Cabbage Sandwich

I know that this does not sound very appetizing but bear with me. It is based upon a recipe from the Aroso Valley in Italy, Zuppa alla Valdostana.  ‘Zuppa’ means soup, but this is as much like soup as I am a Dutchman. Anyway, soup or sandwich, it is one of those recipes where humble ingredients (cabbage, cheese, stale bread, butter and stock) combine magically to produce something unexpectedly wonderful.

As a further reference, it was an absolute favourite of my children when they were small. And these were children for whom the mere sight of vegetables could induce anaphylactic shock. I have never come across anyone who did not love the result. The problem has been persuading people to try making it. But you will, won’t you? (Please post your reaction in the comments section.)

The result should be crisp and golden on top and bottom, but soft and squidgy in the middle.

A word about ‘stock’. Stock cubes have improved greatly in recent years, and I would not be without them. But this is one of those recipes where stock cubes will not do. You really need to make your own vegetable stock, – you can find the recipe under BASIC RECIPES, or follow the link below under ingredients.

3 small ciabattas, slightly stale
½ large cabbage
250g mature Gouda cheese (slices are easiest), or Italian Fontina
100g butter
750ml vegetable stock

1. Slice the ciabatta thinly.
2. Core and dissect the cabbage into individual leaves, and boil these for about 10 minutes (or until quite soft.) Drain, refresh and allow to cool.
3. Grease the bottom of an ovenproof dish (about  20cm x 30cm) with about 1tbsp of butter.
4. Lay 1/3 of the bread in the bottom of the dish (it should cover it approximately but not overlap) and moisten with a few tablespoons of stock.
5. lay half the cabbage on top.
6.  Sprinkle slivers of 1/3 of the remaining butter.
7.  Top with 1/3 the cheese slices, neatly arranged.
8. Repeat.
9. Finish with the remaining bread and top with remaining butter.
10. Pour over the vegetable stock.
11. Bake at 180° for 20-20 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden.



© DAVEggie

Black and White Soup with Salad Tortilla

My last blog, ‘The Perfect Omelette’, was inspired in part by being able once again to lay my hands on really fresh free-range eggs. But it was also a very quick menu to prepare, necessitated because I had little time for cooking, as I was busy laying laminate flooring.
So, true to the eclectic nature of this blog, I am happy to offer my tip for  installing laminate flooring yourself:


Now back to recipes. I really enjoy a bowl  of soup, especially in winter. But sometimes, no matter how delicious, it is not quite substantial enough. Take this recipe for Black and White Soup. The ‘black & white’ refers to the beans used to prepare it. It is actually two soups, added carefully to the serving bowl (either individually of a tureen) to form two separate puddles. And to make it more substantial, I serve it with a tortilla filled with shredded salad vegetables, grated cheese and sour cream.

Black Soup
1tbsp olive oil
1  small onion chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
200ml passata
1/2tsp oregano
1/2tsp ground cumin
400g tin black beans
1tbsp lime juice
1tbsp chopped coriander
1tsp smoked paprika

1. Fry the onion, garlic and red pepper in the olive oil until lightly browned.
2. Add the cumin and oregano and fry for 60 seconds more.
3. Add the passata and 300ml water and the black beans (retain a few for serving.)
4. Simmer for 30 minutes, then puree.
5. Season with salt and pepper.

White Soup
15g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 stick celery, de-stringed and finely chopped
400ml mushroom stock
400g tin white haricot beans, washed and drained
100ml cream
few drops of truffle oil

1. Sweat the onion and celery in the butter until soft but not browned.
2. Add the rosemary and continue to cook for another 60 seconds.
3. Add, the white beans (retaining a few for serving) and mushroom stock.
4. Simmer for 30 minutes and remove the rosemary sprigs.
5. Add the cream, and a few drops of truffle oil (optional) and puree until frothy.
6. Season with salt and white pepper.

Pour the white soup into deep bowls (less than half full).
Add the black soup carefully to one side of the bowl, taking care not to mix the two.
Add a few drops of white soup to the black soup.
Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the black soup.

Salad Vegetable Tortillas
Almost any combination of fresh raw salad vegetables will be delicious, for example:
1/2 red onion, very thinly slices
1/2  mild red or green chilli, very thinly sliced
1/2` beefsteak tomato, chopped quite small
10cm cucumber piece, de-seeded and shredded.
1/2 avocado, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced (my preference would be for one not too squidgy)
1/4 red pepper, shredded
1/4  iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2  tin sweet corn
100g grated cheese, Cheddar or Gouda
50ml sour cream
2 large tortillas

1. Add about half the above to a tortilla.
2. Fold 5cm of one end over the salad ingredients.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Roll the tortilla up fairly tightly, to form a tube.
5. Enjoy!


© DAVEggie

The Perfect Omelette

A neighbour of ours keeps chickens and sells the eggs to a select few. But a recent bird flu scare meant that his chickens had to be confined to barracks for the last three months, and he was no longer allowed to sell the eggs.

And then last Friday he appeared at my front door again, clutching big stack of egg boxes, a big grin on his face!

To celebrate, I cooked omelettes for supper for which I present the recipe. Now before you hoot with derision and switch off, let me tell you that a properly made omelette is a true gastronomic delight provided you follow a few simple rules, and is as easy to make as, well, cracking eggs.

Simple rules:
1. Do not over-cook.
1. Use the freshest free range eggs available.
2. Cook in butter and a splash of oil.
4. Keep the filling simple.
5. Do not over-cook.

Serves 1
3  free range eggs
15g  butter
1/2tbsp  mild olive oil
1  medium sized tomato, preferably beefsteak
75g   grated cheese, such as Gouda, mild Cheddar or Gruyère
salt and pepper

1.   Chop the tomato into small dice.
2.   Crack the eggs into a bowl, season with a little salt and pepper, and whisk.
3.   Melt the butter in an omelette-sized frying pan, and add the oil.
4.   When the butter and oil is nice and hot, add the eggs
5.   Scramble the eggs lightly with a fork, making sure you preserve the round shape of the omelette
6.   When the bottom is lightly browned, bit the top still slightly runny,  add the tomato and cheese to one side of the omelette, and fold in half and Serve immediately.

I like to serve omelettes simply,  with good crusty bread, and a crisp salad.

© DAVEggie