Archives for category: Eggs

What do you say when a friend hand delivers you hand-picked ramps?

You say THANK YOU! And perhaps, I’m sorry you had to carry these stinky alliums around all day.

My friend Paul brought me beautiful, pungent ramps that he foraged with a trowel from a hillside near his home in Phoenicia, New York, in the Catskill Moutains. I haven’t been to the farmer’s market much lately so I was very grateful to receive the muddy gift. We met at a friend’s art show Thursday night, and by the time I arrived, an hour late, the ramp’s aroma had permeated the entire gallery.

Ramps are only in season in these parts from roughly the end of April to the second week of May, if you’re lucky. They come and go in a flash before wearing out their welcome. I think they’re in season for the perfect amount of time—long enough for you to enjoy them in scrambled eggs and pesto and maybe biscuits, but not long enough to get sick of them (I’m lookin at you zucchini). They make a graceful exit just as you’re fantasizing about what you’ll make next. Ramp risotto?

Exactly one year ago I wrote here about linguine with ramps. This year I thought I’d try something different. My friend Katherine recently mentioned that, at Reynards in the new Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, she’d eaten radishes on toast that had been slathered with ramp butter. Genius! Jill was coming for brunch today so I thought: ramp butter, toast, and runny eggs.

Turns out, kitchen maven April Bloomfield has a recipe for ramp butter (with quail eggs) in her delectable cookbook A Girl And Her Pig, which I used as a guiding light.

The lemon zest and lemon juice are just the addition to cut the richness of the butter. The ramps definitely make their presence known without being overly sharp, a result of sautéing them for two minutes. I plan on using the leftover ramp butter over pasta. It would be delicious slathered over biscuits or scones, or on dark rye bread with those radishes, anything with a bite.

It’s nice having a personal ramp dealer. I will not share his beeper number with you so don’t even ask. Get your own forager!

Ramp Butter

1/4 pound ramps, cleaned, roots trimmed
11 tbsp unsalted butter
zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of chili flakes
3 anchovies, rinsed and minced (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and peper

Thinly slice the bulbs and stems of the ramps, and set aside. Slice the greens and toss some of these with the bulbs and stems, reserving the rest. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet and when hot add the ramp bulbs and stems and some of the greens and sauté for two minutes, stirring often.

Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining butter, lemon zest and juice, a pinch of chili flakes, anchovies, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. I ended up squeezing a bit more lemon juice into the mixture. Blend this and when mixed, add the remaining chopped ramp greens, stir again. You can serve this on toast or over pasta, and I imagine it would taste great tucked under the skin of a chicken before roasting.

“Good-bye to…food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you…Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?”

Oh Thorton Wilder. I know you’re relegated to the dustbin of high school English classes but this quote from Our Town gets me every time. I haven’t read Wilder in years but this weekend, in between working a new job, visiting the Whitney Biennial and the Francesca Woodman show at the Gugg*, and generally avoiding people in green, I read multiple applications for the Board I’m on, students eager to get into an academic summer program.

Someone’s application made a reference to Our Town and my mind wandered to this passage. Food and coffee and freshly ironed dresses, hot baths, sleeping, and waking up…In the words of Rodgers and Hammerstein, these are a few of my favorite things.

Wilder in mind, I set out for this weekend’s simple cooking pleasure. With the weather warming up, but the farmer’s markets not yet stocked with the first produce of the season, an in-between, intermediary meal was in order. Something to welcome the spring and sun and longer days, and gently bid farewell to the unfriendliest of seasons (although kind of friendly this past year).

My hand reached for Plenty on the shelf. That’s the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi I wrote about here two weeks ago. It would have to be the caramelized garlic tart. The perfect early spring food: the lusciousness of cream, the lightness of pastry, the fragrance of rosemary and thyme. It’s letting go of winter and greeting spring simultaneously. It’s warm and cool, light and dark, sweet and savory, like March itself.

The Ball jar above is filled with cream, crème fraîche, eggs, salt, and pepper. Its final destination: the all-butter puff pastry, to be filled with caramelized garlic, two types of goat cheeses, rosemary and thyme. In the words of a friend, “I do.”

Caramelized Garlic Tart
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 8

1 sheet all-butter puff pastry (approx. 375 g)
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves peeled and separated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
scant 1 c water (220 ml)
3/4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few twigs to finish
1/4 lb (120 g) soft, creamy goat’s cheese (I used Caprichio from Spain)
1/4 lb (120 g) hard, mature goat’s cheese (I used smoked goat cheddar from Redwood Hill, CA)
2 eggs
1/3 c (100 ml) heavy cream
1/3 c (100 ml) crème fraîche
salt and black pepper

Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 9-in. (28 cm) fluted tart tin. Thaw the puff pastry if frozen for at least 40 minutes before handling, then line the bottom and sides of the tin. Place a large circle of wax paper on the bottom and fill with dried beans. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Place the tart in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, with the beans. Remove the beans and wax paper, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Set aside, leave the oven on.

While the tart is baking fend off vampires by preparing the garlic. (A trick by the way to peeling all that garlic is putting the cloves in a jar, like a Mason or Ball jar, and shaking hard for about one minute. At least half the skins will fall off that way.) Place the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it, and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic and water and bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme, and 1/4 tsp salt. Continue simmering on medium for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Breath in deep. Set aside.

To assemble the tart, break up both types of goat’s cheeses into pieces and scatter in the pastry. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese. In a jug or bowl whisk together the eggs, creams, 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour this over the tart filling to fill the gaps, but make sure you can still see the garlic over the surface.

Reduce the oven temp to 325 F (160 C) and place the tart inside. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool a little. Remove from tin, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm with a crisp green salad.


*If you live in NYC I highly encourage you to visit the Whitney Biennale, up until May 27th. Head straight to the second floor for Latoya Ruby Frazier’s black and white photographs—these are worth the visit alone; then check out Werner Herzog’s film, an ode to c17 Dutch painter Hercules Segers set to the music of Ernst Reijseger, also on the second floor. And then check out the little room toward the back of the second floor gallery with the Forrest Bess (by Robert Gober) installation: chilling. Then head up to the fourth floor rehearsal space of Michael Clark, British dancer and choreographer, who, with the dancers in his company, have taken over the entire floor. You get to stand around and watch them rehearse through April 8th.

Finally…worth a trip to the Guggenheim to see Francesca Woodman through June 13th. Woodman was a prolific photographer with a very short career, basically 1975 to 1981. I loved the Providence photos in particular.

There’s only one woman who can get away with a dish like crack pie: Momofuku wunderkind Christina Tosi. Owner and head pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar, Tosi likes to take people by surprise, serving up desserts like liquid cheesecake and deep-fried apple pie soft serve. Her dishes tend to elicit childhood memories of Corn Pops and cookie dough, pb & j’s and saltines, but in unfamiliar ways. She’s the real-life Willy Wonka, and I believe one day soon, she will turn someone into a giant blueberry and send them floating down Bedford Avenue.

Tosi was trained at the French Culinary Institute and worked at Bouley and WD-50 before stepping foot in David Chang’s Momofuku to work as an office lackey. After Mr. Chang tried her home-baked goods he convinced her to start making desserts for his restaurants, and the rest is history. Now, Tosi is in charge of a staff of Oompa-Loompas working out of a large warehouse in Williamsburg; besides creating the desserts for Momofuku Ko, Ssam Bar, and Noodle Bar, Tosi runs two Milk Bars, one in the East Village and one in the ‘Burg.

In addition to the infamously addictive crack pie, Tosi is perhaps most celebrated for her “cereal milk,” a flavor that appears in soft-serve ice-cream form, as well as straight milk form, made by soaking Special K, Kix, and other old favorites in milk. Subtle genius. I paid a visit to the East Village storefront last week for the strangely wonderful birthday cake truffles, corn cookies, and yes, crack pie, below.

Last fall, Clarkson Potter published the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, revealing the secrets behind the candy factory. It’s like finding a golden ticket in a Wonka bar: all her best recipes are there for all to read, and replicate if you’re so adventurous. And that’s just what I did today for my dear friend Elizabeth’s birthday. EZ mentioned recently she’d never had Tosi’s crack pie, and when it was described as being reminiscent of that southern classic, chess pie, she seemed eager to try it.

Making this dish was less arduous than I anticipated. There was no cereal-soaking involved, no potato chips or grape jelly stuffed into batter. Just lots of butter and sugar and egg yolks whisked together, the cornerstone ingredients of Tosi’s empire. (If you get a moment check out the article in the current issue of Edible Manhattan, which talks about Tosi and her relationship with former dairy supplier, Milk Thistle Farm, which sadly went out of business last month.) The pie itself is a smooth, custard-like concoction of brown sugar, cream, butter, eggs, and vanilla, baked in an oat-cookie crust. Not a bad way to bite into one’s birthday.

Happy birthday Elizabeth! One of the things I miss most about Phaidon is getting to work next to you every day.

Crack Pie
Adapted from Christina Tosi

Oat Cookie Crust
Parchment Paper
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 tbsp (1 stick plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp, divided
5 1/2 tbsp (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oats (not instant)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp (generous) salt

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tbsp nonfat dry milk powder (*or 3 tbsp nonfat evap milk)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Prepare the oat cookie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp brown sugar, and 3 tbsp sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan, and press out evenly to the edges of the pan if possible. Bake until light golden on top, 17 or 18 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely.

Using hands, crumble the oat cookie into a large bowl; add 3 tbsp butter and 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to a 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of the dish. Place pie dish on a flat baking sheet in case of spillage.

Prepare the filling
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. (If it’s too darn hard/expensive to buy the powder, you can substitute for 3 tbsp evap milk in the next step.) Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, egg yolks, and vanilla, and whisk until well blended. (If you’re going to use evap milk instant of powder, use 3 tbsp here, and only 3 1/2 tbsp of the heavy cream.) Pour filling into crust. Bake for 30 minutes (filling may bubble). Reduce oven temp to 325 F. Continue to bake pie until filling starts to brown in spots and sets on the edges but center is still a little wobbly when gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top and serve cold!

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