The close of autumn with fires lit, kindling neatly stacked, brings a yearning for a smoky mellow yellow la pizza di mais or corn bread that has been cooked in the embers of a fire. It’s the bread which if it could sing would have to be Macy Gray. I think sitting in front of the sweetest smelling fire as it slowly cooks this with a large glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a perfect way to get ready for a night when the temperatures dip below 0.
There’s a new Abruzzo blog terre dei trabocchi which is good for inspiring traditional Abruzzese recipes. Last week they posted Signora Concetta getting busy preparing traditional Abruzzo la pizza di mais (cornbread) and I sat salivating as they talked about serving with one of my winter green favourites fuje or fijou (sauted savoy cabbage in white wine with garlic and peperoncini).
Unfortunately cooked in an oven this corn bread just doesn’t have the same resonance with me, so as I am not currently in front of our little fireplace, I’ve adapted Signora Concetta’s recipe and used it to disguise some end of season grilled courgettes for my favourite two boys, one with very little fingers to help mop up a sweet rosemary lentil & roasted chestnut stew.
Zucchini Polenta Cakes
150 g maize flour (corn-meal)
35 gm plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Good glug of olive oil
Salt to taste
1 courgette cut in half and thinly sliced
Add the thinly sliced courgette, rosemary, salt & pepper and a sprinkle of olive oil and roast in an oven at 200C till squidgy. Take out and turn oven up to 220C.
In the meantime mix your dry ingredients together with ground salt and add your generous glug of olive oil and egg and beat into the mixture. Add the water, mix together and let stand, you should have a soft dropping dough. Fold in the courgettes and add to well greased muffin tins – the mixture should make 6. Give the top of the cakes a brush with olive oil for extra flavour.
Allow to cook for no more than 15 minutes, start checking at 12 minutes if you have a fan assisted oven.