Sunday, January 2, 2011

Start the Year Right
What’s cooking? Polentina with Bananas and Maple Syrup

I can’t resist the desire to have a posting for 1/1/11, so this won’t be long. But I do have a nice breakfast recipe for you, so stick with me. (Ok, I know, I’ve now missed it. But here I am, so I'll finish the thought.)

I also noticed today that for this year only, we’ll actually have three occurrences of those fun dates that have only one digit in them – there’s also 1/11/11, and the most fun of all which is 11/11/11. That confluence of dates isn’t available for the other digits, so this must indeed be a special year.

We’ve had houseguests this week, and while we’ve mostly eaten out, I did make an effort to have fun breakfasts. Yesterday, I made scones, and tomorrow I’ll be cooking a frittata, but this morning I went for something different but very easy. And it was a really fun way to start the day, as it reminded me of many breakfasts I  had growing up.

In the South, there’s nothing better for breakfast than grits. But our guests are from Boston, and I wasn’t sure how much they’d warm to grits. So I was paging through my Williams-Sonoma Breakfast cookbook, and found a delightful twist on grits by making polenta, only with milk instead of chicken broth or water. When it’s done, you drizzle on a dab of melted butter, top it with maple syrup and a few slices of banana, and you have a really nice breakfast dish.

I added bacon to this menu (which was a super combination of flavors), to give it some protein, but mostly because I am right now very long on bacon. You see, a couple of months ago, I was reading in the NY Times about this fabulous bacon edged with herbes de Provence. I’ve always been a sucker for bacon, and this bacon sounded so good. I googled it, and found it at Earthy Delights, where it was only $6.50 per pound. Great, I thought, until I noticed that the shipping – which must be overnight – was $10. Yikes. But then I thought, maybe it’s the same shipping for two pounds. Yes, it was. And then I thought, what’s the shipping for three pounds? Turns out it was still $10. And finally, I checked on four pounds, and – you guessed it – $10. So I ordered FOUR pounds of the stuff, figuring I’d find friends or family I could give it to. I did actually find homes for two of the pounds, but I kept two and have been using it in as many ways as I could, and I must tell you it’s DELICIOUS. The combination of herbs and that smoky sweet taste of good bacon makes over-the-top BLTs, and it added a most wonderful flavor to my split pea soup. So I’ll be ordering it again, but will probably look around for someone to share the shipment.

Polentina with Bananas and Maple Syrup (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfasts)

1⅔ cups water
1⅔ cups whole milk
1½ tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup polenta or coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
melted or softened unsalted butter
warm maple syrup
2 firm ripe bananas, sliced in ¼-inch rounds

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, milk, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and when the liquid is barely simmering, pour in the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly until all the grains have been absorbed and the mix is smooth. Keep the heat low enough that the mixture barely simmers, and cook about 15 mins, stirring with a wooden spoon every 1-2 minutes until the polenta is creamy. Add more water or milk if it gets too stiff.

Ladle the polenta into individual bowls, top with a bit of butter and the sliced bananas, and drizzle warm maple syrup over the top. Makes 4 servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment