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.

Ramp, Feta & Mint Pizza

Having spent much of my week in meetings, I find myself home alone on Friday night desperately attempting to catch up on emails and a couple of writing projects. This is not as bad as it sounds when you consider the fact that I went a little overboard on the ramps during Monday’s farmers’ market expedition and had the foresight to pick up a ball of pizza dough on my way home this afternoon.

It seems that Friday night pizza is officially a thing.

Ramp, Feta & Mint Pizza

  • 10-12 ramps, dirty ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small ball pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 20 or so fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. Turn your oven up as high as it will go and remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator.
  2. Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium heat with the butter. Add the ramps, placing the bulb ends in the skillet and draping the greens, which will cook faster, off the side. When the bulbs are starting to brown, flip the ramps over, When the other side has some color, slide the greens portions in as well. Flip one more time to cook the greens thoroughly, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside.
  3. Give the skillet a quick rinse and pop it in the oven. When the oven is pre-heated, remove the skillet and swirl a little olive oil inside. 
  4. Slowly stretch your dough into a circle approximately the size of your skillet by working your hands around the edges, pulling gently and allowing gravity to assist. Place the dough in the skillet, drizzle a little more olive oil on top and then spread the ricotta cheese in a layer. Add some black pepper, the ramps and the feta cheese. 
  5. Pop the pan in the oven and let cook for 7 to 11 minutes until the edges of the crust are browned. Sprinkle the hot pizza with the mint leaves before serving.

Ramp, Feta & Mint Pizza

This should probably be enough for two people, but I’m having a hard time resisting the half that’s sitting on my cutting board.

Salmon, Asparagus, Fennel & Ramps En Papillote

While en papilotte sounds fancy, it’s actually a great trick for crafting a quick and delicious meal for one (or more) with minimal mess. All you need is some parchment paper or, in a pinch, aluminum foil. Not being much of a baker, I’ve had the same box of parchment sitting in a kitchen drawer for years, ready for deployment on nights like tonight.

I spent the first half of my Monday frantically pulling together materials in preparation for an evening board meeting that was ultimately canceled. And so I find myself with an unexpectedly free night and a serious desire for solitude. On the way home I picked up a piece of salmon and some asparagus (hallelujah for green vegetables) to go with the ramps and fennel waiting in my refrigerator.

Salmon, Asparagus, Fennel & Ramps En Papillote

  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 8-10 asparagus stalks
  • 3 ramps (or some thinly sliced shallots)
  • 6-ounce salmon filet
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (ideally whole milk)
  • splash of white wine
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pop a large cast iron skillet (or a baking sheet or dish of some sort) into the oven and set it to 400. Turn on the radio, strip off your work drag, pop open that bottle of Orvieto left by a dinner guest with excellent taste and pour yourself a glass.
  2. Lay a large piece of parchment on the kitchen counter. Rinse the fennel and then remove the stalks, reserving and finely chopping the fronds. Halve the bulb, core one half and then slice it as thinly as possible. Toss the sliced fennel onto one half of your parchment and pop the unsliced half into the fridge for a future use. Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and layer the stalks on top of the fennel. Rinse the ramps, trim off the very tip, slice them in half lengthwise and lay them on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon zest. While pouring yourself a second glass of wine, give the vegetables a little splash.
  3. Rinse the salmon, feeling for and removing any remaining bones, and pat dry. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and add more salt, pepper and lemon zest. Spoon the yogurt on top and garnish with the fennel fronds and more lemon zest.Salmon en Papillote Pre-Bake
  4. Fold the parchment in half and begin folding the two halves together, making tight creases with your thumbnail as you would origami, until you are satisfied that it is reasonably airtight. Set this in the oven in your preheated pan and go about your business.Salmon Origami
  5. After 17 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven. If you did a good job of folding, the paper will have puffed up. Tear this open like you would a present at your fifth birthday party and behold your dinner, swathed in headily scented steam.

Salmon Fennel Aspargus and Ramps en Papillote

This is a comically simple but deeply satisfying dish. At the end of it all, you are left with a cutting board to wipe down; a chef’s knife, microplane, dinner plate, knife, fork and spoon to wash; and another glass of wine to pour. Can somebody please remind me of this the next time I decide to host a dinner party for eight?

Steamed Clams & Broccoli Rabe

Well that was a long week. I saw visiting family off on Monday, delivered a performance/presentation in class on Tuesday, had major dental work on Wednesday, and turned in my final paper of the semester on Thursday–all while holding down my full-time job. I had high hopes of attending an event tonight, but exhaustion and misanthropy got the better of me. I did manage to swing by the Union Square Greenmarket on the way home. Agricultural reality continues to lag behind our culinary aspirations, but I was able to pick up more ramps and broccoli rabe, along with a couple of Bread Alone’s multigrain panini. I got off the mercifully uncrowded Q train at 7th Avenue and swung by Mermaid’s Garden, the newish fish shop in my neighborhood I’d been meaning to check out for months. I picked up a dozen littleneck clams, which I somehow thought would pair well with broccoli rabe, and a couple of pounds of Georgia shrimp, which went into the freezer for some future delight.

Littleneck Clams

Steamed Clams & Broccoli Rabe

  • 1 dozen littleneck clams
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 ounce diced bacon ends (or 1 slice bacon or 1 tablespoon olive oil)
  • 3 ramps and those 3 scallions that seem to have wilted in your veggie bin (Shallots, garlic and/or plain old yellow onion would also be fine.)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Drop the clams into a small bowl, top with water, and fix yourself a cocktail.
  2. Once you have finished your cocktail, fill a medium pot halfway with water, add a healthy pinch of salt, pop a lid on, and set it over high heat. While the water comes to a boil, fix yourself another cocktail. Roughly chop the broccoli rabe, toss it into the pot, and boil for two minutes or so until just softened but still toothsome. Strain into a colander and run some cold water over the top to stop the cooking process.
  3. Place the pot back on the burner, lower the heat to medium-low and toss in the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon has rendered. Chop the ramps and the green portion of the scallions and add these plus the red pepper flakes to your bacon. Cook for a few minutes.
  4. Crank the heat up to high and add some of that white wine that was questionably drinkable when you first opened it and is most definitely not drinkable after a month in the fridge. Fish the clams out of the water and drop them into the pot. Let boil, stirring a bit, until the clams start popping open (approximately five minutes). As they open, pull them to the top so as not to overcook.
  5. Thinly slice the whites of the scallions. When the clams have all opened, turn off the heat and stir in the blanched broccoli rabe along with the lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

Clams and Broccoli Rabe

Dump this into a bowl and serve with some good quality bread to soak up the juices. A spoon might be helpful. But, if you happen to be dining alone, just lift the bowl up to your face. The cat will not be offended.