09 August 2010

Gluten-Free Recipe: Mascarpone Polenta

My life has been quite a rollercoaster the past few months. So many unexpected, drastic changes have set me on a path I never imagined, but feel very blessed to have found myself on. Each day I experience such a wide range of emotions while reflecting upon past events and anticipating my exciting new endeavors -- happiness, anxiety, passion, hope, fear, pride, regret, enthusiasm, love, frustration, anger, excitement -- it's all there to make an overall confused but very much alive Gina.

Obviously a huge part of my quarterlife crisis has been navigating the challenges of my new gluten-free diet. But just because I stopped eating gluten and felt better does not mean my stomach issues have vanished entirely. Unfortunately, it's very far from it. Determining what symptoms are caused by stress and anxiety vs. something I ate vs. something I didn't eat vs. natural occasional stomach discomfort everyone suffers has been daunting. I'm keenly aware I have eaten far too many cookies in the past few days (they are seriously so incredibly good), but am also very cognizant of my varied diet the past few days. Ever since the incident at Treat Cupcake Bar, I just have not felt the same. Certainly having my body "poisoned" with gluten can and did have very negative ramifications, but I should have been able to bounce back, and I have not. I've been further researching making other adjustments to my diet (dairy-free, vegetarian, etc) to continue my quest for health and will undoubtedly share my discoveries and experiments in future posts.

Saturday afternoon after catching up with my wonderful friend Jessica over smoothies and cookies in Davis Square's Statue Park, I stopped at Whole Foods Market in Cambridge to buy ingredients for dinner. Unsure of my menu, only knowing I wanted to prepare a delicious, satisfying meal in my kitchen, I ended up purchasing a beautiful sockeye salmon fillet and mascarpone cheese (from Vermont Creamery - it is indisputably the best I have ever had). All the other necessary ingredients for my simple menu were already in my pantry at home.

Chef Barbara Lynch has always been one of my favorite Boston chefs. A true embodiment of the American dream, she has established a culinary empire in Boston rivaled by no one, male or female (this Inc. Magazine profile in her words is terrific, as is this Boston Magazine piece). Her cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, is filled with fantastic French and Italian inspired dishes for the accomplished home cook. On Valentine's Day this year, I prepared her Seared Duck Breast with Spiced Cherries, Braised Kale and Mascarpone Polenta, and it was without a doubt the best meal I have ever prepared. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Although I don't often have reasons to prepare duck breast (one of my absolute favorite indulgences), the polenta is a dish I have continued to include in my cooking. Still being able to eat corn, rice and potatoes has been such a lifesaver in my transition into gluten-free living. You will be shocked what a little cornmeal, butter, milk and cheese can become in this simple, hearty and delicious recipe. I paired the polenta with the salmon (seasoned with lemon juice and spices, baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, foil covering the baking dish) and a glass of cabernet sauvignon (I am not a follower of the "white wine with fish" belief) and I was more than content.

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta
adapted from Stir

2 cups milk (I always use skim)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (I use Arrowhead Mills Organic)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (I use Vermont Creamery)
Salt and pepper

In large saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle boil. Pour the cornmeal slowly into the milk, whisking all the while to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add 1.5 tablespoons of the butter, season with two teaspoons salt and a few good grinds of pepper, and let the polenta cook gently, stirring occasionally, until its thick and the cornmeal is tender (about 20-30 minutes). Stir in the remaining 1.5 tablespoons butter and then add the mascarpone and cook an additional 5-8 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed and serve immediately. Serves 2-3 as side dish and 1-2 as main course. Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. "Determining what symptoms are caused by stress and anxiety vs. something I ate vs. something I didn't eat vs. natural occasional stomach discomfort everyone suffers has been daunting."

    UGH, I know exactly what you mean! Unfortunately those of us with digestive issues end up redefining "normal" digestive behavior. Whenever I'm not in the comfort of my own home and my stomach starts to hurt or I feel a bowel movement coming on, I get so anxious and stressed out about it that I neglect the fact that yes, even people with "normal" digestive systems get stomach aches.

    Once you have a digestive disorder, it's so hard to find the perfect balance between food, medication, stress, exercise, etc. I've had IBS for 5 years and am still struggling with it.

    Anyway. Onto happier things...that meal looks soooooo good (even coming from a vegetarian/almost-vegan, haha). I love that your posts include links to other sources and websites. It makes your blog posts more of an interactive experience for the reader. :)