Ginger Mezcal Margarita

It’s been a while since The Drunken Fig published a cocktail recipe, which is not to say that I haven’t been living up to my moniker. The opening of an awesome beer bar a mere block from my apartment last year may have something to do with it. In any case, I’ve been feeling the bug this week. Last night brought a Watermelon Cucumber Margarita which, while just as pretty as could be, didn’t quite make the cut (though I did manage to guzzle it down).

Watermelon Cucumber Margarita

I’ll have to spend a little more time figuring that one out. I suspect it involves having the energy to dig out the immersion blender.

Tonight I turned my attention to that bottle of mezcal that’s been sitting on the shelf. Rooting through the fridge, I found some organic lemonade that I bought in a dehydration delirium at the tail end of Saturday’s very long and very hot walk to buy a bike. (My new wheels are on back order so, after a few glorious spins around the block on the floor model, I had to make my way back up the hill on foot.)

But I digress. There were limes left over from last night’s cocktail experiment. There was candied ginger from a recent bender at the Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights. There was extra spicy ginger beer because, somewhere along the line, I decided that it’s a pantry staple.

And so, I give you, the Ginger Mezcal Margarita, a drink worth repeating.

Ginger Mezcal Margarita

  • 2 ounces lemonade
  • 2 ounces mezcal
  • 2 ounces ginger beer – the spicier, the better
  • 1/2 lime plus 1 wedge
  • 1 piece candied ginger
  • salt and ice

Drop some ice into a cocktail shaker. Add the lemonade, mezcal, ginger beer, and juice from half a lime. Give it a few gentle shakes. Run the lime wedge around the edge of a highball glass and dip the glass into some salt. (If you have guests over, you could get fancy and do this on a saucer. I went for sticking it directly into the salt cellar. It’s that kind of week.) Plop a few more ice cubes in. Strain the cocktail into your glass and garnish with the lime and candied ginger.

I recommend pairing this with Let It Bleed, turned up loud. No dinner necessary.

Rhubarb & Kale Tart

Today was the launch of CSA season. For the next 22 weeks, I will swing by the artists’ studio/garage that serves as home to the Prospect Park CSA each Tuesday night, gleefully anticipating my allotment from Farmer Ted. This week brought green leaf lettuce, Red Russian kale, Happy Rich, Koji, scallions, breakfast radishes and a small pot of Genovese basil (which, my track record notwithstanding, I hope to keep alive long enough to make a few rounds of pesto).

Armed with the knowledge that such a bounty was just three days away, a sensible person would have spent Saturday morning sleeping off Friday night’s rooftop rosé and squid ink pasta with mussels and calamari. Instead, I awoke early and hit the farmers’ market. I told myself that, at the very least, I had to drop off the compost that was making it difficult to shut the freezer.

Squid Ink Pasta with Mussels and Calamari

Naturally, I forgot the compost, leaving plenty of room in my bag for a pound of bacon, half a loaf of French sourdough, a bunch of kale, some collard greens, a handful of garlic scapes, and a whole mess of rhubarb. (This is my version of restraint.)

June Farmers Market Haul

I hoisted my bag over my shoulder and headed toward home, pausing to say hi to Cathy, a fellow food blogger, and her food photographer friend. They asked what I had in mind for the rhubarb protruding awkwardly from my bag. Great question. I mumbled something about a rhubarb vinaigrette or a simple syrup for cocktails, both of which are fine, if limited, applications. But I had clearly purchased A LOT of rhubarb. We bonded over our mutual love or savory over sweet until I felt the siren song of my couch—and the leftover seafood pasta.

That evening found me babysitting my nephews, Wally and Hugo. Wally and I collaborated on a self-portrait, after which he demanded that I document his belly. (Oh, to be four.)

Bedtime was uncharacteristically easy, leaving me with a few hours to explore my sister’s snacks, my brother-in-law’s IPA stash, and the wonders of cable television. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday night, but did nothing to remedy my looming vegetable crisis.

Fortunately, Louis was due for Sunday supper and Monica, Sara and I had failed to polish off that hunk of cheese on Friday night…

Kale and Rhubarb.jpg

Rhubarb & Kale Tart

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3-5 tablespoons ice water
  • 6 big stalks rhubarb
  • 1-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch Red Russian kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 ounces Saint-André, brie or other soft, rich cheese
  • 1/2 egg
  1. Fill a cup with water and a few ice cubes. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and work it in with a pastry cutter if you have one. (Rumor has it you can use two knives. I made do with a mezzaluna, cleaning it out with a chopstick periodically. A pinching motion with your fingers should also do the trick. The goal here is a pea-sized crumble.) Gradually add the water, mixing the dough with your hands until is just comes together but is not sticky. Scatter some flour onto the counter, work the dough into a ball, and the press it into a disc using the palms of your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Toss the rhubarb with a tablespoon of sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook stirring regularly until they are soft and caramel colored. Taste the rhubarb and, if it seems excessively sour, add a little more sugar. Add the thyme and red pepper flakes to your onions, cook for a couple of minutes, and then stir in the rhubarb and vinegar. Let simmer, stirring regularly, until the rhubarb begins to fall apart and take on a chutney consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Scrape the onions and rhubarb into a bowl, bring the heat up to medium, and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the kale in batches and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Now would be a fine time for a nap.
  4. An hour out from dinner, preheat the oven to 400. Lightly flour the counter and rolling-pin. Roll the dough, flipping and dusting with flour as needed, until it’s the size of a small pizza. (You’re aiming for as thin as will reasonably hold together.) This may seem impossible at first, but give the dough some firm thwacks with the rolling pin and it will start to ease up. Gently transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and return to the refrigerator until your dinner date confirms that he just got off the subway. 
  5. Combine the rhubarb and kale and slather over the dough, leaving an inch or so around the edges. Fold the edges in. (You can get fancy with this by trimming and then crimping, but it won’t taste any different and, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re not a particularly patient person.) Scatter hunks of cheese over the top. Lightly beat the egg and brush it on the exposed dough. Pop this into the oven just as the buzzer sounds.
  6. Crack open a bottle of bubbly. By the time you finish the second glass, the crust should be golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes or so and then use the parchment to gently slide the tart onto a serving platter.

Time to open that second bottle…

Kale and Rhubarb Tart.jpg

Anchovy, Ramp & Arugula Egg on a Roll

I missed the farmers’ market last Saturday. Instead, the morning found me traipsing around the city with a weekend bag full of sweatpants and vegetables, a backpack full of library books, and a giant platter from Murray’s Cheese. The schlep was well worth it, as it meant having the opportunity to attend a workshop with the luminous Sarah Owens, who just won a James Beard Award for her new book, Sourdough.

Sarah Owens Sourdough

(As should be evident, I did not make this.)

After class, I headed up to Grand Central to hop the train to Cold Spring. Beth was out of town for a few days and had graciously offered up her lovely home as a writer’s retreat. I was bound and determined to finish up my final paper of the semester.

Things got off to a slow start, owing to exhaustion and, possibly, the basil gin and tonic I whipped up with herbs from Beth’s kitchen garden.

Basil Gin and Tonic

Mercifully, Sunday was cold and drizzly, leaving me with nothing to do but plug away at my paper…

A Room with a View

…with occasional breaks to feed myself…

…and Oscar, who apparently likes cheese as much as I do.

Oscar the Hamster

By Monday afternoon I had a serviceable first draft and was headed back to the city. I spent Tuesday fine tuning my paper and was back at work Wednesday morning with a worrisome twinge in my lower back. By Friday the pain was hard to ignore. I knocked off early and headed to the acupuncturist.

Sixteen needles and seven small and rather tortuous cups later, my back was starting to release. Steve slapped a couple of giant stickers that smell like a combination of tea tree oil and Bengay on and sent me on my way with instructions for gentle stretching and heat.

Cups.jpg

And so last night was an uncharacteristically low-key one. I met Sari for a lovely and light early dinner and spent the remainder of the night getting intimate with my heating pad.

This morning found me back at the farmers’ market loading my bag with more goodies than someone with a bad back should reasonably carry. I returned home to a breakfast of ibuprofen and an egg sandwich.

I have written about the wonder that is the New York City egg and cheese on a roll. More than once, in fact. While there is a beauty in the simplicity of this sandwich, today’s haul called for something a little more upscale. (The fact that I capped last night’s cocktail consumption at two undoubtedly helped in this regard.)

Anchovy, Ramp & Arugula Egg on a Roll

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 6 ramps
  • 1 ciabatta or other soft roll
  • 1 egg
  • handful of arugula
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pepper

Bring a small cast iron (or nonstick) skillet up to medium-low heat with the butter. Add the anchovies and smash with the back of a spoon until they begin to dissolve into the butter. Add the red pepper flakes. Finely mince the bulbs of the ramps and add these. Sauté, stirring frequently, until soft. Roughly chop the ramp greens and add these plus some black pepper. After a minute or two, you should have a coarse paste. Take off the heat and fold in the lemon zest. Slather onto both sides of a halved and toasted roll. Fry an egg over easy in the lingering ramp butter and layer it onto your sandwich. Top with arugula and the other half of your roll.

Anchovy Ramp and Arugula Egg on a Roll

This sandwich is best enjoyed from the comfort of your heating pad.

Lovage, Ramp & Asparagus Linguine

We are finally, officially sprung.

What should have been a weekend of paper writing turned into several long walks, a couple of impromptu movie dates, and pretty much the prettiest, most delicious cocktail that you ever did have.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Casa Rosada—a heady concoction of reposado tequila, Campari, coconut, lime, pepper tincture, and salt. Just typing this makes me contemplate hiking over to Grand Army Bar right now.

Casa Rosada Cocktail

But, then, I would have to get dressed.

Fortunately, Saturday’s farmers’ market foray yielded some flavors almost as delightfully springy as a pink flower in your pink drink…

Lovage, Ramp & Asparagus Linguine

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 8 ramps, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1.5 cups lovage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-4 ounces linguine
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Set a pot of water to boil with a hefty pinch of salt. Bring a medium-sized skillet up to medium-low heat with the butter and olive oil. Add the asparagus, starting with the stalks. Stir regularly. After a couple of minutes, add the asparagus tips and the whites and stems of the ramps. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring regularly. When the water boils, add the linguine to the pot. Meanwhile, back in your pan, add the ramp leaves as well as the lovage and continue to stir frequently. Give your veggies a good dose of salt and pepper. When the linguine is just shy of done, scoop it directly into your pan along with 1/4 cup or so of the cooking water. Crank the heat up to high and stir continuously for a minute or so until the water disappears. Take off of the heat, crack the egg directly into the pan and continue to stir continuously for another minute. Add the lemon zest and juice, parmesan and more salt and pepper to taste.

Lovage Ramp Asparagus Linguine

This makes one serving. Scale up as you see fit, but know that this is a dish best served fresh. At under 20 minutes from start to finish, why not just make it again tomorrow night?

Lovage Ramp Asparagus Linguine 2

Asparagus, Ramp & Feta Matzo Brei

Full confession, last night’s dinner was (very not-Kosher-for Passover) beer with a Marcona almond chaser. I had stopped by my local beer bar with hopes of getting some school reading done. Alas, I quickly struck up a conversation with a charming neighbor seated on the adjacent stool. We spent the next few hours discussing beer, jazz and the upsides of midlife crises.

Beer for Dinner

While I do not regret my choices, they did leave me with a fair amount of reading to plow through before tomorrow evening’s class. I needed a quick dinner that would assuage my Jewish guilt and make use of the glorious spring vegetables I managed to score at Saturday’s farmers’ market.

Ramps

Asparagus, Ramp & Feta Matzo Brei

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 (or more) glasses Sancerre
  • 10 ramps
  • 10 stalks asparagus
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 sheets matzah
  • 1 ounce feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a small nonstick skillet up to medium-low heat with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Pour yourself a nice glass of Sancerre while the butter melts.
  2. Rinse the ramps and trim off the tips. Chop into 1/2″ pieces, keeping the stems and leaves separate and splitting any large stems longways. Rinse the asparagus and remove the twiggy ends by breaking with your hands. Chop into 3/4″ pieces.
  3. Add the ramp stems to your butter and sauté, stirring frequently, until they start to get limp. Add the asparagus, starting with the thickest ends and working up to the tips. Cook until the asparagus is al denté (3-5 minutes). Add the ramp leaves and continue to cook until fully wilted. Add a little salt and pepper.
  4. Break the matzah into small pieces in a small bowl and top with water. Crack the eggs into a cup and whisk with a little more salt and pepper. Drain the water out of the matzah, using your hand to hold it in place. Add the eggs as well as the ramps and asparagus, crumble the feta over the top, and stir gently until combined.
  5. Place the pan back on the heat and add 1/4 tablespoon of butter. Pour the matzah mixture into the pan and let sit undisturbed for 7 minutes or so until the bottom is browned and the whole thing has started to set. Flip onto a small plate. Add the remaining butter to the pan, slide your matzo brei back into the pan and let cook undisturbed for another 3-5 minutes until nicely browned.

Asparagus Ramp Feta Matzo Brei

This may not look like much, but it is mad tasty, particularly with a second glass of Sancerre. Now about that reading…

Asparagus Ramp Feta Matzo Brei Closeup

EAT THIS: Matzo Balls, Ramps, Shrooms & Eggs

Matzo Balls Ramps Mushrooms Poached Egg

Insomnia so bad that you arrive at the market while the farmers are still setting up? Console yourself in the knowledge that the early bird gets Wilklow Orchards‘s foraged ramps. Take them home and sauté them in butter along with a handful of mixed mushrooms from John D. Madura Farms. Fry up a few of your leftover matzo balls in a little more butter. Add a poached egg (thanks to Evolutionary Organics). Ponder a nap.