Monday, April 27, 2009


This weekend I took advantage of fresh ingredients and hot ovens...

More ramps:

And farm-fresh eggs:
With the addition of some turkey bacon, a tasty brunch:A gluten-free, refined-anything-free cookie that I have yet to perfect:

And a black-bean (!!) brownie that someone already has perfected: click HEREI wish you all a delicious week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm a Tramp for the Ramps

On this fine summer-esque day in New York, I have awoken to an entirely new wonder of the world:

These distant relatives of the onion, also called wild leeks, spring onions, or ail des bois (ooh la la), are cripplingly delicious. Addictive, even. Considered delicacies by the quebecois and West Virginians (can you guess which of these distinct populations fries their ramps with potatoes in bacon grease?), this rare breed of veggie (an officially protected species under Quebec legislation, mind you!) has a following of aficionados who organize delectable gatherings such as the annual "Feast of the Ramson" in Richwood, WV and the "International Ramp Festival" of Elkins, WV, which features a cook-off and ramp eating contests (!!)...

But you don't have to go to West Virginia to find these beauties; I snagged a bunch this afternoon while ambling through the Union Square Farmer's Market. They'll cost you a pretty penny, but oh boy if they aren't worth it!

Basic cooking method:
Clean off the slimy thin membrane at the bulb base and trim off the hairy root end. Cut the bulb from the leaf, thinly slice the bulb on the bias (as you would a scallion) and sautee in some oil, then add the leaves and cook until just wilted.

Simple but tasty:
You might try ramps and spaghetti, with some red chili pepper flakes,
Or ramps and scrambled eggs,
Or salmon on a bed of steamed ramps,
Or a salad of wild rice, slivered almonds, and flash-sauteed chopped ramps in a lemon vinaigrette!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just mussel through it

This is quite possibly the most elegant dish I've ever executed, but also the easiest (and even the cheapest). I had this done in 15 minutes flat. And the sweet and juicy mussels disappeared almost as quickly. Delicious and fresh, these $5 for 2 lb. mussels came from a fish market at the northeast corner of 31st Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria (carefully selected by my lovely assistant Dan!) and were probably the best specimens of pseudoped I've tasted as of late.

The recipe comes from Melissa Clark of the NY Times and it's just excellent, as are most of her creations. I dialed down the butter, since I'm not such a fan, and went with the parsley option instead of tarragon.

Add a crusty multi-grain baguette, and you have yourself a finger-lickin'-good weeknight dinner.

Ale-Steamed Mussels with Garlic and Mustard (by Melissa Clark, New York Times 4/8/09)
Yield: 2 servings

- 2 pounds mussels in shell
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 full sprigs thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large shallots, chopped

- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup good ale
- 1-3 tablespoons butter, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Crusty bread, for serving

Rinse the mussels under cold water. Pull or cut off the beards (these are the stringy bits coming out the mouth of the shells) and scrub shells well with a vegetable brush.

In a soup pot with a tight-fitting lid, head the oil, add thyme, garlic, shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until shallot and garlic are softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in ale and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and cover the pot. Let the mussels steam, stirring once or twice, until they open, 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer mussels to bowls. Discard any that have not opened (these will have been DOA).

Add the butter, herbs and mustard to the pan juices and bring up to a boil. Whisk the sauce until the butter melts, then taste and adjust seasoning. Pour over the mussels and serve with bread for some serious sopping.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Chopped Salad

Challenge: To make lunch to take to work that won't be boring after the second day and won't be a hassle to make on those relaxing Sundays.
Take the chopped salad to the next level of laziness using your food processor! (I know you all remember how I adore this miracle machine.) There's no need to stand at the cutting board, mincing carrots, onions, and herbs until you develop tendonitis. Just give it a quick whirl and then go watch some trashy television!

Tempeh Salad Sandwich Filling (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)
Yield: 4 servings

- 8-oz package tempeh (Garden Vegetable variety, if available)
- 2 carrots
- 1 small granny smith apple
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayo

- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- pepper and salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Cut the tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a steamer basket over boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the carrots and onion into chunks and run through the food processor, separately, until minced to your liking. Cut the apple into 1/2-inch cubes. Mix together in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, and mustard.

When the tempeh is soft and thoroughly cooked, sprinkle with soy sauce and add to the onion, carrot, and apple. Stir the dressing into the salad, toss everything well, and chill before serving. Makes a great sandwich filling, or can be served with crackers as a hearty snack.

Multi-Grain Tabouleh
yield: about 4 cups

Note: I made this up on the spot, so measurements are not exact. Thankfully, making good tabouleh ain't exactly rocket science. Also, feel free to experiment with other whole grains, besides the traditional bulgur. After having gathered all the ingredients together, I realized I only had a small amount of bulgur left - no biggie! Millet, quinoa, cracked wheat, cous cous, etc. all work here.

- 1/2 cup bulgur
- 1
cup millet
- 2 bunches parsley (or 1 bunch parsley and 1 bunch cilantro - a very tasty variation!)
- 1/2 red onion
- 3 plum tomatoes
- juice of 2 lemons + zest
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste

Cook the millet and bulgur (or whatever grains you're using) separately, according to instructions.

Roughly cut the parsley, tomato, and onion and run through the food processor for a few seconds, each separately. Combine in a large bowl, and mix in lemon juice, zest, and vinegar.

When grains are cooked, add to the vegetables and mix well. Drizzle with the olive oil and mix until everything is well coated (adding a little more if necessary). Season with the spices and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning (vinegar, salt, lemon juice) as needed. Serve immediately at room temp, or refrigerate until cold.