Rosemary Polenta, Tomato Confit, Carmelized Bacon and Eggs

Polenta Caramelized Bacon Eggs

In order to become a dietitian, you have to go through a minimum of a bachelor’s program in nutrition (and not just any program, one that is officially a “Didactic Program in Dietetics”). Then after that, you have to complete a 1-2 year (approx.) internship program, and then you can sit for your national exam.

My internship was at the VA Medical Center, and there were six of us interns who grew to be like sisters over that year (or, 10 months, to be exact). We would carpool, share food, spend holidays together, fight, complain, some even lived together. I really adored all of my intern-mates, and will have a special spot in my heart for them for the rest of my life.

One time, my intern-mate, Hai Van, invited the girls over to her place for brunch. It was probably the best breakfast I had ever had in someone’s home. I kept asking her what she did, and have tried to re-create the meal, but every time, it just isn’t the same. I shouldn’t be surprised, because this girl would come up with THE MOST creative menus, and was also a professionally trained chef. I mean, how can you live up to that??

I remember being very intimidated by this meal, not only because Hai Van was an incredible chef that made magic in the kitchen…but it called for Polenta. I had never made that before, and my only experience was seeing the log at the store. But my friend walked me through the entire process, and it ended up being a success.

Rosemary Polenta

This was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa. Believe it or not, I actually reduced the amount of butter, half and half and milk by quite a but. It still turned out creamy and delicious. If you are short on time, you can always use the pre-made Organic Polenta from Trader Joe’s. (Side note, I don’t think Trader Joe’s carries cornmeal, at least I have never purchased it from there. Does any one know?)
 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Flour, olive oil, and butter, for frying

Directions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, milk, and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. Pour into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm and cold.

Cut the chilled polenta into 12 squares, as you would with brownies. Lift each one out with a spatula and cut diagonally into triangles. Dust each triangle lightly in flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan and cook the triangles in batches over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Add more butter and oil, as needed. Serve immediately.

The rest of the meal was fairly easy. You can make the polenta the night before and in the morning, just slice some of it up and pan fry it in a little butter and oil. To make the Tomato Confit, combine a container of little grape tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in a glass dish at 325 for 40 minutes.

The bacon is partially cooked on the stove then finished off in the oven @ 425 (until done, it all depends on how much you cook it on the stove). Before putting in the oven, sprinkle with pepper and brown sugar.

The eggs were just simply fried over medium. Then the dish was assembled with the polenta cake on the bottom, tomato confit and then topped with the egg. Bacon was served on the side.

When Hai Van made this, she sprinkled some fresh basil on top and served a side salad of field greens with balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese, which was perfect for a brunch. It also added some more color to the plate. She also had a bloody mary bar, which is always a fan favorite (Side note – Trader Joe’s has a great bloody mary mix!)

Quinoa Crust Quiche

Quinoa Quiche

My dietitian friend of mine, we’ll just call her Rachael,  has been having stomach issues for the past two years. After going to several doctors, her final diagnosis was IBS, which is usually the “we can’t find anything definitively wrong with you, so we’ll call it IBS so you stop showing up in our office.” Usually the treatment for IBS includes having a balanced diet, exercise and stress management. She did a bit of research on the Low FODMAP diet and after trying it for a few days, her symptoms finally went away and she felt “normal” again.

Since IBS is a very (very) common complaint and diagnosis, we gave the LowFODMAP diet a test run in my house a few months back. I found it very difficult to prepare meals for, because everything I use in almost all of my dishes were on the “no-no” list: ONIONS, GARLIC, WHEAT, LACTOSE, and many forms of FRUCTOSE (many fruits as well as high fructose corn syrup).  For those suffering from abdominal distress and pain, making a few slight dietary changes though doesn’t seem to be an issue.

One of my standard meals I make on an almost weekly basis is quiche. It is my “clean out the fridge” meal that is packed with veggies and I always have the standard ingredients. I also can whip up a crust in less than 5 minutes in my kitchen aid (Using this recipe from William’s Sonoma, but omitting the sugar). Quiche also happens to have an abundance of onions, garlic, wheat and lactose in it (well, mine does any way). I decided to attempt to make a pie crust out of quinoa, since wheat and wheat flour was not allowed.
And to my dismay, it actually turned out pretty good! I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Since I was doing things completely out of the box, I went all out and added some bacon, and used half hard boiled eggs and half raw eggs in the mix (normal quiche recipes don’t use hard boiled eggs)…and it turned out just fine!

So, here is what I did:

Quinoa Crust Quiche

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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QUINOA CRUST:

  • 1 heaping cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients well and mash along the bottom  and up the sides of a 9″ pie pan. Bake for about 10 minutes. Leave the oven on, you’ll be using it again real soon.

QUICHE:

  • 3 strips of bacon, crumbled and cooked
  • 2 slices of swiss cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 big ole’ zucchini, shredded with a grater
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tomatoes (enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (because of the FODMAPS diet, I used Lactaid)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

On top of the baked crust, add bacon and swiss cheese. Cook the zucchini, basil and baby spinach for a few minutes in a pan (I used the same pan that I cooked the bacon in, just drained some of the bacon fat). Add cooked zucchini, basil and spinach to the pie. Mix together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Pour over the bacon, swiss cheese, zucchini, basil and spinach. Top with tomatoes and goat cheese. Pop it in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the quiche has set.

Serve along side a simple salad of greens mixed with equal parts Balsamic Glaze and Meyer Lemon Olive Oil with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.