“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fried Polenta Bites with Butternut Squash Mascarpone Mousse and Crispy Speck



Ciao a tutti!! I am so sorry for not posting for a while, things have been hectic. Between a recent family vacation, preparing for culinary school in Italy at the end of next month, an active social life and my fabulous internship with Feast on History, I've been pretty busy. But that’s the way I like it!! As I mentioned, I’m an intern with an amazing company called Feast on History where I recently got to help develop recipes and cook for their Feast of the Seven Fishes which was HUGE SUCCESS!! The kitchen space they used was so beautiful; it actually inspired me to use it for my own upcoming event!!! For more than a year, I have been toying around with the idea of doing a supper club. But where to do it? I didn't want to do it in my own apartment and all of the spaces I found where way too big for what I needed.

When I saw this space, I felt like Goldilocks. Not too bag, not too small, it was just right. So, I will be inviting close friends to this first event to get some feedback...it will be a Masquerade Pop Up Dinner tied in with Halloween. The theme is good vs. evil, as is showcased in the menu. Sweet, light and luscious vs. rich, spicy and indulgent. Eventually my plan is for people to purchase a ticket for the event, but I want to do a few test runs and receive some feedback first. For those that interested in the underground dining scene, does this sound like something that might interest you in the future? PLEASE COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW! So, I would like to share with you one of my recipes that will be served at my Masquerade….Fried Polenta Bites with Butternut Squash Mascarpone Mousse and Crispy Speck…fried carbs  with a light, sweet mousse topped with a piece of smoky cured Italian meat…how good does that sound?

Fried Polenta Bites with Butternut Squash Mascarpone Mousse and Crispy Speck


Butternut Squash Mascarpone Mousse

1 Butternut Squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup of mascarpone
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp. crushed Aleppo chili

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil. Clean and cut your butternut squash in half. You will want to remove all of the seeds and “guts. ”Rub with olive oil and top with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Roast for 2-3 hours or until the butternut squash is tender. Scoop out the butternut squash and put it in a food processor (if you have a Vitamix, use the Vitamix, I swear by this thing!!). Process until smooth and creamy and no fibers remain. Add your mascarpone, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, dried rosemary and Aleppo chili. Puree until thoroughly combined and smooth. Put the butternut squash mascarpone mousse in a container to chill for 3 hours.

Fried Polenta

1 ½ cups of polenta
4 cups of water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp. crushed Aleppo chili
1 cup of neutral oil (canola, peanut)
1 cup of flour

Prepare 4 cups of water in a medium size deep pot over high heat. While waiting for the water, butter a casserole dish. When water is boiling, add your polenta and stir with a wooden spoon for five minutes. You want to get the polenta nice and smooth. Add salt, pepper, dried rosemary and Aleppo chili. Pour the polenta into the casserole dish and spread so it is even. Put it in the refrigerator to chill for two-three hours.

When the polenta is done “chilling”, take it out to fry. In a medium size pan over medium-high heat, heat your oil. Cut your polenta into 1 inch squares and lightly drench in the flour. Put in the oil and fry on each side for three minutes. Continue doing this with all of the polenta bites.

Fried Speck

6 slices of speck
1 tsp. olive oil

In a medium size pan over medium heat, add your olive oil. When it is hot, fry your speck very briefly, around 2-3 minutes. Take it out of the pan and allow to cool before breaking the speck into small pieces.
Assembling the bites:

Take one of the polenta squares and using a small ice cream scoop, scoop some of the butternut squash mascarpone onto it. Top with a small piece of fried speck. Buon Appetito!!