Ramping It Up

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There is a saying that the month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but I think it better applies to April here in Pennsylvania. Should I mention the chilly weather we’ve all been NOT enjoying?  For a very long time it has felt like spring would never come. Finally, that snow and ice of those first few weeks have melted into a sense of calm like a warm spring shower.

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By the 4thweek in April there is a noticeable change in the landscape. Clearly, the sun shines brighter, the grass is greener and the warm temperatures beckons one outside to the garden and forest beyond. It’s rejuvenating and ramps up the mood.

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Yesssss it is ramp season. Ramps, aka, wild leeks are prized by chefs and can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild onion flavor and complement everything from pesto to quiche. I think it’s no happy accident that they are in season at the very same time asparagus is rising from the ground. They really do complement each other in flavor.

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If you are fortunate enough to find a lush patch of ramps don’t be greedy. Clip just what you need and leave the rest to rejuvenate the patch for years to come. Take care of the earth and it will take care of you. Last week was Earth Day and many of my neighbors participated in a local clean-up of litter. Why do people litter? Anyway, it brought back a memory of William and I joining forces so many years ago. He was a good keeper of the earth.

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Here are a few ways to enjoy the freshness of spring ramp greens.

  • Add a few leaves to your favorite pesto mix for another layer of flavor
  • Chiffonade a few leaves and add to an omelet
  • Saute ramps with garlic and olive oil for a side dish
  • Chop and add to risotto
  • Delicious raw in slaws and salads (maybe not fruit salad)

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Ramp butter is fantastic on top of a burger or basted over a steak. Melt it in pasta with a bit of parmesan and pepper for a heavenly good dinner. Compound butters are super easy to make and pretty much keep forever in the freezer. I’m hoping to make enough to get me through until next season.

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Ramp Butter

10 fresh ramp leaves, stems trimmed, roughly chopped

pinch of coarse salt (I use a large grain Celtic sea salt)

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon champagne honey or Dijon mustard (Saucy Mama brand preferred)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

Place all ingredients in food processor and let it rip until the ramps are finely chopped and the mixture is a glorious  fresh green color. Form into a log in some plastic wrap and store in freezer. I just slice of what I need when I need it.

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 ❤

 

Victory Is In The Kitchen

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My daughter bought me this poster at the Churchhill Museum in London. I love how she instantly thought of me when she first eyed it. Of course, as a competitive home cook, my version of victory in the kitchen and the intent of the poster are quite different. Imagine the war struggle and women on the home front struggling to make ends meet and keep a household running. A message like this was meant to motivate a commitment to the war effort. With increasing shortages of food women tended vegetable gardens and used their creativity to put substantial meals on the table with what little they had. They were portrayed as of equal importance in the winning of the war as that of the fighting soldiers.

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Maybe when it comes to creativity and a few ingredients I am not so much different from the women in the early 1900’s since winning in my kitchen has been a common occurrence lately. These mushroom lettuce wraps just took the grand prize in the Mad About Mushrooms recipe contest. Inspired by the olympics (Yay Team USA) and ingredients found in a local Korean market these meaty mushrooms soak up the sweet and spicy bulgogi marinade and are a light vegetarian option. Do you like lettuce wraps? What’s your favorite filling?

Korean Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

1 firm ripe Asian or bosc pear, peeled, cored, julienned

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, washed, sliced (stemmed shitake, cremini, oyster)

1/3 cup Korean bulgogi style marinade (bottled or homemade)*

1 teaspoon Korean sweet & spicy sauce (gochujang) *

2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

pinch kosher salt

2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated into cups

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In bowl, gently toss pear and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat a large, non-stick, skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic just begins to turn color. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. Add Korean marinade and gochujang; cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are glazed. Turn off heat. Stir in green onions. Season mushrooms with salt. Spoon mushrooms into lettuce cups. Top with pickled pears. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 12 appetizers or can serve 4 to 6 as an entree.

*located in the ethnic section of grocery store or any Asian market

Here is my first video demonstrating how to build another version of a lettuce wrap. Pretty excited that I have taught myself another new trick. Victory is in the kitchen in more ways than one.

 

Super Shopping & Soup Pot Give Away

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Here is some exciting news for all my foodie fanatic friends at least those who love to cook and bake. Mark your calendar for Delaware’s Annual Mega Warehouse Sale of Kitchen Products. They have given me an exclusive look at this beautiful stock pot and generously giving one away to one lucky reader. More about that later.

Scheduled for October 27 – 28, 2017  See what you can look forward to.

Consumers and professional chefs are invited to the annual mega warehouse sale of home and kitchen products in New Castle, DE on Friday, October 27 and Saturday October 28. This year’s event includes exclusive products not available at prior warehouse sales or anywhere else in the United States. Products purchased at the sale are tax free.

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Thousands of people converge on the industrial complex in the first state each year for bargains and factory seconds from premium European brands: Emile Henry, Duralex, Lékué, Mauviel, Rösle and Novis Vita Juicer. Shoppers will be able to pick up holiday gifts for everyone on their gift lists including products for professional and amateur cooks and bakers, serious grillers, healthy eaters, movie night fanatics and even news year’s revelers.

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Cooking enthusiasts will have the opportunity to buy the stainless-steel BBQ tools, the French ceramic lasagna baker, the copper stewpot, the centrifugal juicer and hundreds of other kitchen products they’ve been coveting for years. The two-day sale on Friday, October 27 and Saturday October 28 is in the Centerpoint Business Complex Park in New Castle at 802 Centerpoint Blvd. Follow signs from Route 273 to the warehouse. Doors open at 3:00PM on Friday and 9:00AM on Saturday. Cash and credit cards will be accepted. For additional information on the sale, please call 302-326-4800.

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The Annual Stock up for Seniors Meals on Wheels Delaware fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, October 26 from 6:30 till 9pm, the night before the sale opens to the general public. Visit www.mealsonwheelsde.org to purchase tickets to the fundraiser. Ticket sales as well as 5% of the proceeds from the warehouse sale will benefit Meals On Wheels Delaware.

For cooks who don’t know these brands, here are a few facts: Emile Henry colorful, all natural, heirloom quality ovenware and tableware is made from Burgundian clay in the French town of Marcigny. Mauviel 1830 is one of the only copper cookware manufacturers left in the world today and makes all of its products in Normandy, France. Rösle’s award winning, German designed kitchens tools are backed by a lifetime warranty. Duralex is the French manufacturer of the renowned French Picardie drinking glasses and Lys glass bowls. Lékué is a Spanish manufacturer of platinum silicone cooking tools and bakeware designed for healthy cooking. Novis offers a Swiss designed, multifunctional, powerful juicer in a range colors.

Products from all six brands are sold in premier kitchen stores and online catalogs and have been featured in hundreds of articles and shows in the national media including the Today’s Show, Good Morning America, Food Network, Cooks Illustrated, Fine Cooking, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.

Duralex, Emile Henry, Lékué, Mauviel, Novis, Rösle

802 Centerpoint Blvd., New Castle, DE 19720

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And now for the give away of this lovely Emile Henry ceramic soup pot/tureen. Don’t you love a piece that does double duty cook and serve? I think you will not only love it for its good looks, but also for its ability to efficiently conduct heat using lower temperatures. Made of natural materials with a non-porous glaze no oil is needed to prevent sticking to the pot and allows for gentle healthy cooking of soups, stews, chili and anything that one likes to braise. Beautifully insulated it also kept my soup warm for a good three hours sitting off the heat (perfect for a holiday open house event). Unlike metal pots clean up is a snap with no burnt on crusts to scrub. If you would like to win this amazing stock pot please go over to my Instagram (follow me) and leave a comment tagging a friend on the soup photo. For an extra entry leave a comment here with your favorite soup.

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Here is one of my favorite soups using fresh butternut squash and Thai basil picked from my garden today. Using the Emile Henry stock pot eliminated the need for oil, but if you are using a metal pan add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil to cook the curry paste and onions. If you like your soup spicy then certainly kick up the amount of curry paste.

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Thai Style Coconut Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash

1 to 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk

3 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced

1-tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 cups thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken

garnish: chopped green onions and Thai basil leaves

Heat stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and red curry paste; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant and onions are softened. Add the coconut milk, broth and brown sugar; increase heat and bring to the boil. Add the squash, lime juice and chicken and cook for 8–10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender. Top the soup with the green onion and basil leaves to serve. Serves 4–6.

 

I will randomly choose a winner in 2 weeks. Good luck and happy shopping.

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