While I am tossing up photographs, I thought I would include a few pictures from earlier this year that never made it onto the blog, due to startup mayhem. Back in April, when ramps were in season, I had compared two pickle recipes: Stephane’s (which he had adapted from someone at the Union Square Farmers’ Market) and one from Amanda Hesser. Stephane’s recipe continues to be my favorite.
With no further ado, here are the pics:
This was getting near the end of the ramp season, so they were pretty fat.
On the off-chance that Stephane’s blog one day disappears, here are the key ingredients:
- 3 bunches of ramps, white parts only
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
And then a final still life from even earlier in the year that never quite made it up here, but which I liked:
If you are like me, and have used your ramp whites for pickling, then you have a whole bunch of delicious ramp greens to use before too much time passes. Here is a really simple thing to try that got a great response from Lisl:
Chicken, Ramp and Hot Paprika Skewers
hot hungarian paprika (or a mix of paprika and chili powder)
If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water.
Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap on a sturdy surface, and thin them to 1/4 inch or less by banging with the bottom of a heavy sauce pan (cast iron has *so* many uses!).
Cut into slices 1.5 inches thick and about 4 or 5 inches long. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place a ramp green on top, roll it up, and place on the skewer. If you end up with some smaller pieces of chicken, just cut them into squares about the same height/width as your rolls, cut up some ramp greens to about the same size, and alternate chicken and ramp green on the skewer, packing together closely.
Sprinkle both sides of the skewer with a little more salt, pepper, and a liberal amount of the hot paprika. Flip and do the same for the other side. Let rest for 20 minutes or so.
Ideally you will cook these on a hot grill, but in my case my grill is not totally fixed, so I broiled them right up under the heating elements in the oven for just over two minutes a side.
Serve by drizzling e.v. olive oil on top, and with a slight sprinkle of coarse sea or kosher salt. The ramp flavor really comes through and it all works together nicely. Don’t forget the olive oil at the end!
What defines a “comfort” dish? Sentimentality, based on good home cooking? Texture? Ingredients? Process? Rustic presentation? I can’t quite put my finger on it. This particular dish qualifies, but perhaps anything with the word “stuffed” in its name stacks the deck a little too steeply in its favor. It is interesting how a word so derogative when applied to humans becomes so delightful when applied to food.
As I mentioned the other day, Gourmet Worrier’s recipe for Qarabaghli mimli bil-laham caught my eye. I ran with the concept, and created my own version, which combines ground pork shoulder, some nicely smoked bacon, aged asiago cheese, breadcrumbs, crème fraîche… oh nevermind, the recipe is below the fold!
Continue reading “Stuffed Zucchinis with Pork, Ramp Greens, Asiago, Crème Fraîche and Lemon Zest”
Every once in a while, you read amusing stories about the tension and strife that ensue when cooking in your mother’s kitchen. The hovering. The unsought advice. The skeptical brow. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I have no such stories from this recent dinner. In the making of this ramp and mushroom risotto, I had free reign. Perhaps it is because I am male, or perhaps it is simply the nature of my mom, but there was no drama to rivet this tale.
I think we got most of the mother-child conflict out of our systems when I was in high school and needed heavy pushing to study and get into a good college. Her obstinate determination at that task exceeded even my own innate and not-insubstantial stubbornness. In the end, her mission was accomplished, for which I am eternally grateful.
Turning the tables and making her a great meal is the least I can do. This risotto, while not innovative in the slightest, was particularly good for three reasons: a homemade vegetable broth made with patience, the use of the last of my ramps, and a mix of porcini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.
Continue reading “Ramp and Mushroom Risotto”
Easter Sunday was a bit unusual for me this year. I spent the morning with family, but ever-patient Lisl gave me special dispensation to spend the afternoon tromping around the woods with a bunch of other food bloggers collecting wild ramps, fiddleheads, stinging nettles, wild garlic, and more. This outing was organized by Marc of No Recipes (who has a full write-up of the event and resulting menu on his blog, along with some great photos) and Jonathan of Lab 24/7.
(Clockwise from top-left: ramps; stinging nettles; fiddleheads; non-edible but pretty flowers)
I now understand the special appreciation people have for ramps. Douse them in olive oil and sea salt and toss under the broiler for a few moments, and the results will make you go weak in the knees. Since Sunday, I have also eaten pickled ramps, sauteed ramps with the drippings from a roast chicken, made ramp fritters (recipe below), and later this week will be making a ramp risotto. One has to strike when the iron is hot!
Continue reading “Ramps, Ramps, and Ramp Fritters”