KALE POLENTA WITH MUSHROOMS + ACORN SQUASH

Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca

Last week we had an especially beautiful October day with sunshine and temperatures of 25°C . I decided to go to Hanlan's Point on Toronto island, one of the nicest beaches in the city. A horizon perfect for admiring sunsets, a sandy beach to bury your toes in, and naked bodies (it's a clothing optional beach). I like to think about how liberating and powerful I'll feel stepping on to the beach bare breasted! I'll channel Beyonce– do my best head toss with an air kick, then an overhead fist pump (the ultimate girl power move). I'll sing out Run The World and finish with a shimmy shake  booty roll like The. Queen. That. I. Am. But as soon as I arrive I reconsider. The reality of the high penis ratio hits me like a salty ball slap to the face. Twenty dicks, no vaginas, and one pair of breasts belonging to a sixty year old Eastern European lady named Olga. She has a dog that looks like a elegant muffin and she does not give a f*ck. I strive to someday be as bold as Olga. But at that moment, the thought of being naked goes from feeling empowering to alarmingly uncomfortable. I like to think I welcome vulnerability, but not the kind that might attract lingering gazes from strange naked men. No way. I watch way too many murdery shows (and the news) to have a progressive view of middle age white men.

It never fails, every single time I go to this beach a naked man strikes up a conversation. It's always harmless but strange that this is the place everyone is dying to make small talk with me.

Naked Man 1: “The water is great today! Nice and warm."                                                                                             Me: “Oh yeah?" I say trying to be polite, staring straight into the sun purposely blinding myself. I catch a glance of his lower half because the more I tell myself not to look at something, the more I have to look. “It looks pretty cold to me.

Naked Man 2: “Hey, do you have a beer you could sell me?"                                                                                             Me: “Uhhhhhhh..... where do you keep your money? You know what, never mind, just take it.

Naked Man 3: “Wow we've got quite a wind today! Perfect for watching the windsurfers." as he stretches backward, hands on his hips, penis is flapping in the wind, ball hair awry. 

Any nude beach isn't complete without lone men casually strolling the shoreline. One man begins marching into the freezing cold water. He holds his arms at his sides palms facing forwards. He puffs out his chest and wades deeper into the water with determination, about to execute a self baptism. He submerges his head fully and is reborn! He will now go to heaven. Amen. He starts swimming further out, he gets close to a small yacht with some people having a party. He's swimming around the boat eagerly awaiting an invite. They ignore him. “Awww he just wants a friend.", I think to myself. I create the story of his life– Angus was born on Christmas morning, his birthday inevitably overshadowed by holiday celebrations. His cake forever a pumpkin pie. His birthday and Christmas presents always unified as one. Kids were too busy with family to attend his parties. He hates turkey so his birthday dinner was always a large plate of boxed mashed potatoes (his mother had a fear of real potatoes, she wouldn't allow them in the house). Are you crying yet?! He had a medical issue as a child that caused uncontrollable flatulence. He would break wind loudly without warning and kids made fun of him for it. Even his parents laughed sometimes because farts. are. funny. people. Now he comes here to bare it all because he's unashamed! Good for you man! I look around wondering which one of these people is the biggest creep on the beach. I realize it's me, making up stories about them and their bodily functions. I slide on my sunglasses to give the illusion I'm a discrete person.

The accessories on nude beaches are fun– mostly hats, sandals, sometimes a t-shirt with some lumpy junk protruding out the bottom. One man is adorned with a large glass bottle of milk and a backpack fastened up with clips around his naked body. I decide he is definitely the murderer if there is one. His serial killer name would be The Milkman and he would leave milk bottle caps upon his victims as a token. On that note, I turn on my best Beyonce pivot, dancing my way off the beach in the pump walk from Single Ladies. Peace out my nude friends!

One day later, genitals could not be more covered. The temperature dropped ten degrees and it is time for warm cozy food and layers of clothing. To nurture ourselves in the colder weather we must make many bowls of of roasted vegetables and grains. Squash season is peaking and I am into it. 

Market Squash || Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Porcini, Shiitake + Cremini Mushrooms || Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca

Notes:

Acorn squash is one of my favourites because the skin is delicious once it's roasted (and they look like cute clouds when sliced). 

The recipe below is plant based based but feel free to adapt it to your preferences. Parmesan cheese is typical for polenta giving it an even creamier and cheesy consistency. I chose nutritional yeast to keep it versatile for all food lifestyles. 

I used dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms because fresh wasn't accessible but I still wanted the richer flavours these mushrooms bring. I rehydrated the dried mushrooms in some water, dried them off thoroughly and sauteed them with the fresh creminis. 

Bowls of polenta can be topped with many things so let your imagination run wild with roasted or sautéed vegetables, shrimp, poached eggs, tofu steaks, or bolognese sauce. It's an easy meal to make, you just must be attentive when it is on the stove, stirring often.

Feel free to substitute spinach for the kale in the polenta. In this case, you could blend it in fresh instead of cooking it.

Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Market Squash || Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca
Kale Polenta with Mushrooms + Acorn Squash || A healthy comfort food bowl! A Fall or Winter dish that is easy to make and delicious! Vegan, plant based, dairy free, and gluten free. || creamandhoney.ca

Let me know what version of polenta bowl you end up with!

xx


KALE POLENTA W/ MUSHROOMS + ACORN SQUASH

the magic

inspiration:                   cozy Autumn bowls

the feels:                       creamy, cozy, comforting, savoury

eat with:                        pinot noir, arugula salad, sparkling water                                          w/ lemon, hot tea, toasted nuts or seeds,                                            fresh herbs

might like if you're into:    movie nights at home, granny quilts, other                                          meals in a bowl like this one or this one,                                            fuzzy slippers, hoodies, oversized knit                                                sweaters  

the science

makes 4 servings || time: 1 hour

ingredients:

                                                                                                                                                                                           polenta

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1.5 cups nut milk + extra while cooking the polenta, as needed (you can also use water)
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or grated parmesan cheese)
  • parsley, for garnish
  • kale puree (below)

kale puree 

  • 1 small head of tuscan kale or half a large head (curly kale is also okay), stems removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled + kept whole
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

mushrooms + squash

  • 1 acorn squash, seeded and sliced into half circles (leave skin on, it is edible after baking)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced (I used porcini, shiitake + cremini to create a richer flavour)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (of half a teaspoon dried)
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt + pepper

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet and toss squash in a large bowl with 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip squash and bake for another 10 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized.
  2. While squash is baking, add milk and broth to a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature to medium and slowly whisk in polenta. Keep whisking until the polenta starts to thicken (usually a couple minutes). Reduce to a low simmer (rarely bubbling) and cook for 20 minutes, whisking often, until the polenta is nice and creamy. Make the kale puree + mushrooms while polenta is cooking (see below). You may need to add a bit more milk or water throughout this process or if you want to keep it cooking longer for extra creaminess. Add a tablespoon or two at a time. Keep warm until serving. If prepared in advance, reheat on the stove with a bit of extra liquid and a good whisk.
  3. Kale puree– Boil a pot of salted water (should taste like slightly salty ocean sea water). Add kale and 2 cloves of whole garlic and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add to food processor or blender with olive oil and salt and blend until a smooth puree. 
  4. Mushrooms– In a pan (cast iron works well but any will do) over medium add olive oil and diced shallots. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add thyme, garlic + mushrooms to pan with a dash of salt and pepper. For the mushrooms to brown, don't touch them for a few minutes then turn to other side and repeat. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until mushrooms and shallots have cooked down and caramelized. 
  5. While polenta is on the stove, add kale puree, 2 tablespoons of olive oil (if desired), nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese), salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in until combined. Ladle into bowls, top with roasted squash, mushrooms, parsley and s + p to taste. 

Recipe adapted from April Bloomfield on Food Republic.

 

GRILLED CORN + POBLANO SALAD WITH SHRIMP

Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca

Summer is here and I pray it's a long one. Toronto has been exceptionally rainy this year but the plants are lush and loving it. I spotted a few surprise mushrooms growing in my garden which I'm guessing is from the moisture. Their oblong tops are whimsical and look like they are from psychedelic posters with naked ladies and swirling colours.

Spicy, savoury, and a bit sweet– this meal is a perfect summer dish for rain or shine. It's not too heavy if it's hot out and your appetite is small. This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit which on it's own is delicious. I marinated and grilled tiger shrimp and blended up an avocado-cilantro dressing for drizzling purposes. While we are at it, grill and caramelize some limes for cocktails (or mocktails) for a hint of smokiness. This paloma would be all the better for it.

Note about poblanos: Poblano peppers are a Mexican pepper originating from the state of Puebla. They are traditionally used in a dish called chiles relleños– poblano peppers roasted, stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried. Served with salsa or tomato sauce, they are a delicious and gooey mess. Poblano peppers are green when picked fresh with a mild spiciness. They become ancho chiles when left to ripen to a red colour and dried. This recipe calls for fresh poblanos which can be difficult to find depending on where you are. If you must substitute, try mild jalapeños first, cubanelles if you prefer less heat, or green bell peppers if you desire no heat. I would not substitute ancho chiles. Although they are the same pepper, they taste completely different taking on a smoky flavour in their dried state.

Who knew corn husk could be so stunning. Isn't she beautiful?

Corn Husk || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Roasted Poblano || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Charred Corn Husk || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca

Summer barbecues are the best. The smell of food and smoke, people gathered together cracking beers, and soaking in the sunshine. Sometimes the barbecue bleeds into nighttime and takes on a  new wild vibe. I love it all.

Years ago on a hot July day, my best friend and I moved into a new apartment on one of the most beautiful streets in Toronto, Palmerston Avenue. The street is lined with large lamp posts and old homes with mysterious attic windows and front hanging balconies. I heard a story years ago about these street lamps. It was that a rich couple used to live on Palmerston and one day the wife began falling ill with dementia. On walks she would lose sense of where she was and become lost among the streets. Her husband bought elegant lamp posts to line their street to help her find her way home during a spell. I don't remember who told me this story but I thought it was tragically beautiful and stuck with me. After much research, I have found zero evidence to prove this story is true. I'll call it folklore (or someone trying to take me home from the bar). When you say you live on Palmerston Avenue to someone from Toronto they go all “ooooo" and “aaahh" and “what a beautiful street, your place must be amazing!". Our place was amazing... when it was built in the early 1900s. Unfortunately no work was put into it in sixty years. It was the eyesore of the street.

We were weak, sweaty and dehydrated after the ten hours of moving our stuff into the apartment. Our neighbours helped us with some furniture at the end like the lovely humans they were. This was good timing since we almost threw out a one of our beds from sheer fatigue. They invited us to join the barbecue they were having and we were eager to accept hunched over and expired from the heat and the day. We decided to take a quick shower before heading over so my roommate Alex got in first and one minute later started screaming. I ran into the bathroom to see the faucet from the bathtub had blasted clean off and there was water spraying out in every direction with Alex naked trying to shield herself from the explosion. “MEGAN MAKE IT STOP!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!" she screamed. “I'M TRYING!!! I'M NOT A PLUMBER!!! I DON'T UNDERSTAND TAPS!" I yelled back while shoving my hand on and around the water stream doing nothing to help it. I turned taps back and forth for awhile until the water was only a constant drizzle. We said fuck it and I took a trucker shower (washing my face and armpits in the sink) and went down to join the barbecue. They served us chicken and corn which we inhaled with a few beers each. An intravenous would have suited us just fine. Soon after this day we became very close with our neighbours, but I don't recall anyone speaking to us at this barbecue. Probably because we looked like sickly wet rodents huddled together shoving food into our mouths as quickly as possible. And that was the beginning of our life on Palmerston Ave. It only got weirder from there. But it gave us many memorable stories which include (but are not limited to):

  • a locked shed in the backyard with childrens' dolls and broken plates 
  • a bouncer/drug dealer called “Big Ron" who frequented out place at night unannounced looking for our neighbours who were always “out".
  • a creepy old man entering our apartment at 3 am because he heard the toilet running.

All true stories. Stories for another time.  

Charred Corn Husk || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Grilled Limes || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Paloma with Grilled Lime || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Fresh Lime || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca
Grilled Limes || Grilled Corn + Poblano Salad with Tiger Shrimp || Delicious and healthy summer salad recipe grilled on the bbq. Perfect for parties and hot days! Gluten free + pescatarian.  || creamandhoney.ca

Now go soak in the sunshine and enjoy the summer while it's here, okay? 

xx


GRILLED CORN + POBLANO SALAD WITH SHRIMP

the magic

inspiration:                           fresh corn + hot sweaty days

the feels:                              spicy, sweet, savoury, light, fresh

eat with:                               palomas, margaritas, cucumber water,                                               citrus/herb water, fresh squeezed juice,                                             corona or sol, sangria, roasted                                                         potatoes, potato hash, steak, chorizo,                                                 cheese (cotija or feta), clams, crab. 

might like if you're into:       cantinas, inflatable water toys,                                                         learning about corn, backyard                                                         barbecues, rainbows after a storm.

the science

serves 4 || cooking time: 15 mins prep + resting time: 40 mins

ingredients:

                                                                                                                                                                                                salad

  • 5 corn, in husk
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • oil, for grill
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water, start with 2 and add more as needed
  • good pinch of salt 

shrimp

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes

method:

  1. Turn on barbecue. Clean grate if needed and oil well.
  2. Mix everything under the shrimp heading (except for the shrimp) together and pour into a resealable bag or shallow dish. Add shrimp and toss well. Keep in the fridge covered or sealed for minimum 30 minutes. 
  3.  Grill corn (dry and still in husks, no need to soak in water) and poblano peppers until charred, turning every few minutes once each side is blackened. The corn takes between 10 and 15 minutes and will be blackened/ dark brown on all sides. The peppers take between 8 to 10 minutes and will have blackened crispy spots and feel tender. Remove and let all vegetables cool. 
  4. Shuck corn and cut off corn kernels into a medium sized bowl. Cut open peppers and remove seeds. Chop and add to bowl of corn.
  5. Remove shrimp from fridge and stab onto skewers. Grill shrimp on barbecue for 2 minutes per side. 
  6. Add all remaining ingredients (from avocado to salt) to a blender/food processor and blend well. Keep adding water tablespoon by tablespoon depending on how thick (dipping consistency) or thin (dressing consistency) you prefer. 
  7. Serve all separately and let people do what they want or mix salad, shrimp and dressing/dip together. Garnish with cut limes and cilantro if desired. 

 

Shrimp marinade + dressing adapted from The Recipe Critic.

Corn and poblano salad adapted from Bon Appetit