Monday, February 19, 2007


It was one of these days: I craved homemade, warm, comfort foods. The night before I made Asian noddles with beef and mushroom, but that wasn't quite what I was looking for on Sunday night. I craved fresh ingredients, sauces made from scratch; but time was an issue. I have been crazy busy with my upcoming vacation. There is so much to think about when you travel with an infant. I needed something that wouldn't require hours standing by the stove. The answer for my craving came in form of Italian food; what else - there is nothing more comforting than Italian Food. I had a recipe for "Polenta with Warm Tomato Compote" that jumped out of the page begging "make me, make me". How could I resist? I made some changes on the original recipe and it hit the spot! I made a "Salt-Crusted Pecan Currant Rye Bread" from The Inn at Little Washington that was delectable and versatile. I had with cheese for dinner and had again for breakfast with blackberry preserve. The salty crust and the currants are an unexpected combination - in a very good way.

Polenta with Warm Tomato Compote (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

6 cups cherry tomatoes (about 2 pounds)

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sliced shallots (about 3 medium)

1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
Fresh Basil leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups water
1 cup dry polenta
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut several slits in the bottom of each tomato; place, stem sides down, in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° (do not remove tomatoes from oven); bake 30 minutes or until browned. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and onion; sauté 2 minutes, add garlic; sauté until browned . Add sugar; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes and basil. Cover; set aside.
Combine the milk and water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and gradually add the polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt; cover and let stand 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Top the polenta with the tomato compote and Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 8 servings CALORIES 153 (28% from fat); FAT 4.8g

Salt-Crusted Currant Pecan Rye Bread (from The Inn at Little Washington)

1 tb Dry yeast
1 tb Sugar
7 1/2 tb Caraway seeds
1 tb Salt
2 1/2 cup Rye flour
3 cups Bread flour plus additional for working dough
2 cups Warm water; (95 degrees)
1 cup Coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup Dried black currants
1/4 cup Kosher salt

In the 5-quart bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the caraway seeds, the salt and both the rye and bread flours. Mix until thoroughly combined. With the mixer running, slowly add the warm water and mix until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. This will take about 2 minutes. Add the pecans and currants and mix for 2 minutes more. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Wipe out the mixing bowl and spray with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and place in a warm (about 85 degrees) spot for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down to release the trapped gases. Form into 3 loaves approximately 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Brush with cold water and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and the remaining 6 tablespoons caraway seeds. Place the loaves on a lightly greased baking sheet and let sit in a warm place for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning the pan every 10 minutes or so to ensure even browning. Cool on a wire rack. (Makes 3 loaves, about 15 servings).
The perfect accompaniment to cheese or smoked salmon.


At 11:20 AM, Blogger fezoca said...

Leticia, eu AMEI esse seu menu! Essa polenta esta no minimo o maximo! Vou fazer qualquer dia. Ando animada com receitas de polenta. beijo! :-)


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