GOOD FOOD IS FOR SHARING

Not long after I finished making the Lemon Syrup Polenta Ricotta Cake (pictured right) on Sunday, we lost our power for 24 hours due to a big storm.

It’s amazing how much we rely on power – we take it for granted until we don’t have it. I was mid-way through cooking Mediterranean stuffed capsicums when the power bolted – I did manage to finish cooking the stuffing (I have a gas cook-top), but when it came to roasting the stuffed capsicums, I was momentarily lost. I ended up cooking them on a cook-top, covered in foil; they were delicious. Improvisation came to the fore.

Wise Woman, who also lost her power for more than 20 hours, invited us over for a tasty, somewhat improvised candlelit dinner. Not only was the food good, but I think we benefited from the company of some of the younger members a lot more – they actually talked to us: “No TV, no Xbox, no iPods…guess we’d better talk then.” Later, Miss Attitude and I decorated the house, even the toilet, with tea light candles, and then took ourselves off to bed to read by candlelight. Bear actually had an early night and Music Man conceded that he too had nothing better to do.

Other friends had games nights (I did read on Facebook that one boy was going to scream if he had to play Scrabble one more time) and I heard of a communal BBQ in a nearby suburb. The fences had blown down and neighbours suddenly came out of their homes (shock, horror) and met each other, some for the first time. Friends and strangers helped each other chop up fallen trees; a man blocked a road with his car to stop people driving into power lines…it’s heartening to hear of the stories that have come from this situation. No power? There’s incredible power in the goodness that comes to the forefront in difficult times, isn’t there.

I shared this cake with family and friends after the big storm (one friend said, “Polenta? I hate polenta!” and proceeded to gobble a piece, so I know it’s good). Now I’m sharing it with you. I can’t take credit for the recipe – I cut it from a polenta packet – but it’s too good not to pass on. It’s not light and fluffy (who needs that in a storm), but moist and firm.

LEMON SYRUP POLENTA RICOTTA CAKE FOR WHEN LIFE’S A BIT STORMY

A second storm front headed our way yesterday.

200g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
4 extra large eggs
3/4 cup polenta
200g almond meal
1 cup fresh ricotta

Lemon syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (140 degrees fan-forced).
2. Beat butter, sugar and lemon rind until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Fold in combined polenta and almonds, then crumble in ricotta – keep pieces quite large. Spoon into greased and base lined 20cm spring formed pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until firm and cooked when tested.
4. For lemon syrup – combine lemon syrup, sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil for 4-5 minutes until reduced and a syrupy consistency. 5. Poke a few holes in the top of the hot cake and pour over the syrup. Allow the syrup to absorb and then serve with thick cream.