I fell in love with ribollita when I was touring Italy with my family in the summer of 2000, I think. We sat in a rustic restaurant, and even though it was the middle of summer, I was LOVING the soup. Ribollita means re-boiled in Italian. To make it correctly, you cook the soup the day before, then, stack pieces of stale bread in a container– a dutch oven, perhaps– and then dump the soup over it. You store it, refrigerated for a day and then scoop some out and reboil it for dinner. The bread thickens the soup and letting it sit allows the flavors to marry.

This is a quick version, adapted from the one my cousin-in-law recommends from Giada DeLaurentis. The original has boring spinach in it. Instead, I added very thinly sliced green cabbage and dinosaur kale for the delicious cruciferous greens. Also, the original calls for pancetta, but I could only find prosciutto. AND I didn’t add a parmesan rind. It would probably be good– it just turned out that we didn’t have one like I thought we did. I might also add some crushed red pepper next time for a bit of ZING!

This version isn’t vegetarian due to the prosciutto and chicken broth, but I think this recipe would still be very tasty with veggie broth and skipping the meat– though, you might want to add a spot of chipotle powder or liquid smoke.

What you need:

  • about a 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (or prosciutto), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur (aka Tuscan) kale, stripped from the main vein and chopped
  • 1/4 of head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan rind (optional)
  • some slices of good crusty Italian bread
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta/prosciutto, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.
  4. Add the cabbage, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, stir, and simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread slices with olive oil. Toast until golden brown in a toaster over, or you big ole’ oven at about 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with a whole garlic clove (if you wish– I might skip this next time.)
  7. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan or good olive oil and serve immediately.

Magic Cookie Bars

These are pretty much “seven layer bars” but there are only six layers because I don’t like the butterscotch chips. This recipe is so easy and based on this recipe.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted
  • 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the stick of butter into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and place it in oven– let it melt, but make sure it doesn’t burn– about 5 minutes.
  3. Pound some graham crackers in a large zip-lock bag until you have a cup and a half.
  4. Take the melted butter and baking pan out of the oven
  5. Mix the graham cracker crumbs into the butter in the pan until all the crumbs are buttered, then press into an even layer at the bottom of the pan
  6. Cover with the sweetened condensed milk.
  7. Cover the milk with the chocolate chips
  8. Cover the chips with the coconut.
  9. Cover the coconut with the nuts.
  10. Lightly press down on the conglomerate with your fingers or the back of a clean measuring cup.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan before cutting.

*The edges will be quite crispy which I like, but if you don’t, you can line the pan with aluminum foil.

Sugar Cookies

Edward’s dad loves these cookies, particularly when they’re covered in a colorful glaze of powdered sugar icing. I forgot to take a picture of these guys once they were decorated for some reason so use your imagination. Here’s a picture of the icing production, if it helps:

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter- softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk

What you do:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until nice and creamy– depending on your mixer, I mix mine for about 5 minute. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Add egg to the butter mixture and beat well
  3. Add vanilla
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk– alternating about 3/4 c. of dry then 1 T. milk until it’s all gone.
  5. Mold the dough into a ball, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (but over night is fine too)
  6. After it’s chilled, set the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Place a little bit of flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick.
  8. Dip your cookie cutters into a bit of flour, then cut our your cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the cookies about a half and inch apart on the sheet.
  9. Bake until golden brown for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookies you cut.
  10. Remove from the cookies sheet and let cool on a wire wrack before icing.
  11. Eat with coffee or tea!

The BEST chocolate chip cookies

This recipe takes a little bit of forethought, because you have to refrigerate the dough for a day, but they really are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. A sprinkle of fleur de sel (French sea salt) sounds strange, but it’s seriously good. The official original recipe calls for using the dark chocolate fèves (big ‘ole chocolate ovals), which I used some of, but didn’t want to spend $10 on a pound of chocolate so I used some disks and some chocolate chunks and it worked out fine. Maybe one of these days I’ll even do it correctly.

Here are the beauties:

And here is the recipe which from the NY Times

What you need:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.

What you do:
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.