Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Savory Polenta Rounds - Easter or Anytime Appetizers!

I almost titled this post “polenta and probability”, but had a change of heart at the last moment. As you know, I’m a homeschooling mom, and I recently taught my son the joys of probability. Now, now ... no groaning. Math is your friend, your compadre, your kemosabe. I’m pushing it, aren’t I?I don't think I'd have to push these appetizers onto anybody. They are soooo goooood! I love appetizers. There’s something wonderful about sampling finger food, no matter if it’s a tried and true thing like shrimp cocktail or something more intricate like phyllo tartlets. Appetizers can take the place of a meal, too; and because you're nibbling here and there, you can enjoy some guilty pleasure by sampling bits of this and that without overloading your plate or your metabolism.

Today’s recipe at It’s All Gouda is a scrumptious, savory polenta appetizer that can be prepared in so many varieties -- it’s hard to pin down all the combinations that you can create. I started with 3 different cheeses and 3 different meats, which gave me 9 different meat/cheese pair combinations to make. Go ahead ... make a probability tree ... you’ll come up with 9 pairs as well.Anyway, with Easter around the corner, I thought I’d have a go at preparing some gluten free finger foods. I’ve always hosted an Easter brunch at my house; however, this year will be the first time it will purposefully include some gluten free offerings. I’d recently received a glorious package of goat cheese from Ile de France, and thought I’d revise an appetizer that I’d made for years that includes goat cheese and onions. These are really, really easy to make, but they do take time. It would be fun to make these delightful rounds with your kids, or with your guests for that matter, as everyone can design their own.Helloooo, beautiful! Basically, these gorgeous, circular beauties bites consist of a firm polenta base, topped with the most amazing, crispy fried onions, your choice of cheese, your choice of meat, and then drizzled with gorgeous chive oil. In the past, I’d made these using either thick pita bread or pizza dough, and they turn out wonderful that way, too. They are soft, chewy, crispy, creamy, salty, and mmm, mmm, good!

You start by making a basic, seasoned polenta, and spread it out on a sheet pan to cool and firm up.When cool, cut into small rounds using a glass or cookie cutter. Then either pop under the broiler or pan sauté to produce a golden crust. Set aside.

Meanwhile, slice an onion into very thin, half rounds. Sprinkle with some sea salt. Sauté in olive oil and butter until just starting to caramelize. Then turn the heat up, and fry until crispy. NOTE: These are addicting. Make extra. Trust me. You’ll be nibbling on these as you cook. It’s not possible to ignore them.

Next, prepare your protein. I used prosciutto, which didn’t need any prep work other than to open the package. I also microwaved some thin bacon until crisp, and very quickly seasoned and fried some super thin strips of steak on top of the stove. You could, of course, use left over grilled steak, sliced ultra thin.Now, set out your cheeses. I used my lovely goat cheese from Ile de France, some creamy brie, and a lovely, crumbled gorgonzola. Feta would be wonderful here, too, but I didn’t use Feta this time. If I had, that would increase my probability to 12 pairings. Ahem.You could also just serve a vegetarian version of just cheese and onions. That changes our probability options as well!

Time to assemble your rounds. Heat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place all your golden polenta rounds on the foil. Top each round with one type of cheese (don’t combine the cheeses). Then put some of the crispy onions on top of the cheese. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove, and top each round with your choice of meat (don’t combine them). Drizzle with a chive oil made from pureeing chives in olive oil. It’s amazing.Garnish with chopped tomatoes and serve warm.

These lovely savory polenta rounds are gluten free, all the way. Take care, though, as not all corn meal products are gluten free, and not all gluten free eaters can eat corn. We have no problem with corn. My youngest appetizer eater, the gluten free girl, gobbled these up like there was no tomorrow.They will find their way onto my Easter buffet. What’s your favorite appetizer?

20 comments:

Cheryl said...

Paula, you are amazing, those look so delish, man I cant wait to make em!

Marjie said...

No doubt my favorite appetizer is shrimp cocktail. Or just shrimp. Makes no difference. But these are so pretty! I've never made polenta, although I've seen your post on it before. Maybe I'll be brave one of these days.

And we're working on probability. Of course, my 7th grader "already knows all of this!" Some days I could just strangle him...wise guy!

Cathy said...

Oh my gosh, these looks wonderful. I love this kind of food and could easily make a meal of these alone.

prairierunner said...

Darn I wish I lived closer....I'd be over for brunch.......it's my favorite along with appetizers you know.

The Blonde Duck said...

I could make a whole meal out of those. Just watch me.

Dawn said...

I seriously could pop at least 20 of those right now. YUM! I'm dieting, so obviously I'm craving delish things. LOL

noble pig said...

Since I am a math nerd there is no pushing required. However, I must eat these up because they rock.

Lynda said...

It's been 4 years since I did the math thing with my daughter. I'd much rather make these polenta rounds as they look so appetizing!Very nice!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

polenta is something i have always wanted to make - i made some appetisers in a similar effort recently, so i might try these out.

your toppings look superb

Esi said...

This is a fabulous party appetizer.

Grace said...

math is my friend, and so is meat-happy polenta. very nice, paula!

Darius T. Williams said...

I love this! so innovative and I bet it tasted!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I have an idea, I'll come to your house and we'll ponder, make, and sample all of the possibilities of polenta appetizers! We'll eat them like grapes!

Yes, they look that terrific, I would go clear across the country to sample!

Gloria said...

Paula!!! I love polenta soo! and thses appetizers look absolutely wonderful I would like to make to Easter, look really nice! xxGloria

Bridgett said...

I grew up loving polenta so I enjoy any twist on it. These look amazing and perfect for a dinner party. I may have to give these a try for my Mother's Day lunch. Gorgeous!
Hope your family is well, Paula!

Peter M said...

A great idea for an appetizer! Polenta is sturdy, no fear of the topping falling off!

Pam said...

Polenta rounds as a base for an appetizer is a fantastic idea!

Spryte said...

I've been wanting to try polenta... this looks like a great starting place!!

Jan said...

Could you perhaps tell me how to make polenta - I have never made it? And these sound absolutely delish.

The Food Hunter said...

What a great idea. They look amazing