The never ending deep freezer days have given way here to very unseasonal temperatures well above freezing with never ending fog, drizzle, and greyness. I know, I complain about the cold, but then I also complain when it warms up. Well, I have come to the conclusion that I’d much rather prefer deep freezer temperatures, because at least there is much less of a chance that it’s foggy, the air is crisp, and it feels like winter! Not to mention that there is way less dirt and mud when the ground is frozen solid. For the past few days, our dog Felix has been looking like she’s getting mud wraps whenever we take her out to the woods.
One thing is for sure, this kind of ghastly weather calls for appropriate food. Dishes that are hearty and satisfying without weighing you down. And food that keeps you warm, because cold fog is truly chilling. While most people think of Sauerkraut as the typical side for German sausages, there is actually a lot more to it. Thanks to its long shelf life and high vitamin C content, it used to be a popular and cheap way to get your vegetable servings back in the day before refrigeration.
This soup uses only a few ingredients, and has a lovely light taste of Sauerkraut, which is beautifully complemented by the smokiness of the crisp bacon bits on top. The rich texture is mainly achieved by blending the ingredients, and it only relies on a tiny splash of cream lending it a luxurious touch. Substitute with dry white wine if you don’t have Noilly Prat at hand. Serve with whole grain bread for a simple lunch or dinner.
Sauerkrautsuppe (serves 4)
80g potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
100g fresh Sauerkraut
2 tablespoons Noilly Prat
1l vegetable broth
1 dried bay leave
4 juniper berries, coarsely chopped
100ml heavy cream
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh Sauerkraut
handful of Speck, cut into small bits
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1. Heat oil in a large pot and add onion. Saute for a few minutes until soft.
2. Add potato cubes and Sauerkraut.
3. Add Noilly Prat and cook until alcohol has evaporated.
4. Add broth and stir well. Cover and cook until potatoes are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove bay leave. Blend soup in blender until smooth.
6. Return to pot, add cream, and cook for a few minutes.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Cook bacon bits in a non stick frying pan until crisp.
9. Ladle soup into bowls and top with Sauerkraut, Speck, and chives.
Long, cold, and dark winter afternoons are the perfect opportunity to light some candles, curl up on the sofa with a good book, and have some sweet nibbles and a cup of tea. It’s the best way to decompress after the holiday madness, and an hour or two without any electronic gadgets (think no cell phone, computer, or TV) is pure balsam for the soul. I finally have time to catch up on my reading – there are three stacks of unread books piled up in my living room, and I can’t wait to work my way through them. Right now, I’m enjoying “The Wayfinders” by Wade Davis, an eloquently written plea for the preservation of our planet’s cultural diversity.
I hope everyone had a great start to the New Year and is able to find some time to indulge in a good book and a tea cake or two! By the way, these little cakes are also great for a party buffet or when you have guests over for tea.
Spiced Chocolate Tea Cakes
200g butter, softened at room temperature
4 egg yolks
150g dark chocolate (72%)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
100g milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
1. Whisk butter in a mixing bowl until creamy.
2. Add egg yolks and sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
3. Melt dark chocolate and cream and stir until well combined.
4. Mix chocolate and cream into batter.
5. Stir in milk chocolate chunks.
6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs whites and pinch of salt until foamy.
7. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
8. Stir cornstarch, baking powder, and spices into flour.
9. Gently fold 1/3 of stiff egg whites into batter, then stir in 1/3 of flour mix.
10. Fold in remaining egg whites and flour, alternating between the two.
11. Pour batter into small tea cake pan (alternatively, the batter is enough to fill up one guglhupf form, or a large rectangular cake pan).
12. Bake at 180C/350F for about 12 minutes (if using guglhupf form or cake pan, bake for about 55 minutes).
13. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 2 minutes before inverting cakes.
14. Dust with powdered sugar (optional).