Polenta al Forno with Spinach and Ricotta.

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Even though it’s getting close to the end of winter, the end of the cold, of the short days, longs coats, and snow-covered ground, I’m nowhere near done with winter comfort food. Seasonally appropriate meals? Not to be found here.

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Long into summer you’ll find soups and more than likely there’ll be something cheesy and starchy thrown up on the site in June. Maybe even with a poached egg and bacon. Who knows. This blog knows no rules when it comes to limiting your comfort to the cooler months of the year. Blame it on my California upbringing, where if you were waiting for 40 degree weather to break out the mac ‘n’ cheese and mash potatoes, they’d rarely, if ever, make an appearance on the dinner table. And so, check back here around May, when it’s heading up to warm, sunny, and clear blue skies.

You’ll find something along the lines of this polenta and spinach bake. Because even though a three-cheese spinach filling in a creamy polenta bake is exactly what you need in February, there’s no need to limit the polenta love to just one season. Not only would that be disrespectful to all those hard-working polenta mills, but it would complete disregard the wants and needs of my stomach. Sad and empty, missing all the satisfaction of a scoop of hot, baked polenta puffed up the with the help of ricotta, cheddar, and parmesan. Let’s be honest, no one should have to go without polenta. Especially when the possibilities are an endless variety of baked, soft, grilled, topped with all sort of sauces and stews. Just think of the options. More than a year’s worth of recipes.

Continue reading “Polenta al Forno with Spinach and Ricotta.”

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Polenta Cakes with Roasted Asparagus and Mornay Sauce.

Last Wednesday I had the perfect meal. It began with gruyere donuts, stayed a while with a rye flight and a deconstructed rabbit pot pie, and ended with gougeres filled with mornay sauce. Yes, the each bookend to this perfect meal was gruyere.

All bookends should be gruyere-based, as it turns out. Just imagine, beginning and ending with a cheese that has just the right balance of nuttiness, richness, and salt. A cheese between soft and hard. The perfect cheese.

As it happens, no meal can last forever but there’s the beauty in cooking. Gougeres with mornay sauce on Wednesday, polenta cakes with mornay sauce on Monday. Because apparently, Bakelist is all about piling things atop polenta these days. A couple roasted asparagus in there just for a little green. And so at least one thing on the plate isn’t loaded with cheese.

Not that I’d ever complain about such a plate…

Recipe on the following page.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Polenta.

Sometimes you want a bowl of comfort for breakfast and what’s more, you want it savory. None of that creamy oatmeal drizzled with maple syrup and topped with brown sugar nonsense. Nope, none of that. Though that can be nice too, I’m never one to knock sugar… But sometimes, what you’d rather have is a bit more cheesy, salty, and hey, maybe topped with a bit of bacon. Yes, that sounds nice.

There is nothing quite like a hot bowl of polenta for breakfast, brunch, or really even dinner. Polenta, that slightly coarser cousin to grits, is a bowl full of body, of rich carbs swirled together with cheese and butter. Topped off with a few slices of bacon and a fried egg, it is the perfect thing to start a day or greet you at the end of one.

To add to the wonder—as if bacon, eggs, and cheese could get any better—polenta practically makes itself. Cornmeal, water, and just a dab of attention results in a beautiful polenta. After that, any and all cheese can be added. Polenta is a great vessel for all the leftover bits of cheese you may have lying around and while I went with the classic brunch trio, you can really top polenta with anything. Leftover greens, garlic, a swirl of crème fraiche, anything goes. Consider a bowl of polenta like a blank pizza crust—anything can be piled high on top. Except this time around, there is no dough to roll.  Bellissima.

Recipe on the following page.