Tag Archives: polenta

Blood orange polenta upside-down cake

Upside-down cakes are an interesting creation. They all start with a caramel sauce you make in a big skillet, then you arrange fruit slices on top of it, finally pouring a cake batter over everything and baking to finish. Magically, the sticky caramel and fruit release with the cake when you flip it over onto your serving plate.

I was first attracted to this recipe in Bon Appetit because the pictures were beautiful! I love that ruby pulp of blood oranges and polenta cakes have a sweet taste and slightly grainy texture. I had never made an upside-down cake before, so this would be my first.

I really liked the cake. It was sweet and light, thanks to egg whites that you whip and fold into it. But those oranges are so bitter! Not even just the peel part, but even the fruit! It doesn’t completely ruin the cake for me, but we definitely peeled off the oranges and piled lots of whipped cream on top to offset the bitterness. I honestly don’t think you could slice those oranges thin enough to get rid of any bitterness. It almost tasted like grapefruit, and I do not like grapefruit.

Nevertheless, it is a fun cake to make…

Blood orange polenta upside down cake


  • 7 T sugar, divided, plus 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 T water
  • 8 T unsalted butter, at room temp, divided
  • 3 unpeeled blood oranges, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c. plus 3 T flour
  • 3 T coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 6 T whole milk
  • sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350.

Combine 6 T sugar and 3 T water in 10-inch ovenproof skillet with at least 2-inch sides. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, swirling skillet, until it turns dark amber, about 4 min. Remove from heat and whisk 2 T butter into it. Arrange orange slices in concentric circles on bottom of skillet.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, polenta, baking powder and salt to blend. Using electric mixer and another bowl, beat 3/4 c. sugar, remaining butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in two additions. Beat until batter is just incorporated.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 T sugar and beat until stiff. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold the remaining in 2 additions. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop oranges, then spread evenly.

Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 45 min. Cool in skillet 10 min., run a small knife around the edges, place platter on top, then flip the whole thing upside down. The cake should plop onto the plate. If any oranges come loose, rearrange them.

Cool cake completely to room temperature and serve with whipped cream or sweetened creme fraiche.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Beef short ribs with cheddar polenta


These braised short ribs completely make up for my short-rib failure this past spring. Not only were they absolutely delicious, but way less high-maintenance than the previous recipe.

Seared and then braised with ancho chile powder, Worcestershire sauce and onions, the dish develops a rich broth to go with fall-off-the-bone meat. It pairs perfectly with a flavorful cheesy polenta made with garlic and thyme.

I used an Emeril Lagasse recipe, although I changed it a bit based on consumer reviews and my own tastes (for example, it does not need a whole gallon of water. We’re not making soup!). I recommend making this for Sunday supper because it cooks for three hours.


2-3 lbs. beef short ribs

2 T ancho chile powder

2 T olive oil

1 T soy sauce

1 dried ancho chile

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

6 T Worcestershire sauce

6 T light brown sugar

2 T kosher salt

8 c. water


Season both sides of the ribs with chile powder and refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat large Dutch oven over medium. Add oil and sear ribs on all sides, in batches, if needed. With all ribs in the pot, add soy sauce, ancho chile, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, kosher salt and water. (Note: I added a glug of red wine, just because.) Bring to a simmer and adjust the seasonings to taste (add more salt). Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the ribs are tender and fall from the bones, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat off top (or cool, put in fridge and remove fat the next day – this only gets better a day later!)

Meanwhile, make polenta:

1 1/2 c. water

2 c. milk

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 c. fine-grained corn meal

4 T unsalted butter

1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine water, milk, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and whisk in corn meal. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until it thickens, 20-25 min.

Add butter and stir until melted. Add cheeses and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste, remove bay leaf.

To serve, on big plate or even a large bowl, scoop big portions of polenta, then add a couple beef ribs and finish with the beef broth. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.

This made about six servings for dinner, with a small salad and bread on the side. Perfect for entertaining, or when you need something comforting on a cold day.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo