Sunday, October 4, 2009

Some of the best things come in small packages

I spent the weekend mostly at home with the sick boy and was getting ready to go stir crazy after watching too much biography TV. Chris, being the savior that is always is, came to my rescue as company on Sunday. This gave me the opportunity to not only spend time 2-days-in-a-row with one of my best friends, but also gave me someone to cook for.

I treated him to an impressive nosh that was neither time consuming or pricey, thanks to Swanson’s and some smart buying.

Polenta rounds with beef tenderloin

This stackable treat is a 4 stepper with each one cooked or prepared individually and then assembled. I think this would be a great treat for a party giving a sense of gourmet taste with a simple sense that you have satisfied yourself. I made a plate of these and they could have been a meal, in fact 4 stackers were my lunch the next day.


Polenta – very exotic and yet so easy and versatile. I used a cornmeal that I bought at the South American market for making arepas. I think they are pretty much all the same thing in a way, but for those purists let’s just go with my polenta title.

I used the directions on the bag and mixed a cup of cornmeal with 1-1/2 cups of boiling water and salt. I mixed it all up and as it formed a dough I added pepper and parmesan cheese.

When it cooled a bit, I rolled out little 2” patties of corn and pan fried them in canola oil until both sides were golden brown and the insides were still soft.

While I cooked these batches of goodness, I chopped up the salad to sandwich between the polenta and beef. Using what I had on hand and a little spark of creativity, I made an artichoke and sundried tomato salad.


Artichoke and sundried tomato salad
Half a can of quartered artichoke hearts salad
About 8 halves of sundried tomatoes packed in oil
4 queen size Spanish olives
2 thin scallions
Lemon zest from half a lemon
Juice from half a lemon
Drizzle of olive oil

Chop everything up and mix in a bowl. Easy. Set aside as you prep the beef.

I already had a small tenderloin cooked to medium rare from a few nights before. I sliced it into thin slices (against the grain) and quickly heated them through in the hot pan I cooked the polenta rounds in. Just quickly in the pan, flip and out.

Time to assemble and only one ingredient left – horseradish mustard. This should be a staple in everyone’s pantry. In fact, my mustard collection is becoming quite substantial as I cook more since it is such a versatile ingredient. In this case, there was no need to doctor it up, I let it be as it was. However, if you want to add a bit more radishy feel, I suggest adding some regular horseradish to the mustard and get a bigger bite of sinus clearing wonder.


Polenta round
A teaspoon of artichoke salad
The beef slice
A drizzle of horseradish mustard

That’s it. They look elegant and usually seemed to be about 2 to 3 bites. Best eaten with a knife and fork on a mini plate, so you don’t lose any salad, these appetizers will always get noticed and are definitely worth your while to serve.

Plus, I got all the ingredients on the cheap, so it wasn’t bad on my thin pocketbook.


Tales from TV said...

And it was FABULOUS! Good company, good food, good times. I'm so fortunate to have a friend who's also amazingly creative in the kitchen.

I hear she's a good cook too. ;)

Lena said...

The polenta's look golden and wonderful on their own! I probably have most of the ingredients in, so all I'd need is a willing partner to do the tricky bits!!