Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I have been reading Wednesday....Stanley Tucci Edition

Half way through the week, and already it has been quite the week, but it is time for "What I have been reading Wednesday", Stanley Tucci edition.  I have to admit normally I am not a big fan of when actors suddenly jump on the lets make a cookbook bandwagon.  Last time I went to my Barnes and Nobles there were so many cookbooks by entertainers and not as many by actual chefs, but I guess the joke is on me because I sure saw those cookbooks selling even if they were not by chefs. 

When I heard that Stanley Tucci was doing a cookbook I was surprised, but very intrigued.  I have seen so many of his movies, and as we all know he is a very talented actor, and I have always loved his work, so I was hoping this next venture would not disappoint me,  I have to say I am impressed and his cookbook, the basis of the recipes is Italian, focusing on his own heritage and the food of his life.  They are good solid recipes to build into your stockpile with also, variations and ideas for turning the recipes into showstoppers for party and company.  The food photography is clear and crisp and I especially love the step by step picture instructions for techniques.

I had no idea that Mr. Tucci was so skilled in the kitchen and so passionate about home cooking and home entertaining, but I love that he is, and it shows me that some entertainers really do make some worthwhile cookbooks.  I had no idea that Stanley Tucci was so knowledgeable about food, as you will learn in the book the ENTIRE Tucci family know their food, and every aspect of it, down to the paring suggestions and more.  It is also a very personal book to him, including family memories, stories and photos, really sharing his private world with the reader.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised with his cookbook, and I am looking forward to making more of the recipes, first one up is the Plum and Polenta Cake, it looks amazing in the book, and I can't wait to try it.

Plum & Polenta Cake
(from The Stanley Tucci Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal or seminola flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 plums, cut in half and pitted
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.

4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the plum halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

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