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.

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

 

Bacon, Egg & Kale Sandwich (with a side of BBQ)

I flew in Wednesday morning from a glorious four days in Austin. The highlight , hands down, was our pilgrimage to Franklin Barbecue. It’s not every friend who, in the midst of a margarita-soaked vacation, will rally at 7:30 in the morning to wait in a three-hour line for barbecue. But Beth was game.

Franklin Barbecue Line

The Texans had fancy folding chairs, card tables and coolers. The New Yorkers had a square of pavement and repurposed water bottles full of pre-batched cocktails. A lovely ponytailed man circulated through the line providing information, encouragement and cold beers. They stopped taking orders for pulled pork a few parties before ours. I was disappointed, but had to admit that the solo woman at the very front of the line toting a giant suitcase and pounding away on a laptop clearly deserved it more than I did. I take my hat off to you, ma’am.

The line started moving right at 11:00 as promised. By 11:30, we were hefting a massive tray of meat onto a picnic table on the porch. Turns out we made the cut for pulled pork (and brisket and ribs and smoked turkey).

Franklin Barbecue

While we made a valiant attempt, Beth and I failed to finish the insane quantity of meat that we ordered. Luckily, there was plenty of butcher paper to wrap our leftovers, which Beth reports that she ate the next morning while waiting for her flight to board. (I told you she was the real deal.)

At some point the line attendant (a.k.a. my new favorite person) stopped by our table to check in. I reported that the brisket was the best I had ever had. And I’ve had a lot of brisket. We talked technique for a while and then he instructed us to hang out near an unmarked door. Ten minutes later, the door swung open and he ushered us into a room full—and I do mean full—of smokers.

Franklin Smokers

The smell was intoxicating and hard to describe. More subtle than the usual woodsmoke, I could swear I detected notes of bay leaf. We chatted with the guy working the smokehouse, who reports that they keep the smokers going 24 hours a day. The room was warm but not overpoweringly so, though I imagine this is different come August. At some point, we stumbled outside and summoned a car to the Barton Springs Pool, where we promptly passed out in the sun.

A day later I was back in frigid New York City and taking a break from meat. By Friday night I had recovered enough to simmer some calypso beans with smoked hog jowl. This morning found me hitting the farmers’ market to drop off a good 20 pounds of compost and pick up some milk, eggs, bacon, bread and kale. I didn’t really have a plan, save for bringing green things back into my diet.

Just as I walked in the door, I got a text from Beth along with a drawing made by her son Benjamin.

Benjamin's Drawing

Benjamin is a boy after my own heart. I have written previously about the wonder that is the egg and cheese on a roll. But today I decided to switch it up a bit.

Bacon, Egg & Kale Sandwich

Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium-low heat with one slice of thickly cut bacon. (You can’t got wrong with Flying Pigs Farm.) Flip the bacon a couple of times and remove when it reaches your desired crispness. Add a handful of tough winter kale, rinsed and de-stemmed. Let the kale cook until nicely browned around the edges. Meanwhile, bring a small cast iron skillet up to medium-low heat with a pat of butter. Flip the kale and brown the other side. Season with salt and pepper and slide to the side of your pan. Add a couple of pieces of your favorite bread (Bread Alone‘s San Francisco Sourdough perhaps) and toast on both sides. Crack an egg into the smaller pan. Flip the egg and cook to your desired doneness. Assemble you sandwich as follows: bread, kale, egg, salt and pepper, bacon, more bread. 

Bacon Egg and Kale Sandwich

Now that was easy.

EAT THIS: Hot Dog Bun French Toast

  
When you pulled a 14-hour day on your feet (during which you broke down an unfathomable number of cardboard boxes, donned a dress and lipstick in a public restroom, and talked to no less than 400 people), slept five fitful hours, and awoke thinking there’s no way you could possibly leave your house, reach for those week-old potato rolls left over from your birthday barbecue. Dip them in a mixture of egg, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and a pinch of salt and fry them up over medium-low heat in a combination of butter and neutral cooking oil. Maple syrup is the obvious topping choice, but a little homemade pear, cranberry, habanero, and ginger chutney wouldn’t hurt. You just might survive this day.

Eggs Ovine

The growing season is in full swing, which means that I am spending a fair amount of my time visiting farmers’ markets and community gardens. Yesterday morning took me to one of my favorite spots in the city, East New York Farms.

East New York Farms

East New York Mural

I was home by 1:00pm, laden with produce grown at the farm and in neighboring community gardens. Couple this with my weekly CSA share and you get a refrigerator full of fresh, local, sustainably grown vegetables in danger of going straight into the compost bin.

Matthew and Clint helped me put a dent in my vegetable stash last night. We had a perfect summer supper that required minimal heat: bulgur salad with cucumber, tomato and scallion; hummus with spring onion tops and green garlic; sliced kohlrabi; toasted pita; and green beans topped with toasted walnuts, rye bread crumbs, mint and feta. We finished the meal off with blueberries and a few squares of dark chocolate. We also polished off the better part of a box of rose before heading over to First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum.

The museum was packed with happy Brooklynites of all ages. Deterred by the lines for the elevator, we made our way up several flights of stairs. Our reward was a glimpse of our friend Monica leading a pop-up talk in one of the galleries. We made plans for a drink later and headed on to The Rise of Sneaker Culture. The exhibit was hot, humid and very crowded. We were about to bail on the floor altogether when we stumbled into the delightful–if not particularly deep–FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds.

Blacklight Foosball

Neon Selfie

After an aggressive round of black lit selfies and a video game in which one has to search for parking on the streets of NYC, we headed outside to cool off and plan our next move. We settled on Gold Star Beer Counter, which recently opened at the end of my block. Light, refreshing beers were in order.

A round in, Monica joined us. Voices were raised. Lists of 70s movies were made. Beads of sweat were mopped. Classic rock albums were played. An undisclosed number of pale ales, lagers and hefeweizens were consumed. At some point, the lovely woman behind the bar came over to graciously inform us that they had officially closed half an hour ago. And so we settled our tab and sauntered off into the thick summer night.

Needless to say, I did not brush my teeth before bed–and woke up craving a hearty breakfast.

Eggs Ovine

  • 1 tbsp butter (or bacon fat if you happen to have some sitting on the counter from yesterday’s breakfast BLT)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese left by your cat sitters
  • 2 tbsp milk (as needed)
  • 1 large bunch lamb’s quarters (or baby spinach if that’s what you can get your hands on), stemmed and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 ounce sheep’s milk feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper
  • eggs and bread of some sort

Bring the butter up to medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion. Sauté, stirring regularly, until the onion is limp but not yet browned. Add the garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook stirring continuously for a minute or two more. Add the cream cheese and continue to stir until you have a thick soup. Add the lamb’s quarters in batches, allowing the hot liquid to wilt the greens. Add a little bit of milk if the mixture is too thick, but the lamb’s quarters will release liquid as they break down. Continue to simmer until you’ve reached the consistency of creamed spinach, stir in the feta until melted. Add a generous amount of pepper and some salt if you think it’s needed. Toast some bread, fry an egg, assemble and enjoy. 

Eggs Ovine

EAT THIS: Grilled Asparagus & Chives with Fresh Ricotta

Asparagus, Chives, Ricotta & Breadcrumbs

Grill a bunch of asparagus, a handful of chives, and the heel of some stale whole wheat sourdough in olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add salt, pepper, a nice dollop of ricotta, and the juice and zest of half a lemon. This would be great with a glass of Sancerre. It would be even better with a whole bottle. Alas, I paired mine with the budget justification for one of two federal grants due in less than 24 hours