Polenta Inspiration

WE DID IT!!! My friend and I successfully ran the Race for Life yesterday evening in Battersea Park. It was such a great event with an amazing atmosphere – over 3000 people had signed up to run, jog or walk the distance :-).

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I managed the 5k in just over 25 minutes… not too bad for an awful long distance runner. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations, together you helped me raise a grand total of £1’711.00 in aid of Cancer Research UK!!!! If you have not yet donated but still wish to do so, the link below is active until early September:

http://www.justgiving.com/themedicalgourmet

Moving on to today’s recipe – recently I have started taking one ingredient and basing an entire menu around it. Today’s choice: Polenta. Polenta is great in cakes and breads (nothing beats chilli with cornbread) but also makes a great side to mushroomy dishes. It reminds me of my childhood holidays in the warm italian part of southern Switzerland. The reason behind my choice of polenta is a recent dinner invitation. They served a delicious polenta/lemon/almond cake for dessert. I had two helpings (despite a starter, a main and an exploding food belly). The minute I got home I tried to find a similar recipe, determined to re-create this heavenly lemony dessert. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same recipe, but it sure tasted just as good :-). The strawberry coulis is an addition of mine, I felt the dish needed some fresh fruity sauce to round it off.

Beef Fillet, Mushrooms, Sherry Sauce, Creamy Polenta

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adapted from Fast Food by Laurel Glen and Wildeisen


You’ll need 

For the beef
4 beef fillets (ca. 160g each)
250g mushrooms (button or portabello)
olive oil
60g butter
125 ml sherry
2 tsp thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
For the polenta
700ml vegetable stock
20g butter
125g polenta
100ml single cream
salt and pepper

  1. For the polenta: bring your vegetable stock and 20g butter to a boil. Slowly stir in the polenta and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down your heat to the lowest possible level, cover with a lid, and let the polenta soak up the liquid for at least half an hour. Important: do not stir the polenta during these 30 minutes!
  2. Clean your mushrooms with a paper towel or a brush (do not wash with water…this will make them soggy!). Slice, depending on their size, into 1-2cm sized pieces.
  3. Preheat your oven to 80°C.
  4. Season your beef. Heat a tbsp of olive oil and 20g butter in a pan until sizzling. Add your beef fillets and cook on each side for about 3 minutes (with a 150g fillet this result in medium-rare), depending on the thickness and your preference. Set aside on a plate to rest and cover with aluminium foil.
  5. Melt a further 20g of butter in your pan. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and keep cooking for another minute or so. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and keep warm in the oven.
  6. Pour your sherry and any juices from the resting meat into your pan. Cover the meat again and keep warm in the oven. Reduce the sauce until you have about 80ml left, then whisk in the butter and season.
  7. Before serving, stir your cream into the polenta to loosen and season with pepper (the stock will have probably added enough salt).
  8. To serve: place a filet in the middle of your plate, top with mushrooms and some sauce and add a dollop or two of polenta alongside. Serve with some lambs lettuce salad.

Rating: 7.5/10

So this dish is actually super tasty if you manage to cook your meat perfectly (I succeeded yay!), but the sauce is also very important. Distracted by finishing the polenta, working out how to best take a picture and assembling everything but the sauce on a plate I unfortunately left the sauce on the hot stove and HAHA it burnt 😦 so no sauce for me. And no sauce in the picture. Lesson learnt: take everything off the heat before trying to take pictures….. otherwise I would have given this dish 9/10 points….. it was a very emotional moment in my kitchen…..

 

Lemon, Almond & Polenta Cake with a Strawberry Coulis

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adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe


You’ll need

For the cake
132g butter, softened
132g ground almonds
132g caster sugar
67g polenta
1.5tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1.5 lemons, zested and juiced
84g icing sugar
For the coulis
200g strawberries, hulled and halved
35g icing sugar
a dash of lemon juice

  1. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper and grease with butter. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat your butter and your sugar until pale and fluffily. Add your eggs, lemon zest and ground almonds. Mix until well combined.
  3. Stir in your polenta and mix thoroughly until you have a smooth mixture. Pour into you cake tin and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Just before removing the cake from the oven, bring the lemon juice and icing sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, until the sugar has dissolved. This is the lemon syrup you will soak your cake with.
  5. Once removed from the oven, place the cake on a cooling rack, still in its tin. Poke it multiple times all over with a cake tester. Pour the lemon syrup over your whole cake, as evenly as possible, and let the cake cool completely in its tin allowing it to fully soak up the lemony goodness.
  6. To make your coulis, simply cook the strawberries over medium high heat for a few minutes until they start to break down. Add your icing sugar and continue cooking until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a food processor, add the dash of lemon juice, and blend until smooth. Sieve into a sauce boat, set aside to cool and chill until needed.
  7. Serve your cake with some fresh berries and the coulis.

Rating: 9.5/10

Lemony strawberry HEAVEN

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