Savoy Cabbage and Parmesan Soup


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I'm not on New Year cleanse or diet, but after all the cookies and cocktails of December, I crave simple food that won't burden my wallet or my waistline. A recipe for Savoy Cabbage and Parmesan Rind Soup caught my eye when I was flipping through a book of Italian vegetable cookery in my friend's living room the other day (in front of a fire, even). I have to confess, I didn't actually read the recipe, but the idea stuck in my head. Here's a soup with only two main ingredients that are nutritious and cheap as heck—what's not to love?

There are always a couple of dried-out ends of Parmesan in my fridge, waiting to flavor broth. If you haven't tried this yet, you are in for a treat—and you'll no longer feel guilty when you don't finish that expensive Parmigiano Reggiano before it gets hard as a rock.

Cabbage is truly an underrated vegetable, and even in the dead of winter it's in season. I don't think cabbage is about to be as trendy as kale, but it's got a lot more to offer than just a side of slaw. Braise it, saute it, stew it or ferment it. It's cheap, it's versatile, and lasts a lot longer than a head of lettuce in the crisper drawer (or even kale, for that matter). 

So lets make soup. You just need olive oil, garlic, Savoy cabbage (that's the round wrinkly one), salt, bay leaf, chili flakes (optional), and bread. 

Heat a little olive oil in a big heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Crush and peel a few cloves of garlic, or more than a few, and toss them into the pot. Chop a whole head of Savoy cabbage into large bite-sized pieces. Add the cabbage to the pot and turn the heat to high. Saute until the cabbage and garlic are browned at the edges. Now fill the pot with water to cover the cabbage by a few inches, and add a spoonful of salt and a bay leaf if you have one. Simmer the soup until the cabbage is soft, longer if you have time, adding more water if it doesn't look brothy enough. Isn't it amazing how much flavor you can get from a few simple ingredients?!

Serve the soup drizzled with more olive oil, and sprinkled with chili flakes and sea salt. A garlic crostini is the perfect accompainment (soaked in your bowl of soup until it's soft and crunchy at the same time). Here's how to make the crostini: turn on the oven to 400, slice stale bread and rub it with garlic, put a lot of olive oil on a cookie sheet and rub both sides of the bread in it (throw the garlic on the pan too), put it in the oven and toast until golden and crisp on both sides. 

This soup may be incredibly frugal, but it tastes rich. Poach an egg in the broth if you crave some protein, serve this as a first course before pasta, or simply enjoy it in its ordinary glory.

Apple and Rye Pancakes with Crème Fraîche

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.

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The humble pancake is as infinitely variable as it is easy to make. Mixing basic pancakes from scratch takes maybe a minute or two longer than ones from a packaged mix. This variation with apples, rye flour and crème fraîche asks only that you slice an apple and add one extra ingredient (and if rye flour is not on your shelf, that you shop the day before). 

Buttermilk might not be a pantry staple for you, but let me make the case. I don't really drink milk, I use it mostly for baking. Real buttermilk, because it's cultured, lasts longer, and it makes more tender and flavorful cakes, biscuits, and pancakes. It's not hard to use up a quart. It's tang compliments the rye flour in this recipe, as does crème fraîche.

If you're not familiar with crème fraîche, it's thick cultured cream. It tastes rich, subtly complex, and slightly sour. The best use, as far as I'm concerned, is to serve it with fresh berries: dessert in an instant! But berries aren't in season now. In this batter, crème fraîche makes the pancakes rich and tender, and served on top it's like whipped cream for grown-ups.

Apple Rye Pancakes

serves 2 hungry adults

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • butter and maple syrup for serving

1. Peel and core the apple, and cut it into very thin slices. Set aside. Heat a griddle to 375, or a skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oven to 150-200 degrees, and set out an oven-safe plate or pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: rye flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then the buttermilk. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir only long enough to moisten the flour–lumps are ok and stirring too much will make rubbery pancakes!    

3. Swipe the griddle or pan with butter to grease it. Dollop about 1/4 cup of dough onto it, spreading it out sou it's about 1/2 inch thick. Press a few apple slices into the top of the dough. Cook until the bottom edge look firm, and you see a few bubbles in the top of the pancake. Flip, and cook a few minutes more. Place the finished pancake on the oven-safe plate or pan, and keep warm it in the oven. Repeat until you've used up all the dough.

4. Serve warm pancakes with butter, maple syrup and crème fraîche.

 

You might also like:

5 Things to Put on Pancakes when You're Out of Maple Syrup


Breakfast Pizza

Just before my brother finished law school and left New York to work with Bay Area start-ups, we spent an evening tinkering with how to make pizza on a hot steel slab. Our first attempt, a simple margherita, we burnt to a blackened crisp. Still, it was somehow delicious. By the third or fourth miniature pie, we were getting the hang of how thick to roll the dough, how hot to keep the oven, how long to cook each pizza–and getting creative with toppings from the odds and ends in my fridge. A favorite was heaped with olive-oil drizzled arugula that wilted in the oven, then finished with slices of avocados and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Perhaps that’s not authentically a pizza, but it was really good.

That’s the thing: pizza is as versatile a vehicle for just about anything as is a sandwich or a burrito. Once you have dough (if you don’t have the desire or time to make it, you can walk into about any pizza joint and ask to buy some, and many grocery stores carry it), and a hot oven, pizza is a very quick thing to make, and a great way to use up bits of this and that–last nights steamed vegetables, a forgotten sprig of herbs, the end of bit of cheese. Often, my best cooking happens when I try to use things from what seems like an empty pantry.

My favorite pizza right now, and one I always have the ingredients for, is a breakfast pizza. I believe it was inspired by an article I tore from the New York Times Magazine years ago, about Big Sur Bakery. It made perfect sense to me the moment I saw the recipe, and stuck in my imagination until it became my own. Maybe my brother and I can take a trip to try the original when I visit him in California. And I hope he continues our pizza experiment, just as I will.

 

Breakfast Pizza

If you want to get serious about pizza, head over to The Pizza Lab at Serious Eats.

  • fist-sized piece of dough*
  • spoonful cornmeal
  • generous drizzle extra virging olive oil
  • handful shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 scallions
  • sprinkling of cooked sausage or bacon (optional)
  • 2-3 eggs
  • small handful pasley or cilantro
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a steel slab in a 500 degree oven, ideally for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, trim and oil the scallions, and put them on the hot steel or under a broiler until they wilt. Cut them into two-inch sections.

On a floured surface, roll the dough as thin as you can without it tearing. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel or cutting board. Lay the dough on it. Drizzle olive oil generously over the dough. Scatter the cheese and scallions on it, and meat if you're using it. Make little nests in the toppings to hold the eggs.

Slide the pizza off the board onto the steel with one swift shake. Crack each egg into a teacup, then pour it into its nest on the pizza. Cook for a few minutes, then check to see if the bottom of the dough is browned. Watch out, it cooks quickly! You want it quite brown, but if the crust cooks before the eggs, slip the whole thing onto a pan under the broiler just until the eggs set.

Sprinkle a handful of fresh herbs and a pinch of chili flakes on the pizza. Season it with freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkle of salt on each egg. Eat right away.

 

*I'm talking about my fist, which is pretty small.

 

 

 

Rhubarb: Three Memories and a Recipe

Our rhubarb plant, with it’s dark green umbrella-like leaves shooting out from brilliant ruby stalks, grew lushly in the back corner of the garden, across from the compost pile and the raspberry patch. Even the chickens wouldn’t eat the toxic greenery, but my mom had taught me to break off the stems and dip them in sugar for a sweet-tart treat (and the leaves made a nice parasol for a little girls). My mouth still puckers just thinking about it.
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Clover Club Cocktail

clover club cocktail

Who would think that a fluffy pink cocktail takes its name form an exclusive turn-of-the-last-century mens’ club? The look of the Clover Club cocktail is froofy, the taste is clear and refreshing, and the history is macho–evoking dark wood paneling, secret handshakes and bawdy laughs. Legend has it that Yeats or Twain could be found sipping one with dinner. And unlike many of the overpowing concoctions popular today, it’s gentle enough (in taste, at least) to enjoy with a meal. The bar in Brooklyn named after this drink/club is a great place to enjoy one, but you can easily make it at home.

Clover Club Cocktail

  • 3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3  to 1/2 ounce grenadine or raspberry syrup (depending on sweetness)
  • 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1 ounce egg white (yield of one medium egg)

1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker in the order listed (to avoid currdling the egg). Dry shake (no ice) to whip the egg white into a thick white froth. The spring from a strainer or a few small shards of ice can speed the process. It usually takes at least 60 second of hard shaking.

2. Open the shaker and add very cold ice, filling the shaker it nearly to the brim. Shake with the ice until the shaker is nearly too cold to touch, and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.

Hannah's Hint: The bacteria we worry about with eggs are mostly on the shell. To sanitize them before using raw, dip them in a bowl of vinegar water, then rinse. I splash about 1 Tablespoons of white vinegar per 2 cups of luke-warm water. (This is based on folklore and common sense, so do your own reserach if you are really worried).