I'm not sure why, but I love books about food. Typically, this has involved browsing the cookbook section of our local library or bookstore, but recently I discovered a genre within the cookbook genre which is "cookbook author or chef biographies." I don't think that is really the official title of this genre, but I'm not sure what else to call it. A few weeks ago, I was drawn to this little section on the shelf at our library and pulled down a biography by Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame. Having really enjoyed the movie, I thought I might like this follow-up book of hers. Well, I opened to a random chapter and began to read and was greatly dismayed at its illicit nature. My goodness. I put it back and pulled down another: Too Many Cooks ~ Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin.
If you enjoy books about food and a fly-on-the-wall vantage point into the kitchens, marriages, and homes of other families, then you will enjoy this book. And there is nothing illicit here, unless you count the numerous and often hilarious references to breastfeeding. I loved reading about Emily's adventures with her four small children in the kitchen and elsewhere, and her educational, yet nonchalant approach to getting her kids to eat lots of different types of food. And the 102 recipes? Well, I wanted to try almost every one of them! So far, I've only tried four, and thought I'd share one of my family's favorites with you: Dreamy Polenta. We also tried Sweet New Year Salmon (honey & soy sauce marinade!), Autumnal Chicken (apple & cheese stuffed!), and Chocolate Pudding Cake (syrup magically appears on the bottom!) Kayla made the cake all by herself, and all were delicious.
Emily Franklin's Dreamy Polenta
2 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups water (or milk, or a mixture)
2 cups polenta (cornmeal)
dab of butter ~ if you like
salt to taste
olive oil for baking
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, for grating on top (I used asiago)
Boil stock and water/milk together in a pot. Pour polenta into liquid, stirring as you pour. Bring to a boil again, but then reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Dab with butter and salt, and stir occasionally. When the polenta mixture has become thick and somewhat solid, remove from heat and let cool. Place the polenta "solid" on a cutting board and slice into strips, or grab handfuls and pat into small round cakes. Place cakes on an oiled baking pan and dot with butter again if you like, or rub each with a bit of oil. Bake until beginning to brown. Add grated cheese to tops and bake a few more minutes until cheese is melted.
As you can see, I added a slice of tomato under the grated asiago. I served it with her Sweet New Year Salmon and broccoli, and it was a hit for my own little family of taste testers ~ and all naturally gluten free!