Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And would you like this polenta gift wrapped?

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.
Well, I’m asking for forgiveness dear readers (but please don’t forget me!). See, I didn’t mean to stay away for so long. I just have this life outside of this blog (as much as I wish I didn’t) and it kind of took over.
At first, it was party planning and then more party planning. Then it was home(s!) repair. Then it was work and more work and then even more work. By the time I inevitably realized the work just WOULD. NOT. CEASE. I was riddled with guilt and fear.
Would I just continue on and pretend nothing ever happened? Would I overcompensate by deluging you with multiple posts? Should I throw up a quick commentary post to let you know I’m still here? Does any of this really matter?  (Who knows?!)
I eventually came to the conclusion that I would have to come back with a bang. Someone once said, “Apologizing is like leaving a gift on the doorstep and hoping it’s appreciated.
So here is my gift to you: Polenta
(Record scratches)
What? You didn’t know that polenta is the coolest thing under the sun? Hear me out… 
Foodies swear by polenta and have been known to make it their personal mission to convert you, as the esteemed Adam at The Amateur Gourmet found out.
You can serve it hot and runny right out of the pot, sliced, grilled, pan-seared, and gratinéed. You can roll it into a ball and deep fry it or top it with all kinds of sauces and ragouts. It can be served as breakfast, lunch, dinner OR dessert!
Polenta has its own Facebook Fan Club. Hell, it’s even an insult!
So when I say it’s a gift. I mean it!
Two weeks ago, I had a small get together with a few friends at my place. Just good friends, good drinks, a few games and a lot of yummy finger foods.
One of these dishes was broiled polenta sticks These little sticks were a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” dish (although the  hate ‘em people took most issue with the amount of fennel) and were the talked about food of the night.
The best part is that I did most of the dish the night before, so all I had to do before my guests arrived was slice them and broil. I also saved the leftovers so whenever I wanted a snack during the week, I’d just pop one in the toaster oven!
P.S. Polenta is pretty darn healthy too. If you are on a diet like me, this is a good choice for you (Psst…17 Day Diet [link] people, you can make these for Cycle 3!)

Broiled Polenta with Fennel Seeds –adapted from frame by frame Italian
4 c water
1 2/3 c instant cornmeal
2 Tbs butter
½-1* Tbs fennel seeds
2 Tbs finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Place the water in a pan, add salt to taste and bring to a boil
  2. Sprinkle in the cornmeal, a bit at a time, stirring continuously
  3. Stir over medium heat 10-15 minutes until the cornmeal thickens and comes away from the side of the pan
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, fennel seeds and parsley. Season with pepper to taste
  5. Brush a rectangular ovenproof dish with oil.
  6. Spoon the cornmeal mixture into the prepared dish, spread the surface level to make smooth and let set (It can sit in the fridge overnight)
  7. Preheat the boiler to high.
  8. When set, turn out the polenta and cut into slices
  9. Brush the polenta slices with oil and place under the broiler until brown and crispy
  10. Serve immediately
*I made this dish with the original measurement of 1 T and found the fennel flavor to be slightly overpowering, others agreed. I would cut it by half unless you really love that flavor.

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