The name reads really well – the sort of high maintenance dish that requires hours of dedicated work in the kitchen. The truth is that it is a lot easier to bake than it sounds… After all, it is a slightly modified pound cake, with 2 very easy elements on the side. The cake itself has a pleasantly crumbly and grainy texture, ideal to combine with the rosemary infused honey. The creamy mascarpone sauce just makes everything come together. Try it with a double expresso for even better results…
Polenta cake with mascarpone and rosemary (adapted from a Eddie Russel recipe found in Food and Wine Magazine)
- 1 3/4 cup (=220g) flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup (=65g) polenta
- Pinch of salt
- 2 sticks (=220g) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (110g) of sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 cup (=225g) mascarpone, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (200mL) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
Preheat the oven to 325°F (= 190°C). Butter and flour a metal loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the polenta and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating the batter at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn the cake onto a rack and let it cool until warm.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the water and rosemary sprigs and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs. While the cake is still warm, lightly brush the top of the cake with the rosemary syrup.
In a medium bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the cream, sugar and vanilla-bean seeds.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into thick slices and transfer to plates. Top each slice with a large dollop of mascarpone, drizzle with the rosemary syrup and serve.
I had done dishes by Mafalda Pinto Leite before (here and here), and I knew she has good hand with combining different tastes and textures. Last time I was in Lisbon, I bought her book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time], to give it a try. Now that I have a regular office job again, it seemed like a good idea to have a bunch of recipes that are easy, quick and good all together. This was my first dish out of that book, and I have to say it seems I only got the last one right…. It is indeed an excellent combination of flavors and it warms your soul. However, it actually took way longer than she claimed and the recipe was a bit confusing. Nothing a good cook cannot fix, but nevertheless, a bit lame… Still worthwhile redoing and eating for as long as the Winter is here. Mind you, I ate it all and scrapped the Pyrex.
Roasted chicken with sweet potato
- 4 pieces of chicken (either breast or thighs)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of chopped coriander
- 3 baby leeks, finely sliced (or 2 regular leeks, only white parts)
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons of grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of runny honey
- 1/3 water cup
- 200g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
- Olive oil to brush
Pre-heat the oven griller to medium-high
Put the garlic, coriander, baby leeks, lemon zest, ginger, soy sauce, honey and water in a tall jug or beaker. Blend in with a mixer for about 2 minutes, until is chopped but still with pieces. Poor this sauce on top of the chicken and spread well. Reserve.
Brush the sweet potato with olive oil.
Put the chicken and the sweet potatoes on an oven proof dish and grill until it is golden and cooked.
You can serve this dish with a green salad.
At some point over Christmas, I just felt the need to have something sweet but at the same time fresh and light. Meaning, a dessert that didn’t involve deep fried dough or extra sugary milk and eggs concoctions, all covered with even more sugar and a generous amount of cinnamon. While it was not sugar or cinnamon free, these fragrant orange slice were very nice break from all those Christmas excesses. And, for extra bonus, they provided the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C. Overall, it is super easy dish to do, and is ideal to finish a decadent rich meal. Original recipe was found in Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food.
Fragrant orange slices
- 4 large oranges
- 1 1/2 tablespoon runny honey
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 50g toasted walmuts for pistachios, roughly chopped.
Slice off the top and bottom of each orange and place upright on a chopping board. Following the curve of the fruit, cut off the skin, making sure that you remove the withe pith as well. Turn the peeled orange on one side and cut into slices, removing any pips as you do so.
Arrange the orange slices overlapping on individual plates. Mix the honey with the orange blossom water until evenly blended, then drizzle over the orange slices. Mix the cinnamon and chopped walnuts together and scatter over the oranges to serve.