Blue Cheese, Hazelnut, and Honey Polenta



Let’s categorize this post as not cupcakes, not pancakes, and not kale.  Let’s categorize this post as real life real talk.

Five Ridiculous Things I’ve Said to Boys that I May or May Not Have Had Crushes On:

“Oh my goodness!  You have two different colored eyes!  You look just like a dog I know!”  It turns out that’s not really the compliment I intended.  But seriously… do you know the dogs I’m talking about?

“I like your shoulder cat!”  Because a dude in raver jeans, smoking a clove cigarette, with a cat that lives on his shoulder is totally a giant heap of red flags.

“Yea.  You can totally borrow my car to pick up your girlfriend from the airport.”  Rethink!  No car + girlfriend = NO GO!  Ps. Jerk!

“Yea… I love The New Yorker.”  Be real, Joy.  You know you don’t actually read The New Yorker.  Seriously… unless Nigella Lawson is on the cover, you probably didn’t read it.  It’s ok.  It really is.

“No… it’s cool.  I’m spiritual, not religious.”  Oooh this one.  Oooh these words that are not true for me.  These words that I used to say because I thought it would make me more palatable in the dating world.  These were my worst of words… making me more palatable to the wrong people for me.  Grow up and learn things, Joy!

Learn from me.  Don’t be like me.  Don’t compare boys to dogs and project yourself as a fancypants New Yorker reader.  It’s ok if you don’t listen to vinyl.  It’s totally cool if you want to throw your cat a birthday party and hang out at church.  I’m just sayin’.  It’s cool.


This recipe is a result of standing in the kitchen… hungry… having just taken a beautifully golden, but utterly disastrous cheese danish out of the oven.  Apparently I’m still learning how to make a cheese danish without pulling an oozing, melted mascarpone mess out of the oven.  I’m working on it.

Danish aside, I mustered up the last of the delicious ingredients I found hiding in my cupboard and pantry.  The result is a sweet and savory, breakfast and lunch dish.  It’s a delicious surprise!  Danish though?  I’m comin’ for ya.  I’ll figure you out.

Disasters happen.  Praise God for polenta and hazelnuts.

IMG_6827 - Version 5

Creamy golden polenta is a solid base for just about anything.



Heavy cream, butter, and black pepper.

You might just grab a little spoon and go at this pot as is.


If you listen closely, you can hear hazelnuts roasting in the oven.

Their oils sizzle, and their tough brown skins burst just slightly.

It’s like roasted nut romance.  Wait… was that gross?


Tough hazelnut skins are loosened in the oven.

A clean kitchen towel will rub most of them right off.


Creamy and salty, crunchy and sweet, topped with blue cheese.

I don’t know if this is breakfast, dinner, or a super extravagant midnight snack.  It’s warm and comforting and I absolutely LOVE the salty cheese and sweet honey.  If blue cheese scares you, I do believe this dish would be just as lovely with goat cheese.

Try something new! … as long as there’s not a shoulder cat involved.

Blue Cheese, Hazelnut, and Honey Polenta

makes 6 small or 4 medium servings

Print this Recipe!

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

scant 1 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles


fresh thyme or parsley

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place hazelnuts on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to sit until cool enough to touch.  Place toasted hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub together to remove the brown skins.  Some skins will be stubborn.  That’s ok!  Coarsely chop hazelnuts. Set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add salt, and slowly whisk in polenta.  Reduce heat to low and stir polenta as it thickens.  Depending on the grain of your polenta, it will thicken in 15 to 25 minutes over low heat.

When polenta has thickened to the consistency of a thick pudding, remove from heat and taste.  Polenta should be cooked through with just a bit of a toothsome crunch.  Stir in heavy cream, butter, and ground pepper.

Spoon warm polenta into serving bowls.  Top with hazelnuts, blue cheese crumbles, and honey to taste.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme and/or parsley.  

185 thoughts on “Blue Cheese, Hazelnut, and Honey Polenta

  1. I love the new layout. It’s gorgeous.
    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never had polenta…what?! I know, it needs to be sorted out pretty soon. blue cheese rocks my world so if it goes with polenta then polenta will probably rock my world too!

  2. Whoooaaaa! I just clicked over from google reader and thought it brought me to the wrong website! I loved the old look, but this is even better!

    Blog design aside, this looks delicious. Stinky cheese and honey is such an awesome combination. Also…I kind of want a shoulder cat. Or, any cat.

  3. Joy I have to be honest…the rows of little dots in the background are makin me a wee bit queasy. If it’s just me please disregard this post!!! (Still love this blog dots or no!)

    1. Sorry Joy, I must agree … the dots are a little hard on the eyes. And I miss the old banner at the top.

      That said, thank you for sharing all of your great recipes on the site!

  4. Dear Joy the Baker, I like how, when I stay up too late, I am rewarded by your posts when I click on my reader one last time. I also like how your posts often make me almost decide to get out of bed and go downstairs and cook whatever thing you are suggesting right now, in the middle of the night. One time I’m going to do it, just to tell you about it. I’m pretty sure that this one will be delicious at any time of day, though–I’m thinking brunch for some GF friends. Definitely WITH the blue cheese. Thanks for all the late-night inspirations and sweet, sweet dreams! xo Emmy

  5. Joy you changed your font, size and type and gave your blog a mini makeover…wow! It looks amazing but your other design was and is one of my favorite blogs ever in terms of design. I loved it then, and now. Pretty fonts, like pretty dishes, and a pretty layout…this stuff matters :)

    And the recipe…salty cheese and sweet honey is always a winner.

  6. Ohmygoodness! A whole new look! Rad! I’m jealous. ;) This looks delicious and perfect to make for my GF friend. I owe her bc I just dragged her to see 5 Year Engagement. Not, Great. But loved seeing Zingerman’s Deli in Michigan! Still working my way through your cookbook Joy. :) It’s had a lot spilled on it since Vroman’s!!

  7. First off, I love the now look of the website: it’s awesome!

    Blue cheese, hazelnuts, polenta…is there any possible combination that can be better than that?

  8. Woah, look at you! The new design is beautiful.

    And, oh man, I could write a book of stupid things I’ve said to boys. Sometimes I wish I could go back, knowing what I know now, and tell them what’s what. Like, no, dude, you can’t borrow my car to pick up your girlfriend, and don’t be such a dirtbag?

    I love polenta, this looks great. I’m thinking it’ll grace my table at a brunch very soon, maybe with a poached egg on top.

  9. Joy!! LOVE THE NEW SITE. beautiful.

    Mmmm… Yes, the things we SAY! I love how beautifully you craft your life into a sweet story. Well done friend.

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