Showing posts with label polenta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polenta. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blueberry Pie with Polenta Shortcake Crust #FridayPieDay

A buttery polenta shortcake crust filled with fresh blueberries makes a beautiful dessert for family but it’s pretty enough for special guests.

When I was in university studying journalism with some public relations and graphic design thrown in, we still used picas (1 pica=12 point) as a measure of column width. We talked about leading (the space between the lines of type) and kerning (the space between the letters) and column inches. I’m guessing that those designing newspapers still do. What I didn’t realize is that the origin of the word pica is connected with another of my favorite words: Pie!

"magpie," mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pie (13c.), from Latin pica "magpie" (see magpie). In 16c., a wily pie was a "cunning person." Source: EtymOnline

Yeah, I’m kind of a word wonk. One of my favorite parts of reading cookbooks, magazines and blogs from other countries is learning all the different ways we refer to the same sorts of dishes, like pies and tarts. Even the variety of things that are called pie, both savory and sweet, baked and fried, handheld or baked in a pie plate, is enormous.

Last January I was blessed with the gift of the digital UK edition of delicious. magazine for my birthday. Each month I scroll through the gorgeous photographs and mark the recipes I’d like to try, either as written or adapted to our own tastes. As soon as I saw the recipe they called Blueberry Polenta Shortcake, I said to myself, “Shortcake?! That’s pie! It has two crusts!”

Adapted from delicious. magazine, UK digital edition, August 2015

For the crust:
1 2/3 cups or 210g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 150g chilled unsalted butter
1/2 cup or 100g polenta or fine cornmeal
2/3 cup or 150g fine sugar
Finely grated zest 1 large orange
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

For the filling:
2 1/2 cups or 340g fresh blueberries, plus a couple extra for decoration
5 teaspoons sugar
Good pinch salt
1 heaped tablespoon polenta or fine cornmeal

To sprinkle on before baking
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Use some non-stick spray or a little oil to grease the inside of your 9 in or 23cm spring form pan. Cut a piece of parchment just bigger than the base so you can cover up past where the sides and bottom of the pan join.

Cut the butter into cubes and add it to your food processor with the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse until you have sandy looking crumbs.

Add in the polenta, sugar and orange zest and pulse again briefly.

Add in the egg mixed with the orange juice and pulse again until a dough starts to form.

Tip it out onto a floured surface. It's going to look fairly crumbly but should hang together as you knead it.

Knead it a turn or two.

Cut a little more than 1/3 of the dough or 250g off and wrap it with cling film. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Press the rest of the dough into the bottom and at least an inch or 2cm the sides of your prepared baking pan. Just keep working on it till it's nice and even.

Remove all little stems, if any, from your blueberries and pour them into the bottom crust.

Mix the good pinch of salt with the sugar and heaped spoon of polenta then sprinkle them over the blueberries.

Draw a circle the size of your baking pan on a large piece of baking parchment. Roll the chilled dough out between that one and another piece of parchment until it’s a little bigger than the circle. Try to peel the parchment off. If it’s too sticky, pop the rolled dough back into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Cut the dough out around the circle and peel one side of the parchment off.

Turn the pastry over and gently ease the pastry circle onto the blueberries and bottom crust, pressing down gently to remove air from underneath. Push the crust in at the sides, peeling the top parchment sheet off as you go.

Decorate with a few more blueberries, if desired, and sprinkle on the demerara sugar. As you can see, I also made some little balls with the pastry scraps but they just baked into the crust so you really don't need to bother.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the top crust is golden.

Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then run a thin knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the crust.

Open the spring form pan and carefully remove the pie to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before cutting.

The golden bottom


This blueberry pie with polenta shortcake crust is my contribution to this month's Friday Pie Day, the brilliant creation of Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. (Formerly girlichef.)

I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

This month Heather is sharing a round up of beautiful pies that would perfect for your Thanksgiving celebration! Do go over and have a look.

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crispy Polenta

Crispy polenta is crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Perfect on its own or served with topping like grilled eggplant or wilted greens. 

Everybody likes plain things.  Well, so says my younger daughter.  The other day I made some lovely cheesy polenta from this recipe here.  If you haven’t read the delightful Katherine from Eggton,  go a have look right now.  Her dishes always look delicious, she makes me laugh and she has the cutest dogs on the internet, well, right behind my own helper.

Dear husband and I declared the polenta delicious (I served it with a fresh garlicky tomato sauce and grilled eggplant.) but younger daughter thought the cheese was too cheesy.  I think we all know how I feel about cheese.   Growing up in Brazil, she was used to the small squares of polenta that were deep-fried and part of every churrascaria menu.  So just a couple of days later, I obliged, making my own version which still comes out crispy, but is pan-fried with a little olive oil, making it much healthier.  It met with approval.

1 cup or 170g polenta
1 vegetable (or chicken) stock cube
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used truffle salt I brought back from a trip to Italy but you couldn’t taste the tiny flecks of truffle at all so normal sea salt would be just fine.)
2 generous tablespoons butter
Olive oil for pan-frying

Find yourself a heat proof cylindrical vessel that will hold at least 2 1/2 cups or 600ml by volume.  Slide in a small bag like you get in the grocery store for vegetables or one of those bags on a roll that still use twist ties.  

Put three cups or 720ml of water into a large pot or saucepan.  Add in the stock cube and the salt.  Bring the water to a gentle boil and then add in the cup of polenta slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.

I started to stir quickly after taking this photo. Couldn't snap and stir and pour at the same time.  I need three hands!

Keep stirring and cooking over a low fire until the polenta grains are completely soft, the water has been absorbed and the mixture gets fairly firm but you can still stir it.  Remember that it will firm up even more as it cools. 

Add in the butter and give it a few more good stirs.  

Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes (because you don’t want to melt your plastic bag) and then carefully spoon the polenta into the plastic-bag-lined cylindrical container.  Fold the top of the bag over so the polenta on the end doesn’t dry out and to smooth the end out.

It's fairly flat on top, you just can't tell. I secured the bag down with a rubberband but forgot to take that photo. 

Allow to cool until stiff and then remove the bag of polenta from the container.  It will finish cooling faster with the just the bag around it.

When the polenta is completely cooled, slice it into circles about 1/3 inch or just under one centimeter thick.

You can cut that rough end off and just eat it. I did. 

I got 13 slices out of my cylinder.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the polenta circles until crispy on both sides.  Add a little more olive oil as you turn them over the first time. 

As they cooked a little and shrunk up, I was able to slip in that last one that didn't fit initially in the pan.
Just keep flipping them over until they are nicely browned on both side.

Word of warning:  I fried up store bought polenta (you know, the kind that comes in the tube) just like this back in July, as part of a meal out at my sister’s lake house.  I made the mistake of leaving the crispy polenta visible and by the time we got around to eating, the tasty slices of pan-fried corn goodness were all gone.  Scarfed up - with my three young nephews among the guilty parties.  So I can attest to their appeal to children.  Hide the polenta until you are ready to serve.

I don’t know about you but I am always looking for a way to vary the starches I serve.  I get tired of potatoes/rice/pasta with the occasional couscous.  This polenta is a great addition to any meal.  I served these topped with smothered pork chops, but, as I said, they are also great plain.  And, you can be sure, that is just how younger daughter ate hers.