Okay, so the benefit for the Young Literati of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, yes it’s a mouthful, is on Sunday, May 20th from 6-9 pm. A very nervous Nahid is wondering, “Why we aren’t sold out?” After an after dinner chat, the fault might be mine since I didn’t make it clear that the proceeds from the dinner are going directly to Young Literati. So if you buy a ticket you’re supporting the cause.
Alas, I fear that I must be a bit more enticing so here is a preview of coming attractions. Let me spell it out for you. As a guest you will be greeted with a welcome cocktail of Cava and rhubarb syrup with the one and only Nahid dispensing the libations.
Then a tray stacked with the crispest, freshest, lip smacking best endive, tomato, olive mixture topped with locally made burrata will tease you until you taste it. And yes, go ahead have another. By this time you will have been introduced to Howard, advocate and generous sponsor of the Young Literati and Justin Veach of LFLA. (No sales pitch here, these guys are just great, well read guys that want to spread the word.) as well as the other diners. (One Huffington post contributor is on the list already.)
After the “getting to know you” period is over you will be ushered out to the community table. And the first course that you will sample will be this.
Oh, yes it looks good, yet tastes so much better.
And let’s face it, you’re never going to make it.
But if you were going to this is what you’d have to do.
Mushrooms and Asparagus over Grilled Polenta
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits also know as Polenta
- 3 cups water allow more to be added once the cooking process begins
- 1 t of salt
- 1/2 cup favorite grated cheese. My choice is parmesan
- 1 lbs fresh asparagus
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- drizzle of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lbs crimini mushrooms half pound quartered, the other half thickly sliced
- 2 medium sized shallots sliced in rings
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2-3/4 cup (depending on your pour) dry cooking sherry
- salt and pepper to taste
Polenta (this can be made a day ahead)
- Place water and salt into medium sized pot and bring to boil
- Add corn meal/polenta in a steady stream to the boiling water. Stir like hell.
- Lower heat and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Stir about every 3 minutes or so. If the mush is getting too thick yet not cooked, add a splash of water. Continue this test until the mush is done.
- Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
- Grease a cookie sheet (I used a quarter sheet pan) and pour the polenta in. With a spatula spread an even layer of the mush. Chill.
- Snap the ends of the asparagus off. Trust me, if you hold the thick end of the stalk and snap, it will break exactly where is should.
- Place asparagus, sliced garlic, salt and pepper in a baking sheet.
- Drizzle olive oil over everything and toss a bit.
- Place in 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.
- Heat large sauté pan. Heat it a bit longer. (Remember the saying that I learned many years ago while working in a professional kitchen, “when it’s smoking it cooking, when it’s burning it’s done) In short heat the pan.
- Add about a 1/4 cup of olive oil to the sauté pan, once the oil begins to dance, add half of the mushrooms. In the immortal words of Julia Child, “don’t crowd your mushrooms”. Spread out the mushrooms so they can brown evenly on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the mushrooms and brown for another 2-3 minutes until browned on each side. When done move to a dish.
- Add a splash more olive oil to the sauté pan and add the remaining mushrooms. Remember step 2. Remove the perfectly browned mushrooms to the plate. Reduce heat on pan.
- Add another splash of olive oil and add the sliced shallots and garlic. Saute on medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add sherry and reduce for about a minute.
- Add mushrooms, adjust salt and pepper.
- Lemon thyme and parsley coarsely chopped
- Cut polenta into uniform triangles or squares.
- Heat fry pan or griddle.
- Add a splash of olive oil. Then grill the polenta triangles until browned.
- Place grilled polenta on a serving dish (or 20 individual dishes like we will on the 20th)
- Place a generous spoonful of the mushroom mixture on top of the grilled polenta pieces.
- Add 2 or 3 asparagus spears.
- Sprinkle with lemon thyme and parsley.
Face it, you’ll enjoy this much better on a beautiful patio with like minded people indulging for a good cause. So visit eventbrite and join us on May 20th. As always vegetarian substations can be made for any dishes.