Ramps (wild leeks) have a sweet, garlicky flavor that pairs beautifully with brown butter and caramelized oyster mushrooms. We pile this on top of toast that has been slathered with creamy ricotta cheese, making a delicious, simple appetizer.
[2018 update: we’re reposting this article originally published on the blog several years ago because firstly, we actually have ramps growing in our garden for the first time (!!!) and secondly, it’s a damn delicious recipe which for us, celebrates the foraging that starts in our area in Spring.]
If you have no idea what ramps are, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s some kind of disease that turns people into drooling, seasonal zombies. Because like Walkers, we (the afflicted) wander the countryside, arms outstretched, moaning “Raaaaamps. Raaaaaaaaaaamps.”
Come spring we wistfully scan shady hillsides for tell-tale green shoots. We travel great distances to far-flung farmers markets. We meet dodgy ramp dealers* in back alleys, taking our very lives in our hands, all in hope of scoring some of that delicious, garlicky goodness.
*Note: I have never actually met a dodgy ramp dealer but I bet they exist. I can just picture some bearded hippy dude standing on the corner whispering, “Pssst. Ramps. Meet me behind the compost bin in 5. Namaste.”
We took a couple of weeks vacation to get out of cold and snowy New York, and drove down through the Carolinas and Georgia to spend a week in sunny summery Anna Maria Island, Florida. And we want to tell you all about the sights and more importantly, the food.
We take a vacation so rarely that we’re incredibly excited when we get the chance to go away. In fact, long-term readers might remember our last travel report, from the UK back in 2013. This year we made the executive decision to take all our accrued holiday time for the last five years (this is totally not how freelancing works, by the way, you guys) and it just so happened that 1) Emily’s Mom had a big birthday celebration this year and we were invited to stay with the whole family in Florida for a week, and 2) Matt’s Mum is getting married in July and so we’ll have a summer trip in the UK.
Even though these two wonderful occasions are primarily mother-focussed (that’s not a curse-word, Moms), we realize that most of you come here for the food, so we didn’t want to disappoint you. And of course we both love to experience new and interesting cuisines and recipes on our travels. So here are some of our foody highlights from the trip.
A tasty, hearty, and yet simple and no-frills soup, created with nothing more than a carefully-selected local stone and water.
On the blog we get a lot of questions about how to combine various ingredients that you might have in your pantry. Last week we had a postcard from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales, whose son had dug up a large and unusually beautiful hunk of granite from the garden, and wanted to know if we had any culinary tips. Well, Mrs Trellis, we do indeed. Stone soup is one of the easiest traditions in our kitchen, and we’re going to show you how it’s made.
Our weeknight-friendly Creamy Tomato Soup is a favorite of kids and adults alike. Canned and sun-dried tomatoes give it loads of flavor, along with fresh herbs and a creamy swirl of Mascarpone cheese. Instead of plain old grilled cheese, we’ve paired it with the most delicious and buttery Roasted Garlic Cheesy Toast.
There’s something to be said for flavor combinations that kids love. Peanut butter and Jelly? Awesome. Tater Tots and ketchup? Move over Timmy, we want some too. Tomato soup and grilled cheese? Happy dance. And while, yes – you can heat up a can of Campbell’s and grill up some white bread with a slice of American cheese in the middle – for most adults it’s going to taste a little blah – somehow both too sweet, too salty and still bland. And while we’re not sticklers or anything, we try to keep our processed food intake to a minimum, especially when cooking a recipe like this from scratch is easy and gives you wildly better-tasting results, to boot.
Classic British chocolate teatime biscuits, with a traditional chocolate cream filling and two bonus fillings – whipped peanut butter, and matcha green tea with vanilla. These crisp, dark chocolate wafers are the perfect companion for a cup of tea or your preferred alternative.
Call it winter blues, call it having a massive sweet tooth, or call it being homesick for my mother country’s dessert items, but over the last few weeks I’ve had a big old hankering for biscuits. Brits (and Commonwealth-based readers) will know exactly what I’m talking about, but just to make the point clear: I don’t mean American-style “biscuits”, the savory (sometimes cheesy) risen doughy product with a soft interior that you might slather with butter and eat for brunch. Neither are they exactly “cookies”, in the strictest sense.
If I was the dedicated type, this is where I might insert a Venn diagram of dessert snacks with a big circle in the middle representing the set of “cookies”, and another circle representing the set of “biscuits”. Depending on who you ask, “biscuits” might totally be a subset of “cookies” (i.e., all biscuits are cookies), or it may have a significant overlap (many biscuits are cookies, but not all), but it’s hard to make the argument that the two are completely separate. As for the “all biscuits are cookies” camp, while that may be technically true, if you asked me for a cookie and I gave you a Rich Tea biscuit you’d be pretty miffed. So here’s the best definition of “biscuit” that I can come up with:
A small, lightly sweetened, unrisen baked item, that will break with a snap (it should definitely not bend), and is typically eaten as a light snack with a drink (tea, coffee, milk). Some are a single layer (digestive or Rich Tea), and some comprise two layers sandwiched with a thin cream filling (custard creams, Bourbons).
If it helps you to think of them as “tea biscuits” or even “sweet crackers”, feel free. Of course, living in Britain, few people would go to the trouble of making a variety of a store-bought biscuit, since it’s a matter of minutes to pop into the nearest shop and pick some up. Here in the US, though, we’re just going to have to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. And we’re going to start with the classic sandwich chocolate biscuit, the Bourbon.