Ramps, also known as wild leeks or wild garlic, are a seasonal delicacy gone all too quick. Extend the season by making delicious Ramp Butter which can be frozen and enjoyed all year.
“Ahem,” [Taps mic, looks around nervously]. “It all started around ’98. ’99. It was like they were giving it away, you know? We just thought, ‘hey, these are pretty good!’. We didn’t understand. We didn’t know what would happen.” [Squares shoulders, takes deep breath]. “My name is Emily, and I am addicted to ramps.”
This is me at the farmer’s market during ramp season.
I feel a tiny bit bad about evangelizing a vegetable that can be very hard to find but this was just too good not to share. Making ramp butter, along with pickling, is one of the best ways to preserve ramps so you can enjoy them all year round.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with ramps, I’m going to shamelessly cut and paste the description from our last ramp post, Brown Butter Ramps and Oyster Mushrooms on Ricotta Crostini;
Your basic ramp, Allium ursinum, is a North American species of wild onion that grow across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. I know that doesn’t sound very exciting but they have a unique oniony-garlicky flavor that, if you like that kind of thing, is really fantastic. They are also notoriously difficult to cultivate and their growing season is very short, so they are a true delicacy. That means crazy people (me), will travel far and wide to find them, so if you’re lucky enough to have them in your region, don’t expect to saunter over to the farmer’s market at noon and expect to find any left (because I got there at 7 and bought them all).
With the exception of East Williamsburg, just about every apartment I rented in New York City had at least one bodega on the corner. In fact most blocks had several bodegas, a couple of Korean fruit & vegetable markets and possibly a Whole Foods/Trader Joes.
Now that we live in the Hudson Valley that’s just not the case any more (though now we own a house and have a garden and a dog and a bunch of chickens*, so okay, fair trade). But the truth is that, even three years later, I’m still adjusting to the idea that I can’t yell out my window and have someone throw a jalapeño at me.
*I didn’t include cats in this list because I always had cats in the city.
So the other day, I’m walking around the grocery store and find that organic, thin-sliced chicken cutlets are on sale. “Awesome!” I say to myself, because I am literally that much of a dork.
Now if you follow this blog at all, you might have noticed that I almost always use thighs for baking and roasting because I think they have much more flavor. But the one thing you can’t do (easily) with chicken thighs? Stuff them.
So now I’m imagining some kind of crispy, panko-crusted chicken stuffed with some sort of cheesy, creamy, spicy deliciousness. Sounds good right? I thought so too, until I got home and realized that I had completely forgotten to get jalapeños which, surprisingly enough, happen to be a rather important ingredient in jalapeño-popper stuffed chicken.
I hemmed and hawed about it for about four seconds before I decided that, yup, nothing else would do. Back to the store for three dollars worth of chiles.
I don’t regret a thing.
What’s better than Carrot Cake? Moist and tender Carrot Cupcakes with vanilla-flecked cream cheese frosting (just because you get one all to yourself).
Carrot cupcakes are perfect for the Venn diagram of people who like carrot cake and people who like cupcakes … let’s face it, that’s basically everyone, right?
Yesterday, like two slightly terrified mole-rats unused to sunlight and open space, Matt and I ventured out onto our deck and… stood there.
“That’s, um, great,” says a normal person, “but are you sure it’s a story worth typing up and putting on the internet?”
Yes. Yes it is.
We turned our faces towards the warm sun, each with a steaming cup of coffee clasped in our pale, trembling hands. Our huge pink eyes had grown unused to the light and we blinked, almost afraid to believe it, half convinced that the heat was a practical joke and nature was going to dump a foot of snow on us the moment we let our guard down. So we waited, nervous and twitchy, but nothing happened.
“I think it’s going to be okay,” Matt said quietly. I looked out at the brown, battered garden and noticed tiny little green shoots poking up out of the dirt. The first stems of garlic. Yes, I thought, it will be.
Yup, this winter is Ramsay Bolton and we, my friends, we are Reek. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about and who clicked on that first link and think I’ve gone insane, I apologize and assure you that I have not. It’s just that Game of Thrones has started again and I’m a little… distracted). Full disclosure; I spent an entire hour looking for the perfect Ramsay Bolton gif, and boy did it pay off. Click it. Go on. Do it.
For example, how can one man be so attractive yet so clearly resemble an otter? (Yes, I am referring to Benedict Cumberbatch. Click the second link if you want to laugh for 45 minutes).
And finally, how can the easiest dish to cook also be the most delicious thing ever? This sounds like hyperbole, which granted, I am guilty of a million times per day but I’m not yanking your chain here. This seriously might be the best weeknight dinner we’ve ever made.
Crostini is just a fancy word for a a tiny toasty with delicious toppings. They’re an easy, versatile and crowd-pleasing party snack. And shouting “Crostini!” makes you sound like a Jawa from Star Wars.
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve discovered something about myself. I have tunnel vision. I get an idea in my head and I become obsessed with it (for example; that fun little blog that we were supposed to update every once in a while only when something interesting happened). Sometimes it’s a television show, sometimes a book, or a place.
When we’re going to throw a dinner party, it’s usually one particular dish that hooks me. In one sense it’s great because I love researching recipes and techniques, figuring out flavor combinations and the best ways to prepare a specific thing. The problem is that I can get so obsessed with that one thing, that everything else falls by the wayside and becomes an afterthought (or on more than one occasion, a never-thought). Oh, you wanted something other than just a huge slab of ribs at the party?
This is especially true for me when it comes to appetizers (or ‘starters’, as Matt calls them in an oh-so-adorably-English way). I usually forget all about them and then, once hungry people are already in my house, I rummage to see if there are any non-moldy cheeses in the fridge I can pull out.
So recently, being a much better host than I, Matt politely suggested that we think about and actually prepare a “first course” for the dinner we were planning with our wonderful friends, Larry and Catherine. I know, he’s so weird.