Category Archives: Recipes

Ramped up Spinach Soup with Lovage and Sorrel

Ramps are an east coast thing. We don’t have them here in New Mexico, and we don’t see them at Whole Foods, which is fine with me. They belong where they grow, and the same is true of fiddlehead ferns, as delectable as they might be. This means that every spring for years I’ve watched food people getting all excited about something I’d never tasted or been able to get my hands on. But all that changed last week when I got some ramps in the mail from Robert Schuller of Melissa’s.

They arrived in a big box that was carefully padded and well packed, but no amount of paper or plastic could keep their garlicky leeky smell from seeping through the cardboard. There was no mistaking that there were alliums in that box. Hidden among the folded mounds of paper there they were, resting in Oakley Sunglasses cheap their plastic bag. I carefully pulled the big clump of mud-covered alliums out of their bag and looked at them.  It seemed they might not travel all that well, at least not for days on end as these undoubtedly had, from somewhere back east to Los Angeles and finally to New Mexico. The greens were a little funky but I immersed them in a tub of water and got to work cleaning them.  After a long time and many changes of water I ended up with a tangle of skinny little buggers with shanks and roots like leeks and leaves like lily of the valley, and smell that was as much garlic as leek.IMG_2034

Not wanting to waste anything of my one chance with ramps. I covered the trimmed roots with water and simmered them slowly to make, in effect, a ramp broth. I left it on the stove when my husband and I went out that evening, and when we returned he exclaimed, “What’s that smell? It’s like wood, mushrooms and garlic!”  It was interesting that just the roots simmered in water conveyed their homeland of woods and fungi, but I couldn’t smell a thing due to my encounter with juniper pollen late that afternoon. I woke in the middle of the night with the thought, “It was the ramps he was smelling! Of course!”

Once they were cleaned and wrapped in a dry towel and returned to the refrigerator, the next question was what to do with them.  I consulted Elissa Altman who sent me an older piece from her blog, Poor Man’s Feast, which featured ramps on toast with quail eggs. That looked very good, but no quail eggs here, alas. There were some other thoughts—risotto and ramps, sformata wit ramps, but I decided to use half my collection a soup made with the first spinach, sorrel and lovage from the garden— and that ramp broth.  It cooked in about 10 minutes and after being pureed, ended up looking like Ireland and iron in a bowl. On the way to its becoming soup I scooped out some of the vegetables, added butter and toasted breadcrumbs and found them to be extremely good just like that, fortifying and somehow essential. Still, I went ahead and finished the soup. When it was finished, I could have drunk the whole pot. I detected and savored the ramps, but was also happily overwhelmed by the lovage, which I adore. It was then I realized that this soup tasted like a lot of spring soups I make because of those lovage leaves, only the ramps made it better.

This might not have been the best use for such a rare allium, but I’ve still got some left and those I’ll cook with softly scrambled eggs —chicken eggs, not quail, and no lovage.

What would you do with ramps?

Ramp, Spinach and Lovage Soup                                                Makes about 4 cups

3 ounces or 2 cups chopped, cleaned ramps

2 ounces or a big handful, small sorrel leaves

8 ounces spinach, big stems removed

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups ramp broth or chicken stock

Sea salt and pepper

4 lovage leaves

Clean everything as needed. The ramps take a while so you might want to have those done ahead of time. Keep the stems on the sorrel if the leaves are small, unless you can’t resist ripping them off. I never can.

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the ramps, sorrel and spinach leaves, season with a teaspoon salt, and turn about in the butter for a few minutes.  Add the broth or cheap oakley stock, bring to a boil, and simmer just until the ramps are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the lovage, then puree then taste for salt and season with pepper.

Serve very simply – just a pool of green, or with cream swirled into it.  I used the creamy top of some yogurt and its slightly tart culture flavor was perfect. I also added a few pinches toasted breadcrumbs for texture, but you can skip this.


Beating the Heat with Beets

Because Patrick is from Arkansas, I don’t get to complain about New Mexico’s heat and occasional humidity.  “Humid!”  He declares.  “You don’t know humid!”

And he’s got a point. This is the southwest, not the south. As for the heat, it doesn’t seem to bother him, despite which has been damn hot, mosquito filled, and to my mind and most everyone else I know, humid. Or at least humidish. The problem with such weather is that it messes with dinner and cooking in general. It’s easy for a gin and tonic or cold grapefruit juice with Campari and soda to stand in for a meal, but despite the juice and the lime, drinks really aren’t food. Just cool comfort and there’s nothing wrong with that.

A salad makes a good supper, though, as does a fish taco, or soup. Cold organic tomato juice with cilantro, diced avocado and lime is a good way to go. A chilled carrot and Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo ginger soup, a thin crouton with a swipe of goat cheese is another. I can’t imagine attempting much more when it’s near 100’ in the evening, but yesterday I did.  I made a beet soup, something I haven’t made in quite a while. I had bought beets thinking we should have more substantive vegetables on the menu, and a vision of beet soup came to mind. I recalled my grandmother’s lady friends who used to puree borsch with sour cream and drink it by the glass on hot days. As a child I thought it was raspberries and cream they were enjoying, and was pretty let down with my first sip. Now I know better.

So I turned on the fan, opened my soup book, and made the Red Beet Soup with Beets and Their Greens. I don’t know why it’s in the chapter devoted to winter vegetable soups because it’s a great summer soup.  I made the stock because you really need it here. I diced the beets, carrots, and pepper, ignored the fact I didn’t have any leeks, steamed the beet greens, and used more than a pinch of allspice and anise seed. In less maglie calcio poco prezzo than a calm hour I had a gleaming red on red soup.  Patrick came home, we sipped our drinks and didn’t discuss the heat, then I served the soup.  It was tepid, and we had it that way, with the beet greens and a good spoonful of sour cream. It was sweet, cool, chunky and just right for dinner. Well chilled, it was just right for lunch today, and I’ll be it will see us for dinner tonight as well.  Maybe pureed with some sour cream just to have a different texture and hopefully, though it’s unlikely, some good black bread.

So if you’re in the summer heat doldrums, you might give this, or some other beet soup, a try.

Red Beet Soup                   

This beet soup uses the whole vegetable—roots, stems, and leaves. You’ll do well to make the stock, which simply uses more of the Cheap Jerseys vegetables that you’re already using for the soup.  Begin it first and by the time you’re ready to add it to the vegetables, it will be ready. As for the pepper, peel it, especially if the skin is waxed.  Peeled, there won’t be any skins to roll up into little scrolls. (In a pinch, I’ve used jarred roasted peppers and they were fine.)  

The Stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup leeks greens and the roots, well washed

1 onion, 1 carrot, and1 celery rib, all chopped

3 bay leaves

pinch of thyme or a thyme sprig

few pinches oregano or a fresh branch of leaves

3 garlic cloves, smashed

the stems of 1 bunch red beets

a handful of lentils

1 teaspoon sea salt

 The Soup

1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter

3 small leeks or 1 large, the white parts only sliced into rounds

1 onion, finely diced

2 thin carrots, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds

1 red pepper, peeled and diced

3 medium sized beets, about 8 ounces, peeled and diced

3 small bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

hefty pinch of allspice or anise seeds

1 finely minced large clove of garlic

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 15-ounce can organic diced tomatoes, fire-roasted or not, or 1 cup fresh, peeled tomatoes, diced

the beet greens, roughly chopped

sour cream and 1 lemon, quartered or apple cider vinegar

1.  To make the stock, heat the oil in a pot, add the leek greens and root, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and herbs.  Give a stir and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables take on a little color.  Add the rest of the ingredients and 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently while you prepare the soup vegetables.  Be sure to turn it off after 30 minutes as it will go from red to brown about at that point.  As you peel the beets, add the peels, along with any other vegetable trimmings, such as the ends and veins of the bell pepper, to the stock.

2.  While the stock is cooking, heat the oil and butter in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables, (minus the beet greens), bay leaves, oregano, allspice, and garlic.  Stir to coat, then cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Season with 1-teaspoon salt and the sugar.  Strain the stock directly into the pot.  Simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender-firm, 20 to 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.

3. Cook the beet greens in a little water with a pinch of salt until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.  Serve the soup and add a clump of greens and spoonful sour cream to each.  Serve with the lemon on the side, for those who wish.

Makes 2 quarts. 

From Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

Cooking Dinner Alone and Without a Food Processor

There’s nothing unusual about cooking dinner alone. I cook dinner for myself and my husband (and quite possibly others) pretty much every night of the week. I look forward to getting out of my head and into my hands, getting away from the computer and into foodstuffs. Cooking dinner is never a chore.

Cooking is slow time for me, often alone time.  I don’t usually play music. Maybe, if I need a serious energy boost, I put on a Michael Franti CD.  But the silence is good, too. That is, the sounds of cooking. Water running. Chard draining. The hum of the gas. The thonk of the knife on the board. The sizzle when onions are thrown into a hot pan.  Just the sounds of everyday activities in the kitchen, plus the evening wind in the Oakley Sunglasses cheap trees.  The other night I asked myself, do I think when I cook? Or chatter away mindlessly in my head?  Or is cooking more a quiet meditation?  Sometimes it is the latter, a focused, non-thinking activity, but sometimes I’m thinking, too.  The other night I found myself thinking about how the same day I turned in my book Seasonal Fruit Desserts, my food processor quit.  A part wore out; it’s a rubber ring of some sorts that made the top and bottom cohere. I called the Kitchen Aide people but didn’t get any leads as to a replacement part, so basically I gave it up. I’ve never found a food processor I’ve wanted to replace it with so I’ve done without for the past 2 years.

I was thinking about this because I was going to make a hazelnut frangipane for an apricot tart, which involves mixing together nuts, butter, egg and a few other ingredients until absolutely smooth. The food processor is, in fact, an ideal tool for the job, but since I didn’t have one, I got out my Zyliss cheese grinder and ground the toasted hazelnuts by hand. It was a hot day and the butter softened and eggs warmed up. In the end it wasn’t a big deal to make frangipane by hand, or the tart dough, and dessert was too good for just two people.

Basically, this has been true of everything I used to unthinkingly pull out the food processor for —making pie dough, salsa verde, breadcrumbs.  There isn’t a thing you can’t use a knife, a whisk or another tool for, including your hands, and end up with good results, a bit of a workout, and a lot less stuff to clean.  As I smoothed the cream into the pre-baked tart shell, I realized that I’ve rather enjoyed this stretch of time without the food processor.  My knife skills are probably better and I get a lot more direct contact with my food while slowing down in a nice focused sort of way.  Handwork provides a kind of governor on my kitchen activities, too. I might think twice about making dessert, and that’s not a bad idea. Or if making frangipane was enough of a process, then I’ll skip the tart dough and use it to fill a halved apricot or plum and save a bunch of calories, too.

Hazelnut Frangipane By Hand                                         Enough for or or 2 9-inch tarts or galettes

You can use almonds, but hazelnuts are awfully good, too. Use this with stone fruits, especially apricots and plums, and also with pears. You can use it to line a tart shell, smooth over galette dough, or drop it directly into a halved fruit, which you’re planning to roast. It’s good stuff to have around.

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

 1/8 teaspoon salt

 ½ cup organic sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

4 tablespoons soft butter

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon Frangelico (optional)

Grind the hazelnuts by hand in a nut or cheese grinder to make delicate flakes, then mix them with the sugar and flour. Add the oil and butter and beat with a wooden, then add the cheap oakley egg, egg yolk, and Frangelico, if using. Beat until well blended. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator to use later in the week. If you just can’t find an immediately use for it, freeze it until you do.

Grape Pie Season

Grape Pie Season

There are a few fall indicators I look too every year—besides a drop in temperature and falling leaves. One is the way plants look so ragged and tired, their now yellow and crisp, their fruits getting smaller, flowers blooming on ever-shorter stems.  Another is the sign that I do have gophers and they’re getting ready for winter in a most annoying fashion, mainly by eating my Echinacea and roses.  A subtler indicator is a sense of stillness that fills the air, even when the wind is blowing. It’s more like breathing and sighing than the destructive idiot winds we usually have.

There are more signs, like the quince turning yellow. But most important is that it’s time for grape pie. Concord grape pie.  Either purple or green Concords will do, but don’t mix them. It’s not so pretty. 

Long one of my favorite desserts, I am sure to make a grape pie at least once each fall.  If there aren’t many grapes, it might be a tart, rather than a pie. If grapes are plentiful you might see a full blown double crusted pie on my table. If I can’t deal with making a crust, a crisp will have to do and it does do nicely.  In any case, this is a dessert worth making and something of an old-fashioned American one, too.  My father, and Iowan, is the one who taught it to me, and mid-westerners know a thing or two about pies.  Choose your favorite pie dough, enough for a top and bottom. Here’s how the filling goes:


2/12 to 3 pounds Concord grapes

½ to ¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

grates zest and juice of 1 lemon


Wash the grapes as you’ll be using the skins as well as the pulp.  Slip them out of their skins by squeezing them into a saucepan and set the skins aside in a bowl.  Simmer the grapes until they turn white and the seeds loosen, after 5 to 10 minutes, then pass them through a food mill to maglie calcio poco prezzo separate the seeds, working directly into the bowl with the skins. Return the pulp and the skins to the pan, add ½ cup of the sugar, the flour, and lemon zest. Cook to dissolve the sugar, then taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon juice and let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Use now or refrigerate or freeze the filling to use later.

Preheat the oven to 400’F.  Pour the cooled filling into a pastry-lined pie tin and cover with a second crust.  Join the top and bottom, flue the edges, then brush some beaten egg yolk over the top.  Use the tip of a knife to etch a decorative design into the dough, then cut a whole in the top for a vent.  Set the pie on a cookie sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350’ and bake for another 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool before serving with cream or a piece of aged Cheddar or Gouda cheese.

Little Green Peppers—Shishitos


This is the third or fourth year we’ve had these little gems in the Santa Fe farmers’ market. If they’re not elsewhere, they should be, and they probably will be, is my guess. You can’t go wrong with these wrinkled little morsels.

Japanese shishito peppers are 2 to 3-inches long and bright green, like a green pepper.  Pleats and folds run along the length of their little bodies; the tip is not pointed or Ray Ban outlet blunt, but folds up into itself. These peppers don’t resemble jalapenos or serranos either in looks or in taste.  They’re mild, not hot, though sometimes one will have a little bite. Still, they aren’t quite like bell peppers, either, so know that if you don’t like green bell peppers it doesn’t mean you won’t like shishitos.

These little peppers are absolutely delicious to nibble on with drinks, but people are thrilled to buy them for another reason: they’re insanely easy to prepare. The $10 per pound cost probably works out in terms of time saved. For some, anyway; I see it as expensive! But not yet having succeeded at growing my own, I’m willing to pay. It still probably comes to less than putting out some wedges of decent cheese and is a much more interesting alternative.

Here’s what you do with them.  Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan until it’s good and hot, but not, of course, smoking. Add the peppers and cook them over high heat, tossing them frequently until they blister. It takes about 10 minutes or possibly longer, for a pan full of peppers.  Whey they’re done, add some sea salt and toss again. Some like a squeeze of fresh lemon, too.  Slide them into a bowl and you’re done.  Serve them hot. You pick them up by the stem end and eat the whole thing.  Minus the stem.

Sure you can probably do fancier things with them and some chefs do, but they’re just terrific like this. If you have leftovers (unlikely), chop off the stems and put them in an omelet. And if you’re a gardener, you can get seeds from Kitazawa seed company and grow your own.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage

Just too much cabbage in her CSA box was a challenge for a woman on the Washington Post Food Chat. How much coleslaw can one eat, she asked, and what else can be done with it? This is one of my favorite dishes, despite the need for baking. It’s pretty good at room temperature as well as Ray Ban outlet warm, and it’s a great dish to make throughout the year, but it’s especially good in summer when the potatoes are new and the cabbage is really fresh.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage (Serves 4)
1 pound new summer potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 1/2 pounds green cabbage, cut into 1-inch ribbons
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
3 tablespoons chopped dill (try sage in fall)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/3 cups milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350’F. Lightly butter an 8 x 12-inch gratin dish. Bring a gallon of water to a boil while you prepare the potatoes and cabbage.

2. Add 1-tablespoon salt to the water and the potatoes. Boil until nearly tender, about six minutes. Scoop them into a colander, then add the cabbage to the pot and cook for five minutes. The water may not return to a boil. Drain, rinse, then twist in a kitchen towel to remove the excess moisture. Combine the cabbage and potatoes in a bowl with the dill.

3. Melt the butter in a small skillet with the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute without letting the garlic brown. Pour it over the cabbage and potatoes. Toss well, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Transfer to the baking dish.

4. Whisk the remaining ingredients together, pour them over the vegetables, and bake until firm and lightly browned, about 50 minutes. Let cool at least ten minutes, then cut into pieces and serve. Nice with a light, fresh tomato sauce or diced summer tomatoes.

Going Back (and Forwards) with Chocolate Mousse and Cardamom Seeds

Chocolate mousse, which is now terribly old fashion, is something I included in my new book What We Eat When We Eat Alone. It was a bachelor’s idea for the finish to a seductive meal and indeed, it’s a pretty seductive little dessert. Funny that we’ve cast it so cheap oakley thoroughly aside, but that happens. Adding crunchy, whole cardamom seeds brings it more up to date since we now find herbs and spices, barks and seeds in all kinds of desserts. This mousse has no tofu in it. It’s based on butter, chocolate and eggs, and a little cream doesn’t hurt, either. But try it with a 6o-70% chocolate, definitely include the cardamom, and serve small portions. You will love it. It’s utterly scrumptious and easy to make. Continue reading