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Lou Wine Bar chef DJ Olsen always has delicious ideas for how to make the best of local produce. He tells us about a cake made with coarse polenta or cornmeal. He uses a turkey baster to inject this dense but moist cake with lots of juice from blood oranges. It results in beautiful red and orange swirls. DJ buys reddish blood oranges from JJ's Lone Daughter Ranch. He also finds good quality coarse cornmeal in bulk at Co-opportunity, 1525 Broadway, Santa Monica.

Blood Oranges
Blood Oranges from JJ's Lone Daughter Ranch


Blood Orange Polenta Cake with Honeyed Mascarpone

8 servings
Keeps up to one week, covered, refrigerated

Pan spray
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground polenta
2-1/2 tsps baking powder
Pinch of salt
2oz cold unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon whole milk
1/2 tsp orange extract
Zest from 4 blood oranges
2 cups fresh squeezed blood orange juice (8-12 oranges, depending on size and juiciness)
Turkey baster fitted with a needle point

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Pan spray one 10" fluted tart or cake pan with a removable bottom.

2. Sift together flour, polenta, baking powder, salt.

3. Place butter, sugar in bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle; paddle at slow speed until combined; increase speed to high and paddle until mixture is light and fluffy (8 min).

4. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Return speed to medium-high; add eggs, one at a time, paddling each egg until combined, scraping down sides of work bowl after each addition.

5. Add milk, orange extract, orange zest; paddle until combined.

6. With machine off, add flour mixture; paddle at low speed until just combined and everything is fully incorporated.

7. Pour mixture into prepared pan; use an offset spatula to evenly smooth the top.

8. Place pan on parchment lined half sheet tray; bake 30-45 minutes, rotating pan 180° every 15 minutes to promote even browning, until top of cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch.

9. Meantime, juice the blood oranges; strain juice to remove all pulp; reserve.

10. When cake is done, remove from oven to a cooling rack.

11. Place the tip of the turkey baster into the reserved blood orange juice; fully squeeze the bulb and release it, thereby allowing blood orange juice to be pulled into the baster.

12. With the cake still warm, plunge the needle tip into the top of the cake, near the edge; fully squeeze the bulb to discharge all of the juice into the cake; repeat this process around the perimeter of the cake every inch or so, then into it's middle, in concentric circles, making 20 or so holes in all and utilizing all the juice. Let the cake cool to room temp before serving.

To serve, slice the cake into eight equal sized wedges. Garnish with a good dollop (or quenelle) of honeyed mascarpone, a dusting of powder sugar.

Honeyed Mascarpone


12 oz. mascarpone
1/4 cup sage, orange blossom or wildflower honey (more or less depending on taste)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Tiny pinch of salt

1. Combine mascarpone, honey, vanilla, salt in bowl of stand mixer.
2. Whisk at medium speed until combined and lightened.
3. Add cream; whisk med-high speed until combined and mixture has loosened. Add more cream as necessary to loosen further and achieve desired consistency and texture. Chill before serving.



Mache available at Flora Bella Farms

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce sold at Flora Bella Farms


Farmer James Birch from Flora Bella Farms lives in Three Rivers, California. Located at the base of the Sierra Mountains, his farm is flush this time of year with Miner's lettuce. It grows under oak trees and shows up after the rains.

James is also bringing in flats of mache, the very delicate and small-leafed green. He sells them still growing in flats which can be harvested as you need them.


Music Break: Ruff Percussion by One Cut