And now … for something completely different! As the Monty Python used to say. And by ‘different’, I mean something a trifle unnecessary but oh-so-delightful in the kitchen department.
Goodness knows, anyone who has cause to read my blog on any regular basis (aka loyal family and friends) gets a bellyfull of ‘so easy to make’, or ‘quick and no fuss’, no nonsense, down-to-earth comfort food recipes.Not that the recipe I speak of is particularly difficult to make …
But no one in their right mind would go to the trouble of making it unless he or she really wanted to. Seriously? Have really go nothing more important to do?
Unless, of course, you are a cook. Like Salvatore Tassa.
My husband took me to his restaurant, Le Colline Ciociare, to celebrate our wedding anniversary … and yes, Mamma mia!, what a truly lovely dinner that ended up being. He even had a name for his menu … he called it The Odyssey …
Not that I thought so when first we were shown to our table. The atmosphere was forbiddingly quiet with only four other uber-discreet customers in the room. Uh-Oh. Talk about pin-drop silence.
Now, normally, music in restaurants makes me wince but on this occasionI confess I would have welcomed even muzzak to counteract such dusquietingly monastic hush hush. Hardly the romantic mood, albeit age appropriate, I was looking forward to.
In the event, the only recourse left to me was to order a Martini cocktail to jazz things up a bit (a Martini on an empty stomach works wonders). Not that my husband and I guzzled that evening, but suffice it say that the world looked beautiful and rosey by the end of the dinner and I even have a photo of myself and Mr Tassa looking relaxed as he smokes a cigar, satisfied with his work and our pleasure at his culinary talent.
Now I did take photos that evening (yes, the very same photos pictured above) but, most annoyingly, not even one of the one thing that impressed me most. Which was a polenta wafer sprinkled with seeds … a huge big thing, standing upright in its semi cylindrical shape, a bit like half a lamp-shade if you know what I mean, biscuit coloured but gossamer like and crisp to the snap. Quite delicious. It came straight away with the rest of the home-made bread and sang a song with my Martini. How on earth did he manage it, I wondered.
Picture my joy then when I later chanced upon the recipe for a polenta wafer that was not sprinkled with seeds, nor shaped like half a cylinder, but a polenta wafer nevertheless. Ha!
In the book “Alice e le Meraviglie del Pesce” by Sandra Ciciriello and Viviana Varese which I bought at the Verrigni Pasta factory in the Abbruzzi. Here is my rendition of the recipe.
That is 100g of quick cooking polenta on the left … and 10g of salt on the right. That’s what the recipe called for, and so I did as I was told. I used coarse salt, however, maybe that was my mistake … and for some reason … it turned out to be far too salty! So next time I shall definitely use much less salt, be it fine or coarse. The suggested amount of cooking water was 500ml. Cook the polenta according to the package instructions (for just under 30 minutes).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pour the cooked polenta over it … and spread it out.
Spread the polenta as thinly as you possibly can. Place it in a pre-heated oven at 130°C and bake for 3 hours. And this is what it looks like when you take it out! Take care when peeling away the parchment paper … Use a sharp knife to cut it into shards … I am trying to give you an idea of how ‘thin’ this wafer is …See how gossamer like?
Yes … but … but … what do you actually ‘do’ with this polenta wafer?
That’s up to you. I think it would look very nice presiding over a risotto. Or served with cheese? with cured meats? with a dip?
Enjoy ! And if you ever get the chance to actually go and eat at Salvatore Tassa’s restaurant, you are sure to enjoy a whole lot besides … and not just his amazing polenta wafer biscuit.
Ristorante Colline Ciociare
Via Prenestina, 27 Acuto (FR) – Lazio
Tel. +39 077556049