A “virtual” cream soup, this is a creamy soup made without the cream. We don’t want to oversell, but this soup comes together in a blink and proves simple really can fly.
The spicing opportunities in this recipe are limitless. If you skip the puree, the soup takes on a totally different life. The essential finale is fresh lemon and generous spoonfuls of whole milk yogurt.
While working at Food & Wine magazine in my early twenties, some of the editors were raving about Hatch green chillies as we chatted, and, not wanting to seem like a total idiot, I nodded enthusiastically and then immediately went to search what these things were. They are, in fact, pretty awesome, and come from a town called Hatch in New Mexico, USA. You can add them to soups, stews, salsas or use as toppings for burgers or pizzas for a great depth of flavour. They range in heat level (and also offer a subtle sweetness to them), so buy whichever are better for your palate.
Who says Greek salad is only for summer? By using winter veggies, but keeping the same feta-oregano flavour profile, you can easily extend this salad’s seasonality and eat it year-round. I love the combo of bitter leafy radicchio with the sharp, creamy cheese and fragrant, anise- like flavour of the fennel. Almond feta is a vegan nut cheese (sourced from speciality organic shops) - even if you’re not vegan, it’s a delicious swap in any dish requiring a soft white cheese.
With its intriguing blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, Krakow’s town square blanketed in a thick layer of February snow is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. But it’s not for the faint hearted – stinging Siberian winds whip around the buildings and a post-wander warm-up was definitely required. So it’s fortunate that the Poles have comfort food pegged, and bigos (hunter’s stew) is everything you could hope for on a wintry day. Polish kabernos sausage has an amazing, distinctive smoky flavour that makes it the star of this soup, which is roughly based on that classic Polish dish.
Pistachio Semolina Cake
Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, Silver Lake
This is just the sort of salad I want to eat when I am coming out of the winter stodge phase and need something fresher – just in time for the end of the blood orange season. It is a good salad to prepare ahead and will keep well in the fridge as long as you follow the salting instructions below – if you skip this step, the vegetables will go soggy.
Don’t let “smoky yogurt” make you think I’ve gone all cheffy on you. Yeah, in the restaurant the yogurt is actually smoked, but then I realized there’s some great-quality smoked sea salts out there that would also give you that effect (and you have to season the yogurt with salt anyway, so there you go). Liquid smoke also came up as a way to make this recipe more home cook–friendly, and though I dismissed it as a hack at first, I don’t believe the finest of palates could tell the difference between the real thing and the bottled thing. As for the crispy lentils, that idea came from Jonathon Sawyer, the amazing chef and wild man from Cleveland. He’s a total process guy, and every time I talk to him he’s got some technique he’s doing that’s really cool and delicious. He taught me that one way to get incredibly crispy lentils is to cook them until they’re tender, Cryovac them with a lot of olive oil and salt, and let them cure for a month before frying them. The final product is really good, but sorry, Johnny. Perry soaks them overnight and fries them in a skillet, and they’re just about as good. Perfect for all your crunchy-bit needs, or even on their own by the handful as a snack. So you got your yogurt, you got your roots, you got your chicories drizzled with dill vinaigrette, and then there’s the smoky yogurt and crispy lentils over the top. It’s a pretty solid deal.
There is something universal about dumplings—we all connect over our shared love of boiled dough stuffed with a filling of sorts. While there are so many types of dumplings native to different parts of the former Soviet Union, Siberia’s claim to fame is its own signature type called Siberian pelmeni. These tiny round dumplings stuffed with a blend of ground pork and beef are consumed with a generous chunk of butter, black pepper, and sour cream or—and this is my family’s favorite—in their own richly flavored cooking broth, with plenty of black pepper, of course! My dad would often have these (as well as pretty much anything else) with soy sauce that his mother would send us from his home town of Khabarovsk way before it became widely available in shops all over Russia. Since pelmeni were usually eaten in winter when no fresh herbs were available, adding fresh dill was not common practice, but I would highly recommend this to you these days, as well as experimenting with other non-Russian herbs. Pelmeni in sage butter, anyone?
Fermentation lies at the heart of Russian cuisine as one of the most ancient techniques of preparing food. As you will notice throughout this book, numerous recipes rely on sauerkrauts, kvass, or rassol (the fermentation liquid) for their distinct tangy flavor. This soup, which carries the name rassol in its very title, is the embodiment of such a tradition. While historically rassolnik is an old Russian dish, the go-to recipe in our family comes from Poland. Back in the 1970s, my mom took part in a school program that allowed Soviet kids to find pen pals in neighboring socialist countries. She hit the jackpot, since she was linked up with a boy in Poland (the most coveted country of all friendly socialist ones). After a few years of correspondence, my mom and her parents were invited—and most importantly permitted by the Soviet officials—to visit her pen pal. Along with a bag full of trendy garments, chewing gum, and fancy stationery, which made her the coolest teenager in school, she brought back this recipe for a good old Russian rassolnik, cooked by her Polish friend’s mom. The delicious soup always reminds me of the interwoven nature of the Soviet and Slavic histories and cuisines.
When it’s the dead of winter and there are no fresh, vibrant berries or stone fruits to speak of (at least, not the type that hasn’t been shipped thousands of miles and has the “meh” flavor and price tag to prove it), baking can seem kind of dreary. There are only so many brownies and chocolate chip cookies a person can take. It’s then that apples and pears are the answer. Hearty with a long storage life, you’re bound to find a couple rattling around the fridge just about any time of year.