Sunday, January 27, 2008

Polenta pizza

I've always loved cooking and spend a lot of time poring over cook books and magazines, planning my next meal.

It's amazed me over the years how many people don't like cooking, or can't find the time, or think it's difficult, or are just uninspired. I have worked with numerous people (generally parents of young children) who go into a panic every afternoon at around about 3.00 pm, wondering aloud "What am I going to cook for dinner tonight?" So I started sharing recipes from dishes that I had cooked that I thought my cooking challenged friends might find useful.

Then people started urging me to do something more with my recipe advice. I didn't want to write a book because I don't actually create the recipes I cook - I use the inspiration that is already there. So in 2007 I started an email recipe service, sending a recipe a week to a small group of friends. The recipe was always something I had tried out during the previous week, and loved, or a dish I had made many times because I had marked it as a winner. Gradually my subscription list grew as more people heard about it and all of a sudden one of my subscribers had created this blog for me! So now anyone can access the recipes that I love and hopefully be inspired to cook luscious meals for themselves, their families and friends.

Thank you to Gabrielle for so generously creating this blog for me, and to all my early subscribers who have been so encouraging and given me feedback about the recipes I have shared. When I first came up with the idea I only thought it would be of interest to about five people, so I have been amazed at how it has taken off!

This week's recipe is great for summer, it's easy and allows your imagination to run wild! It's a pizza made with a polenta base and you can top it with whatever ingredients you like. If you haven't cooked polenta before now is the time to become familiar with it - it's one of my favourite comfort foods. I think this recipe comes from a 2006 edition of delicious magazine - another feature of the cooking world with which you should become familiar if you aren't already. I use the recipes from delicious all the time as they are outstanding.

Enjoy this week's recipe, and have a look around the blog. Not all of the recipes and emails I have sent previously are posted yet, so hopefully I'll get around to adding them during the year.

Polenta Pizza

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Pizza toppings of your choice (best to keep it simple - let a few good ingredients shine)

What you do:
  1. Bring the milk and water to the boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the polenta in a steady stream and stir until it thickens and is coming away from the sides of the pan (if you don't have the energy to go on you can just add whatever grated cheese you have to hand at this point and eat it as is. Be careful because cooked polenta is always so hot!)
  3. Lightly grease a 25cm x 30cm baking tray and line with baking paper, extending the paper over the two long sides by 2cm.
  4. Pour the polenta onto the tray and cool it until it's set, or cover and refrigerate until you are ready to continue.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and cook the garlic, stirring, for one minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered over a lower heat for 25 minutes until thick.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C. If you are using your pizza base straight out of the fridge bake it for ten minutes before adding your toppings. Spread the tomatoes over the polenta base, add your chosen toppings and bake for about 25 minutes, until any cheese you use is melted and the base is crisp.
  8. Cut the polenta pizza into squares to serve. Next time you can use entirely different toppings!