Polenta biscotti – cooking with polenta in Veneto

There are some who would call us Italians from the north, and in particular from the Veneto region in the north-east, polentoni. That is because we eat a lot of polenta, and we eat it often. My nonna, who was born in Veneto, made polenta most days to feed her five children. She would cook the polenta on the stovetop and then tip it onto a large round board, so that it could be easily sliced. It was quite a firm version of polenta, made just by adding water and salt, and was used in place of bread. And it was white, a beautiful white with occasional flecks of brown. The family except for my uncle Fidenzio (known as Fide) all loved polenta. He hated it that much that in a rage one day, when his mother had served up polenta on a wooden board again, he gave the steaming hot mound a hard slap with his right hand. You can well imagined what happened next…a blistered hand and utter silence when polenta was served up the following day!

station pier-italian migration-italy on my mind

When Fide migrated to Australia in the early 1950s (see the photo of him above at Station Pier, with my mother going through a bag and next to him), I don’t think was very easy to find flour to make polenta with here. Polenta (or cornmeal NOT cornflour) is still not that easy to find, in particular the white variety and superfine yellow polenta, which I use to make cakes and sweets. I am starting a series of polenta blog posts with recipes, to tell you more about this rather wonderful ingredient – which happens to have no gluten in it (so great for those with this intolerance). The recipe I am posting here is for simple biscotti made with 50% fine polenta. I made them using the Marcato biscuit maker, which I purchased a few weeks ago. The recipe is an adaptation of the alternate base-recipe that is in the booklet that comes with the device.

polenta biscotti6-italy on my mind
polenta biscotti4-italy on my mind

You don’t need this biscuit (or cookie) maker to make these biscotti, you could easily use a cookie-cutter to make a pretty shape. These biscotti are delicious with a cup of coffee – they are not too sweet and are also great for dunking. Best of all, they are mixed by hand, so really easy to make. I bet my zio Fide (now sadly passed away) would have loved these biscotti, with their combination of orange and lemon zests, even if they do contain his much-hated polenta!

polenta biscotti2-italy on my mind

A quick update on my cooking classes: classes in Melbourne for the first half of 2016 are also up (click HERE) and there are a few places left for my final Chewton long lunch cooking class on Sunday 22 November – it will be a 4-course Italian extravaganza not to be missed (hand-rolled grissini, mini-zuccotto and ricotta gnocchi with spring vegetables are on the menu so far…)- click HERE for more details.

polenta biscotti

Makes about 50 biscotti

250g plain flour
250g superfine polenta (cornmeal)
pinch salt
1 orange, zest only
1 lemon, zest only
100g sugar1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence
3 egg yolks
160g unsalted butter, melted
120ml milk

Place the flour, cornmeal, salt, zests and sugar in a large bowl and give them a good whisk to combine. Put the yolks and vanilla in a bowl and give them a quick whisk and add them to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork. Melt the butter in a microwave until it is just liquid, add this to the mixture, then the milk, and start working the dough with your hands until it is homogenous and smooth.

preheat the oven to 180C. Using the Marcato biscuit-maker or small cookie-cutters, make small circles of dough and place them on baking paper on oven trays. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Allow to cook on the baking trays. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar. These biscotti keep in an air-tight container for about a week.

 

12 Comments

  • Debra Kolkka says:

    I’m not a big fan of polenta, but these look great.

  • Sue says:

    Hi , I have never cooked with Polenta,but these Biscuits look delicious will give them go lemon and orange go good together

    • the lemon and orange make them – make sure you buy fine instant polenta – the normal one can result in grainy biscotti (which is ok if you like them that way!)

  • I didn’t grow up eating it and I’ve never been a huge fan of polenta–well unless it’s grilled, or baked with asiago and roasted vegetables. These fiorelline look like they might convert me though. They are so cute, i’ll have to try making them. Nice new website. Did something happen to your followers though? I haven’t received the last 2 or 3 posts in my reader. Ciao, Cristina

    • Ciao Cristina glad you like the look of my site. Thanks for confirming what I suspected about the reader. You actually have to find me via the tags on the WordPress reader and re-subscribe to my blog. Some people who have done that say that the posts still do now appear :((( I am following up with the web designer as we speak. The whole thing has been quite difficult. These biscotti are lovely, quite crunchy, great for dunking. Thanks for your comment and please have a look at the other posts that have gone up by looking through the “blog” part. Grazie. Paola X

  • salcollins says:

    Trying to like this Paola but it’s not loading on my phone so I’m doing a manual 👍🏻. x

    • oh no! I have had problems with my site loading today – not sure why. Hoping the web developer is working on it as I have had issues with it not appearing in WordPress reader. All my WordPress subscribers have to subscribe again and manually add it to their reader – not happy :(( Hope it is fixed soon

  • pblevitt says:

    Paola, I adore polenta and look forward to more wonderful insight from you. This is absolutely the type of cookie I enjoy.

  • Sandrine says:

    Love the shape of those biscuits: they are really cute!

  • echtkuehn says:

    Your post aren’t in my reader. I don’t know why?!? I miss few of the last…
    Your posts and recipes are wonderful.
    Greetings from Austria
    Stefanie

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my posts Stephanie. My website has moved so you need to re-subscribe for the post links to re-appear in your reader. I only just found out this was the case. Thank you for your kind words
      Paola X

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