Saturday, October 11, 2008

sweetcorn polenta and aubergines - weekend herb blogging

I have become a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi..The funny thing is that my recent admiration is for reasons savoury whereas my initial attraction to his work was all to do with sweets bites and his beautiful shop Ottolenghi which can be found at different parts of London. When I bought his book it was for the sweet reasons and then I discovered this wonderful savoury side. The book has some great salad dishes as well as sweet recipes. I know that Kalyn also bought the book and I wonder what she makes of it. Ottolenghi now contributes weekly to one of the Saturday papers in the UK and I have been getting more beautiful recipes as this one here. This recipe attracted me for the use of sweetcorns. I have been getting some in my basket and the thought of making some sweetcorn polenta was irresistible. What with the lovely aubergine sauce to go with it.

I thought that this week’s weekend herb blogging event deserved some beautiful corn. Firstly because corn is one of my favourite ingredients. I lived a great part of my life in a state in Brasil that is big in corn and we would always have it in all forms and shapes: ice cream, soup, croquettes, on the cob smeared with butter, etc. Secondly because of the fabulous goodness in it. Corn contains Vitamin B1 (thiamine, Folate, Vitamin C, Phosphorus, Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid, Vitamin A (more in the yellow corn), Manganese, and several antioxidants including ferulic acid and phenolics. It is an awful lot of benefits and cannot be ignored. Plus sweetcorn tastes so good.

Most recently I read the extract below from a scientific study:
The researchers purchased sweet corn and cooked the kernels in batches at 115 degrees Celsius (239 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10, 25 and 50 minutes. Liu says that the cooking increased the antioxidants in sweet corn by 22, 44 and 53 percent, respectively. The scientists measured the antioxidants' ability to quench free radicals, which cause damage to the body from oxidation, increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease..In addition to its antioxidant benefits, cooked sweet corn unleashes a phenolic compound called ferulic acid, which provides health benefits, such as battling cancer. "It's not a free acid," says Liu. "It's bound to the cell wall and in the corn's insoluble fibers. We found that ferulic acid was substantially increased after the sweet corn was cooked at high temperatures and by cooking it at the same temperature over a longer time."

Sweetcorn polenta
6 corn ears 0r 560g scraped kernels
500ml water
40g butter
200g feta, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Aubergine sauce:
150ml vegetable sauce
1 medium aubergine, cut in medium pieces
2 tsp tomato paste
60ml white wine
200g chopped peeled tomatoes( fresh or tinned)
100ml water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus whole leaves to garnish

To prepare the sauce:

Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the aubergine on medium heat for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain and discard as much oil as you can. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for two minutes on medium heat. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, sugar, salt and oregano, and cook for five minutes to get a deep flavoured sauce. Set aside.

To prepare the polenta:

Shave off the kernels from the corn. Place them in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the water, to cover. Add half the butter and cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes. Then lift out the kernels with a slotted spoon – don’t throw the water out as you will need it, and transfer them to a food processor or blender. Process for a few minutes to break as much of the kernels as possible, and add a bit of the cooking water if the mixture is too dry. Retun the corn paste to the water in the pan, over a low heat and stirring all the while. Let it cook for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mashed potato. When it reaches this consistency it is time to fold in the remaining ingredients: salt, sugar, butter and feta, and cook for two minutes of a tad longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve the polenta with the aubergine sauce spooned out on top. Sprinkle fresh oregano leaves on top.

I hope that Kalyn and Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook like the choice made for this weeks events. Please check WHB site for future hosts and how to submit your entry. Kalyn's Kitchen is also a great blog full of terribly nutritious recipes so if you have not yet visited it just click on the name and it will take you straight there.


Meeta K. Wolff said...

Valentina, this looks incredibly good. A great side to many kind of meals.

Susan said...

Here I am with my dried cornmeal polenta (no complaints)...and I never knew you could make it fresh off the cob. Really lovely!

Thanks for joining in WHB!

Anonymous said...

I love Ottolenghi, too, but I always forget to check for his newspaper recipes. This, looks absolutely gorgeous.

Like Susan I never knew that you could make polenta without first drying and grinding the corn, and I'm quite fascinated.

Must give this a try!

Kalyn Denny said...

Great post, and what a delicious sounding recipe too. I love the Ottolenghi book, but haven't cooked from it yet. (Too many cookbooks and not enough time around here!)

Anonymous said...

its great.
it seems I have found a good site for recipes using different herbs.

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