Half term has just finished 😦
Making the most of ‘time’, I’ve been doing some seasonal Spring Cleaning… therapeutic.
Going through the cupboards, I found that we had rather a glut of polenta.
So to correct the balance of ‘store cupboard essentials’, we had a polenta evening, trying lots of different polenta dishes. Here are the top two: Orange polenta cake steeped in fruit syrup, & Mushroom herb polenta – more tricky to make, but an education in polenta cooking if like us you’re not familiar with it. I have to say, I always just thought of polenta as something which lacked good looks and taste, even when served in the smartest restaurants, and never really ‘got‘ it..!
Mushroom Herb Polenta; like a homemade pizza. Bubbling with mushroom juices, grilled cheese & fragrant herbs. Orange Polenta cake; lovely for desert with a dollop of creme fraiche; equally good for tea the next day.
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Ottolenghi’s Mushroom & Herb Polenta. Vegetarian.
We found it best to let the prepared polenta rest a little before use, allowing it to settle.
I’d love to hear what other people do with polenta – do let me know (I’ve still got quite a stash in the cupboard!) We used thyme and sage in this recipe, as they both needed trimming ready for their spring growth!
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Orange Polenta cake with Orange Syrup. Vegetarian.
Light, textured and aromatic – a grown up cake to serve with rich ice cream, creme fraiche and / or dark berry compote. It’s plain, not a stunner – but simple is sometimes good…
250g softened butter
250g sugar (I used unbleached cane sugar)
4 large eggs
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Grated zest and juice of 2 large oranges. Grate gently or the zest will be bitter. Save 100ml juice for syrup.
Orange Syrup – 100ml orange juice and 100g sugar.
Line a round 23cm cake tin with baking paper. I used a smaller tin with only 2/3 of the mixture and it was perfect, so adjust carefully to suit your needs.
Heat oven to 160 / 140 / gas 3.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add eggs, beating well. Feel the burn in those arms!
Reserve 100ml juice for syrup in a small saucepan. Add the rest, with zest and dry ingredients to the creamed butter & sugar, sifting in flour and polenta.
Gently plop into the tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Make the syrup by gently dissolving sugar in remaining orange juice over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Once dissolved, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce & thicken slightly.
Slowly pour the syrup over the cake, allowing it to seep in. I did this before taking the cake out of the baking paper, to stop the syrup from running off.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy – some people won’t like the texture of the polenta, but I think it’s quite sophisticated… I’m going to try this again in late summer, with lavender flowers in the syrup to give it a more floral aroma.
Recipe from the fab BBC good food website. What’s your favourite recipe website?
So for the moment, my kitchen cupboard is sorted, but it’ll never be ‘tidy‘!