I also squeezed in a walk with my dog (it was a glorious day today), three loads of laundry, a trip to the DMV for my hubby, and filled all my bird feeders. Don't cha' just love a "day off"? While on my walk, I noticed that my tulips are coming up. Well, only the leaves. I had actual tulips the first and second year I planted them, and the last two years all I got were leaves. :( I also noticed that my crocuses are coming up. Spring can't be too far off. Yeah!! Oh, speaking of spring. Several of my friends- and anyone who takes the time to drop by and read my blog is a friend- have mentioned the new header I have posted. That is a photo I took last spring when the dogwoods were in bloom. I love the look, with the light behind the blossom and thought it would be a nice change from the snowy driveway scene I have had. I think I may change that picture as the seasons and moods strike me. Thank you to those of you who have complimented me on it. :)
But, I am sure you didn't come here to listen to me ramble on about pictures. You came for the food! So today I made two new recipes. Dinner was Layered Polenta and dessert was Tiramisu Cheesecake. I thought both were really good. The hubby thought both were okay.
The layered polenta recipe I stole from a darling young lady I have known for, wow, almost 10 years?! Can that be right? She was my daughter's roommate in college and they have stayed friends since then. Beth just turned 27 and was in college at 18 so I guess it has been 9 years. Wow! I have watched Leslie grow into a beautiful, creative, funny, talented woman. She has a food blog called 'Cause I Eats Me Spinach. It is vegan/vegetarian and, let me tell you, the girl can cook! I am often in awe of her because she just makes things up as she goes along. I am a by the book baker/cook. I am often afraid to vary from what is written. Leslie just seems to know what works and how to put it together. Anyway, the other day she posted a recipe for a Basic Layered Polenta. Having just "discovered" polenta, I was intrigued to think of using it as a main dish rather than a side. I took her recipe and got brave and played around with it, creating a dish I thought the hubby would eat. That meant it had to have meat in it. :)
What I did, for the layers between the polenta was to dice up one green pepper, three carrots, one onion and 3 cloves of garlic. I sauteed all of that in a large skillet with about 2 tbls. of olive oil and then added about 3/4 of a pound of ground turkey to the skillet. Cooked all that together, seasoned it with some salt and pepper and then, when the polenta was good and thick, I put a layer of polenta in a greased casserole dish, put about half of the meat/vegetable mix over it, sprinkled some freshly grated Parmesan cheese over that, and covered that with polenta. I then repeated the process until all the meat/vegetable mixture was gone, and the final layer was polenta, which I sprinkled additional Parmesan cheese over. I popped the dish into the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes. I served this with some steamed broccoli. I used a small round casserole dish and I think next time I would use a larger shallower dish. My hubby thought it should have been "crunchier or crustier" but he did clean his plate. Even Patches liked it. I thought it was perfect like it was. The flavors all melded together, the vegetables adding just a little texture to the polenta. I did not use a lot of cheese so the flavor was subtle, more in the background. It was a very mellow tasting dish. None of the ingredients really standing out. Instead everything seemed to work together to create a warm, rich comforting dish. Of course, my layers all fell together when I spooned it out of the casserole dish. Another reason to use a shallow baking dish next time so I can cut it instead of spoon it. But, the taste would still be good. :) Thanks Leslie for a great dish!
The other dish I made tonight was dessert. There is another group I have started posting with , Have the Cake. I was invited to join last month after Chaya of Sweet and Savory saw my Red Velvet cake and said that was the February challenge for the group. I decided to join and this month's challenge is Tiramisu. I have never made Tiramisu before and decided it was time to change that! My Mom had given me a recipe for a Tiramisu Cheesecake a couple of years ago, and I never got around to making it. In fact, I lost the recipe and totally forgot about it. Until I saw March's Have the Cake challenge. I emailed Mom and she still had the recipe and sent it to me. I am not sure where she got it from. She said a lady from church gave her the recipe. So, I can't give credit to whoever may have created it.
I thought this was delicious! You could detect the coffee flavor, but not the Kalhua. I think next time I might bump that up a bit. The cheesecake itself was smooth and creamy and the 2 tbls. coffee added didn't impact the flavor at all. It was strange not to have a "hard" crust on the bottom of the cheesecake. I usually use graham cracker or some kind of cookie crust. This crust, made from the coffee soaked ladyfingers was soft and just melted in my mouth. The shavings of chocolate were a nice touch, adding a hint of crunch, for just an instant, before melting into the creamy cheesecake itself. The hubby? "You've made better" was what he said. But, in all fairness, he's not a big coffee person so that may have influenced his review. :)
It was pretty easy to put together. I used store bought Ladyfingers and store bought Mascarpone cheese. I know you can make your own of both, and while I may do that in the future, today I just didn't have that kind of time. So, store bought it was. The first Ladyfingers I dipped in my coffee/Kahlua/sugar mixture I let get totally submerged and they dissolved! I scooped them out and hung on to the rest of them letting them only get soaked on one side! I won't go into all my step by step moves, rather I will just post the recipe and you can imagine me doing those things as I worked around in my kitchen. :)
1 1/4 cup triple strength coffee (reserve 2 Tbls.)
2 Tbls. plus 1 1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbls. Kuhlua
1 1/2 package (7 oz. each) imported Italian savoiardi ladyfingers
3 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 Tbls. corn starch
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tub (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated
1. Remove bottom of a 9x3 inch springform pan and wrap the bottom with plastic wrap.
2. Stir coffee, 2 Tbls. sugar and the Kahlua in a shallow bowl until sugar dissolves. Set 1/2 of the ladyfingers aside. For each of the remaining ladyfingers, quickly dip one side into coffee mixture and place wet side up on pan bottom to cover, cutting ladyfingers as needed to fit. Freeze about 15 minutes until firm. Lift plastic wrap, with ladyfingers, off pan bottom and place on a flat plate in freezer.
3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Reassemble the springform pan and coat with non-stick spray.
4. Quickly dip one side of reserved ladyfingers into coffee mixture. Place wet side up on pan bottom to cover, cutting ladyfingers to fit and pressing to fill spaces. Freeze until ready to assemble.
5. Beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time until just blended. Beat in mascarpone and reserved 2 Tbls. of coffee. Pour half the batter into pan; spread evenly. Top with ladyfinger layer from freezer; sprinkle with grated chocolate. Spoon remaining batter over chocolate. Spread evenly.
6. Bake 45 minutes, or until cake still jiggles slightly when shaken. Some bubbles may form on surface (will sink as cake cools). Turn off oven and leaving door closed, leave cake in oven for another 45 minutes.
7. Remove cake from oven. Carefully run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake (leave the pan sides on). Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably 1 day for best flavor.
8. To serve remove pan and place cake on a serving plate. Dust with cocoa; top with chocolate curls. Enjoy!