I have Dom's challenge to thank for my new store cupboard ingredient. Well actually it's not new...it's been hiding in there for some time now. A big bag of polenta. I bought it as a gluten free alternative for breadcrumb coating. Dom's challenge directed me to page 156 of The Big Bean Cookbook by Nicola Graimes and the recipe for Grilled Polenta. A process that I'd always avoided as I thought it looked overly complicated and messy. But it's amazingly simple to make here's how:
Ingredients for four people:
- 3 3/4 cups of hot water
- 1 generous cup of polenta
- The recipe called for lots of grated Parmesan at this point but I omitted this just seasoning with fresh sea salt and ground black pepper.
- Pour the boiling water into a large pan. Add the salt, reduce to a simmer and gradually add the polenta stirring all the time to avoid lumps forming.
- Continue to cook on a low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring every so often.
- Once the polenta looks like creamy mashed potatoes and is coming away from the sides of the pan remove from the heat. I added black pepper at this point just to give a little spicy tang.
- Spoon the polenta onto a flat surface with a wet spatula to about 1/2 in/1 cm depth.
- Leave to cool and set for about an hour.
- Preheat the grill. Cut the set polenta into pieces and toast under the grill.
This was really worth the effort. The grilled polenta reminded me of potato cake or crumpet and nostalgic childhood suppers.
I made a spicy Butternut Squash and Mushroom Thai Style Curry to go with this for supper.
- One small or half a large butternut squash. Peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks.
- A handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly.
- One medium sized red onion, sliced thinly.
- A couple of cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed.
- A piece of ginger.
- One lime.
- Sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper.
- A little ground cumin.
- A litte ground corriander.
- Two sticks of lemon grass with the outer skin removed and then choped into smallish pieces.
- A bunch of fresh corriander
- Chillies to your taste...We like it hot.
- Good oil of your choice for frying.
- Fry the onions until caramelised in a solid saucepan.
- Add the crushed garlic and all the spices to cook out.
- Add the mushrooms and squash and stir well to incorporate all the flavours. Saute for a few minutes and then add the juice of half a lime, cover and allow to steam for a few more minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and second half of the lime, cover and allow to continue cooking until the squash is tender.
- Dish up and serve with a little chopped fresh coriander.
This is real comfort food both spicy and creamy. Great for cooler summer evenings. I loved it with the toasted polenta...which I left to toast long enough to get a nice colour and a crunchy outer coating...mmm This would also work well with a nice spicy aromatic rice cooked with saffron, cinnamon sticks and cardamom.
...oh and for desert? There was still a little bit of chocolate coffee coconut milk ice-cream left...yum...
Was a simple butter-bean soup made by steeping dried beans in water overnight. Draining and rinsing them before cooking for about an hour in fresh salted water along with three or four cloves of garlic left in their skins. Once the garlic was cooked I removed it and squeezed it into the soup for a lovely mild garlicky flavour. You can also add a potato or two in the last half hour to make it a little bit more substantial. Finally I pulsed all the ingredients to make a lovely creamy soup without a hint of milk or cream. Lovely served with home made spelt bread made with olive oil and honey.
...was my favourite porridge cooked with a little fresh fruit-juice or water then topped with lovely strawberries from the garden.