Friday, May 30, 2014

Eggs with Ramps

Last ramps recipe of the season to appear on this here blog (tear). But! It's a good one. Ramps are often best when prepared as simply as possible, as in this case where they are gently wilted in olive oil and then combined with super fresh organic eggs. Such a good, easy breakfast for spring. And speaking of seasons, can you guys believe that summer is on our proverbial doorsteps? Every time the weather warms up here in New York, I'm reminded that I'll always be a beach girl at heart. I trick myself into thinking I love winter (likely as a survival mechanism), but all my years growing up in Hawaii have ruined me for life, I suspect.

Ramps and Eggs
From Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, by Jody Williams
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch ramps, root ends trimmed and discarded, thoroughly washed
Coarse salt
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ramps and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ramps just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Gently crack the eggs into the pan directly alongside the ramps and place the pan in the oven (alternatively, you can reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid). Bake until the egg whites are just set and the yolk retains a bright yellow color, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional salt.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ramps and Spring Garlic

You know what's great for a Monday night dinner? A dish that takes a minimal amount of time and even less brain power to execute. Because who wants to deal with anything more on a Monday? The good news is that spring makes that kind of cooking a cinch. You've got such a wealth of already-delicious produce cropping up all around you (or at your nearest market), that it's kind of hard not to come up with something great. Case in point: pasta with ramps, which I have made for this second edition of my mini get-'em-before-they're-gone ramps series. Here, I've used really good whole wheat pasta, a heaping fistful of fresh ramps, a couple of bulbs of fresh spring garlic to really up that pungent allium vibe, and a dusting of Grana Padano cheese. If you're feeling bold, you could fry up an egg and throw it on top. Yum.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ramps and Spring Garlic
Serves 4
Coarse salt
1 pound dry whole wheat pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh ramps, white root ends and green leafy tops separated
2 bulbs of spring garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
Chunk of Grana Padano cheese for grating

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons salt and return to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions, until tender but still al dente.

Heat olive oil in a 12-to-14-inch skillet over medium heat. Add root ends from ramps along with garlic slices to pan and cook, stirring, until tender. Season with red pepper flakes and salt. Add leafy greens from ramps and cook, stirring, until wilted.

Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss gently to coat pasta with sauce. Divide pasta evenly between 4 warmed plates. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and grate a good helping of cheese on top. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ramp Ricotta Toasts

I'm officially declaring this the first in my Streak-of-Ramp-Recipes-Before-They're-All Gone posts. A couple of weekends ago, during one of the first truly sunny, warm Saturdays of the year, I got up at 7 AM, went for a long run from Williamsburg up to Greenpoint and back again, and then trotted (read: limped) over to the farmers' market in McCarren Park, in search of armfuls of spring produce. There, I found fat asparagus stalks, piles of edible flowers, wildflower honey, some of the overwintered broccoli rabe that I so love this time of year, and picked up a few pieces of Hot Bread Kitchen's m'smen bread to nibble on while I shopped too. And instead of feeling guilty about the carb overload, I patted myself firmly on the back for the skillful show of multitasking. I am very good at food justification. I consider this a talent.

What was noticeably missing from all the green glory were ramps. And so, picking up a tip from a fellow shopper, I headed over to the Brooklyn Kitchen, where I found a stack of fresh, pungent ramps with lots of beautiful dirt still clinging to the roots. I grabbed two bunches, hightailed it home, then spent the rest of the weekend making various ramps dishes consecutively, finding nothing wrong with having ramps play a (major) part in every meal through Monday morning. The first little snack I assembled was this simple ricotta toast made by toasting rounds of good bread in extra-virgin olive oil, spreading them with fresh ricotta, and topping them with sauteed ramps, edible flowers, and a sprinkling of Maldon salt (saute the ramps by cleaning them thoroughly, chopping them up, throwing the stems in a hot pan with a glug of olive oil, and then following them up with the leaves after a few minutes once the stems are nice and tender--the leaves will only need about a minute to wilt deliciously). Perfect for a little spring gathering. xo

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Favorite Things: 05.08.14

All I've been dreaming about these past couple of weeks as the sun finally makes a serious commitment to us beleaguered East Coasters is getting to a beach and lounging about with norm-core slides and mermaid hair. Here are some favorite things jettisoning my fantasy into a soon-to-be reality. Click below to purchase. xo

First row:
-Bee Yummy Skin Food: miracle cream! I've been using this all organic bee pollen cream as a night cream for a few weeks now, and it is amazing. So natural, you could literally eat it. Plus, Cara Delevigne's a loyalist, and well. Look at the girl.
-Chip Hooper, Sundown, Hurricane Point
-Lisa Marie Fernandez's swimsuits are beyond flattering. Love this sporty, stark white bikini.

Second row:
-You know, just a pic of Doutzen looking fab.
-Isabel Marant's beach tunic hoodie thing is right up my alley.
-A net bag = necessary.

Third row:
-Perfect tortoise sunglasses.
-Aforementioned mermaid hair.
-Weird but awesome slides that will make your tan feet look great.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Steamed Artichokes with Homemade Dipping Mayonnaise

If you didn't grow up preparing and eating artichokes every spring, these layered, thick-leaved veggies can seem pretty mysterious. I mean, what other food do you eat in this manner? Gently peeling off one leaf after another, only to delicately scrape your front teeth across the inside hoping for the tiniest taste of what you're working towards: that elusive heart. The heart of the artichoke. That is some goal-driven eating, right there. But once you get to the center and take your first full-on bite (preferably covered in a creamy homemade mayo), you get what all the fuss is about. But if you're anything like me, you leave the cooking up to the pros, and steer clear of the piles of gorgeous artichoke specimens at the markets. Because, how do you cook such a thing, really? It always seemed a tad intimidating to me until about a month ago when my friend Scarlett of fork and flower set me right. On a trip to the farmers' market in Zurich, she made a beeline straight for the artichokes, and declared that she had lost count of all the artichoke recipes she had created for her blog over the years. She also declared that cooking the things was as varied and simple as could be. And, so, with those encouraging thoughts in my head, I embarked on two firsts: home-cooked artichokes and mayonnaise whisked together by hand. Both were astoundingly good.

If you've never made homemade mayonnaise, you need to remedy that the very next time you have a need for the stuff. It's a completely different animal than good old Hellman's and my personal store-bought favorite, Vegenaise. It's luscious and creamy and so very easy to put together. And it happens to be the perfect accompaniment to an artichoke, steamed or boiled on your stovetop for around 20 minutes. If you serve this combo to guests, it will appear much more impressive than it actually is, and it's weirdly satisfying to look upon the big piles of discarded leaves at the very end. Feels like a goal accomplished. Both recipes from Jody Williams' brilliant new book, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. xo

Homemade Mayonnaise
Makes 1/2 cup
1 large egg yolk
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon water
Pinch coarse salt
6 or 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together the egg, lemon, water, and salt and then very, very slowly, whisk in the olive oil, just a few drops at a time at first, building up to a slow, steady stream. The mixture should be the color of a bright mustard and thick enough to hold itself together. This is precious stuff. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for no more than 2 days.

Steamed or Boiled Artichokes
Serves 4
4 large artichokes
Homemade mayonnaise (recipe above)

Using a pair of scissors, trim the sharp thorn from the tip of each leaf on each artichoke. Using a serrated knife, remove 2 inches from the crown. If needed, trim the stem back so each artichoke can balance in a serving bowl or on a plate.

Place the artichokes in a steamer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. The artichokes may also be boiled in a large covered pot with ample salted water to cover them until done, about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve the artichokes warm or chilled and enjoy with plenty of homemade mayonnaise. Dip each leaf into a bowl of the mayonnaise and scrape the flesh off the leaf with your teeth, creating a tall pile of spent leaves on a side plate as you go. When you reach the center of the artichoke, discard the fibrous choke and enjoy the delicious heart. Remember to provide extra plates for the discarded leaves.