Polenta

Brigit Legere Binns, Author, Brigit Legere Binns, Author, Deborah Denker, Photographer
Brigit Legere Binns, Author, Brigit Legere Binns, Author, Deborah Denker, Photographer Chronicle Books $14.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-8118-1185-9
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This handsome cookbook gathers recipes not so much for polenta (although there is a brief chapter on standard polenta cooking) as for a pleasing variety of dishes using cornmeal, sometimes in fairly peripheral ways. Many of the entrees employ polenta in its tried and true use as a mild serving bed: Soft Polenta with Braised Italian Sausage; Braised Beef Short Ribs; Bricked Game Hens with Savoy Cabbage on Polenta Croutes. Such variations as Baby Greens with Blood Oranges and Sage-Prosciutto Polenta Croutons and Lentils and Greens in Broth with Polenta Croutons are interesting, if not innovative. Such dishes as Polenta with Poached Eggs, Smoked Salmon, and Chives; Cinnamon Popovers; and White Corn and Arugula Timbales reflect new California cuisines more than expected Italian foodways and demonstrate the versatility of cornmeal. Although Binns's instructions for cooking the polenta, repeated in each recipe, add an unnecessary fussiness, the dishes themselves have plenty of fresh appeal. Among the trademark recipes contributed by others are Three Cheese Soft Polenta (Evan Kleiman and Vianna LaPlace) and Hans Rockenwagner's Polenta Fries. (Jan.)
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