Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Polenta Baked Eggs and book review

The first part of this post is by Aaron, who made dinner while I was at school meetings this evening.

The last recipe from Smitten Kitchen Every Day is quite an easy, filling, tasty comfort food, and it’s vegetarian…polenta baked eggs!

I’ve not really worked with polenta like this before – I’ve used it in a couple of things, but haven’t actually boiled it in water. I was surprised at how much it thickens.

There’s nothing too tricky with this recipe – bring some water to a simmer, stir in the polenta, cook for about 15 mins, then add corn kernels and cook a bit longer, then season, add cheese (I used Costco Mexican blend), and sour cream.

After the sour cream is mixed in (the recipe says to mix it to just before it is all mixed in – something I didn’t read until AFTER I had mixed it in…oops), you pour the mix into an oiled baking pan. Following this, you mix in spoonfuls of tomato paste – Jen pulled out a can of tomato soup we’d had in the cupboard for ages to use instead, which worked nicely, although perhaps made the mixture a little runnier than usual. With it being a bit runnier, it was a little hard getting the eggs into the holes you make for them (the holes started filling in as soon as you  made them), and I also doubled the recipe so that added to the amount of mixture.

Eight eggs into holes later, I was ready to season a little more, then sprinkle with some more of the Mexican cheese, and pop it in the oven. You know the dish is ready when the egg whites are cooked. Thanks to our funky oven, that’s a bit of a gamble, and I ended up overcooking the eggs. I think it would have been a lot nicer with runny yolks, but it was still yummy.

A couple of things I’d do differently next time would be to not stir the sour cream in until after you’ve poured the mixture into the baking dish, and possibly use canned tomatoes or maybe semi-dried tomatoes, so you get more of the tomato flavour into it (it was mostly lost for me). But overall – a very easy dish, very tasty and just a bit fancy.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day has been a fun book to explore. There are some recipes in there that are quite unique that were definitely worth trying, regardless of how much we loved the result, because it taught techniques or ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have tried. The olive oil shortbread in particular is something that I do want to try again, but Deb’s recipe left me wanting more crumbly, melty goodness than I got. The sticky toffee waffles were similarly brilliant in concept, the taste was good, but the texture wasn’t quite right. Whether that can be tweaked by toasting the waffles or just making pancakes with the batter will have to wait and see.

While there are still a few more recipes I’d like to try, I must admit that this is not a cookbook I would own. I don’t think it will be a return to again and again with family favourites like some of the other books from the Food52 Cookbook Club have. That being said, I’m glad that I’ll be able to check this book out again from the local library to try my hand at those baked bacony beans and the halloumi and vegetable roast especially.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Olive oil shortbread with rosemary and chocolate chunks

This by far has been the most popular recipe this month with the Food52 Cookbook Club. Everyone is making it – so of course I had to try it too. Shorbread traditionally is made with bread, and with the interesting combination of rosemary and chocolate and the ease with which the recipe comes together, it is easy to understand its appeal.

All you have to do is whisk together some dry ingredients – flour, icing sugar, raw sugar, salt – then stir in the olive oil, the rosemary, and the chocolate. Roll it out into an 8 or 9 inch slab, sprinkle over some more sugar (you can brush on egg white, but I didn’t because I thought I should keep it vegan) and cook it in a low oven for 20 minutes. When you take it out you need to cut it while it’s still hot with a sharp knife.

To be honest with all the hype about this recipe, I was underwhelmed. I didn’t think that the finished product melted in your mouth the way that shortbread normally would, and it was soooo crumbly on top that it just got messy to eat. That didn’t stop us from getting through the whole batch, but it wasn’t something we ate in one sitting. It took us about a week, so yeah, probably not a great success or a recipe I’ll return to in a hurry.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Sticky Toffee Waffles

Aaron’s favourite dessert is sticky date pudding. My favourite dinner is breakfast Put those hands together and this is what you get! I was looking for an appropriate dessert to go along with our bacon and egg casserole a few weeks back and was flicking through the plethora of cookbooks on my bench and when I came across this and saw how it didn’t look very complicated, I knew we had to try it.

Food52 Cookbook Club is going through Deb Perelman’s book Smitten Kitchen Every Day this month and for some reason, I seem to be drawn to more of her sweet items than her savoury meals, although I do endeavour to try at least one savoury item.

The first thing you need to do to make these waffles is soak the dried dates in boiling water for 30 minutes. While that’s happening you make the toffee sauce which is a basic recipe that has butter, cream, brown sugar and vanilla which is cooked out on the stove to make an ooey gooey toffee sauce. Then you process the dates and water with some butter, and eggs and then the dry ingredients and process just until the mixture comes together. Then it’s just a matter of cooking the waffles in the waffle maker as you normally would and plate them up.

These were very, very tasty, and if I had any criticism it would be that they weren’t very crispy on the outside. Deb puts hers in the oven to keep them warm until they’re all made and that may have the effect of crisping them up, but I actually think chucking them in the toaster might do a better job. Or just make them as pancakes. This batter looks like it would make great pancakes, and Deb has some of the best pancake recipes we’ve ever had on her website – our 6 year old who hates anything that resembles normal food, absolutely loves her zucchini bread pancakes.

Regardless of the crispiness, we will definitely make these again because the taste was amazing (and like I said – Aaron’s favourite dessert is sticky date pudding, so we already know we’re on a winner with these).