Tag Archives: Ramps

Crostini with Ramp-Ricotta Pesto & Spring Pea Shoots

Crostini with Ramp-Ricotta PestoCrostini with Ramp-Ricotta Pesto & Spring Pea Shoots

The gorgeous green hues on this plate, to me, epitomize spring eating.  After all the browns, tans, and beiges of wintertime fare, the pop of color makes my palate perk up in anticipation of all the beautiful berries, corn, tomatoes, and other summertime produce yet to arrive in the local farmers market.  As with my previous post for Ramp Butter Popcorn, this is a bit of a recycled recipe in a new format.  I’ve written about making Ramp Pesto in the past as a way to prolonging this vegetable’s lifespan in your refrigerator.

Dwarf Snow Pea ShootsDwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea Shoots

Also in season at the moment, if you can find them, are these pea shoots.  They have a delicate pea-like flavor and wonderful crunch.  For those pea-averse (including several people to whom I’m related), I say, try them.  They are a bit more like salad greens than those green orbs you detest.  For this dish, they add a nice balance of color and a fresh, crispness that balances out the creamy, garlicky-ness of the pesto.  These tidbits are an item that I had created a few weeks back to add to the restaurant menu, so that we could have a locally-sourced, seasonal small plate for patrons to enjoy while sipping on their beers.

CrostiniCrostini*

From time to time we run some type of crostini on our food selections, and they always tend to be quite popular.  They are substantial enough in flavor to satisfy one’s tastebuds while at the same time light enough to be enjoyed as a pre-dinner snack or late-night nibble.  Again, these have proven to be a popular item on our menu, as they always sell out, well in advance of my being able to make enough of the toppings.

Crostini with Ramp-Ricotta Pesto & Spring Pea Shoots

Serving Size: Makes about 1 cup of mix

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

Baguette or mini-baguettes

Olive Oil for toasting baguettes

1 recipe Ramp Pesto

6-8 oz. Ricotta Cheese

1-2 tsp. Lemon Juice

1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

Salt

Freshly-ground Black Pepper

4 oz. Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea Shoots (you can also substitute seasonal microgreens)

Lemon Zest

Assembly:

Slicing bread for crostiniBread rounds for crostini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place however many pieces of bread you are planning to serve (allow 3-4 per person) on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.  Using a pastry brush, dab each piece of bread with olive oil.  Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly colored and crisp.  Pay close attention to these as, depending upon your oven, they can go from unbaked to burnt quite quickly.  Remove from oven a set aside to until ready to use.

Ramp PestoRamp Pesto

Make a batch of Ramp Pesto (click on recipe link).  If not eating the crostini immediately or within a few hours, set aside the pesto in an air-tight container and place in the refrigerator.  The ramp-ricotta mixture is best eaten as close to the time it is made as possible.

Ramp Pesto & RicottaRamp Pesto with Ricotta

Just before getting ready to serve the crostini, combine ramp pesto with ricotta.  It should be a roughly 50-50 mixture.  If you can find (or make) fresh ricotta, that would also give a great flavor to this dish.  Add 1 tsp. of the lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning as necessary, adding a bit more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and/or pepper.  The pesto should have a fresh, not overwhelmingly garlic taste, and a light creaminess from the cheese.

Crostini with Pesto & Pea ShootsRamp-Ricotta Pesto and Spring Pea Shoots on Crostini 

Spread a thin layer of the ramp-ricotta mixture on the crostini.  Sprinkle each piece with a few of the snow pea shoots, tearing them into 1-inch pieces, so there aren’t any unwieldy, long tangles of them hanging over the crostini.  Grate a bit of fresh lemon zest on top of each crostino.  Enjoy for yourself or share with others!

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

Crostini in general are an item perfect for cocktail parties, as a starter before dinner, or even as an afternoon break.  They are also easy to prepare in advance, keeping the toasted bread separate from the topping until just about ready to serve them.  These can be made the day of use, or stored for a few days in an air-tight container and kept out of the refrigerator.  I’ve made piles of them for catered events and the special, themed, dinners that we have in the restaurant, so having the bread base pre-made makes serving them to the hungry guests a much smoother task.

Ramp Butter Popcorn

Ramp butter ingredientsRamp butter ingredients

I have made Ramp Butter in the past, but it has been a little while.  Today, I took a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket in the afternoon and managed to pick up a few bunches of ramps as well as some butter from Ronnybrook Farm.  My usual M.O. is to whip of batches of the butter and pesto during this vegetable’s short season and save it to use throughout the year.  So, I decided to put the first batch of this season’s ramp butter recipe to a great use – in popcorn!*

Ramp greens mixed inRamp butter mixed together

I know, it doesn’t sounds like much of a recipe, but when I made this at the restaurant where I do some kitchen managing and prep work a couple of times a week for networking event held there, it was a big hit.  It is a lightly garlic-flavored, kind of herby popcorn with a nice pop of salt.  (Someone mistakenly sent us 50 pounds of popcorn, instead of the 5 we actually ordered, so I’ve been experimenting with different popcorn recipes to try to use up the whole tub of it that we have in our walk-in refrigerator.)

Popcorn with ramp butterPopcorn with ramp butter

It was by far the most popular of the plates of nibbles that I put out that evening.  I made several trips back and forth to refill the bowls, so it must have a been a huge hit.  I guess it also went well with the drinks they were serving, as I saw folks pulling the bowls of it a little closer to them during the evening.

Ramp Butter Popcorn

Serving Size: As much popcorn as you want to eat

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

One recipe Ramp Butter

Popcorn kernels

Canola Oil

Assembly:

Finished popcornPopcorn (plain)

Make Ramp Butter.  Pop popcorn.  My favorite method, and one I use in the restaurant, is to put a thin film of canola oil on the bottom of a heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in a single layer of popcorn, cover the pan with a lid (or foil), turn on the heat, and let nature and the properties of heat + steam do their work.  You can also make the air-popped version or whatever kind you’d like.

Bowl of ramp butter popcornPopcorn with ramp butter

Sprinkle a few pinches of salt over the popcorn.  Melt the ramp butter (just the amount that you need to dress the popcorn, save the rest for a later use).  Drizzle the butter over the popcorn and toss together to coat each kernel evenly.  Taste.  Add more salt and more butter to suit your tastebuds.  Enjoy!

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

Ramp Butter Ready for the freezerRamp butter ready for the freezer

The unused portion of this batch of ramp butter is in the all wrapped up and in freezer for another day.  It keeps for quite a while, if double-wrapped in plastic wrap.  When those cold winter winds are blowing, a slab of this butter mixed into pasta sauce or added to scrambled eggs gives a nice lift to a meal and reminds us that warmer weather and days full of sunshine are just around the corner!

Ramps Roundup!

Ramps at Moutain Berry FarmMore ramps at the Greenmarket

These piles of ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket might represent the last of this year’s harvest.  I spoke to one of the vendors who told me that there’s really only another couple of days they’d have this seasonal green at the market.  I know, sad tears are flowing down your cheeks at this news.  While you can still get your hands on them, here’s a few recipes to try with ramps.

Greenmarket Fritatta

 

Looking for ways to incorporate lots of great, seasonal produce?  Try this Greenmarket Fritatta with ramps, peas, asparagus, goat cheese, and basil.

 

 

Asparagus, Ramp, Goat Cheese Tart

 

 

Asparagus are now coming in to the market in NYC, how about this Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart to show them off?

Sauteed Asparagus & Ramps

 

 

 

Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps are a simple side dish to throw together and another terrific way to show off seasonal produce.

 

 

Ready to eat

 

Looking for something unique and special to bring to a summertime gathering?  How about these Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères?  These have been a huge hit with everyone who’s eaten them.

 

Ramp Pesto 1

 

Hang onto the vibrancy of spring and the arrival of these greens by whipping up a batch of Ramp Pesto.  So easy to make, and it’s terrific to add to all sorts of dishes.

Labeled Butter

 

 

Another way to extend the season’s bounty is to put together a batch of Ramp Butter.  It’s a wonderful thing to keep on hand to add to vegetables, put on meats, mix into rice or try with other dishes.

 

Ramps in a bowlRamps ready to use

Hopefully, this post has given you some great ideas for how to use ramps.  I’m already getting my thinking cap on to figure out what to do with the rest of the ones that I have in my fridge before they go bad.  That may mean I set some time aside for recipe testing over the holiday weekend!

Buon appetito!

Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

Aparagus in GreenmarketAsparagus at the Greenmarket

With all the hoopla about ramps, it’s hard to forget that we are also heading into prime asparagus season.  When I was shopping for food last week at the Greenmarket, I saw row upon row of bundles of purple-tipped New Jersey asparagus all standing at attention as though they were ready to be marched into our kitchens.  I plucked the heartiest bunch of the ones that I saw, paid for my purchase, and headed home with them, not quite sure how I’d prepare these springtime gems.

IngredientsIngredients for tart

I’ve been trying to eat my way through the things I’d stored in my freezer until I’d finished with culinary school, which is quite a bit of soup, stocks, bread, and meats.  Rummaging around, I also found a batch of puff pastry I’d frozen.  Then, there were still some of those ramps to be used up.  They really do go a long way.  For years, I’ve wanted to come up with a great asparagus tart recipe to have on hand.  So, I decided to fiddle around with making an Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart, just to be able to use up everything.

Plated tartAsparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

The recipe is really very easy to make.  First, you bake the pastry shell.  Then, while it cools, you prepare the asparagus.  Next, mix together the ingredients for the cheese.  The final step is to put all the components together and then bake it one last time, basically to warm it all the way through.  The tart is fragrant, gooey, and feels healthy with the bright green asparagus nestled on top.  It would be a perfect side dish for dinner or maybe the centerpiece of a luncheon or tea party.  Any way you decide to serve it, the asparagus and ramps won’t be around for long, so now is the time of year to make it.

Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

Prep time: about 45 minutes (including baking time)

Serving size: makes one 12″ x 8″ tart, although you can make it larger if you like

Ingredients:

1 sheet Puff Pastry

1 Egg, large

1/2 tsp. Water

4 oz. Goat Cheese (regular Chèvre is fine)

4 oz. Cream Cheese

4 Ramp leaves, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg, ground

1 pinch White Pepper, ground

1 tsp. Butter, unsalted

1 Shallot, small, minced

4 Ramp bulbs, minced

7-8 Asparagus, ends peeled and trimmed

1 pinch salt

Assembly:

Adding strips to tart shellAdding strips to tart shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out the dough very thinly to about a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.  You can make this a bit larger if you like, but you’ll need to be careful not to stretch it when transferring it to the baking sheet and you need to have a bit extra dough with which to make the edges.  Cut out strips of dough about 1/2″ wide and as long as the length of the tart.  Add them on top of the long edges of the tart and press down to seal them.

Egg wash for doughDocking and applying egg wash to the dough

With a fork, gently poke holes in the base of the dough, avoiding the edges.  This is called “docking” and will prevent the dough from rising too much during baking.  Mix together the egg and water and with a brush, lightly apply the egg mixture (or egg wash) to the base of the dough and the sides, taking care not to spread too thick of a coating.  You’ll have lots of egg wash leftover.  Put the dough in the oven and let it bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Cheese mixtureMixing together cheese layer

While the tart is baking, combine the ingredients for the cheese layer.  Mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese, ramp greens, salt, nutmeg, and pepper until thoroughly combined.  Set aside until the tart has finished and is cool.

Cooked AsparagusCooked asparagus

These asparagus were so fresh and tender, I didn’t really have to do much to them.  I peeled off the tough outer layer and cut off the rough, stringy ends.  To cook them, melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the shallots and ramp bulbs and cook for about a minute, until they soften.  Then, add the asparagus.  Toss to coat the vegetables in the butter mixture.  Add 1 teaspoon of water to the pan and cover it with a lid, letting the asparagus steam for a minute or two until the water has evaporated.  Take care not to burn the asparagus or the shallots and ramps.  Remove the lid and toss to coat the asparagus in the remaining liquid in the pan.

Cooked tart shellBaked tart shell

When the tart shell has finished baking, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  As you can see from the photo, mine did rise and the strip on the edge shrunk up.  This is why I need to continue to work on my cooking skills.  I still make these kinds of mistakes.  Allow the tart to cool for about 5 minutes before working with it.

Spreading cheeseSpreading the cheese

Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture over the base of the tart.  This will help to smooth out the bumpy bits that rose during baking.

Tart ready for ovenReady for the oven

Place the asparagus over the cheese in a neat row.  The asparagus should be about the same length.  Spread the cooked shallots and ramp bulbs over the middle of the asparagus.  These will add a touch of sweetness to the herbal-savory cheese and grassy asparagus.

Finished-TartFinished tart

Place the tart in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the tart has heated through and the cheese is soft and slightly melty.  The asparagus will still be a bit crisp.  If you’d like your asparagus to be softer, add a touch more water to them when you cook them on the stovetop and let them steam in the pan for a few minutes more.  Serve the tart out of the oven or at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères

Ramps at Union Square Greenmarket

It’s that time of year again – the annual frenzy over Ramps!  I’d heard via Twitter that they’d arrived at the Greenmarkets.  Even one of my culinary school classmates was talking about how he’d just cooked up a pile of them at his job, grilling them a la plancha.  One of my other classmates asked what on earth ramps were.  He was unfamiliar with this rite of spring in the New York area and was mystified as to the hype over these greens that he’d never heard of before coming up here.

Ramp greens

All kidding aside, I really do look forward to the appearance of these wild leeks.  To me, they are like seeing the first crocus buds breaking through the soil, an indication of spring’s impending arrival, followed by all the wonderful berries, tomatoes, vegetables, and greens that will be showing up in the local markets over the course of the next few months.  Last year, I might have gotten a bit carried away with three posts of ramp recipes, but they do add a bright flavor and bring gorgeous, vibrant color to dishes.

Ready to eatBasket of gougères

In search of a new recipe to bring to a cocktail party, I decided to see how ramps would work inside of gougères, the base of which is choux pastry, something that we made several times in culinary school mostly in sweet versions.  The technique for making these Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères is straightforward, but does take attention to details and keeping an eye on how the dough comes together.  Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can add in any ingredients you like.  They freeze really well and would be perfect to take to those outdoor gatherings that are starting to take place now that the weather is getting warmer.

Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères

Prep time: 45 minutes

Serving size: about 3 dozen gougères

Ingredients:

200 ml Water

1/4 tsp. Salt

100 g Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes

125 g All-purpose Flour

1 tsp. Mustard, dried

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg, ground

3 Eggs, large

1 Egg, large, if needed (it might not be)

100 g Jarlsberg Cheese, shredded

2 Tbsp. Ramp greens, chopped finely (about 5 large leaves)

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Butter, water, and salt heated together

In a saucepan, place the butter, water, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Just at the point when the butter has melted completely, pour in the flour and stir it into the liquid. Turn the heat to low as you mix in the flour using a wooden spoon.

It is very important not to let too much of the water-butter mixture evaporate before adding the flour, as that will throw off the proportions that drive this recipe.  This is also why the butter must be cut into cubes, so that it melts quickly and evenly with very little loss of water vapor as it dissolves.

Dough comes together in the pan

Continue stirring the flour mixture until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  This is the dessécher (or “drying out”) phase of making choux pastry.  Remove the pan from the heat completely.  Add in the dried mustard and ground nutmeg and stir to incorporate.  Let mixture sit to the side for one minute, off of the heat, while cracking open the eggs.

Stirring in the eggs

Add the eggs one at a time and stir vigorously to incorporate them into the flour mixture.  At first, it will seem like the eggs will never combine with the dough, but keep on stirring until it is all blended together.

Dough with eggs mixed together

Continue adding the other eggs.  The dough will be slick and sticky.  One way to test to see if it is done is to scoop up a bunch of it on the wooden spoon, if it curves over in a hook, it is ready.  If not, it might need another egg, but don’t add in the fourth egg all at once.  Beat together the yolk and the white and add about half the beaten egg to the dough, mix together, and then check it again to see if it is done.  In the several times I’ve made these, sometimes all it needed was just one half of an egg to bring it all together.  (Add the extra half a beaten egg to your next omelet.)

Add in cheese and greens

Stir in the Jarlsberg cheese followed by the ramp greens.

Put on baking sheet

Take spoonfuls of dough and place them on the baking sheets.  Place them in the oven and let them bake for 25-30 minutes until they are puffy and golden brown.

Finished gougères

Remove the baked gougères from the oven.  Leave them on the baking sheet for a minute and then place them on a rack to cool.  These are fine served at room temperature or heated up again by placing them in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 5-10 minutes.  If making them in advance to keep in the freezer, cool them completely and place in a resealable bag.

Buon appetito!

Ramp Butter

I can hear it now, the silent screams, “Arrgghhh, not another post about ramps!”  Yes, this is about ramps, but it is about what to do with that scraggly bunch that you so optimistically purchased when you first saw them in the farmers’ markets a few weeks back.  Now, they’ve found a home on the bottom of the crisper drawer, and you need to use them up before they decay completely.  One solution is to make Ramp Butter.

Ramp Butter

Ramp butter is perfect for tossing into roasted vegetables, hot off of the grill to give them a punch.  Stuff a slab underneath the skin of a chicken prepped for going into the oven, letting the flavors perfume the meat as it bakes.  Or, as I did one time, place a piece of frozen butter inside a hamburger.  As the meat cooks, the butter melts and bastes the burger from the inside out, lovingly seasoning it and adding a layer of flavor.

Green and white parts of ramps

Fortunately, this year, I didn’t let my ramps get that far gone (yes, that photo is really from my fridge), so I still had bright green, herb-like leaves and alabaster white bulbs to work with.  I chopped them up and added them to about a stick of softened butter.  Then, I combined that with some salt and pepper, dropped it into plastic wrap, formed it, and sealed it.  Before putting it into the freezer for storage, I made sure to label the mixture, so that I wouldn’t mistakenly think that it was another variety of compound (flavored or seasoned) butter that I might have made.  I hope you whip up a batch of this with your leftover ramps and find something delicious to cook with it.

Ramp Butter

Serving size: 1/2 cup (one stick)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 oz.) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 pinch White Pepper

2 Tbsp. Ramp greens (tops), finely chopped (if the greens are too wilted, add 1 Tbsp. finely minced, fresh Parsley instead)

2 Tbsp. Ramp whites (bottoms), finely chopped

Assembly:

Butter with seasonings and ramps

Place butter in bowl.  Add salt and pepper.  Add green and white parts of ramps.  Mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula or fork.  This is best to do without a food processor or hand blender, as the butter will get too soft and will start to melt if you use them.

Butter on plastic wrap

Spread out a piece of plastic wrap that is about 10-12 inches in length on a board or the kitchen counter.  Put the butter mixture in the center of the plastic wrap.  This will keep your hands from getting greasy and will make it easier to shape the butter mixture.  Take the piece of the plastic wrap closest to you and fold it over the butter mixture.  With the plastic wrap, begin to shape the mixture into a long, rectangular block.

Shaped butter

Working quickly, so as not to allow the butter mixture to melt, continue to shape it until the block of butter is more or less uniform.  My attempt wasn’t quite perfect, but I knew that I needed to stop fiddling with it as the butter was getting too soft to handle.

Finished ramp butter

When the butter mixture is shaped into a rectangular-ish block, finish it by wrapping the entire form in plastic wrap and in twisting the ends.  Place in the freezer to harden and keep it there until ready to use.  You can cut off slices of the butter mixture as you need to use it, keeping the rest frozen.  Don’t forget to label it!

Buon appetito!