New books for cooks: ‘Super Grains’

NEW BOOKS FOR COOKS

LAYERED CORNMEAL WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

2¼ cups coarse cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons butter

3½ ounces fontina or Parmesan cheese, sliced

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

2 large onions, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons salt

Pepper, to taste

5 cups canned tomatoes in juice

1 cup red wine

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Large handful of basil leaves, torn

2 teaspoons chopped oregano or thyme

Chopped chilies

Fried garlic cloves

Fresh cilantro or basil leaves

Place the cornmeal, salt, cumin and cayenne in a large, heavy saucepan. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer gently, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Stir in the butter, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions, cinnamon and cumin until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper to taste and 1 cup water, then bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally. Season to taste, adding the cayenne and fresh herbs. Discard the cinnamon.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil so that it hangs over the rim. Press a layer of polenta into the base of the pan, smoothing over the surface. Cover with a layer of tomato sauce, then repeat the layers to fill the pan, ending with polenta. Chill, covered, for 1 hour to set.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lay the sliced cheese over the top and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until piping hot. Serve sprinkled with chilies, garlic cloves and cilantro or basil.

Recipe from “Super Grains” by Jenni Muir (Hamlyn; $29.99)

— Heidi Knapp Rinella

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