Friday, August 27, 2010

The Tart. Polenta Crust with Beetroot and Pumpkin, or Leek with Speck and Mushrroms.

So. Thanks to those of you who have joined me.

And I must confess that my first attempt to "bake" everything-free was a complete disaster. I had this great idea that I could make a steamed custard with polenta in it. Then I thought I would drop some rhubarb in it to give it ....... something..... and then I got worried about the acidity of the rhubarb, so I pureed some bananas to add as a sweetner. It was all kinds of wrong. One of the wrongs was that I used banana. I hate banana. If you don't understand that, just think about the smell of a banana, in a plastic bag, in a car, in the sun. Breathe in....... mmmm....... Whilst I don't have the finest palate in the world, I can detect that taste the moment the first brown spot arrives on a banana. If you eat it much before then however, you often end up with the really rough mouth feel. It leaves you about an 8 hr window in which to enjoy a banana and I always seem to miss it. I certainly missed it with the bananas used in my steamed custard. They were quite spotty.
The second thing that went wrong was that at the last minute I decided to bake it instead of steam it. Which would have been fine but instead of pouring it into a big flan dish I decided to make individuals portions in the muffin tray. What so wrong with that? Probably nothing, except I used my regular muffin tin instead of the nonstick one. I sprayed it well before hand so they came out fine. But I didn't count on the acid of the rhubarb reacting with the baking tray and leaving a blue/greyish rust mark with a metallic flavour around it.My husband and I bravely ate one of these wonders and then they did what all cooking flops do, got put into a container until stinky, then thrown into the compost.

I'm sticking with savouries for a while. Yesterday was much more successful with the polenta tarts. I used this recipe for the crust and made up my own fillings.

You start by boiling the polenta with chicken stock and herbs from the garden.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (I omitted the parsley)

I added some goats milk and a bit of butter too, then you let it cool before pressing into tart tins. The tip for using glad wrap over the top was a winner - no messy fingers.


These were then cooled and baked for around 40 min before putting the filling in. When boiling the polenta it seemed too thick and 1 added too much extra liquid. This was a mistake and meant that they took a longer to blind bake then they should have.

Once they were a baked I filled them and put them back in the oven. If you have an oven with different settings (as I do in my brand new kitchen) I recommend the strong heat from below to give a nice bite to the bottom of the crust. Mine would have been too wet otherwise.

Here's the leek and speck one. I whisked up an egg, stirred the finely sliced leek and speck through and put it in the shell, added some sliced mushrooms, some hard goats cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

It's not really burnt, it's the mushrooms!

Here's the roast beetroot and pumpkin one. I par-boiled the beets first to soften them before baking. I topped it with yoghurt mixed with finely chopped garlic and some left over oil from marinated goats cheese, and, a sprig of thyme.

I preferred the beet and pumpkin actually, the sharpness of the yoghurt completed the sweetness of the vegetables and held it together well.

But, I think I have a bit to learn about taking pictures of food. I was in too much of a rush to eat it so it was a quick snap before settling down for dinner.

Recipe. (Thanks to appogiatura)

Polenta Crust

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 1/2 cup water


1 tsp finely chopped herbs

pepper flakes (I didn't use these).

Start by cooking the polenta. Bring the liquid to a boil and add stock. Pour polenta in stirring all the while and then cook for an hour on the stove top. You have to stir a lot. It should be soft and quite sticky when done (not gritty). Let it cool until you can handle it. Put a blob in the bottom of your tart tin (previously sprayed with oil) and let sit for a moment so it has a little bit of a skin. Put the glad wrap on it and press it into shape with your hands, then put in the fridge until ready to bake.

Bake until crust is crispy and golden. (She bakes 425 degrees for 25 min) . Add filling and bake again. Wha-la!


  1. The second attempt sounds delicious!!

  2. That looks delicious. If the point of a good food picture is to make me want to eat it, then you have succeeded!

  3. You look like quite the chef.

    What is your natropath's take on GMOs (genetically modified organisms/genetically engineered, whatever you want to call it). The reason I ask is that most corn here in the states is genetically modified. I try to avoid corn, but when you cut out gluten, you do have to find other things to eat!

  4. Forgot to mention that I rarely bake anymore. I do pies sometimes, but it takes forever to make the crust, so I just don't bother, unless it's a special occasion. Plus, if you are avoiding sugar, like I was doing when I was trying to improve my egg quality, what was the point of baking?

    I live in a town where it seems like every other person has some food intolerance issues. As a result, we have more and more companies that are making really great gluten and dairy free products. The problem is that they are also making really evil good tasting desserts as well! Sigh!

  5. Interesting question Phoebe about the GM corn.

    The food industry in Australia is quite different to that in the States from what I can gather. GM production is still quite small here and food which uses GM ingredients as more than 1% of total ingredients must label it as such.

    I think it is still easy to find GM free corn and corn products at this stage (fingers crossed we can keep it that way), but your question will make me take a closer look at the labels to see where the food has come from.