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I’ve moved!!

I apologize for leaving all of you  extraordinary readers without any posts for weeks and weeks.  Turns out growing 3000+ square feet of heirloom vegetables with just a husband and a dog, and launching a new business site (www.pitchforkknifeandspoon.com), pushes blogging time out the window.

Also, I’ve moved to a brand new URL!  www.pitchforkdiaries.com

And that will be my new online home from now on.  Please visit me there going forward, and update your rss feeds.

We are in the middle of a truly abundant growing season, and have lots and lots to share…

Catie

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The Brooklyn Grange is planting a 40,000 square foot vegetable farm on a rooftop in Queens.

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I heard about this project initially when taking a pizza class a couple of months back with guys from Roberta’s and Pulino’s.  They mentioned that seedlings were planted, and the Brooklyn Grange team was close to securing a rooftop.  The plan is to raise an acre of organic vegetables, create a green space smack in the middle of the city, have a neighborhood farm stand, and supply area restaurants with the most local food they could imagine (delivering on bikes whenever possible!).

The group is in the final week of their Kickstarter fund raising campaign.  They have just under 25% of their goal left to raise.  If you are not familiar with Kickstarter–it is a site where you can donate as little as $1 to a project of your choice, but unless the goal is met by the deadline, the group won’t get any of the money pledged.  Take a peek, if anything just to learn a lot more about this important, innovative, and delicious project.

I have been interested in going to this event for years.  The National Association of the Specialty Food Trade’s Fancy Food Show will be in New York City at the Javits Center, From June 27-29.  180,000 products will be featured, including “confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more.”  There will be 2500 exhibitors from 81 different countries.  And I imagine a sample or two…

Typically the show is in San Francisco in the winter, and NYC in the Summer.  However the upcoming schedule looks like the next two summers the show will be in Washington DC instead.  So New York, get your fancy on while you can!

Tickets are $35 through 5/21, and $60 thereafter.  However, clicking on the link below will allow you to get a ticket for $25!  See you there.

The Summer Fancy Food Show, June 27-29, in NYC is North America’s largest specialty food trade event and attracts 2,400 exhibitors showcasing over 180,000 specialty foods and beverages. Take advantage of this invitation and I hope to see you there!

Ramp Tortilla Recipe

Ummmm…eggs…ramps…potato…

When my brother returned from his junior year in Spain, he craved the egg tortilla espanola found on the counter at most tapas bars and eateries.  It also happened to be one of my favorite recipes I learned in my “egg” lesson in my first weeks in culinary school (thank you Chef Justin).  The farmer who I get my ramps from, Rick Bishop, has mentioned to me a few times how much he likes to cook ramps and eggs together.  With a good amount of my own foraged ramps still left, this turned out to be a great combination.

RAMP TORTILLA
by Catie

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium to large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
6 ramps, cleaned, sliced thin, keeping leaves and stalks separate
4 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel potatoes and slice thin, about 1/8 of an inch, and pat dry. Keep the slices as uniform in size as possible.

Beat the 4 eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat oil in an 8″ pan, non-stick if possible. When oil is hot, fry potato slices until tender and just starting to crisp around the edge. Just before they are finished, add the slices of the ramp stalk, and at the very last few seconds, add the ramp greens.

Remove potato and ramp from the oil, and combine in a bowl with the eggs.

Leave about teaspoon of oil in the pan, bring to medium-high heat, and add the potato, ramp and egg mixture to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the tortilla to cook for about 10 minutes, until mostly set. Gently flip the tortilla to cook for about 5 minutes more on the other side. You may do this by inverting the tortilla onto a plate and then sliding back into the pan if helpful.

When cooked through, remove to a plate, allow to cool slightly, slice and serve. The tortilla is also great served at room temperature, and even cold. Would be lovely for lunch or brunch with some grilled asparagus, crusty bread, and a green salad.

This past weekend friends who live near us upstate, on an area overrun with ramps, graciously invited us over for our second annual swap of all-we-can-pick ramps for a pick-up truck full of our “like gold” sheep manure for their garden. (So very cutting-edge-hipster-locavore.   Then again, poop for weeds…)

After a very muddy morning, we brought home two substantial garbage bags of ramps with their roots and soil intact, to transplant to our woods, and a very generous shopping bag of loose ramps to cook and eat.   I got to work on a big batch of these slightly hot, slightly sweet, bright and tangy pickled ramps that night.  I am now addicted, and looking forward to ice cold pickled ramp martinis later this summer.  Oh, and picked ramps also go brilliantly with fish and roasted meats, on sandwiches, or alongside cheeses and charcuterie.

SPICY-TART PICKLED RAMPS

by Catie

2 large bunches of cleaned ramps, stalks only, trimmed of greens (about 2-3 cups, loosely packed) (Save greens for scrambled eggs.)

Kosher salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp peppercorns, white, green, or black, or combination
2 1/2″ piece of ginger root, cut in 1/2″ pieces
1 dried thai chili, about 2″ long, seeds removed for less spice
1 bay leaf

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready nearby. Blanch ramps in salted water for about 30 seconds, and then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. This will preserve some of the ramps’ color. Dry and transfer to a quart sized jar.

In a non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, sugar, water, ginger, chili, bay leaf, and spices. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over blanched ramps.

Cool, cover and refrigerate. Ramps will be sufficiently pickled in about 3 days, and will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. If you’d like to preserve them longer, process in a canning water bath to seal jar.

Ramps!

It is that time of year.

The ramps have arrived.

Ramps are wild leeks, and belong to the same genus as onions, garlic and chives.  Their flavor is a wild and woodsy combination of the three.  You can eat the entire plant, the bulb, stalk, and leaves, and can use them in recipes where you’d use garlic, onions, leeks, or scallions.  They are native to North America, and thrive in damp woodlands.  They are one of the first splashes of green in the woods, and an unmistakable sign that spring has finally decided to come to the party.

(here is one growing in our yard–that I had planted from a few extra I had bought at the farmer’s market two seasons ago).

To make them even more of a produce rock star, they are only around for about a month, after which the flavor grows too aggressive.  During that time, these slender green devils send the culinary world into a bit of a frenzy.  In Appalachia there are many community-wide festivals devoted solely to ramps.  In New York City, it’s tough to walk into a restaurant in April and not find at least one ramp special on the menu.  At Rick Bishop’s Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand in Union Square’s greenmarket, there is a sign propped up by his ramps with business cards from spectacular NYC chefs (who get their ramps from Rick), and handwritten notes of how they each prepare this seasonal delicacy:

The Modern: ramp ravioli

Gramercy Tavern: grilled, pickled, salsa verde with ramp greens, sauteed with scallions, salad of leeks with grilled ramps

Butter: chopped eggs on toast with grilled ramps and ricotta

Corton: ramp wrapped quail breast and lardo ballantine

SD26: ramp risotto

Mas Farmhouse: sauteed with bacon cream

Co.: grilled with lamb shoulder

Dell’anima: Tajarin “alla carbonara”–ramps, speck, egg, and pecorino

When I visited the stand yesterday, I told Rick I was in a bit of a “ramp rut” and needed some new ideas.  And did I get some!  (Tip:  always chat with the farmer at the stand to find out their favorite way of preparing their vegetables.  Amazing resource!)  Great new ramp recipes to follow…and in the meantime, get some while you can.

Rocks + glue???

Serious Eats had a great post last week about Steve Ettlinger’s book Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats, in honor of the Twinkie’s 80th birthday.  They posted the below segment from ABC news, explaining a little more about the book and the snack “food”.  It was repulsive interesting to hear that those sunny confections contain forms of mined rocks, corn dextrine–the glue found on envelopes, and an ingredient commonly found in rocket fuel.  Yum.

Visit a farmer’s market.  Please.