Please Pass the Recipe

from one generation to the next

Polenta Tart – Chard, Porcini, Gruyere


Like the vast majority of Australians, my ancestors arrived by boat. They came for work prospects, for economic betterment and to secure a safe future. Curiosity about where we had come from has led to an enduring fascination.

Armed with only a few names and dates, I began my genealogical research twenty five years ago in Melbourne’s magnificent domed State Library, laboriously searching handwritten microfiche for references to my family, and with every tiny glimmer of hope, mailing enqiries to archives in the UK.

As was common in late Victorian London, tragedy lurked in the family home. My paternal great grandfather beset with poorly managed diabetes died at the ripe old age of thirty. There were whispers my grandfather had a step sister. Names were spoken of lovingly, letters, photos and memories shared but I had no tangible faces to put to the names so my extended family seemed like a fiction.

Digging deep, I found that my widowed great Grandmother had remarried. The man who became known affectionately as “Pop” was an immigrant too. He had arrived in London from Italy penniless, having heard that the newly opened Savoy Hotel needed continental waiters. I admire his initiative for taking a risk, his courage for marrying a widow in a foreign land and his big heart for fathering four young children as his own.

Amilcare Auguste Bolzani’s influence has been subtle and long lasting. Both my grandfather and father loved the food of mediterranean Europe and they passed that love to me.

This wintery tart is a tribute to those three fine men of courage and good taste.

Polenta Tart – Swiss Chard Porcini and Gruyere

the polenta:

41/2 cups well seasoned vegetable stock

1/2 cup polenta

15g butter

60g gruyere cheese, shredded

1 egg, beaten with a fork to combine

Sea salt and frehly ground black pepper to taste

the filling:

15g dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces

1/2 cup boiling water

400g tender young chard leaves with a short length of stem

1/4 cup cream

1 egg, beaten with a fork to combine

100g gruyere cheese, shredded

1 heaped teaspoon salt

generous amount ground black pepper

the topping:

20g gruyere cheese, shredded

1/4 cup chopped almonds and pine nuts

Bring to stock to the boil.

Pour the polenta into the boiling stock in a fine stream, stirring continuously and vigorously so that the polenta doesn’t clump.

Reduce the heat so that the porridge gently “plops” and cook until the polenta is thick and no grittiness remains. This may take 20 minutes. Stir the polenta frequently scraping, the bottom of the pan to avoid a build up that will scorch.

Stir in the butter and cheese and stir viorously until the cheese is melted, add the egg and throughly combine. Allow the polenta to cool a little.

Preheat the oven to 170C fanforced.

Oil a 25cm tart dish and line the base with baking paper.

Tip the polenta into the dish and spread it over the base and up the sides to form a pie “crust.”

Bake the polenta for 30 minutes without allowing it to colour. Reduce the heat if the polenta begins to brown.

While the polenta is cooking soak the porcini mushrooms in the boiling water.

Thoroughly wash the chard, then strip the leaves from the stems.

Steam the chard leaves in the water that has been left clinging to them only until they collapse. Refresh in icy water then squeeze them dry. Roughly chop the chard leaves.

Finely slice the chard stems.

Put the mushrooms in their soaking liquid in a small pan, add the chard stems and the cream.

Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Drain the mushroom/chard stem mixture.

In a bowl combine the chopped chard leaves, the cooked stems and porcini, the gruyere cheese, salt and a very generous grinding of black pepper. Stir through the egg.

Tip the chard mixture into the polenta crust.

Scatter the nuts and remaining 20g of shredded gruyere over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

29 comments on “Polenta Tart – Chard, Porcini, Gruyere

  1. Josette@thebrookcook
    September 15, 2015

    I am dying to try this one!! Thank you- I hope to start receiving LOADS of Swiss Chard in my CSA share.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 16, 2015

      Hi Josette, the polenta tart is a great way to use a large bunch of chard, enjoy…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Moya
    August 17, 2015

    A beautiful tribute and a wonderful story… I sometimes think of the mysteries of a family tree and wonder where it would take you. 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 18, 2015

      Thanks Moya, discovering your genealogy is like taking a magical mystery tour

      Like

  3. chef mimi
    August 12, 2015

    A beautiful post!

    Like

  4. Gather and Graze
    August 11, 2015

    What a gorgeous post Sandra… with such a gorgeous dish to follow! I wrote a post early on, about how I desperately wished that we had at least one Italian ancestor in the family… but alas, we seem to be all English and German. 🙂

    Like

  5. richardmcgary
    August 10, 2015

    Sandra this sounds absolutely killer. I will have to try it this fall when my chard recovers from being harvested and the heat.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 10, 2015

      Thanks Richard, a good one for those of us who like funky flavours!

      Like

  6. italyonmymind
    August 9, 2015

    Love the requirement for “continental staff” !! and lovely recipe too – I love anything with polenta in it

    Like

  7. Claudia Anderson
    August 8, 2015

    This sounds divine. Something even I can so. Ive never really eaten chard…wouldnt that make this dish taste bitter?

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 8, 2015

      Hi Claudia, while chard is earthy in flavour, i’ve never found it bitter. It a perfect partner to mushroom

      Like

  8. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    August 7, 2015

    A great recipe (and I would expect anything other than a great recipe from you). Also fascinating what you find when delving into family history. Imagine, your ‘Pop’ may have worked under the French chef Auguste Escoffier! I love archival work and at one time it was my profession, but I’m only recently getting into genealogical researches, although my grandfather did most of the tough work already for his own family and all the families his children married into. His papers are now part of a local Pennsylvania history society archive. I wish there was a Mediterranean connection somewhere, but alas, only Anglo-Saxon and Germanic. Doesn’t prevent me from loving the food!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 7, 2015

      Thanks Debi, you flatter me! It was easier to research my British roots than it is my husband’s Irish Aussies named Murphy! Family history is very gratifying. We spent 5 months in the UK in 2011 on a sentimental journey. I loved every minute, and felt a real connection to some places. Genetic memory?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Eha
    August 7, 2015

    Oh the word ‘Continental’ re waiters, cooking, delis etc was still very much in use in Sydney when I arrived as a post-war migrant child! Sometimes said with praise and on odd occasions with snooty derision. How times have changed 🙂 ! So interesting to hear some of your family story as it ‘fleshes’ you out as well! Love the use of the polenta as a tart base: must remember . . .

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 7, 2015

      Thanks Eha, I’m on a bit of a polenta kick at the moment, it really is delicious! I always used to look out for the ” continental” delis, that’s where all the best food was found, times have changed thankfully!

      Like

  10. Leah
    August 7, 2015

    yum, this sounds delicious xx

    Like

  11. Francesca
    August 7, 2015

    Family research is a fascinating business indeed. So Pop Bolzani- where was he from? I love that ‘old’ expression – continental – applied to waiters and grocers, which can still be heard around Brunswick.
    Your tart looks so tasty, this my kind of food, and I plan to make it soonish, when the silver beet recovers from the Cocky attack.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 7, 2015

      Pop was from Parma, but because of the lack of blood ties I haven’t dug into his young life in Italy. Hope the silverbeet recovers soon!

      Like

  12. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso
    August 7, 2015

    Great story and a wonderful recipe. I love the use of polenta as a base for the tart. 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 7, 2015

      Thanks Ronit. The polenta was a great carrier for the tart filling. I think it would work equally well in layers

      Liked by 1 person

  13. MamaD1xx4xy
    August 6, 2015

    Lovely looking dish and great family history. I may not have ties to the Mediterranean, but I also enjoy their food!

    Like

  14. cheergerm
    August 6, 2015

    That is exquisite looking and I imagine, tasting. This will be made for The Yak in the near future, and he may well wonder ‘why has she made me this wonderful dish, what does she want?’ Your tribute to those three fine men is really beautiful.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      August 6, 2015

      Thanks Cheery, I work on the theory that every dish I make is really for me, it’s my dinner too!!

      Liked by 1 person

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