Follow the Scent of Cranberry ­Ginger Upside ­Down Cakes from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine

Follow the scent of these Cranberry ­Ginger Upside ­Down Cakes from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe 'Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake' (Artisan Books, October 2020) by San Francisco baker extraordinaire Michelle Polzine all the way to the kitchen.

Cranberry-­Ginger Upside-­Down Cakes

These cakes have a warming, homey quality that fits perfectly into the Christmas season. With lots of spice from fresh ginger, bitterness from blackstrap molasses, and brightness from tart cranberries, the cakes produce a smell while baking that will surely put you in the holiday spirit (even if you’re like me and can’t have a Christmas tree because your crazy cats will break all of your antique ornaments). Just the batter baked on its own—without its cranberry-­caramel topper—makes a damn fine cake, and it’s practically healthy with the good amount of iron from the molasses.

Be sure that all the cranberries have popped and deflated before you pour the batter over them; if they are not fully popped, the berries will lift from the bed of caramel, up and into the cake. Serve with Meyer Lemon Cream if you like.

Makes 8 to 12 individual cakes, depending on the ramekins you use

Cranberry Ginger Upside Down Cake from BAKING AT THE 20th CENTURY CAFE


For the Caramel

½ cup (99 grams) sugar

4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter

2 cups (210 grams) fresh cranberries

For the Cake

½ cup (99 grams) sugar

½ cup (118 milliliters) grapeseed or vegetable oil

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (222 milliliters) blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup (118 milliliters) boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

One 2½-­ounce (71-gram) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about ¼ cup)

1¼ cups (150 grams) all-­purpose flour

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter eight 8-­ounce (237-­milliliter) or twelve 6-­ounce (178-­milliliter) ramekins.

Make the caramel: Heat the sugar in a medium heavy-­bottomed saucepan over medium-­high heat. As the sugar begins to melt at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to pull the melted sugar into the center, then continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is a deep reddish-­amber color. If at any point it looks grainy or clumpy, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter; the mixture will foam vigorously.

Divide the caramel among the ramekins, then top with the ­cranberries. Set the ramekins on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are popped and deflated. Remove from the oven and stab the cranberries with a fork to ensure that they’re fully popped. Return the ramekins to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let the ramekins and caramel cool completely before proceeding. (You can pop the ramekins into the fridge to speed the process, or even do this step a day ahead.)

Make the cake: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, molasses, and honey. Combine the boiling water and baking soda in a measuring cup, then pour into the sugar mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, and cinnamon, then add to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the egg until the batter is homogeneous.

Divide the batter among the ramekins. Bake until the cakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack set over a baking sheet for 5 minutes, then run an offset spatula (with its tip pointed outward, so it doesn’t cut into the cake) around the edge of each cake, turn out onto the wire rack, and let cool completely. (Or, if you are making these cakes ahead, let cool completely in their ramekins—do not turn them out—and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When you’re ready to serve, warm the cakes in a 350°F/175°C degree oven until the cakes and the ramekin bottoms are hot, then invert onto plates.)

COVER. Baking at the 20th Century Cafe

(*Excerpted from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine -Artisan Books-. Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Aya Brackett.)

Angling for A Triangle Stamp, Isle of Man Post Office and Year of the Ox, 4 Stamps by Jay Cover, January 7

Angling for a triangle stamp, Isle of Man Post Office marks Year of the Ox with a collection of 4 stamps created by Jay Cover.

62p Chicken and Ox Stamp

Looking for link-credit for illustrator Sei Koo for recipe I recently shared led me to creatives site It's Nice That where I discovered the stamp collection.

4 stamps released to the public today, January 7 in 4 prices: 62p, 158p, 244p and 322p.

(* Illustration from Isle of Man Post Office website)

Easy Vegan Version of Indian Dish, Saag Tofu Recipe from Pantry to Plate cookbook by Emily Stephenson

Easy Vegan version of Indian Dish, Saag Tofu recipe from Pantry to Plate (Chronicle Books, October 2020) by Emily Stephenson.


Here’s an easy and vegan version of the very popular Indian dish. Depending on how your pantry looks, this dish could end up several steps away from the inspiration—a coconut, kale, and tofu curry— but it still makes for a hearty meal served with Plain White Rice. If you like your dish a little saucier—this is pretty thick— you can add an additional half can of coconut milk (but I opted to not have half a can languishing in the refrigerator).

Serves 4

Saag Tofu


One 14 oz [400 g] block firm or extra-firm tofu, drained (see page 120)

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, preferably yellow, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

One 1 in [2.5 cm] piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

11/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on your affinity for heat

One 14 oz [420 ml] can coconut milk

1 lb [455 g] frozen spinach or kale, thawed

1 lemon or lime, cut into wedges, for serving


Cut the tofu into ½ in [12 mm] cubes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it shimmers, then add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often and lowering the heat if the onion starts to burn, until the onion is soft and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, and red pepper flakes and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the coconut milk, spinach, and tofu and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat so it simmers steadily and cook, stirring only occasionally, until the tofu has warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve hot with lemon or lime wedges.


Instead of the red pepper flakes, chop 1 fresh green chile (like a serrano or jalapeño), and garnish the final dish with 1/4 cup [10 g] of chopped fresh cilantro.

Pantry To Cover

(* Reprinted from Pantry to Plate by Emily Stephenson with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020- Illustrations © Sein Koo)

Entertain, Yourself, Relaxed Cooking with Stuffed Artichokes from Miss Maggie's Kitchen by Heloise Brion

Entertain (Yourself?) in these still Covid times...

Here's to relaxed cooking with Stuffed Artichokes from Miss Maggie's Kitchen Relaxed French Entertaining by Heloise Brion (Flammarion, September 2020).

Stuffed artichokes

Serves 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Stuffed artichokes rizzoli1024_1


5 globe artichokes
3 lemons, preferably organic
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (10½ oz./300 g) bread crumbs
Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
1½ cups (5¼ oz./50 g) Parmesan, grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cut off the base and the top 1¼ inches (3 cm) of each artichoke and remove the tough outer layer of leaves.
  2. Grate the zest and squeeze the juice from 2 of the lemons. Set the zest aside and pour the juice over the artichokes to prevent browning.
  3. Steam the artichokes for 20 minutes and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, juice the remaining lemon, then sauté the garlic in a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil and a pinch of salt. When the garlic begins to color, stir in the lemon juice, bread crumbs, parsley, and basil.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in the lemon zest, and remove from the heat.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Remove the inner leaves from the center of each artichoke and scoop out the chokes with a teaspoon.
  7. Stir the Parmesan into the bread crumb mixture, then stuff this filling into the cavity of each artichoke, packing some between the leaves as well. Sit the artichokes close together in a single layer in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 15–20 minutes, until the artichokes are completely tender and the bread crumbs golden.

       Serve hot or warm.

For more from the author, visit her Miss Maggie's Kitchen website

(* Reprinted from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen by Heloise Brion -Flammarion, September 2020- Photographed by Christophe Roue)

Vehicle Loose Handbrake Led to Discovery of Fuel Tank at Risk of Bursting, Concierge Mondays Number 1

Since March 2005, I have been serving travel tips, food recipes and the like.

In one of my irregular chats with a good friend, Ramon Ray, a few weeks back, he asked me if I ever pondered blending in some of my concierge life.

The idea came back to the fore so I decided to bring it to life. Here is the very first of my Concierge Mondays.

While driving back a client's vehicle I had picked up after a minor repair, back in 2015, I heard a rattling noise.

I stopped and looked under the vehicle and noticed the handbrake cable close to the ground.

I went straight to my mechanic to get this fixed. This is the kind of minor thing that could turn into a headache if you were unlucky enough to have that loose cable caught in a branch or a piece of metal on the road and ripped something off the car underbelly.

That was not the end of my surprises.

After mechanic put vehicle on the lift, he called me right away to show me large scrape on nothing less than the fuel tank.

Car fuel tank 2015

I found out later  that vehicle had run over a hidden cement cinder block during a recent snow fall.

Nobody at the time had realized the damage done. 

Thankfully, I caught it in time to prevent fire or worse.

Fixing that damage as well as the radiator (and more) turned into a gift that kept giving.

Fuel tanks and handbrakes for Concierge Mondays #1

You Can't Wear that Bonnet of a Galette des Rois from Lenotre Epiphany Cakes 2021 designed by Camille Ortoli

You cant' wear that bonnet of a Galette des Rois from Lenotre 2021 Epiphany Cakes selections on January 6.

It was designed by Camille Ortoli who I guess is the same artist best know for her Designer Papier creations.

Bonnet galette des rois lenotre camille ortoli

Galette des Rois comes in 3 versions, Chocolat, Dried Fruits and Candied Citrus.

For more mouth watering, check Épiphanie : Les plus belles galettes des rois 2021 on Elle-A -Table (December 18, 2020)

The article is in French yet even those whose French is halting can enjoy the visuals of the piece.

Learn more about the January 6- Epiphany tradition, read Having an Epiphany on January 6 with Galette des Rois, a French Treat (January 2010, from our pages).

(* Galette des Rois image from Lenotre Facebook page)


Feeling Crabby, Think Louisiana Sunshine with Garlic Crabs Recipe from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin

Feeling crabby! Think Louisiana sunshine with Garlic Crabs recipe from Mosquito Supper Club (Artisan Books, April 2020) by Melissa Martin.

Garlic Crabs with Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2 to 4

In Louisiana, when temperatures start rising to sweltering highs and the brackish water heats up, it’s peak crab season. From June to September, you can open just about any icebox on the bayou and find a tray of boiled crabs. We eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are endless ways to eat leftover boiled crabs. You can eat them cold, stew them, throw them in gumbo, or roast them like this, with garlic and lemon. The crabs are already cooked, so you are just warming them through and creating a delicious sauce that will be partially baked on. You’ll need lots of crusty bread or rice to soak up the buttery, garlicky jus.



Leaves from 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 boiled large or medium blue crabs, halved and cleaned of their gills and lungs (see Note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce

3 bay leaves (see Note)

½ cup (120 ml) canola oil

½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter

Crusty bread or cooked rice, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

On a cutting board, combine the parsley, 6 of the garlic cloves, and the lemon zest. Finely chop them together, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Put the crabs in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Add the bay leaves.

Warm a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then add the oil and the remaining 6 garlic cloves. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a plate; set aside.

Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add the crabs to the hot oil and cook until starting to brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until starting to brown on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the crabs to a roasting pan and repeat to brown the remaining crabs.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet and let it melt. Return the crabs to the skillet and turn them to coat evenly with the butter. Transfer the crabs and the reserved garlic to the roasting pan and place the pan in the oven. Roast, flipping once after 3 minutes, until the crabs are golden, about 6 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the parsley-garlic mixture to the pan. Toss until the crabs are evenly coated. Season with the lemon juice and serve with crusty bread or rice.

Note: A cleaned crab is a live crab that has had the top shell, gills, and back flap removed. Ask your fish market or seafood purveyor for fresh cleaned crabs, or ask if they’ll clean some crabs for you if they’re not already on hand.

Note: I like to leave the bay leaves in the final recipe. They’re not meant to be eaten, but it makes for a beautiful, rustic presentation.

(“Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Denny Culbert")

Italian Capon Christmas Recipe for New Year, Cappone Di Natale with Bra Sausage from Old World Italian

Italian Christmas recipe for New Year's table, Why Not?  Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' (Clarkson Potter, September 2020) by Mimi Thorisson.

Cappone Di Natale Ripieno Con Salsiccia Di Bra

Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage

Italians like to eat fish during the holidays, but like in many other countries, Italian Christmas traditions often involve stuffed birds. This is the recipe I cooked last Christmas, with a Piemontese touch. A fatty bird stuffed with goodness, including chestnuts (one of my favorite foods), Marsala from Sicily that adds sweetness, and Bra sausages, famous for their flavor and quality and made from lean veal and a little bacon.

Serves 6

Old World Italian_ Capone di Natale_Page_1_Image_0001


Stuffed capon

1 whole capon

(4½ pounds / 2 kg), entirely deboned (ask your butcher to prepare)

2¼ pounds / 1 kg chestnuts, cooked and peeled

1 slice stale bread, crust removed, torn into pieces

⅓ cup / 80 ml whole milk

10 ounces / 300 g ground pork

½ pound / 230 g bra (veal) sausage, casings removed

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 100 g grated parmesan cheese

⅓ cup / 80 ml dry marsala wine

12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces / 140 g pancetta, sliced (about 20 pieces), or thinly sliced bacon

extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons / 30 g unsalted butter, at room temperature gravy

⅔ cup / 160 ml white wine

3 tablespoons / 45 g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the stuffed capon: Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

2 Clean the capon and pat dry.

3 Place half of the chestnuts in a bowl, mash them with a fork, and set aside.

4 In a small bowl, combine the bread and the milk and soak until softened. Squeeze out the excess milk.

5 In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, sausage meat, and soaked bread. Add the eggs, Parmesan, Marsala, sage, mashed chestnuts, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

6 Lay the capon skin side down on a work surface and spread the filling over the flesh, then roll up, starting from a long side. Wrap the top part of the rolled capon horizontally with the pancetta. Tie the roast in several places with kitchen twine. In a roasting pan large enough to hold the bird, drizzle a little olive oil. Place the rolled bird in the center of the roasting pan and drizzle with more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Dot the bird with the butter.

7 Transfer to the oven and roast, basting the bird regularly, until cooked through, about 2 hours. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking, add the remaining chestnuts to the roasting pan. Transfer the bird to a cutting board and the chestnuts to a bowl, cover the bird with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

8 Meanwhile, make the gravy: Place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring constantly. Scrape up all of the browned bits and bring to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, add the sifted cornstarch and whisk it into the sauce. Cook until glossy and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

9 Carve the capon into slices ¾ inch / 2 cm thick and serve with the gravy and chestnuts on the side.

Note: Instead of capon, you can also make this recipe with a chicken or a turkey, adjusting the stuffing amounts and cooking time. For the Bra sausage, you can use an herbed pork sausage

(*Recipe reproduced with permission from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' -Clarkson Potter, September 2020- by Mimi Thorisson. Photograph by Oddur Thorisson)