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

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.

Desperately Seeking Spring: A Tartine

We are betwixt and between.

The daffodils are in full bloom, but only on the sunnier side of my block. At some point last week I nearly fainted on the train wearing my mid-weight jacket, but yesterday I froze waiting for the bus in a raincoat and scarf. Tax day is right around the corner, but the radio persists in claiming that we are getting snow flurries today. My Facebook feed is teeming with recipes for asparagus, nettles and ramps, but the farmers’ market is full of aged root vegetables and desultory dark greens.

I awoke early this morning to discover that I was out of milk for my morning coffee, providing extra motivation to get my ass out of the house. I swung by my local coffee shop and proceeded to the farmers’ market. My first stop was the compost collection station, where I chatted with a lovely woman about the shocking number of pineapples that people seem to consume. She informed me that next week there will be a compost giveback. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any outdoor space,” I replied. Turns out you can use compost in your houseplants. I suspect my tenacious snake plant and aloe will appreciate the gesture, provided they don’t die from the shock of it all.

I bid adieu to my new friend and set off gleefully in search of the ramps that I was sure would be mine all mine given the early hour. Alas, there were none to be found. I quickly regrouped, resolving to find the freshest, prettiest things at the market—and consume them all in a breakfast that would gird me for a day spent opening a year’s worth of mail in preparation to do my taxes.

Desperately Seeking Spring: A Tartine

  • 1/2 watermelon radish, thinly sliced (a mandolin or vegetable peeler is helpful here)
  • 1 tablespoon good quality white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fancy pants lemon-infused olive oil that you bought in a covetous moment (or some regular old extra virgin olive oil and a little lemon zest and juice)
  • pinch sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-inch section of baguette, split (or whatever bread you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 handfuls pea shoots (or whatever other fresh, springy greens you can get your hands on)

Combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and toss with the radish slices. Let sit 20 minutes or so, flipping every so often. Spread ricotta onto the baguette and top with your quick-pickled radish slices. Toss the pea shoots in the remaining liquid and pile next to your tartine. Drizzle whatever is left over the top and enjoy.

Watermelon Radish and Ricotta Tartine

 

EAT THIS: Pea Shoots, Red Onion & Gruyere

Pea Shoots Red Onion Dairyere

You (and your gallbladder) haven’t really lived until you’ve found yourself seated across from the ever-so-sweet and astoundingly skilled Billy Durne of Hometown Bar-B-Que as he hand picks the choicest slices of brisket for you. If you have any hope of recovering before next week’s Brisket King 2016, consider a simple salad of red onion quick pickled in lemon juice, olive oil and salt and tossed with Evolutionary Organics‘ pea shoots and Cato Corner Farm‘s incomparable Dairyere.