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Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms

Have you ever had that spooky experience in your life, when once you start thinking of one thing it comes to you in bunches? Let me elaborate…

In my last post I mentioned Hemingway. Around the same time I started reading a book by Naomi Woods ‘Mrs Hemingway’. It is a marvelous book taking you through all Hemingway’s marriages from his wives’ perspective. I loved it, it’s beautifully written, I really enjoyed reading it and I don’t even like Hemingway.

The other thing I never had an interest in was Florida. Never desired to go there, see it, couldn’t understand people’s fascination with it. In my mind it was the area ridden by hurricanes, alligators and pensioners.

After reading Naomi Woods book I sort of had and urge to go there. The way she described Hemingway and Fife’s (wife no 2) house in Key West, relaxed life in the sun with the occasional storm (especially when Hemingway brought Martha Gellhorn to dinner) made me want to have a daiquiri on a balcony of a house like that.


And then Netflix released a new series called Bloodline.

It’s also located in Key West. It’s dark, moody, packed with brilliant cast.In one series you have Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Chloe Sevigny, Linda Cardellini. About Linda, here’s another spooky coincidence – a few days ago Boyfriend and me watched ‘Freaks and Geeks’ after Boyfriend admitted he had never watched it, and there was Linda Cardellini. I started wondering what she’s been doing as I haven’t seen her in anything, and then – bang!- she’s on Bloodline…

But the person who steals the show to me is Ben Mendelsohn as a black sheep in a family. He is so believable, so natural. At the beginning you see him as a loser, but as the plot progresses you start to see the vulnerability and how much more to him there is. I am in awe of his performance and I hope there is an Emmy waiting for him this year.



As I said, it is located in Key West, and the way it is shot, the beautiful light, sandy beaches, even rain and storm makes you want to jump on the plain and go there. Weird.

I can never refuse to watch anything about dysfunctional families because it feels so close to home, but also gives me comfort in a ‘you’re not alone in this’ kind of way. After all as Lev Tolstoy said: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

To match it all with a perfect dish I had to make something sunny and sort of mediterranean.

grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms

Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms

(serves 2)

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup grated vegetarian parmesan (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp rice oil

1 leek

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp hopped chilli

300g chestnut mushrooms

1 tbsp chopped thyme

1 tsp marsala wine or port (optional, can be replaced with a dash of balsamic vinegar)

chopped parsley



1. Start with heating up vegetable stock. When it’s boiling, turn the heat down and add polenta stirring vigorously so it will stay smooth without lumps. Wait till it starts to thicken, add parmesan (if using).

2. Transfer cooked polenta into a square dish. Leave to cool.

3. When polenta is cool, transfer it onto a chopping board and cut into squares.

4. Heat the grill pan. Add a bit of rice oil and fry polenta in batches.

5. In the meantime heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add chopped garlic and chilli. Fry until softened.

6. Add chopped leek and fry on a low heat till soft. Add mushrooms and turn the heat up a bit. Fry until mushrooms are golden. Add wine if using, thyme, salt and pepper.

7. Serve polenta with the mushrooms on top and a sprinkle of parsley.

grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms


grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms



About potatofaces

People who cook always go on about precious memories of childhood food one of their family members cooked, how daddy or nanny taught them the importance of cooking and eating together, and they still remember the comfort food they produced, amazing dishes whipped up by brilliant but humble cooks in their family. Well, let me tell you, it was totally different in my family. My mother’s family – totally useless as cooks, who could survive on bread and butter, cooked once a week a terrible, terrible meal, usually some kind of meat piece with lots of brown sauce. Also, they were never bothered about eating together. That’s maybe why most of them were depressed and suicidal. My mother followed that path and couldn’t really cook, and because I never wanted to eat meat, was warning me that ‘one day I will regret it’. Probably because my mother wasn’t into cooking my sister at the age of 12 took over and started producing amazing dinners and cakes. Well, luckily for me and her we weren’t that genetically doomed because apparently my father’s family were gifted in that compartment. I can only presume it was genes, as my father divorced my mother when my sis and me were little and he strongly believed that he also divorced us. So, we were growing up never having any contact with him and as a result, couldn’t learn how to cook from him. That’s why I believe the love of cooking ( and the ability) was just passed to us genetically. My father, short time before he died, unexpectedly felt an urge to contact us. First he gave my sister a mandolin (that’s another thing I know about him- he played a few instruments). My sister refused to talk to him, he then decided to contact me and wanted to spend some time with me. I didn’t want to, as he was a stranger to me (I was 11 or 12 at the time) but as I was promised I could leave whenever I wanted to, I went to the village he lived in. There I tried his mother’s cooking everyone was raving about. It was simple and amazing, I wish they were as family dedicated as they were at baking, cooking, making pastries, wine, tinctures, you name it. But I ate, drunk, and got bored of strangers who were my family and demanded to be let to go home. One of the last things my father said to me was that I should start learning English because I might need it one day, which I ignored for another 16 years… Because my sister was such a domestic goddess I wasn’t really bothered about cooking. I got hooked properly after my son was born and I wanted him to eat healthy and get everything he needed, especially that it wasn’t his choice to be a vegetarian (yet). And that is how the story begins…

6 responses »

  1. Wow your dish looks great! And you’ve convinced me to watch Bloodline. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on potatofaces and commented:

    in anticipation of the new season of Bloodline


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