. So I got cooking! Honey and Garlic Grilled Eggplant and Grilled Polenta Cakes. And a bit of salad =). Yummooo!! AND so healthy!!

I've never made or tasted polenta before, but I'm familiar with how it is traditionally prepared - boiled with water and simmered until thick, turning it into a bit of a mush. I know I'd have texture issues with this one, but I was curious to taste it, so I went and did a bit of research and found alternative ways to prepare it. A common way is to prepare the polenta, then spread it into a slab and chill until solid. It can then be cut into squares/rectangles that can be grilled, turning it into polenta cakes so to speak. And that's just what I did. I prepared the polenta the previous day and then chilled it overnight, allowing it to be easily sliced and grilled. The good thing is you can prepare alot, chill it overnight then cut it into slabs and you can just store them like that in the fridge and then take as many as you like out at will and grill them whenever you feel like it. No need to come home after work, hungry as a nutter and have to wait around for eons and prepare from scratch! And they taste real nice! Love the texture, bit more solid and with a familiar corn taste.

They could be more neatly prepared, but not bad for a 1st attempt!
And we all know how much I love eggplant, so no need to elaborate on how gorg it is just marinated in honey and garlic (another fav) and then grilled to charred, creamy perfection. Mmmmm!

Grilled Polenta Cakes

Normally there is a recipe for preparation on the packet, I've put how I made it + how to make the grilled cakes. It doesn't yield much, probs enough for 1 or 2, but its very easy to double =). 

2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
40g polenta (corn meal)

1. Bring water and salt to boil in large saucepan over high heat, gradually whisk in polenta.

2. Once all is added, turn heat to medium and simmer mixture until polenta no longer sticks to side of pan (approx. 20 minutes). Whisk every 2 minutes to prevent mixture sticking and burning to the bottom.

3. Place a piece of baking paper on a rectangular tray and spread polenta evenly over the paper. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate until firm/overnight. (I popped mine int he freezer to see if it firmed it up quicker, and it did, but i just popped it in the fridge for the next day).

4. Once firm, cut the polenta into rectangles/squares (desired size). Brush each piece with olive oil and grill on pre-heated (medium-high)  grill pan for 5-7 minutes on both sides, until golden

5. Serve with grilled eggplant (recipe below =) ).

Honey and Garlic Grilled Eggplant 
Adapted from Beyond Salmon

1 eggplant
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
3 mashed garlic cloves (original recipe calls for 2 but I love garlic =P)
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Wash and slice eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices. Place on tray lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 15 minutes then pat dry with paper towel. This draws out all the moisture and bitter taste (esp. if an old eggplant), which results in a creamier and more subtle taste.

2. To make the marinade, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat, brush with olive oil. Dip each eggplant slice in marinade, covering them well, then place on grill till charred on each side (approx. 3 minutes each side - depends on your grill, the heat and how charred you want it to be). Brush with marinade as you flip them.

4. Serve with polenta cakes and salad.

Ooooo last post for August! Last post for WINTER!!! Enjoy!! xx

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