I lately discovered myself with an excessive amount of positive polenta on my arms that I’d gathered for some recipe testing. Grocery shops in France carry polenta (often on the spot), and corn flour might be discovered at pure meals shops, however there usually are not many issues made with cornmeal within the canon of French delicacies. So once I need to make a recipe that requires cornmeal, I purchase semoule de maïs positive, accessible at my native magasin bio or épicerie orientale, a catch-all time period for shops that promote meals for Center Jap cooking.
It additionally provides me an opportunity to go to the Center Jap meals store, the place I all the time spent means too lengthy prowling the aisles, and for some cause, I all the time come dwelling with much more issues than what I initially went in there for.
She wasn’t Center Jap, however by some means, discovering myself with an excessive amount of cornmeal on my arms, I used to be reminded of pastry chef Gina DePalma, who typically baked with it. Everybody who knew Gina had tales. She was frank and forthright, and few have captured the spirit of Italian desserts in addition to Gina did as a pastry chef and baker, and as a cookbook creator. (Carol Area did it nicely in The Italian Baker, one other basic e book on Italian baking, as did Nick Malgieri in Nice Italian Desserts.)
While you speak to folks within the baking world, particularly individuals who labored together with her, their eyes widen as if they’re nonetheless being watched by her. Gina was the proverbial force-to-be-reckoned-with, and I like folks like that.
I can’t say we had been very shut mates, however we bonded as bakers are likely to do. We’d met in New York and have become pen buddies simply when she determined to pack all of it up and transfer to Rome. A number of months later, she realized that she had a very aggressive type of most cancers and returned to the U.S. We stored in contact through the years through some emotional emails, and finally she left us. However each now and again, I pull her e book, Dolce Italiano, off the shelf and flick thru it. And all that cornmeal gave me one more reason to.
I’ve made Zaletti (cornmeal cookies) earlier than, as a result of I like them a lot. Really, any time a dessert has cornmeal in it, I appear to need it. I like the flavour and the crunch, however I additionally like the way it leans the dessert within the savory route.
Like many Italian pastries, these fall into certainly one of two classes; Some are fairly candy, and others usually are not very candy in any respect. I are likely to go for the latter and these diamond-shaped polenta cookies fall squarely into the less-sweet class.
The dough could be very simple to place collectively and it’s enjoyable to kind the diamond-shaped cookies.
The cookies do are likely to unfold a bit throughout baking. However as soon as baked, they’re good with a day espresso or cup of tea, or a glass of vin santo (candy Italian wine) or Amaro, the bitter digestive, after dinner. I’ve been recognized to interrupt into a number of for breakfast as nicely, which I don’t assume Gina would have minded.