Heat the oven to 350 degree. Pour 3 cups of hot water into an 8-inch square baking dish. Whisk in the cornmeal and pepper. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Stir the polenta until blended. Stir in the cottage cheese. Continue to bake uncovered until the polenta is creamy and the liquid is completely absorbed (about 5 minutes longer). Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. While the Polenta is baking, in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion, celery and pepper in the hot oil for 5 minutes; stir in the garlic. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Stir in the tomatoes with juice, 3/4 cup water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, sugar, cumin, hot sauce and bay leaf. Heat to boiling and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the shrimp. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Divide the Polenta among 5 large soup bowls. Ladle the shrimp creole over the polenta.