Zwiebelkuchen Recipe

Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie)

This onion pie is traditionally served with Federweisse, a fizzy, half-fermented, unfiltered white wine that has the crisp, sweet taste of apple cider. It can also be served with new wine, preferably a half-dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer. Combined with a small salad, Zwiebelkuchen makes a great afternoon snack or a light dinner.

In the lingering, last days of summer, just before the first crisp evenings of fall arrive and the leaves begin to change, Zwiebelkuchen (TSVEE-bull-koo-ken) appears on menus throughout western Germany and the Alsace region of France. At this time of year wine makers open their cellar doors to the public and serve their house wines and light meals, including hearty soups, sausages, bread and Zwiebelkuchen. To signal that they are open to the public, the Strausswirtschaft will hang a wreath, usually made of straw, out in front of the winery.

Zweibelkuchen (onion pie)


  • 2 cups white or yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 medium eggs
  • Pastry for one pie, unbaked (homemade or store bought -- Marie Calendars makes a good crust, available in the freezer section of most stores).

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Cook the diced bacon in a skillet, then drain and set aside.

Sauté the onions until translucent, or a little longer. I like mine just starting to turn a bit golden. I use the bacon fat for sautéing the onions, but you could just use a little butter or oil.

Remove from heat.

Put the bacon back into the onions, then add the salt and caraway seeds.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add in the sour cream, heavy cream and flour. Mix well.

Add the onion and bacon mixture to the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell, cover with aluminum foil, and back for 30 to 45 minutes (filling should be firm, and the edges just turning golden brown).

Ribollita Recipe

Ingredients for Ribollita

Ribollita (aka Tuscan Bread Soup)

The other day we received some fresh kale in our weekly organic vegetable box, and this is always a signal for me to make some Ribollita. This classic Tuscan soup highlights many of the characteristics of Tuscan cooking: fresh, simple ingredients; using what's a available with each season; and making use of something that would otherwise go to waste (like stale, dried bread). You can vary the types and quantities of vegetables, but real Ribollita has to have kale, a dark, bumpy member of the cabbage family.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15 oz. can white kidney or cannellini beans
  • 1 15oz. can tomatoes, finely diced
  • 4 cups kale, coarsely chopped
  • Rosemary, leaves from one fresh sprig (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. fresh Oregano leaves, minced (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
  • salt
  • pepper

Ribollita Soup

In a large pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables (but not the kale), and stir them to blend and coat, about 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a little grated parmesan cheese.

Gazpacho Recipe

With temperatures topping 105°F here in central California, and no end to triple digits in sight, there's no chance I'm going to add to our air conditioner's strain by heating up the kitchen. It's time for some cool food, and in the heat of summer there's nothing better than a bowl of gazpacho.

This cold soup originated in Andalucia, the southern portion of Spain. During the time of the Roman Empire, soldiers traveling along the roads would carry with them bread, garlic, vinegar, salt and some olive oil, mashing them together to form a paste. It was a simple, nourishing meal that could be eaten on the run. Fast forward about ten centuries and the arrival of the tomato in Spain, probably brought back from the New World by the conquistadors. Crush the tomatoes along with the other ingredients and you have a basic soup, ideally suited to Andalucia's hot climate.

I don't really use a recipe for my gazpacho -- I just kind of eyeball the quantities. The amounts shown below are more like guidelines.

Gazpacho al Andaluz


  • 2 lbs tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in pieces
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, cut in pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar (sherry wine vinegar if you have it, otherwise white or red is fine)
  • 2 slices French bread, dried and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Soak the bread in just enough water to thoroughly wet it.

In food processor or blender, puree all of the ingredients together.

Add a little water if you need to thin the mixture.

Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Serve in a bowl topped with garnishes.


  • Cucumber, diced
  • Green bell pepper, diced
  • Tomato, diced
  • Red Onion, finely chopped
  • Croutons, made from one or two slices of French bread

Wimbledon, strawberries and cream

Driving around southwest England earlier this month, I saw lots of road-side signs advertising fresh strawberries. It reminded me that Wimbledon time was approaching, and of the tradition of eating strawberries and cream during the tournament.

When my oldest son was about one month old, he would wake up very early in the morning -- what infant doesn't? -- and I would get up with him to let my wife sleep. About the only thing on TV at 4:00am in those pre-satellite days was the live coverage of Wimbeldon, so we would sit and watch tennis. I don't really think he understood the finer points of the game, but it was enjoyable none the less.

He's twelve now, and this year we have revived our early morning rendezvous. His understanding of tennis is better. And he's able to enjoy the strawberries and cream with me. I've livened up the traditional recipe, with a splash of balsamic vinegar that adds a nice, complex flavor to the cream.

Recipe for strawberries and cream with balsamic
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Wash and dry the strawberries, then slice off the stems. You can leave the berries whole, or cut them up for easier eating with a spoon.

Combine the cream, sugar and balsamic in a bowl. Whip until it just begins to thicken and peak. Top a bowl of strawberries with a dollop of cream.

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