Oven Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Thyme

If you’re looking for a little comfort food tonight given the frigid temps we’re experiencing, this recipe is a great one. Polenta is totally under-appreciated in my opinion. Not only does it cook super fast, if seasoned correctly it’s absolutely delicious, and it’s incredibly versatile. You can serve it with stew on top, as a side dish, with eggs for breakfast, as . a replacement for mashed potatoes…so many options.

This recipe from Bon Appetit uses it as a main dish, topped with crispy, crunchy, meaty roasted mushrooms with thyme. Hard to believe, but I had never roasted mushrooms before — I usually just saute on the stovetop. This method gives them such a nice flavor and texture, it’s going to be my new go-to.

The polenta is nice and creamy and cheesy, and the mushrooms are hit with a splash of vinegar at the end for the perfect balance of acid against the umami of the mushrooms.

TW’s Tips

  • The polenta cooks through in the oven versus the stovetop, so make sure you use an oven-safe pot (i.e., no plastic handles, or cover them securely with tin foil).
  • We selected a variety of different mushroom types, including shitake, cremini and lion’s mane, which were delicious! Pick something you’ve never tried before.
  • Sea salt at the end adds a nice crunch.
  • Garnish with Parmesan and thyme.
  • As mentioned in the recipe, don’t crowd the mushrooms in the pan, or else they will steam versus roast. It will give them a totally different texture and taste.


Oven Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Thyme


  • 1½ lb. mixed mushrooms (such as crimini, shiitake, oyster, and/or maitake), torn into 1″ pieces
  • 4 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 oz. Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt


Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Combine mushrooms, thyme sprigs, and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Toss to coat mushrooms, then spread out in an even layer. (Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms on the baking sheet; otherwise, they’ll steam instead of getting crispy.) Transfer to upper rack in oven and let mushrooms roast while you prepare polenta.

Bring 4½ cups water to a simmer in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter and a generous pinch of kosher salt and whisk to melt butter. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly. (Gradually incorporating the polenta into the water is key to preventing clumps.) Return mixture to a boil, immediately cover pot, and transfer to lower rack in oven. Bake polenta, shaking baking sheet with mushrooms occasionally, until polenta is tender, 25–30 minutes.

Remove polenta from oven. Crank up oven temperature as high as it will go (but don’t broil). Continue to cook mushrooms until crisp around the edges, 5–10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, carefully uncover polenta and whisk vigorously, scraping bottom of pan, until polenta is smooth and thick. Gradually add 4 oz. Parmesan, whisking constantly until melted and incorporated; taste and season with more kosher salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm over low heat while mushrooms finish roasting.

Remove mushrooms from oven; drizzle with vinegar. Toss to coat; let cool slightly.

Divide polenta among bowls and top with mushrooms, thyme leaves, sea salt, and more Parmesan.


Chicken and Wild Mushrooms




It’s starting to get chilly here in New York, and this is a great warm-you-up meal to kick off it’s-really-fall. I am a HUGE fan of mushrooms, and this Ina Garten recipe calls for a whole slew of them, alongside some delicious chicken in an awesome wine, sherry, garlic and thyme-flavored sauce. It’s FULL of goodness.


It’s also a one-pot meal, which makes me happy. I can’t say enough about the beauty of cooking this in a Le Creuset dutch oven. If you don’t have one, it’s absolutely worth the investment. It’s a pure joy to cook in this thing, and it cleans up so easily, you won’t believe it. Because it heats evenly and holds heat well, everything you cook is just better. Period. And it goes beautifully from stovetop to oven. I’m a little obsessed with it.

TW’s Tips

  • Most grocery stores will sell chicken broken down into 8 pieces so you don’t have to do it yourself. It’s a bit cheaper if you’re hacking into it yourself, but paying a little more is worth it if you don’t want to deal with it.
  • You could also use just chicken thighs and legs or any combo that speaks to you.
  • Make sure you get a good sear on the chicken. When you put it in the pot, don’t move it around. Let it sit and get a nice crust on it — more flavor.

Serve this with some rice and a side vegetable, such as my favorite chili garlic broccoli. Curl up on the couch and enjoy!


Chicken and Wild Mushrooms


  • 2 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, cut in eighths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, such as porcini and cremini, stems removed and (1 1/2-inch) diced
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 2 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour. In a large (12-inch) ovenproof pot such as Le Creuset, heat the oil. Add the chicken in three batches (don’t crowd them!) and brown lightly over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and continue until all the chicken is browned.

Add the whole garlic cloves, mushrooms, and thyme to the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and cook for 1 minute, scraping up the brown bits. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken (large pieces first), cover, and place in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (about 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

Remove the chicken to a bowl and discard the thyme. With a fork, mash together the butter and 1/4 cup flour and add it to the sauce. Simmer, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Season to taste (it should be highly seasoned), put the chicken back in the sauce, and serve hot.

Grilled Steak Sandwich with Portobellos, Grilled Onions and Fontina


This is a killer sandwich — and that’s coming from a big sandwich lover. And guess what?It’s a Tyler Florence recipe. Big surprise, I know. There are so many awesome flavors going on here: garlic and rosemary on the steak, balsamic vinegar alongside the meaty portobellos and red onion, sharp fontina cheese and the most awesome aioli, bright with spicy arugula and acid from the lemon. Just awesome. All on some crunchy, chewy ciabatta. I could seriously eat this every single night. Try me.


TW’s Tips

  • I had some pretty big shallots and found that the roasting time wasn’t sufficient to get them nice and tender — you want them well cooked and soft to the touch. If you have bigger shallots, cut them up or break them apart.
  • You can make the mayo ahead — just keep in the fridge.
  • Get some good quality fontina to really get the good flavor you want here.
  • Be generous with the mayo — it’s delish.
  • Be prepared — it’s a messy sandwich, but SO worth it!


  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • Needles from 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, preferably about 3/4 inch thick


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 2 bunches coarsely chopped arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Everything Else

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound fontina
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, split horizontally
  • 1 bunch arugula


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the outer layers of skin from the garlic and shallot. Smash them open with the flat side of a knife to break up the cloves. Set both down on a reasonably sized square of aluminum foil. Drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil on top, and add the rosemary and bay leaf. Wrap securely in the aluminum foil. Place it on a pan if you want to be extra safe, and let it bake for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting for your garlic and shallot to roast, start the mayonnaise. If you have a food processor, blend all of the mayonnaise ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper and pop in the refrigerator.

Once the garlic and shallot are done roasting, let them sit out to cool for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf and carefully pour any juices into the food processor. Peel the garlic cloves and shallots and toss into the processor with 1 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper and pulse until well mixed. Coat both sides of the steak with the olive oil mixture. Set it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least two hours or overnight, flipping it halfway through.

When you’re ready to cook the steak, take it out to let it warm up a little while you slice your mushrooms and onions. Lay the mushrooms and onion slices in a shallow platter, drizzle with the vinegar and oil, and season with salt and pepper. Try not to break up the onion slices into rings, they are easier to grill as slices. Use a grill or heat up a pan over medium-high heat, and cook the steak for seven minutes on each side– you may need to adjust this time if your steak is thinner or thicker than recommended.

Once the steak is done, move it to a plate to let it rest for 10 minutes. Saute the mushrooms and onions over medium heat. Once they’re done, remove them from the pan (the plate you set the steak on is a good place to put them) and set your bread in the pan to toast. Slice the steak against the grain as thinly as you can.

To assemble the sandwich, spread the mayonnaise on the bread. Add the steak and veggies. Top with the cheese and a bit of arugula.

Turkey Mushroom Puff Pastry Pockets


I’m always on the hunt for good recipes that use rotisserie or already cooked and shredded chicken. Why? It’s how I use up the chicken that makes my homemade chicken stock. This is a deliciously rich recipe that takes some of my favorites like mushrooms and cheese and packages it all together with some chicken in a puff pastry pouch. No-brainer, right?


I found this recipe on the Recipe Girl blog. Serve it with a green side and you’ve got a meal!

TW’s TIps

  • I omitted the bacon in mine (didn’t have it on hand–you know I love bacon. Still delish!
  • You can use turkey or chicken here
  • Keep an eye on these while they’re in the oven so they don’t get too brown.



  • 1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
  • 4 slices bacon
  • One 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain, then crumble. Remove all of the bacon fat from the skillet except for 1 tablespoon.

Add the mushrooms and onions to the skillet and saute over medium heat until softened. Stir in cream, Dijon and salt/pepper. Cook until reduced slightly and thickened. Set aside to cool a bit.

Assemble the pastries. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 equal squares. Divide the mushroom mixture between 4 squares. Top with turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese. Roll out each of the remaining puff pastry squares so they’re a little bit larger (or just use your fingers to press and stretch them). Place the second piece over the top of each with filling. Use a fork to seal the edges to form “pockets.” Brush each square with egg wash and use a knife to poke a few slits in the top for steam to escape while baking. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

“Blizzard” Meal: Steak with Brandied Mushrooms and Oven Fries


I made this meal for what I like to call the Blizzard Bust of 2015 — when everyone said New York City would get three feet of snow and we got a couple of inches. Meanwhile, everything shut down — subway, no cars allowed to drive on streets after 11 p.m., etc. etc. I looked out the window the next day, and…nothing. Whomp, whomp. Quite the anticlimactic event.

And I was rather excited, actually! My first blizzard in 12 years! The plan was to curl up on my couch and get snowed in, drink a few glasses of wine and cook myself an amazing dinner. And that I did, despite the snow bust. This is a nice little indulgent meal for a night in, recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence.


The steak is seasoned simply — salt and pepper — and the mushroom sauce is just awesome. It’s got great flavor from the garlic and thyme, and is fantastic alongside the crunch from the oven fries, seasoned with parsley and parmesan.

TW’s Tips

  • Shockingly, I couldn’t find NY Strip at the grocery store I went to; I used alternative cuts, but NY Strip is where it’s at
  • Get the pan nice and hot to get a sear on the steak. Don’t move it around in the pan — let it caramelize and form a good crust
  • If you don’t want to buy a whole bottle of brandy (who drinks brandy anyway?), grab a couple of nips at the liquor store
  • Always, always let the steak rest
  • Serve with a green vegetable: spinach, broccoli, asparagus


Steak with Brandied Mushrooms


  • 4 New York strip steaks, each about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds wild mushrooms, trimmed, brushed clean with a towel and stemmed, caps left whole
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until smoking. Sprinkle the steaks all over with salt and pepper. Put the steaks in the pan and cook, turning to brown all sides completely, until medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick the steaks are. Remove the steaks to a platter with tongs and cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil to keep the meat warm while you make the sauce.

Put the saute pan back over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup olive oil. When the oil is smoking, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Then add the thyme and garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Toss a few more times to cook the garlic, then dump the mushrooms out onto a platter. Take the pan off the heat, add the brandy, and cook until almost evaporated. Add the cream and cook that down 2 to 3 minutes until reduced by about one-half and thickened. Return the mushrooms to the pan with whatever juices have collected on the platter and simmer the whole thing another 2 minutes until thickened again. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the steak thin against the grain. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper and serve.

Oven Fries


  • 2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, halves cut lengthwise into fourths to make 16 big, fat wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a baking sheet in the hot oven for at least 5 minutes.

While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Then dump the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy. Toss the fries in a big bowl with the parsley and cheese.

Salmon En Croute

I’ve never cooked anything “en croute” so I loved the idea of this salmon en croute, courtesy of Rachael Ray. First of all, it was a lighter version of your traditionally heavy pastry-encrusted foods (think beef Wellington or creamy chicken pot pie). Throw in some salmon instead and you don’t feel quite as guilty! Second, mushrooms were involved, one of my top faves. And third, it was kind of fancy and fun — something that could be a hit for a future dinner party.

And it did turn out looking impressive, if I don’t say so myself! The verdict — it was quite good. The mixture inside with the salmon — made up of mushroom, onions, lemon juice, dill, parsley and the odd-ball hard boiled egg — was tasty and went really well with the salmon, though I’m still on the fence about the egg. It was a liiiittle weird, but worked in a strange way. I also wasn’t wild about my choice of broccoli to accompany — next time I’d do green beans or sauteed spinach with some lemon. But the combo of the dill and lemon with the mushrooms and salmon, plus the crunch and richness of the pastry…it was an awesome combination of tastes and textures.

These tasted great straight out of the oven, but reheating them was problematic. I didn’t dare nuke them — it would have killed the crispiness of the pastry — but the oven dried out the salmon a bit and it wasn’t nearly as tender. So, I’d aim to cook just enough for one night’s meal.

TW’s Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to heap the mushroom mixture on the pastry dough. The “couple spoonfuls” Rachael calls for isn’t enough.
  • Buy your salmon without the skin — removing the skin is not fun.
  • I didn’t follow directions and flip the salmon over once I packaged it up so the seam was on the bottom — that would make it look a little nicer, especially if you cut 2-3 slits across the top with a knife before baking.
  • If I did this again, I wouldn’t cook the salmon as much ahead of time — just a quick sear — so it was medium when you cut through the pastry packet. Two minutes per side was too much for the thickness of my salmon.
  • This could be yummy if you made them as little mini bites for a cocktail party.
Bon appetit!

Salmon En Croute


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms and stems, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 sprigs dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (a small handful)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, optional
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 6-ounce salmon filets, skin removed
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, 11 x 17 inches, defrosted but still cold
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté 10 -15 minutes or until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Remove from heat and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add dill, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, hard-boiled egg, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Wipe out the pan you used for the mushrooms and return it to medium-high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. Season salmon with salt and pepper, and sear 1-2 minutes on each side in a drizzle of oil. Remove skillet from the heat.

Spread the puff pastry sheet onto a counter and roll to 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut in half.

On each rectangle of dough, place 2 spoonfuls of the mushroom mixture and top with salmon.

Starting with the corners, wrap dough over the salmon, creating a package.

Trim excess dough and seal with the egg water mixture using a pastry brush (leftover dough bits can be used to decorate the top of the packages).

Place sealed side down on a non-stick cookie sheet and make small slit in the top to let steam escape.

Brush with a light coating of the egg/water mixture to give it a nice sheen. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve.

From Rachael Ray “Just in Time”