Friday, May 10, 2013

The Passion for Ramps and a recipe for Bucatini with Andouille Sausage, Pan Grattato and, of course, Ramps

If foraging for ramps, make sure you're not
mistaking day lilies for the real deal.
Photo: Courtesy of Kerry Heffernan

         Ramp season is upon us and we’re off.  Every other foodie in New York will race to their local greenmarket in search of these tender, yet pungent, harbingers of Spring.  In fact, the interest is so intense that the only comparable event that comes to mind is to the running of the Bulls in Pamplona.  They attract that kind of crowd. Fortunately, the only real danger you’ll encounter is the distinct possibly that you’ll be run over by a ramp-crazed Chef at the Union Square Greenmarket. What’s all the excitement about?  Well, after the kind of winter we’ve had in the East, the mere sight of these woodland wild leeks, with their bright green leaves, is more than welcome.  And the fact that this year the asparagus is late rising from its beds only makes the leeks even more appealing.  There are said to be people who view the ramp as a mere “meh” on the menu.  And then there are those who haven’t a clue what a ramp is.   Not that that’s all that surprising.  They may be wild in the East and the South but they don’t even exist west of the Dakotas.   But they do grow here and picking your own may be an option.  But be careful.  My friend Kerry Heffernan mistook the day lilies growing near his house in Sag Harbor for ramps.  As you can see from his photo, it’s not a hard mistake to make.  Since I am not the forager that Kerry is, dutifully, I went to Union Square solely for the purpose of buying the first ramps of the season.  And then I was faced with what to do with them once I got home.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Herb-Butter Roasted Chicken with Tuscan-Style Bread Salad adapted from Chef Ryan Hardy in Food and Wine Magazine

Sometimes when I write a post, the food gods seem to be hovering overhead.  This recipe came to my attention when it was posted as a great idea for a Mother’s Day meal. Talk about timely.  Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th this year.  Since presumably Mother will be given the day off, it will fall on some lesser cook’s shoulders to make a meal that any mother could love.  So right off the bat, you know this recipe cannot be terribly complicated.  Dear old Dad should be able to pull this one off whatever his level of kitchen competency.  If that’s not enough of a reason to make this dish, perhaps your ears will perk up when I tell you it’s the invention of a Chef called Ryan Hardy.   Chef Hardy, I have since found out, is about to open one of New York’s most anticipated new restaurants. The James Beard Award nominee's new place is  called Charlie Bird and it will open on May 15th, at 5 King Street in Soho.   Since it won’t yet have opened, there’s no taking Mother there for her big day.  But anyone can celebrate with this dish.   It looks like you’ve gone to a lot of trouble, but in truth, it’s not hard to pull off at all.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nigella Lawson's Meatzza

I’ve hesitated to post this recipe. I worry that it comes dangerously close to Frito Pies or one never-to-be-forgotten summer camp dish: corned beef hash and canned corn mashed up together in a frying pan and covered in ketchup.  That’s not to say both weren’t delicious--especially if you were hungry teenager on a camping trip.  Although we like to think that as we’ve aged, we’ve outgrown these kind of campfire concoctions, we were drawn to "Meatzza".  It's from Nigella Lawson’s latest cookbook, "Nigellissima” (Clarkson Potter 2012). “Meatzza”, as you can likely guess, contains some elements of Pizza. Pizza is my idea of the perfect food because it hits every element in the pyramid--protein, dairy, vegetable and those carbs in the crust.  That alone might make me want to try "Meatzza".  But to choose it as the first recipe out of the 120 Ms. Lawson’s 8th cookbook contains, requires some further explanation.