I am happy to report it has been a very hectic, fun and fabulous week…..actually make that two weeks!
I have decided this little slice of Italy would have to be one of the most social places I have ever lived and that isn’t a bad thing. Last week we were out 5 nights out of the week’s seven. We have had our wonderful friends over from Chicago who never cease to amaze me and have come to visit us where ever it is that we end up. We met this beautiful family when we first arrived in Chicago about 11 years ago and since then K and C have come to visit us in Virginia, Italy, Australia and Italy once more. C and Max became best of friends at the ripe age of 1 and a bit, and haven’t looked back ever since. Each time we see them, Max and C pick up where they last left off- priceless!
With our US connection in town and the wonderful people we have met while living in the village (Italian and non Italian) we had more dinner dates than you can poke a stick at. My good friend E was single parenting all last week while her hubby was doing business back in the States so Nic and I thought we would break up the week and have dinner with her and her girls. The boys love hanging out with the girls as they are like the older brothers…..seriously, they have been asking me for a sister for years so I have been telling them to enjoy little Miss P (age 3) because that is the closest they’re getting to having their own! So far they are happy with that and I think Miss P is also.
E was going to cook us a beautiful dinner and I thought I should at least bring dessert seeing as she wouldn’t let me do anything else. At first I was just going to go to the bakery and buy some mini pastries but then I thought that was a bit of a cop-out so I decided to make some mini-apple pies at the last moment.
I have to tell you this was a bit of an experiment as I bought some pastry that I wasn’t to sure what it tasted like and secondly I was wondering how I was going to put it all together in my funny little kitchen (hence the bought pastry!).
There were no amazing new ideas about the apples, I just peeled about 4, cut them into a dice and threw them into a pot with about half a cup of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of butter then put them on to boil.
As they were boiling I was then looking and thinking I was a fool because I didn’t actually have a thickening agent (corn starch) and how the hell was I going to make pies with something so wet??! Of course I looked through my cupboard knowing there was nothing there and that was when it hit me: what about polenta? It made sense, it would thicken the apple mixture and if I used the ‘quick’ polenta it would work almost as fast as corn starch (of course this was important because I still wanted chunks of apple in the pies, not just mush). I had nothing else to work with so I thought I would give it a shot.
I started with a couple of tablespoons and that wasn’t doing much so I added a little more polenta until I just saw it starting to thicken. With a few stirs of the wooden spoon I was starting to get a little bit excited…..this could actually work! The boys were standing at the door wanting to eat what ever was cooking, however, I needed the apples to cool and to dash off to basketball so I had to wait until I got home to see what the end result was like.
At first I was worried all you would taste is the polenta but because I only used it as a thickening agent it wasn’t overwhelming at all and the lovely apple and cinnamon flavour came to the front. I was a little bit excited….again!!!
With the mixture cool and a great consistency I started making the pies. My new gelato bowls came in handy as the rims are the perfect size to cut out the pastry rounds.
Once the tops were on I just egg washed them, sprinkled over some cane sugar and then popped them in the oven for 20 minutes, until they were golden brown.
We gobbled them up and I was really happy with the end result, so happy in fact, I made another batch and took them to dinner with our Chicago friends and I figure if I can feed polenta and apple pies to Americans with a tick of approval then I am pretty happy with my new polenta and apple pie recipe.
Has anyone else tried this before?