Spring Polenta with Peas, Shrimp & Asparagus

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The weather is always indecisive in spring. We had a few good days where it was very warm. One where we could actually be outside without wearing a jacket. Then the temperature dropped again and I was back wearing my winter jacket. And yesterday we had hail. So in the spirit of sunny but cold days I made this spring polenta. Still comforting but with more veggies. I wanted to also top it with some Parmesan shavings but I only realized I had forgotten it after I finished shooting. So add some if you like. We have been going nuts buying plants and seeds in preparation for our new apartment since it has a garden. We will only be moving in summer but we are already growing some plants in our balcony and my prop room has become a green house. We grew this green basil ourselves and cannot wait for all our other plants to grow.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the shrimp:

250gr of shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of salt

Pinch of celery salt

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ a lemon

For the asparagus:

150grs of thin asparagus, thinly sliced except for the tips (If you get the thick asparagus just cook them longer)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of garlic powder

For the pea polenta:

¾ cup of coarse yellow cornmeal

2 cups of frozen peas

3 1/2 cups of boiling vegetable stock or water

250ml of cream

Salt

Pinch of celery salt

Pinch of garlic powder

Extras:

Handful of micro basil (I used green and purple)

Juice of ½ a lemon

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Edible flowers (optional)

 

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the asparagus, a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Saute them for about 2 minutes. Set them aside.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp, garlic powder, celery salt, and salt. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are pink. The time will depend on the size of your shrimp, mine were small. Then add the lemon juice and zest. Cook for an extra minute while tossing. Set it aside.

For the polenta, place the frozen peas in the jar of the blender and add the boiling stock or water. Let it sit for 30 seconds so that the peas get blenched and then blend until smooth. Pass it through a fine mesh sieve.

Pour the pea stock (reserve ¼ of a cup of the pea stock), cream, salt, celery salt, and garlic powder into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts simmering, slowing sprinkle the cornmeal while whisking. Whisk on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes until it becomes creamy and it is fully cooked. It is important to keep whisking to avoid lumps from forming.

Once the polenta is cooked, add the remaining ¼ of a cup of the pea stock if it needs to loosen up a bit. Taste for salt.

In a small bowl, mix the micro basil with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Serve the polenta with the asparagus, shrimp, dressed micro basil and edible flowers.

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Red Wine Braised Oxtail with Creamy Polenta and Honey Glazed Carrots

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I love this recipe, great for these colder months. It is very easy to make, it just takes a couple of hours because the meat needs to be braised. The flavors are definitely worth the wait though. The red wine sauce goes really well with the creamy polenta and the meat just falls off the bone.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the stew:

4 big pieces of Oxtail, about 1 kilo (seems like a lot but it has a lot of bone)

One onion cut in half

2 cloves of garlic, peeled.

1 bay leaf

One bottle of red wine

7 cups of beef stock

500grs of tomato puree

One tablespoon of sugar

½ cup of port

Olive oil to seal the meat

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh thyme for decoration

For the glazed carrots:

8 small rainbow carrots, peeled

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of honey

Pinch of celery salt

1/2 cup of water

For the Polenta:

3/4 cup of polenta

4 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable)

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

30grs of grated Parmesan cheese

 

To braise the oxtails:

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oxtails and sear them on both sides. Take the meat out and set it aside.

Add the onion, garlic, tomato puree, sugar and bay leaf. Stir

Place the meat back in the Dutch oven. Add the red wine, stock, salt and pepper.

Let it cook covered, over medium heat for about 2.5 to 3 hours. Check from time to time that it has enough liquid; otherwise add more stock. You know it’s done when the meat pulls apart from the bone using just a fork.

Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the Dutch oven. Strain the sauce. Then place the sauce back in the pot, add the port and let it reduce.

Once the sauce has reduced and thickened, place the meat back in the pot. Baste them so they don’t get dry.

To glaze the carrots:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Then add the carrots, celery salt, honey and water. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for 1 extra minute. Pinch one carrot with a knife to check if its cooked through. If not let them cook a bit longer. Set aside.

Cook the polenta just before serving:

First warm up the broth with the salt. On low heat, slowly add the polenta while whisking. This way you won’t have any lumps. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the butter, Parmesan cheese and mix well until both have melted. Serve Immediately.

Once the polenta is cooked, divide it among 2 plates. Add the oxtails, carrots and garnish with some fresh thyme.

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