I have been asked many times for cornmeal recipes and what to do with what has been made!
I love polenta (cicvera) and was treated to the very comforting and tasty salt cod and polenta dish, Baccala from Venice whilst there, last week. It was something I would often have as a child during fasting periods and have a need for it in the early months of a new year, even now. I use the cornmeal to coat the fish – be it cod or sprats and bake.
I am no expert in the making of polenta. It requires patience, stirring and wishful thinking, that, after all the time and effort and a sore elbow – you have an end product you can eat. Over the years I have tried, failed and at times, thrown not just the sturdy yellow mixture in the bin, but also the pan it was made in. Believe me, not even the chickens would touch it!
So I use cornmeal in other ways, and enjoy other people’s perfect polenta when I can.
A big favourite dish of mine at this time of year is Pita sa Tikva. Again it requires some elbow grease, but is scrummy. I prefer it to gibanica, especially when eaten cold.
First – go in search of a good-sized marrow, or if you are growing courgettes, let one become a marrow.
Filo pastry – greek style is best (or look up my gibanica recipe on this blog)
Cottage cheese or feta – depending on how sour you like to go
A couple of eggs (not necessary)
Go to work on the marrow and get all the flesh from it. Then grate the flesh. Add salt,
Put the grated marrow in a sieve with a heavy weight on top and leave for about an hour. Let the bitter water seep out.
Then put the grated marrow in to a bowl and add the cheese (however much you like).
Add some course or medium cornmeal and stir with a big spoon.
Crack the eggs, beat them and add to the mixture.
Add more cornmeal if the mixture seems a bit runny.
Lay out the filo (2 sheets together) and blob the marrow mixture across. Roll to form a sausage shape and place in your baking dish. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
Pop in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes (covered) on 160C and 10 minutes with the cover off. Eat when cool – or hot!