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Nigel Slater's Peas with Olive Oil and Mint


Okay, brace yourselves. This one's going to be short and sweet and to the point. Because we all have something else we should be doing - making these peas. You could be wondering why, and I'll tell you. They're likely the only way I will ever cook frozen peas again.

Woah. That's a bold statement, I know. It's even making me a little nervous, to bandy about with superlative threats like that. I mean, I like a regular old boiled frozen pea, lacquered with the barest hint of unsalted butter, just fine and all. Who doesn't? In fact, up until last week, that was the only way I ever ate frozen peas. (Well, except for the time when I threw half a bag into a fake chicken tikka masala. Details, details.)


But these peas, sweetened and mellowed by a barely-stewed onion and trailing the mystical scent of mint and grassy olive oil, are enough to make me put the butter away and declare myself the president and first official member of the Peas-with-Olive-Oil-and-Mint club. Do you think I should start a themed group on Facebook? Or take out an announcement in the paper? Maybe even hire a plane to write a tribute in the sky?

I mean, seriously, where have these peas been all my life?

Not to be a total boss, but I think you should make them for dinner tonight.

Peas with Olive Oil and Mint
Serves 2 as a side dish

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
1 small onion or shallot, sliced into paper-thin rings
2 sprigs fresh mint

1. Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and add the peas, onion slices, and mint. Add the salt and one tablespoon of water, and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer over low heat for 6 to 7 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally. Serve hot.

Irene Wong's Panthay Noodles


I find it unendingly ironic that, even though we live in the most diverse borough of New York City where 44% of our neighbors are foreign-born, our choice of good ethnic food for takeout is severely limited. We love Forest Hills, we really do. We love our apartment and our view, our neighborhood grocery stores, and the quiet streets. We love the crusty pizza at Nick's and the pierogies at Just Like Mother's. If we're up for a little journey, we can hop in the car and be the only white people in a stuffed-to-the-gills Korean restaurant or a Chinese dim sum hall or an Indian buffet in just a few minutes.

But this isn't really enough.

What I mean is, we're New Yorkers. We expect good ethnic food to be brought to us, still hot, in under half an hour. It seems like it should be one of the small benefits of living in New York. Yes, we'll put up with noise and filth and cramped quarters and expense in return for  old black-and-white movies at Film Forum, the incomparable experience of walking from the West Village to the Lower East Side on a warm spring morning, and authentic immigrant cuisine at a moment's notice.

But since we left the aforementioned filth and noise and cramped quarters for the comparative expanse of Queens, does that mean we also forfeited our right to good takeout? Because, surprise or no surprise, Forest Hills has been downright disappointing in that area. We've ordered mediocre Thai from the same little place so often that Ben finally told me this weekend that he is officially putting it on the No-Order list, along with the sub-par, yet expensive, Indian down the road, and the creepy Chinese that definitely resembles no other Chinese food I've ever come into contact with. And that's it. That's all we've got. So we're in a bit of a pickle, I'd say.


One that requires taking matters into our own hands. When I read about Irene Wong's Burmese noodles (can we talk for a minute about how much I am liking this new New York Times column, One Pot?) last week, though, I realized, suddenly gripped by a burning urge to make them, that I could just stop whining and simply make my own takeout.

And truthfully, in the time it would have taken to make the phone call and then wait for food to be delivered, the dish came together one, two, three. It was delicious: earthy and slick at the same time. At first I thought it odd that the highly seasoned, turmeric-stained chicken (well, er, tofu, actually - I took one liberty there) mixture didn't get incorporated into the noodles, which were relatively bland upon first tasting them. But then, as we ate, the tastes all started to mix together pleasantly in our bowls and it turned out to be just the right amount of flavors and spice.

Paired with an ice-cold beer or two you might even start to think that life without takeout is livable, indeed.


We're planning a trip to Israel quite soon and I'm wondering, dear readers, if you have any tips for interesting markets or bakeries or other food-related visits? If so, please leave them in the comments. Thank you!

Panthay Noodles
Serves 2

6 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces fresh Asian noodles or dried egg noodles
5 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs or extra-firm tofu, cut into slices 1 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide by 1/2-inch thick
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons (about 2 cloves) minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fish sauce
8 ounces baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into pieces 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide
1/4 cup peeled, finely slivered carrot
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 to 4 lemon wedges, for serving 

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon oil and a sprinkle of salt. Boil noodles until barely tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse thoroughly under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

2. Season chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger, and sauté until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, curry powder, paprika, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons water. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep warm.

3. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add bok choy and sauté until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add carrots and noodles and sauté until well heated, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

4. To serve, divide noodle mixture between two warm plates. Top each portion with half the chicken mixture. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

James Peterson's Mushrooms à la Grecque


Languorous cooking times, afternoons spent in the kitchen, and a honorary membership to the Slow Food movement may be all well and good, but give me quick, something-out-of-nothing meals that come together in less time than it takes to make a plate of pasta and I'll be seduced, every time.

Who hasn't stood in front of their fridge with the door open, stomach rumbling and hands feeling trembly with hunger, wishing that a little bewinged creature trailing pixie dust would swoop in, pluck out all the edible bits and pieces, and conjure up a quick meal in less time than it takes to say "I believe in fairies!"?

Just this past week, I have made bread in less than an hour (honest-to-God - more on that next time), fragrant lentil stew in under thirty minutes (red lentils, people, they're the ticket), and then these mushrooms - culled, nearly-forgotten, from the bottom of the fridge - in almost no time at all.

It's like I've been charmed, or something.


Lightly glazed with their own juices fortified by a splash of wine, a fillip of lemon juice, and a smattering of coriander seed, the mushrooms have a luscious, silky-firm quality that belies the speed with which they were cooked, and a hauntingly delicate flavor. The dish comes together so fast it will surprise you - you might barely have time to open your mail, grill bread and set the table.

But what a relief, then, to sit down so soon after you started, and have a meal, a good one. No bowl of cereal, no peanut butter-smeared water crackers, no desperate dialing to the mediocre take-out place. Though we ate ours plain and unadorned except for the parsley, I think a softly poached egg would be spectacular on top, the swirling yolk enriching the flavors and adding ballast to the meal.

Real fast food*, indeed.

*With thanks to NS for that one.

Mushrooms à la Grecque
Serves 4

1/2 pound small white button mushrooms
1/2 pound small cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 slices country white bread, for grilling (you might like brushing a peeled garlic clove ever-so-lightly over the bread)
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

1. Slice off and discard the mushroom stems. Rinse and drain the mushrooms. If the mushroom caps are larger than three-quarters inch in diameter, cut them in half vertically. Put the mushrooms, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander seeds and one-fourth cup water in a 3 1/2 - or 4-quart pot. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, gently shaking the pan a few times during the first few minutes of cooking. Simmer gently, covered, for 12 minutes to cook through.

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the pot and put them into a bowl to cool. Return the mushroom liquid to a good simmer, adding any remaining liquid that the resting mushrooms have released back to the pan to reduce. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to one-fourth cup, then remove from the heat.

3. Pour the reduced liquid over the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. The recipe to this point can be made ahead and the mushrooms stored, refrigerated, for 1 to 2 days.

4. Heat a grill over medium heat. Grill both sides of the bread until lightly browned. Divide the mushrooms with the juices among four small bowls. Sprinkle each with fresh parsley and serve with the bread.

Sherry Yard's Fig Bars


I normally am not a fussy-cookie kind of girl. I like them plain and simple, dropped from the edge of a spoon. A bit of vanilla extract here, or a few good chunks of chocolate there, a sparkle from buckwheat flour or a nubby bit of ginger, and that's all. The crunchier the better, since those kinds are best dipped in tea, but I'm democratic: I'll eat them even if they're soft and chewy. I guess the only requirement I have is that they be easy to make. I spent one evening before Christmas years ago awake all night dealing with the nightmare that is the production of Zimtsterne and while I love those little things with a hot, burning passion, I will never make them again. Uh-uh, life's too short.

So while the idea of homemade fig newtons always appealed to me, the reality of all that cooking and processing and rolling and filling seemed like far too much work for such a layabout like me.

And then. (There's always that, isn't there?)


I had express instructions to myself to do nothing - but nothing - this past weekend. To stay home, keeping the kitchen warm, detaching from every single possible thing outside the confines of the four walls of my apartment. But you know, five hours of cooking meat sauce only takes you so far. Plus, I happened to have all the requirements for a homemade fig newton in the house already, meaning I wouldn't have to leave the house for a single thing. (I told you I was lazy.) And then I considered the fact that, since I refuse to eat commercial fig newtons anymore, I haven't had one since my freshman year in college. Which is far, far too long to have gone without a fig bar, wouldn't you say?

I'd even argue that the fig-filled cookie is one of America's greatest contributions to the cookie lexicon. (Or perhaps the derivative hermit.) Along with the graham cracker and the chocolate chip cookie, of course. Am I leaving something out?


Anyway, all of this to say that, yes, fig bars are more work than a simple drop cookie. But they are also worth that work if you have an afternoon to spare, one in which the skies darken prematurely - requiring cuddles and cookies to keep you warm. (I happen to think fig bars are paired best with a glass of cold, cold milk. Biscotti can have their hot tea. Newtons need their milk.) Plus, while they are more work, they are not necessarily harder work, which can be an important differentiation.

The vanilla-speckled dough (so, so pretty) is flecked with little shreds of orange peel and the luscious fig filling (of which, luckily, there is too much, so you can eat it for breakfast on toast or stirred into yogurt all week long) is crunchy and aromatic and just exactly what you'd imagine a homemade fig newton to be filled with.

If it at all possible, and I know that it might not be, try to resist eating all the newtons at once. Because kept overnight, they sort of transmogrify into an even better version of themselves - the cookie softens somewhat, the filling squidges just so. The different parts of their anatomy all sort of coalesce perfectly in the night, leaving you with the best newton you ever ate - yielding, fragrant, simple, delicious.

You might find yourself converted then, as fussy-cookie-loving a girl as they come.

Fig Bars
Makes 40 (1-inch) cookies
Note: This recipe makes more fig purée than is needed for the cookies; the extra can be spread on toast and will keep for 1 week refrigerated.

1 cup (12 ounces) finely chopped dried Black Mission figs, packed
1 cup apple juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/8 plus  1/2  teaspoon grated orange zest, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg white
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped figs, 1 1/2 cups of water, apple juice and one-fourth cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a bare simmer for 1 hour, until the figs are so soft that they're spreadable. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add one-eighth teaspoon orange zest and process until smooth. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

2. While the figs are cooking, cream together the butter, remaining one-half cup sugar and one-half teaspoon orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) for 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl and paddle or beaters. Add the egg white, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract and beat in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a flat rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Place racks in the middle and lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Unwrap the dough and center it on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper measuring 12 inches by 16 inches. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and place a large piece of plastic wrap over the dough to prevent it from sticking while it is rolled out. Roll out the dough to the dimensions of the parchment; it will be less than one-eighth-inch thick.

5. Cut the dough lengthwise into four (12-by-4-inch) strips. Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip, leaving one-half-inch of room on either side. To roll the dough over the filling: Gently lift the long edge of the parchment under the first strip and roll it, along with the dough, over the filling, carefully peeling the parchment away as you go. You should have a sort of log-shaped roll. Because the dough is thin, it may crack; if this happens, allow the dough to sit so it warms a little, then try again, being gentle and using the parchment under the dough to force it to fold over. When the roll is complete, gently slide a flat cookie sheet under the log and transfer it to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Pinch the ends of the log closed. Repeat with the three remaining strips, placing 2 logs lengthwise per cookie sheet.

6. Using a serrated knife, slice each log on the diagonal into 10 cookies. Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through, for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. The bars will keep, stored airtight, for 2 days.

Marco Canora's Beef Bolognese


I suppose it's true that every Italian has their version of ragu, a long-simmered meat sauce to be tossed with fresh pasta or layered in lasagna. And all of them (us) think their version is the best, the only one worth spending five hours in the kitchen for, the sauce to end all sauces. (Not all Italians actually make this sauce themselves; they wait until they're home for a visit and it gets made in their honor, further elevating ragu into the stratosphere of heaven-sent manna.) Some people have had their recipes passed down in the family, from great-grandmother to grandmother to mother and so on. But others, like me, got their recipe through other means, like abject begging.

You see, my mother and grandmother, well, they aren't/weren't big cooks. I don't have any recipes in my arsenal that came from my grandmother (unless you count a simple tomato sauce made with onions and carrots that is still the subject of ample controversy between my mother and father. My father insists that my grandmother taught him how to make it; my mother says he's crazy for thinking my grandmother could have ever taught anyone any recipe, ever.). And my mother is so uninterested in what happens in the kitchen that it's probably still a marvel to her that I have ostensibly made my career around the subject.

So when the time came for me to start making my own ragu (sometime in college, this was. Yes, I know, some people spend those years getting high and finding themselves; I started building my recipe arsenal.), I turned outside the family to our dear friend, Gabriella. Gabriella is from Bologna and is possibly, besides my Sicilian uncle, the best cook I know. (You should have yourself invited over to her place sometime when she's making an all-fish dinner. Or a Marchigianian meal. Or, frankly, even just stuffed tomatoes. Good lord.) One summer evening in Torre, I sat next to her and took notes as she carefully told me how to make her meat sauce. And then I went back to the States and proceeded to make it - over and over and over again - until I committed it to memory.

It's "my" sauce now and I love it. It reminds me of my family and Gabriella's and our summers together and my childhood. It makes Ben smile with his mouth full and my friends clamor for the recipe and generally, it's one of the things I know how to make that I'm proudest of.


But you know this post isn't about that sauce. This post is about someone else's sauce. I'll be honest, I'm not really in the market for a new meat sauce. I'm pretty happy with the one I've got. But then I went and read about Marco Canora (he of the addictive red cabbage) and his grandmother's sauce and the fact that it ends up the consistency of pudding (the mind boggles) and before I knew it, there was a little kernel of curiosity planted within me. Plus, I had explicit plans to do nothing but stay home and nest on Saturday. This would give me something to do.

And, boy, did it ever.

Getting the sauce to the point where you just let it simmer for three hours takes more than an hour. You slowly, carefully build layers of flavor - soffritto, minced garlic, diced pancetta, then beef. There's tomato paste and canned tomatoes, red wine and whole milk, even meat stock. It's quite impressive. The sauce gets thicker and richer with each stir. But what puzzled me was the complete lack of herbs: no parsley, no bay leaf. So I decided to add one bay leaf to the pot. After two hours, I felt guilty about it and took it out again. This was Marco's grandmother's sauce, after all, and I wasn't supposed to be messing with it.

The sauce does indeed become quite pudding-y. It practically quivers. It's very rich, and thick with meat. Someone remarked that it tasted like meat sauce made with pot roast and there is something to that. It's as if the sauce took apart the meat, altered the flavor molecules, and then stitched it back together again. It's darn good, I have to say, and makes an impressive amount, which is a relief because then at least you have some leftovers of your hard labor to put in the freezer.

But it almost doesn't matter than this sauce was as tasty as could be. I missed "my" sauce. I missed the minced parsley and the bay leaf. I didn't like the gaminess of the pancetta or the addition of minced garlic. Nothing against Marco or his grandmother, but I think these things end up being more than just a matter of taste, don't you think? They're about family and memory and love and tradition and other intangibles.

I know it's absolutely cruel to leave you hanging without a recipe for my meat sauce. I promise I'll write a post on it soon, maybe even combine it with a post about lasagna (in which I shall rail against the forces of evil who made millions of Americans think it's supposed to be made with part-skim ricotta or some such travesty). In the meantime, try Marco's sauce. And try Marcella's. Fiddle with them a bit until what you've got is your very own. Make that sauce so often that it becomes a tradition. Someone's favorite recipe. Something you pass on to your children or your children's children, or the daughter of a friend who always likes sitting near you when you cook, being watchful and quiet, absorbing every little thing you do.

You might realize, then, that food, in a way, immortalizes you.

Beef Bolognese
Serves 6 with leftover sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
¾ cup finely chopped celery
¾ cup finely chopped carrots
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/3 pound pancetta, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups tomato paste
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 cups red wine
2 2/3 cups whole canned tomatoes, drained of juices and torn
2 cups meat stock
Pappardelle, cooked al dente
Grated Parmesan

1. Combine the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to brighten in color, about 20 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, and just before it starts to brown, add the beef and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is thoroughly browned, about 25 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk and cook at a lively simmer until the milk is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the pan is almost dry.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim the fat off the surface. Toss with al dente pappardelle and serve with grated Parmesan.

Calling All Creatives

Through some stroke of incredible good fortune (or plain dumb luck), I seem to have been blessed with a super-fancy account upgrade (free of charge!) over at Typepad.

God only knows what possessed them (something about me being dedicated and -er- influential, my heavens), but before they come to their senses and take all the glory of Advanced Template Hooha and Total User Control Thingy away, I figure I might as well make something of it.

Which brings me to you, dear readers and commenters and lurkers (I know you're out there, you silent masses, don't think I don't seeeee youuuuu). I know absolutely diddly squat about design and Photoshop and making pretty banners and other such hallmarks of a personal Weblog run by someone who actually knows what h-t-m-l stands for. I've always just used a plain old Typepad template because it was easy to use and I didn't have to lift a finger besides choosing a design that looked simplest/plainest/therefore prettiest and then clicking on a "save changes" button.

(Yes, it's true - I know absolutely nothing about The Internet.)

But I have been bored for a while, itching for a site design that is a little more personal, a little less cookie cutter. Something simple and subtle and pretty, yes! But also something that is all my own. I think we can probably all agree that I/we could use a change around here. Yes?



Do you have any advice? Tips? Art direction? Are any of you people out there designer-bloggy types who would be willing to share your wisdom? Or actual help? Perhaps some of you have been sitting on your hands each time you read a post from me, wishing you could reach through the computer screen and rearrange fonts/photos/colors/banners/the-whole-damn-thing-so-help-you-God?

If so, please leave me a comment or send me an email. Let's talk. I need your help.

(Let's discuss incentivization - Ben told me that was a real word and so I'm using it - offline, though I can already tell you that it will certainly include lots and lots of cookies. Homemade by me. Swear to God.)

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds


I've just checked and according to the map over there, not a single part of the continental United States has any sun right now. (Darn Hawaii.) So let's all take a collective breath and remember, February is the shortest month of the year for a reason.

It is nasty out there today - New York City's streets have those all-too-familiar rain ponds at every street corner and the wind keeps whipping the rain horizontally, so it sneaks under your flabby umbrella and smacks you (gently) in the face. It's one thing to have velvety snow falling in large clumps and turning a loud city into a muffled wonderland. It's another entirely to wake up to flooded subways and dank, drippy shoes.

If I could, I'd stay home on days like today, baking bread and futzing around the apartment in felted slippers, planning trips to warmer climes. Instead, I've decided to just give myself up to the cold and wet. Such is winter, such is life. Why fight it? It'll be gone before too long. I'm grateful right now that I have pretty pink tulips in a vase to come home to, smooth wooden floors underfoot in the morning that feel so fresh and cool, and pure sunshine in the form of potato soup to warm me.


Sunshine? Potato soup? Come again?

My readers in Germany will probably be as perplexed as I was when I first saw this soup come together. After all, we're used to potato soup being a wan and wintry sort of thing. Flecked with parsley and small discs of hot dogs, Kartoffelsuppe is delicious, no doubt, but not a stunner in the looks department. It's rib-sticking in a way that is absolutely essential in the dark winter months, but I wouldn't exactly call it sultry.

This soup, however? Practically flaunts its hot, sunny curves in a mini-bikini by comparison. This is Spain's answer to that northern stuff. Instead of onions and Wuerstchen, it has garlic and silky Serrano. Instead of pallid milk or cream for thickening, it has toasted almonds pulverized to a chewy grit. Shot through and through with gossamer shards of saffron, ground finely in the palm of your hand, this potato soup is gutsy and brazen. It parades around on peep-toe stilettos, shows off its admirable cleavage, practically throws itself at you.

It is, pardon me, the sexiest soup I've ever eaten.


Make it, and your house, so cold when you first came home, will warm quickly with the scent of fried garlic, toasting almonds, and shreds of Serrano giving up their porky oils to the pan. Eat it, scraping the bottom of the bowl most impolitely, and you'll feel your cheeks flush. The texture is both silky and coarse, and the flavor (the flavor!) is irresistibly complex. I don't think I've enjoyed dinner this much in a long time.

Just watch out: it might make you do things you can't be held responsible for afterwards, like booking a last-minute flight to Barcelona. Such is the power of soup like this. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Potato Soup With Fried Almonds
Serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 for supper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
6 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup finely diced Serrano ham
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into irregular 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 cups chicken broth
1 pinch saffron, pulverized in a mortar
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the almonds and garlic and cook until golden, 5 minutes. Spoon out the almonds and garlic; reserve. Add the ham to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook for another minute. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer.

2. In a food processor, grind the almonds and garlic. Add all but 2 tablespoons to the soup. Steep the saffron in a few tablespoons of the soup broth for 2 minutes; then add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and cook until about half the potatoes have disintegrated, about 35 minutes. Skim the soup regularly.

3. Using the back of a spoon, crush some of the potatoes to thicken the soup. Add the vinegar to the reserved garlic mixture and stir it into the soup. Add the parsley. Cook for a minute. Taste and adjust seasoning.