Saturday, June 6, 2009

More adventures in cooking / Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
by Frances Mayes

Mmmm...Tuscany sounds delicious. I finished this book a while ago but wanted to try one of the recipes before I wrote about it. That's right, this book has recipes. And is nothing like the movie. Where the movie is romantic, and Frances is newly single and finds herself in Italy on a gay tour bus, paid for by her gay friends Christina from Grey's Anatomy and Addison from Private Practice in an effort to pick up Frances's spirits, and Frances buys a Tuscan villa on her own and meets hot Italian men, in the original memoir, she and her manfriend Ed purchase and renovate the villa together and the book is more about the renovation and their adaptation to the new culture than about their romance. I actually had to put the book down for a while because reading about all the things that were wrong with the house got tedious. Then I watched the movie and got a second wind to finish the book. So overall I gave the book a

3 out of 5.

So here is the recipe, which I attempted last night. It involves polenta so of course I was all about it.

Polenta with Sausage and Fontina
Prepare classic polenta (page 131).

Rich Polenta Parmigiana per page 131
Soak 2 cups of polenta in 3 cups of cold water for 10 minutes. In a stock pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil and stir in the polenta. Let it come to a boil again, then turn down the heat immediately and stir for 15 minutes on a gentle flame that is strong enough to keep slow, big bubbles rising. Add salt and pepper, 8 tablespoons of butter, and 1 cup of grated parmigiano. Add more water if polenta is too thick. Stir well.

Polenta with Sausage and Fontina cont.
Pour half of the polenta into an oiled baking dish. Thinly slice or grate 1-1/2 cups of Fontina and spread over the layer of polenta. Season with salt and pepper. Pour on the rest of the polenta. Slice 6 sauteed Italian sausages over the top and pour on the pan juices. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Serves 6.

Notes: I used Goya brand corn meal to make the polenta, because I couldn't find the "polenta" grain at the store, which I've seen and used previously and which took 10-15 minutes to cook. The instructions for making polenta on this particular package had be standing at the stove over a pot of boiling corn meal, stirring constantly for an entire half of an hour. I got sweaty. And I am still not very clear on whether or not Mexican corn meal is the exact same thing as "polenta". I sliced the fontina instead of grating, which made for a very cheesy dish. Definitely enjoyable. For sausage I got pre-cooked chicken sausage with Italian flavoring that I sauteed in olive oil. Also really good. So dinner was pretty much delightful, how could it not be if the main ingredient is polenta, I just never really know if I have the consistency of the cooked grain right, and the Mexican corn meal situation definitely made it more confusing.

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