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.

Creamy Squash and Tomato Soup

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.

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Butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin––squash season is upon us! It's easy enough to roast a couple of winter squash while you catch up on e-mail or watch tv. Just crank the oven to 450, slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, lightly oil it, and roast it on a cookie sheet until a fork can slide right in, or your finger can make a soft dent, about 30-60 minutes. Now you've got a side dish, the makings of pie filling, or the base for Creamy Squash and Tomato Soup.

Once you've roasted the squash, you can make this soup using just one pot. Dice an onion and saute it in a tablespoon or two of butter until it becomes translucent. If you've got some wine––red or white, it doesn't matter––add a glassful and let it simmer for a few minutes (it's optional). Now add a big can or box of tomoatoes; I like the Pomi ones that come in a tetrapak. Use the can or box to measure out the same amount of roasted squash (just the flesh, no peel), and then twice that amount of water. 

If you have one of those stick blenders, blend the soup right in the pot. You want it thick and creamy, but not baby food smooth, so leave a little texture. If you don't have one of those, you'll have to get the blender or food processor dirty. Now add a big pinch of salt, and simmer the soup for a few minutes, at least, until the flavors blend. Stir in crème fraîche to make the soup creamy, thick and tangy––the amount should be to your taste, but I reccomend using a lot. Add a generous amount of cracked pepper. Taste a spoonful: does it need more salt? more crème fraîche? more pepper?

Serve the hot soup with fresh herbs, if you can. This reheats well, and crème fraîche is much more stable than cream, so you don't have to worry about it curdling. If you're just cooking for one or two you can enjoy this soup for days.

 

You might also like:

Pasta with Peas and Salmon

French Lentils with Crème Fraîche and Chives

 

Weekday Waffles

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You might think of waffles as a weekend-only breakfast ordeal, but when you make the batter the night before, weekday waffles are easier than frying eggs!

I woke up on Wednesday morning to the buttery yeasty smell of overnight waffles. My boyfriend was in the kitchen perfecting his technique with our brand new Belgian waffle maker (we finally grew tired of the Hello Kitty one I bought when I was 20, with its tiny kitty-shaped waffles). The pull of sleep is strong––I'm not naturally morning person––but the pull of waffles is stronger, especially when their toasty aroma and the sound of a kettle clanking onto the stove draws you from your pillow to the kitchen table.

Here's the recipe, so you too can wake up to waffles. If there's not already someone in the kitchen making them for you, it's ok, because all you have to do is scoop batter into the waffle iron and sip your coffee while they cook. You'll have prepared the batter the night before (and dreamed sweetly of waffles all night). If you're solo, or the family doesn't have a big appetite, leftover waffles can be frozen to be toasted at a later date. Or you could eat them for lunch with savory toppings like sharp cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes.  

Get out the measuring cups to night, and you'll be able to make waffles with your eyes closed tomorrow. Not only does thinking ahead make the morning cooking easier, rising the batter overnight develops a rich bready flavor unlike any other waffle you've had.

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Overnight Waffles

adapted from the Fannie Farmer

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Make the batter the night before. Put 1/2 cup tepid water in a large mixing bowl (the batter will double in size), add the yeast and stir. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

2. Add the warm milk, melted butter, salt, sugar, and flour (everything except the eggs and baking soda). Beat with a whisk until the batter is smooth.

3. In the morning, plug in your waffle iron and heat it up. Beat the eggs. Stir the eggs and baking soda into the batter. Cook the waffles according to the waffle iron manufacturer's instructions. Generally, when the steam subsides, the waffle is ready. Waffles can be kept warm in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes. Extra waffles can be frozen.

Citrus Aperol Mille Crepe Cake

Editor's note: Here is a beautiful farewell recipe from Mira Evnine, Sweets & Bitters print publisher and so much more, who is moving on to share her generous talents through other channels. You can keep up with her on social media @miraevnine. Mira joined Sweets & Bitters after the first volume was printed, offering to help with marketing and publicity, but quickly became an in important collaborator in many ways. She’s a natural stylist, brilliant cook, skilled event planner, smart designer, and a generous friend––among other things. I even convinced her to share a story in Volume 3, and it remains my favorite! We were so lucky to benefit from Mira’s talents, and I can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

Photo: Lauren Colchamiro for Sweets & Bitters

Photo: Lauren Colchamiro for Sweets & Bitters

This impressive cake takes a little planning, but is actually quite easy to pull off. I’ve called for grapefruit in the recipe, but use whatever looks great in the market and tickles your fancy: try cara cara oranges, tangerines or meyer lemons. You can slice extra citrus into supremes and douse them with Aperol to serve alongside the cake. The crepe batter can be mixed quickly then chilled overnight; you’ll cook the crepes and make a citrus mousse the next day, then assemble the cake and chill it for a few hours (or overnight again) before serving. No one step is very hard, but the result is spectacular! The recipe can be doubled to make an even taller cake.

 

Mira’s Citrus-Aperol Mille Crepe Cake

serves 8-10

for the crepes

  • 6 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 Tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • oil for greasing the pan

 

for the mousse

  • 2 teaspoons (1 packet) powdered gelatin
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 4 Tablespoons Aperol
  • 2 cups heavy cream

 

for serving

  • additional citrus (optional)
  • Aperol (optional)
  • sugar or confectioners sugar

 

to make the crepes

1. The day before you’ll serve the cake, make the crepe batter. In a small pan, cook the butter over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is flecked with brown and smells nutty; set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, or by hand, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt just until smooth. Gradually mix in the warm milk, and then the browned butter. Cover, and refrigerate over night.

2. The next day, bring the batter to room temperature. Place a 10-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swab the surface with thin layer of oil or melted butter using a paper towel or pastry brush. Add a scant ¼ cup of batter and immediately swirl it to cover the pan. Cook until the edges just begins to brown, about 1 minute. Shake the pan to loosen the crepe, and then carefully flip it with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Slide the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat, stacking the crepes on top of each other, until you have 20 perfect crepes. Expect to have a few crepe fails until you get into the swing of things. You may have to adjust the amount of batter you use.

 

to make the mousse

3. Pour ¼ cup water into a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over it. Allow the gelatin to soften for 5 minutes. Then, whisk in grapefruit zest and juice, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 180°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes on medium low. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Stir in the Aperol.

4. Set the bowl containing the citrus-Aperol mixture into a larger mixing bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the mixture). Stir until completely cool, about 10 minutes.

5. Whip the heavy cream––by hand or with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer––just until if forms stiff peaks. Fold the citrus-Aperol mixture into the whipped cream. You want a spreadable consistency: if the mousse feels runny, refrigerate for about 20 minutes, and then gently whisk until smooth. Immediately proceed to assemble the cake.

 

to assemble the cake

6. Line an 8-or-9-inch springform pan with parchment paper or cardboard cake board. If you are intending to make a taller cake, you’ll need to line the cake pan with thick acetate to support the layers – otherwise you run the risk of a leaning tower. Set aside your best-looking crepe for the top of the cake. Select another well-formed crepe and lay it in the pan. Using an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, completely cover the crepe with a thin layer of mouse––equal to the thickness of the crepe, if not a little thinner. Lay down the next crepe, and cover with mouse. Repeat to make a stack of 20, finishing with the best-looking crepe on top.

7. Chill for at least 2 hours. Half an hour before serving, unmold the cake by opening the springform (of if you using a straight sided cake pan, gently warm the sides of the pan or run a knife around the perimeter and invert the cake to plate, only to invert again to a serving platter), and then let it sit at room temperature. If you have a blowtorch, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons of sugar and caramelize it with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with Aperol-doused supremes, or by itself.

 

 

You might also like: 

Mira's Mexican Fried Rice

A Rye Look at New York: Pretzels