Fresh Apricots & Polenta Upside Down Cake

Apricot & Polenta Upside down Cake

 

Polenta gives the light sponge that nutty corn flavour that compliments the fruit perfectly. Serve it with custard or cream.

 

FRESH APRICOT AND POLENTA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Ingredients:

150 g golden caster sugar

6-7 apricots, cut in halves

30 ml honey

3 eggs

120 ml vegetable oil

115 g self raising flour

50 g instant polenta

cream for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Generously grease and line a 21cm round cake tin. Scatter 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the base of the prepared tin.
  2. Arrange the apricots halves on the base of the prepared tin. Drizzle the honey over the apricots and set aside.
  3. Mix together the eggs and the remaining sugar in a bowl.
  4. Beat the egg mixture until thick and creamy, then gradually beat in the oil. Sift together the flour, polenta and fold into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture carefully into the tin over the apricots. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out on to a plate, peel off the paper.

Fresh Apricots & Polenta Upside Down Cake

 

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Piri Piri Chicken with Creamy Cheesy Polenta Mush

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If you are not familiar with the polenta mush yet, you need to be. Let me introduce you to it now.

Polenta  originated in Northern Italy as a peasant food at first, but I am very glad now that it finally gained world wide recognition and rapidly became popular. Yellow polenta is such a versatile ingredient,  is often served as a soft, thick mush, which may be topped with sauce, a hearty ragout, or cheese. Cooked polenta can also be cooled until firm and cut into wedges, rounds, or other shapes, which can be baked, grilled, or pan-fried and also used in sweet bakes and desserts.  But, today, I’d like to share the recipe of the perfect side dish or as an alternative to potato mush.

The only thing I have to warn you, polenta without the seasoning can be very plain and tasteless, therefore, make sure you season it well. Season, taste it and then… season a bit more.

I like to cook polenta in a chicken stock (or in its absence, a chicken stock in cubes is just as handy), adding the butter  and the cheese (this time instead of Parmesan I used Cheddar) for extra creaminess. It takes no more then 15 minutes to prepare and it’s so comforting and absolutely delicious.

PIRI PIRI CHICKEN WITH CREAMY CHEESY POLENTA MUSH

Ingredients:

For Chicken:

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons Piri Piri seasoning mix

pinch of salt

olive oil for frying

For Polenta Mush: 

2 cups (450 ml) chicken stock

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

1 cup (225 ml) milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup (250 g) coarse yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup (100 g) grated cheddar cheese

Plus: any green vegetable to serve (I used broccoli)

Method:

1. Start with preparing the chicken by placing it on a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss it with the salt and Piri Piri seasoning mix. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken with a rolling pin. Place the chicken on a hot frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, turning after 5-6 minutes, until golden and completely cooked through.

2. Meanwhile chicken is cooking, make a mush. Heat the stock, water and milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal (I like to use a hand whisk for that) making sure there are no lumps. Stir regularly until the polenta is very thick and creamy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover with the lid and let it ‘rest’ for about 10 more minute. Ten, serve it when you are ready.

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Not Quite Usual Banana Cake

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I had an urge for Banana Cake but didn’t want to make the usual Banana Bread (although I love it), then I remember seeing on a blog, Banana Tray Cake and I really liked how it looked. However, I didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to improvise. The result was better then I expected – the texture of the cake was grainy, nutty and moist at the same time.

BANANA TRAY BAKE

(adapted from Jude Blereau)

Ingredients:

2 bananas, sliced

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup polenta

1/2 cup ground almond

1/2 cup sugar (plus some to sprinkle on top)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 baking powder

1/2 bicarbonate soda

pinch of salt

125g softened butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line up with parchment paper 20×20 baking tray.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside. In another bowl beat soft butter, eggs & vanilla extract until creamy and pale, add buttermilk and beat a little more until just combined.

3. Add dry ingredients onto the wet and mix until incorporated evenly (do not over beat). Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top with spatula and arrange the sliced bananas on a top. (The trick is to place the banana slices carefully on top, without ‘dunking’ them into the cake. In this case, when the cake will rise during the baking it should cover them gently, sort of half way and you won’t have soggy bananas in the middle but nicely decorated cake top and better flavour instead).

4. Sprinkle with the sugar on top and place, place in the oven and bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Sweet Potato & Cashew Nut Tart Tatin

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This is one of my favourite use of polenta. It is an unusual take on on a well known Tart Tatin, using polenta as a base and Indian spices as a perfect partner. It works well, providing a mild base and more powerful, rich curried topping.

SWEET POTATO & CASHEW NUT TART TATIN

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

600 g sweet potatoes (cut in cubes)

1 red onion (cut in cubes)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black onion seeds (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

70 g cashew nuts

200 g polenta

salt,pepper to taste

Plus: 22sm springform tin

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly brush the inside of a springform tin with oil. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil , add the sweet potato and cook for 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, add the spices and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add sugar and vinegar, stir over a medium heat for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained sweet potato and cashew nuts, string to coat everything evenly. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down lightly.

3. Bring 800 ml of water to the boil in a large saucepan and add polenta, string constantly with the whisk. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until thickens, then remove from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Spread it evenly over the vegetables in the tin with the palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the polenta is firm and beginning to shrink from the side of the tin. Leave to stand for 2 minutes then run the point of the knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate.

4. Serve the tart hot as a main course, with a fresh tomato salad or any of your favourite greens, or as a side dish with the meat main.