Cheesy Polenta Spinach Cake; spices

I saw something similar to this somewhere…. As is typical of me.

At 3:00 in the morning I woke up and started thinking about dinner….. As is also typical of me.

And so a recipe is created.

I made this for New Year’s Eve dinner to go with a venison tenderloin that I simply roasted. It was meant to be an easy dinner so I could relax, sip champagne and nibble on smoked salmon.

Not the prettiest dish I’ve made but we were happy with how it tasted.

And I was happy with the do-ahead part.

I would do it for a dinner party, making individual cakes.

Cheesy Polenta Spinach Cake

Total time: 35 minutes plus chilling time


  • 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup (1.5oz, 45gr) polenta, quick-cooking
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 8oz (240gr) frozen spinach, thawed (4oz, 120gr when squeezed)
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2oz (60gr) cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Cheesy Polenta Spinach Cake


  • Sauté shallots in oil in a saucepan until starting to brown.
  • Thaw spinach and squeeze dry.
  • Add stock to shallots and bring to boil.
  • Add polenta, whisking constantly.
  • Turn heat down and cook 3 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Add spinach, stir well to combine, and cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
  • If you have a 6 or 7″ flat-bottomed skillet or saucepan, line it with cling film. If not, put film on a baking sheet.
  • Lightly oil film.
  • Spoon polenta onto film and smooth the top (make a free-from circle if not using a pan, 1″ thick).
  • Chill until ready to finish.
  • When ready, remove cake from film and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Bake, 200C (400F) for 15 minutes.
  • Top with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer, 
  • Remove, slice and serve.

Print Recipe

Two weeks ago I did herbs…..

Here are some spices – also first posted 7 years ago.

Herbs are leaves, either fresh or dried.

Spices are the rest of the plant: seeds, stems, roots, bark, buds, berries; and are most often dried.

Spices are very often used in cuisine-specific blends such as curry powder (Indian), harissa (North African) or chili powder (Mexican).

You can buy blends or make your own.

Here is some starting information on what spices work together:

Allspice: Complements root vegetables, tomato-based sauces, roast meats, shellfish, pickles, cakes, pies.  Used in sweet spice blends, curry powders, meat seasonings, tagine blends, jerk seasoning.

Caraway: Complements cheeses, pork, vegetables (cabbage, potatoes). Used in garam masala, sausage seasoning, tandoori spice blends.

Cardamom, green: Complements pastries, sweet dishes, cakes, breads, rices, curries. Used in curry powder, garam masala, tagine spice blends, ras el hanout.

Celery Seed: Complements vegetable juices, seafood, eggs, salad dressings, cheeses, poultry. Used in seasoning blends for roast meats.

Chili: Complements Mexican sauces, Asian stir-fries, curries, almost everything else. Used in curry powder, taco seasonings, pickling spices, chili powder, all-purpose seasoning blends.

Cinnamon and Cassia: Complements cakes, sweet baked goods, stewed fruits and puddings, curries, Moroccan tagines. Used in curry powder, sweet spice blends, ras el hanout, garam masala, Cajun spice blends, barbecue spices.

Cloves: Complements cakes, sweet baked goods, stewed fruits and puddings, curries, Moroccan tagines. Used in curry powder, sweet spice blends, ras el hanout, garam masala, tagine spice blends, Chinese five-spice.

Coriander (seeds): Complements curries, cakes and breads, fruit pies, chicken, seafood. Used in curry powder, sweet spice blends, ras el hanout, tagine spice blends, harissa paste.

Cumin: Complements Indian curries, Asian red curries, chicken, seafood, rice, vegetable dishes, bread, Mexican sauces. Used in barbecue spices, curry powders, harissa paste, chili powder, ras el hanout, berbere.

Fennel (seeds): Complements breads, sausages, Malay curries, pasta, tomato sauces, satay dishes.  Used in curry powder, Chinese five-spice, Cajun spice blends, ras le hanout.

Galangal: Complements Thai soups, Asian curries and stir-fries, seafood dishes, sambal paste.  Used in red and green curry blends, redang curry powder, ras le hanout.

Ginger: Complements cakes, sweet baked goods, all curries, Asian stir-fries, red meats, seafood.  Used in barbecue seasoning blends, red and green curry blends, jerk seasoning, curry powders, tandoori seasoning, ras el hanout, sweet spice blends.

Mustard (seeds, powder): Complements pickles, Indian curries, salad dressings, curry powders, meat seasonings, pickling spices.

Nutmeg and Mace: Complements winter squashes, potatoes, meat terrines, cheese sauces, milk and rice puddings, sweet baked goods. Used in sweet spice blends, some curry powders.

Paprika: Complements roast meats and poultry, stews, hearty soups, legumes, egg dishes, sauces, tomato sauces. Used in tandoori spice blends, barbecue seasonings, Cajun spices, curry powders, chili powder, ras el hanout, tagine spice blends.

Pepper, black, white, red, green.  Needs it’s own chapter – one of them will complement just about everything and one of them is used in almost any savory or hot spice blend.

Salt: see pepper.

Turmeric: Complements curries, Moroccan tagines, stir-fried chicken, seafood, pickles, rice dishes.  Used in curry powders, ras el hanout, tandoori spice blends.

Last update on January 28, 2018

6 thoughts on “Cheesy Polenta Spinach Cake; spices”

  1. This looks delicious. My husband loves polenta. I could see this standing on its own as a casual weeknight meal as well as an accompaniment for a meat dish.

    I wanted to say I loved your post regarding the disappearing, non-commercial, home blogger. It’s a different world since I started 11 years ago. A basic recipe-and-a-photo blog posted to a free site is a thing of the past. I still keep my blog active though. I like having my recipes archived for both myself and my friends and my family. It’s not as active as it was of course. My ideas have run dry over the years since I’m not a professional chef. Still, I have to write when the inspiration strikes me.

    • Rachel, I agree and am the same – it’s as much for me as anyone else. Yesterday I was looking for a simple recipe for caramel sauce. I ended up on a well-known bloggers site and there were so many redundant photos that I gave up before I even got to the recipe!

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