Results tagged cornmeal from David Lebovitz

Orange-Glazed Polenta Cake

Orange-glazed polenta cake

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves polenta cake. The Italians like it so much that it’s called Amor Polenta. Which means “Polenta Love.”

Well, at least that’s what I thought it meant, because amour in French means “love.” And I assumed that it was the same in Italian. (Another reason for finally getting on that life-long ambition to live in Italy and learn Italian.) But for now, checking in an Italian dictionary, I found out that “amor” means “sake.” (As in, for the purpose of.) So I’m not sure how it got its name, but this cake makes a pretty good argument for the sake of whisking polenta into a cake.

Orange-glazed polenta cake

I’m one of those people who is completely crazy for anything with cornmeal, from corn bread to even a kind of kooky polenta ice cream that I’m sure no one else has ever made, because I used a completely obscure polenta that very, very few people can get their hands on. But I felt compelled to make it, for the sake of using up a little bag of that polenta that I had.

Orange-glazed polenta cake

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A Noste

A Noste restaurant

Although I’m trying to make it less-so, it’s rare that I go out to lunch with friends. People tend to think that everybody in Paris sits around all day, eating dainty macarons and sipping a coffee at the corner café watching the world go by, while you’re all working away. But most of us are swamped like everybody else (including you), hurdling toward deadlines, waiting on hold to resolve problems, filing paperwork, or, as in my case, washing sinkloads of dishes. (Honestly, I don’t know where they all come from…)

So it’s nice every once in a while to just say, f**k it, ping a friend, and head out to lunch.

A Noste restaurant

On my list of places to go was A Noste, the Basque restaurant and tapas bar of Julien Duboué. Upstairs is a full-on restaurant, and downstairs is a lively tapas bar which has, parked against one wall, a food truck. While my first inclination was to think the concept of an indoor food truck silly, the truck is actually a charming “grilling” station that turns out taloa (sometimes called talo, which at A Noste, is a pocket bread-style sandwich made with bread crunchy with cornmeal. I’ve seen taloa described as “skillet cakes,” which resemble Mexican-style tortillas, but at A Noste, they’re split and filled with everything from chorizo sausage to Nutella. (Which is for dessert.)

A Noste restaurant

Ever since I heard about it, I’ve wanted taloa. So it was nice to have a rendez-vous with one. But like the frequent fermertures exceptionelles (closed for whatever reason), I was disappointed when the chalkboard outside said “Seulement à emporter” (to-go only). However when the server greeted us as we walking in the door, I asked if we could have one at a table if we ordered tapas, and he happily said “Sure!” One of the challenges in France can be getting people to go from “Non” to “Oui.” And either I’m getting better at it, or they are. Either way, it’s nice to find common ground.

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Cornbread with Harissa Butter

Cornbread recipe with harissa butter

One of my friends who also has a food blog told me that she likes the posts where I cobble together ingredients in Paris to make something American. After spending countless hours roaming the city in search of this and that, it’s something that is actually fun for me to do, too. I like nothing better than prowling around and discovering ethnic épiceries (often around Belleville and the Marché d’Aligre), where I always come home with a variety of curiosities, in addition to what I was originally looking for. Some are still in the back of my cabinets, like still-sealed coconut concentrate from Vietnam (which looks similar to molasses, and probably tastes amazing), and the bag of Fritos, which an American friend who was staying in my apartment spied, and threatened to open – and eat. But didn’t

Four years later – yup, the coconut concentrate is still in my baking cabinet, and the Fritos are still uneaten, along with a bag mahlab, the fragrant kernels of Mediterranean cherry pits, a dried-out stalk of candied angelica, which I had to buy since I searched far and wide for fresh angelica in France (even in the region where candied angelica is made) and no one knew where – or what – fresh angelica was (thus ending my ability to spin a story, and a recipe, out of that one). I have a tin sack of سبع بهارات, a Lebanese blend of seven spices that has no occidental equivalent that I can think of. There is a small box of handmade chocolate from Oaxaca that has been calling my name ever since the start of hot chocolate season. And just added to my roster are six juicy, plump Meyer lemons that were hand-delivered, and are begging to be made into something that exploits their unique, sweet-citrusy character.

bacon

While I love to play around with these things in baking, it’s hard to share any recipes because not everything is available everywhere. And while the internet fills a lot of gaps in global availability, there are no substitutes for a number of things. Fortunately cornmeal is something that is readily available not just in America, but is used in the cuisines of India, Sri Lanka, and Italy, as well as Central and South America. And a few months back, I was happy to find a bag of cornmeal in a shop VT Cash & Carry, up in the lively Indian quartier of Paris.

The French have a different relationship to corn than Americans. It’s native to us so we use it often, in a variety of guises – mostly fresh, but also dried and ground. But other cultures have cornmeal-based specialties. Lest you think the French don’t ever use cornmeal, think again, mes amis.

Cornbread recipe

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Hooters Onion Rings

onion rings recipe

I continue to be amused by the debates about food, and who owns what. I think the Chinese might have something to say about noodles being Italian, a recent delivery of Montreal bagels prompted some followers to say that they were happy I have found the true bagel (I think a few Eastern Europeans might have something to say about that…) And coffee may have been perfected to a high art by the fine folks in Italy, but I think Africans and Arabs, who’ve had a long, rich history with the brew, were sipping the stuff before any of us.

Onion Rings

Few cultures truly “own” dishes that we think. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I think onion rings were probably born (or at least bred, because I’m sure someone wiser than I knows otherwise) in America. Another thing that is pretty unique to America is Hooters. Well, except for the fact that they have Hooters around the world, including one I saw in Berlin, as well as in Vodičkova, Interlaken (in case you don’t believe me, check out the video), and even in 上海 – although for some reason, they haven’t made it to France.

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Simple Polenta

polenta

I’ve been a busy boy the last few weeks, hunkering down finishing a project that’s I’m working on night-and-day. And unfortunately, it’s not even allowed me time to go to the market to do much food shopping. Quelle horreur! So I’ve been raiding my freezer (which is actually a good thing…) and rummaging through my cabinets in search of things that I can sustain myself on.

red corn polenta

I had a couple of bags of beautiful stone-ground polenta that I got in Gascony last fall and decided that I’d cook up a big batch to keep on hand. When I lived in California, I ate a lot of polenta because I am a major fan of anything and everything with cornmeal. It’s not as common here and while you can find it in most supermarkets, it’s often the instant variety. And while some people say it’s pretty good, I tried it once and it’s like comparing mashed potatoes made with those powdery dried flakes that come in a box with mashed potatoes made from real, honest-to-goodness potatoes. To me, there’s just no comparison.

fresh herbs for polenta

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Cornmeal Biscotti

cornmeal biscotti

The other day I was looking for a cookie to make to pair alongside a compote of summer fruits and a batch of white nectarine sorbet I was churning up for dinner. The requirements for the cookie were it had be simple to put together (because I was super-busy that day), I had to have the ingredients on hand (because I was super-busy that day, and didn’t have time to go to the store), and it had to have cornmeal (for no particular reason, just because I was craving cornmeal.)

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Cornmeal Cookies (Zaletti)

cornmeal cookies blog

If I had to name one food that I couldn’t live without, chocolate would be right up there. Salted butter is on that short list, too. Seeded bagels, California dried apricots, black and white cookies, osetra caviar (if money, and sustainability, were no object), lobster rolls, French fries, and really good fried chicken would also be on that list. Not as fancy as some of those things, but just as good, another thing that I can never seem to get enough of is crunchy cornmeal.

And the good thing is that I live next to Italy, so whenever I pop over and visit my neighbors, I always bring back not only good coffee by the kilo, but as much polenta as I can jam into my suitcase as well.

cornmeal cookie dough

A few years ago I was shamed into only using stone-ground cornmeal, but the locals seem to have taken to instant polenta, which I was told wasn’t bad by a well-respected chef. That’s what is widely available here, but I just couldn’t bring myself to agree when I tried it for myself.

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Easy Jam Tart

eating jam tart

I’ve had a lone jar of quince marmalade sitting in the back of my refrigerator for about a year now, and thought it was about time I humanely dealt with it.

Personally, I love quince.

I like them poached, stewed, roasted and make into jam. But judging from the still-to-the-brim jar that’s been relegated to the back corner of my fridge, it’s not as popular with others as it is with me. So I decided to kill two birds with one great recipe.

jam in tart

I’d flagged a lovely tart that Luisa at Wednesday Chef made a while back which featured—get this, a no-roll crust! I’m not a fan of cleaning up my counter (or my refrigerator, for that matter) especially when my housecleaner is on her annual eleven-week vacation. So the idea of a crust you just press into a tart mold, fill with jam, and top with the remaining bits, appealed to be more than you can imagine. It doesn’t take much to please me, does it?

dough in pan

Never content to rest on my laurels—or in this case, someone else’s, I tweaked the original recipe, swapping out some of the flour and mixing in stone-ground cornmeal, because frankly, anytime I can add cornmeal to something, I will.

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