Read Time: 12 Minutes
Eat Dessert First
In the past I have picked out a book that gave back to a community in need but also was an adventure to cook with. The first was Together, which was a project headed by Meghan Markle to finance the rental of kitchen space in a community center in London devastated by the horrific Grenfell Tower fire. I fell in love with Munira Mamoud’s recipe for an avocado dip and make it today. The second one was the book Bread Is Gold which helps finance the truly forward-thinking programs dealing with food waste by the organization Food For Soul. It really got me to think about how to use leftover foods in my pantry and fridge that I used to throw out.
I must confess though, with the solitude of the pandemic, I focused on endorphin-rich breads and desserts, like so many of us, and Baking At The 20th Century Café remains one of my favorite discoveries. Michelle Polzine, according to one of her regular clients, had a very unusual café in San Francisco where she specialized in the desserts of the Austro Hungarian Empire. Sadly, she was forced to close during the pandemic. Not that I don’t appreciate the abundance of triple chocolate brownies, carrot cakes and yet another healthy muffin found in my other baking books but they don’t quite match the ecstasy of Polzine’s take on Dobos Torte, Esterhazy Schnitten and plum kiffels.
She is currently teaching classes and will have some via Zoom scheduled for the new year. (I am hopeful for one on strudel) and you can sign up for emails here. The author had her own riffs on cold desserts and also this ethereal version of our own homey lemon pudding cake. The number of requests for the recipe I received after posting it on instagam amazed me. So with Michelle Polzine’s permission, I am posting it here. Give this book to yourself as I did, or to someone who loves to bake, and you’ll see why I happily walked an extra mile or two to work off some of her desserts.
- butter for greasing the baking dish or ramekins
- 1 1/2 cups (355ml) buttermilk
- 6 large eggs separated
- 1/2 cup (118ml) heavy cream
- 11/2 cup (340gr) white granulated sugar (I use India Tree Caster Sugar)
- 1/2 cup (63gr) white all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (she uses kosher salt)
- 1/4 cup (24gr) grated Meyer Lemon zest
- 1/2 cup (118ml) Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Butter a 9 inch (23cm) square or round baking dish - or use 6 ramekins that can hold about 8-10 ounces.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks and cream.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1 cup (198gr) of the sugar, the flour and salt.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture, then stir in the lemon zest and all but 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice
- (Stir the flour a bit at a time while whisking)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a freestanding bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and increase the speed to medium.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup (115gr) sugar by the tablespoonful and continue whipping the whites to soft creamy peaks.
- Using a balloon whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Transfer the batter to your prepared baking dish or ramekins.
- Transfer the ramekins or larger casserole to a roasting pan and fill the pan with water so that it comes halfway up the sides of your containers.
- Bake about 35-45 minutes until the cakes are set and have a tinge of gold on the top.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. It is best eaten the same day, but can be reaheated in a 350F (175C) oven before serving.
- I will fill a roasting pan with water and put it in the oven while I am making the batter.
- I put the baking casserole or ramekins in the already hot water.
- I run a knife or small offset spatula around the ramekins and unmold before serving, garnished with a sprig of mint
- I have also made this dessert several hours before serving, keeping it covered at cool room temperature in the bain marie.
- Michelle Polizine suggests serving this in the winter with blood orange supremes and her coconut whipped cream...it's all good.
Some Old Friends
The KD gift guide is based on our own happy experience as purchasers followed by what we learned in the shop and reinforced by our readers, We are publishing our very personal gift guide earlier this year due to the supply chain issues that some our friends are encountering.
Precision Knife Sharpening – 15% Off Plus
In the case of knife sharpening, the fact that we sharpened knives and other blades on a calibrated wheel and steels at La Cuisine made me really choosy about how my own knives were sharpened. I had researched others once the shop closed. That said, this company has sharpened and repaired blades and kitchen shears like no other company I have experienced. Dave and Sherrie Arnold’s knife sharpening service still stands alone in quality and service.
Treat your long suffering self (or any friend in desperate need) with a gift of having their knives beautifully sharpened. You can easily send deprived cooks a gift certificate from Precision Knife Sharpening Service. You or a recipient on your gift list can ship knives to them, and they will ship them back, lethally sharp. Or, if you are local, drop them off and pick them up when you get the email announcing that your knives are ready. Check out their website for the possibilities, including sharpening a fancy but dull pocket or hunting knife. Dave Arnold has even selected a diamond based sharpening steel that you can purchase to keep your knives in shape at home — a step that’s often overlooked.
As you can see from our “In My Neighborhood” post (which was one of the most widely shared by KD readers), Dave can probably rescue knives you thought were beyond help. Recently they added the same service for your gardening tools, such as hatchets, pruners and axes. If you have stored your lawn mower for the winter, this might be a good time to have PKS sharpen the blades (they do not sharpen reel mower blades) They are offering KD readers one coupon for knives and new this year another 15% coupon for garden tools. While there is no discount on gift cards, the recipient can certainly use the discount code when redeeming it at checkout.
As a KD reader, Sherrie and Dave offer you a free knife-sharpening for every four knives you send them with the code KITCHENDETAIL entered when you check out. For garden tools, enter GARDENDETAIL at checkout for a 15% discount.
Monkey Business – Save 10%
I love the fun part of function and Monkey Business nails it. We always sold out of our Monkey Business selections at Christmas. Their Corkers are still in my bag when dining in restaurants with children, as they keep those who are below drinking age amused while the adults polish off the bottle of wine. Their current addition to my kitchen is their Ravioli spoon rest. It’s fun, unbreakable and minimal in design and it works better than my previous ones. Their pasta spoon looks like spaghetti but really works to fork up long strands of pasta. The KD Italian division were utterly charmed by its whimsical design and how well it works. Pegzini clothespins remain two of my non-corker favorites. The latter doesn’t have to be relegated to hanging laundry. Below, they are used to train Jasmine along wires to create a leafy screen. And this year the Monkey Hook sets are going into my suitcase as gifts to friends we have not seen in almost two years.
Monkey Business has offered KD Readers a 10% discount that is valid through December 31, 2021. It cannot be combined with other discounts available at Monkey Business. There is now an online shop for US-based clients and one for International, so make sure you link to the US shop site and then fill out the code lacuisineusMB10% when you check out.
Sertodo Copper – Save 10%
Sertodo Copper is one of the few artisanal copper manufacturers in the US. I have one of their sauté pans with its unique handle designed to hold your stirring utensil. But they produce so much more than that, as you can see from their website. I plan to add their freestanding copper bowl with a handle that fits a KitchenAid mixer since it was not under my Pandemic Tree last year. To use an unlined copper bowl for making meringue, genoise, Italian buttercream, nougat, is divine. Copper is the magic tool for working with egg whites, and you can read why in this previous KD post.
Judging by the quantity of emails I received about the post on forever chemicals in your drinking water, you may be interested in Sertodo’s beautiful but soundly engineered water filtration system with the AcquaCera filter that will eliminate those chemicals. EWG is a doggedly persistent and resourceful nonprofit group that has created a data base across the US so that you can ascertain the viability of your drinking water. Copper itself, unlike the myths that abound, will kill bacteria and viruses that are exposed to its surfaces. The Smithsonian Magazine offers a succinct article on this scientific fact.
Sertodo Copper offers a 10% to KD readers on purchases from their website when they enter the code KitchenDetail10 through December 31, 2021 on their website. Or click into the link to make your purchase
Open Hand Pasta & Provisions – Save 10%
There were very few blessings borne of the Pandemic, but definitely Open Hand Pasta And Provisions was one. Under the leadership of John Wood – a chef who has worked in the kitchens of noted DC chefs Bob Kinkead and Frank Ruta, created this miraculous company that works with local farmers and producers, all of them either providing sustainably raised or organic foods. We and many other KD reader started ordering a weekly menu and have never quit.
All you have to do is heat some water for the pasta, follow the directions for beautifully prepped and seasoned meat, poultry or seafood, sometimes reheat a delicious sauce or dessert and dress an unusual salad. Open Hand gives you meals you wish you had been served in restaurants. Their weekly delivery to your door now includes some wonderful choices in groceries from farms and suppliers (try the eggs and butter) you don’t ordinarily have access to. In fact, the seafood offerings are simply not available at the usual fish purveyors in the DMV.
We just emailed his Thanksgiving menu with a discount for KD readers.(click here if you missed it) And Open Hand is here to provide you with a Christmas Eve dinner (always hard to manage when you work and have to wrap last minute gifts)
The festive menu will be delivered on December 23 and is priced at $45.00 per person with a 10% discount for KD readers. Use the code KD2021 when you check out
Truly Life – Save 20%
This company produces genuinely environmentally sound products that actually deliver on their promise. We are totally dependent on their soap, and buy it in lots of fifteen bars. Founded in 2008 literally out of their garden in Alexandria, Virginia, Mellenie and her partner Andy put new meaning into the old marketing adage to let the packaging tell the story. All of their products are wrapped in lovely recycled paper or cardboard. There is no plastic. But more importantly, the soaps, lotion bars, and even a dishwasher detergent in powder form are made from ingredients that are natural, local, and simple as possible. With the frightening amount of chemicals that have invaded our bodies and homes, Truly-Life ‘s formulas benefit them both and perhaps contribute to your peace of mind! When you check out Truly-Life’s website, you can click on and follow her One Thing You Can Do Today Instagram account. I have found that the photos and accompanying text offer thoughtful advice on small habits we can develop or acts we can perform that benefit the Earth that we all share.
Use the code Kitchen Detail at checkout to receive a 20% discount through December 24, 2021.
Marmotecnica – Save 10%
One of the unique finds for La Cuisine shoppers and later for Kitchen Detail readers are the marble mortars and pestles from the Baudoni family in Carrara. If you have one of their mortars, you don’t need a passel of others. Well in honesty, I have two – one small one that is on top of my stove and the other larger one, which has become quite famous on Instagram. In fact one reader was so taken with it that the Baudoni family produced for her the one you see pictured here. I use my large one for pesto, mayonnaise, tuna sauce, guacamole, salsa. The smaller one is used for grinding herbs, spices, and aromatic pastes and rubs. A Baudoni mortar is a working piece of art that is as useful today as it was centuries ago. Marmotecnica mortars are used in restaurants and homes throughout the world.
Pictured here is Giordano Baudoni, the founder of Marmotecnica, who introduced me to the lusciousness of Lardo di Colonnata in a tiny and rustic trattoria on top of one of the marble mountains of Carrara. He took us on a tour that included the marble sculpting workshop still operating today, where a statue ordered by the Fascist Party (but never paid for) rests inside. As if that were not enough, we were then treated to some of the best ice cream from the Rosellini Gelateria which he owns. He also told us stories of the hardships endured in his youth during the Fascist and later the Nazi rule in Italy.
We are honored that the Baudoni family is offering KD readers a 10% discount on their marble mortar and pestle selection. Even though they are not discounted, you may want to look at their meat pounders or rolling pins as well. Use the code scf10 when you check out. It is good through December 31, 2021. Queries for special mortars, which are not included in the discount offer, can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
And New Ones Too
Tulusa – Save 15%
We were at dinner with Nils the intrepid videographer for KD and family, and I, who have almost a fetish about table linens, was struck by the beautiful linen napkins on their table. I have to note that Nils always does the most imaginative table settings. I asked him where he bought them, thinking it was some really cool French source or something totally edgy he had picked up in New York City. But no, they were made here in Alexandria. I did wait until we had finished eating before scrolling through my phone to find Tulusa Goods. Of course I bought the serpent napkins and am angling for placemats or a tablecloth after the first of year. All aspects of Sue Henry’s linens are made here. Simple yet elegant, sophisticated but with a unique American perspective, they withstand my carelessness and repeated washings. You will find something to love in her changing selections. Her studio will create block prints for walls and other individual collaborations. I could kick myself for not knowing about such an artisan in my own neighborhood.
KD readers will receive a 15% discount on their online purchase through December 15, 2021 when the code KDTULUSA15 is applied at checkout.
Wire Monkey – Save 5%
The Italy Insider gave me a subscription to Master Class during the pandemic, and I enjoyed immensely flitting from one video lecture series to another. Some were self-aggrandizing, but others like David Sedaris on writing and Apollonia Poilâne on bread, I watched repeatedly and learned. It took me a long time to get a grip on the classic Poilâne round loaf (not master of it yet), but one of the tools she used was this razor or lame to slash her risen loaves. It drove me crazy that I could not locate this unique tool. I had the ones we used to sell in the shop from Matfer in France, but this with its little flying saucer shape was such an improvement. She never mentioned the manufacturer, and it was only when I repeatedly researched it on the internet at 2AM that I found it.The name of the tool is aptly named UFO and the company is Wiremonkey This is an awesome little tool for scoring bread and rolls. Just go to their Instagram account to see what home and professional bakers alike have created with it. I have the Corbeau version and I bought a pack of blades too.
Click into our link and get a 5% discount on a unique design made in the USA by a family owned company, who don’t use plastics, and offer good wages to their employees.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.