Recipes

05.22.2015

I do it every year, I put ‘M’s on my calendar on the weekends that there might be morels to find in the woods upstate. It’s not just them, those sneaky, wrinkly recluses; it’s the ramps, the asparagus that pop up for no explicable reason, three feet high, slender as a No. 2 pencil over by the sundial in our yard. The air is sweet and soft on bare arms and the bugs are back and I don’t even mind them. Everything is lilac and honeysuckle-scented; the rosé starts to flow. It’s spring. It’s spring. It’s almost summer and I’m hungry.

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There are so many elaborate ways to praise the spring bounty, but I usually wind up devoting some to simple egg and pasta dishes. After all, what could be more seductive than scrambled eggs with caviar or simple cacio e pepe with a few slices of grated truffles over it? My point is that often simplest ingredients show off the more rarefied, subtly flavored ones.

So after a day of lucky foraging, helped greatly by my knowing guide, I line my booty up. Ramps rinsed and trimmed: bulbs chopped, leaves set aside. Mushrooms, brushed of soil and halved lengthwise, lain on baking trays in a resting oven to dry out. Asparagus, scraped and sliced. Fiddleheads fiddling.

I perfected my frittata skills while waitressing breakfasts at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, where chef April Bloomfield serves a seasonal one that made a lasting impression on me. I will never cook a frittata without thinking of her penchant for bold flavors, like bitter broccoli rabe and verdant swiss chard that she balanced perfectly with creamy ricotta and lemon zest. This recipe can adapt to almost any greens that are available. Radicchio and endive would be great as well. As long as you’ve got bold flavors from good ingredients, a little lemon zest and creamy cheese, you can’t go wrong.

Ingredients
12 large fresh farm eggs
1 bunch of ramps
6-10 asparagus
5-6 fiddlehead ferns
olive oil
sea salt, fresh pepper
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
5-6 tablespoons Ricotta cheese
2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, oregano, chives, or lovage

Pre-heat the oven to 400. Whisk 12 eggs together until smooth, adding a pinch of sea salt.

Warm olive oil in a frying pan and add chopped ramp stems and bulbs, followed by chopped asparagus, fiddleheads, fava beans and ramp greens, as available. With a microplane, zest half a lemon over greens and add a squeeze of juice, seasoning with sea salt and fresh pepper. Sauté until just fork tender.

Add a generous glug of olive oil, turn up the flame to high and move veggies around pan to make sure pan’s surface area is coated. Pour egg mixture into pan, moving the veggies around to disperse evenly. Add 5-6 dollops (tablespoons) of ricotta cheese, spaced out evenly in pan. Remove from stovetop and place in pre-heated oven to cook through (approx. 8 minutes).

When the frittata is puffed up, souflée-like, and just barely firm at the center it’s done. Remove from the oven and using a spatula, gently separate from the edges of the pan. Remove from pan and place on large plate. To finish, drizzle with olive oil, season with a little sea salt and fresh pepper, herbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

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Clips

04.14.2015

So proud of this new issue of GREY Magazine. The food section contains two stories by me that were a delight to tell. The first is of three cocineras that I was privileged to meet in Uruguay–Clo Dimet, Lucía Soria and Gioconda Scott–and their mentor, the inimitable power house, Francis Mallmann.

This was a very small printing for GREY, so it’s extra hard to get your hands on. I hope you’ll enjoy the story with its stunning photos by Heidi Lender here.

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Clips

04.21.2015

My second story in this latest issue of Grey Magazine was on a rustic feast helmed by Martha’s Vineyard native, chef Chris Fischer. Vibrant photos by Gab Herman capture the un-styled but ebullient vibe of the day.

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Reviews

03.17.2015

Dan Barber, the James Beard award-winning chef, has created an 18-day “WastED” pop-up in his West Village restaurant, Blue Hill, serving a menu celebrating that which is usually discarded (think a burger made of “juice pulp” and stew of kale ribs). Every night a guest chef is joining Barber and the Blue Hill team to create one additional special dish (so far it’s been Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and Mads Refslund of ACME; for the full list here). Monday night I had the privilege of attending Danny Bowien‘s visit and eating my way through the menu with a pal. Don’t be misled by the names, this was nothing if not a sensationally tasty meal.

We noshed on the “Dumpster Dive” vegetable salad to start: a glorious ode to the flavorful skins and ribbons of carrots and apples, celery and pear that usually get slid into the bin. Instead they were served with pistachio, a bright green goddess of a vinaigrette beneath them and a pillow of chickpea water foam; a crunchy, fresh, nuanced beginning. As another amuse, strips of scraped-clean skate wing cartilage fresh out of the frier were served with a tartare sauce of herb ends enriched by smoked whitefish heads. Fried skate wing cartilage, you say? The chef who delivered it urged us to dig in while it was piping hot and he was right. Crispy as a potato chip with no rubberiness to freak out someone with “texture issues,” they hit the spot.

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A mini charcuterie board of cured cuts of “waste-fed pigs” was next, made vibrant by thin slices of pickled “bastard” potatoes (these taters tasted great but had grown in some funky shapes). We piled our slices of copa and headcheese onto melba toast made from yesterday’s oatmeal and added dollops of reject carrot mustard to round it out. (To clarify, there ain’t nothing wrong with the swine that this charcuterie came from, rather, they live off of the cast off whey from an upstate cheese maker, and boy do they live well off of it).

“The worse we are at our jobs, the more you have to enjoy there,” the adorable and extremely informed kitchen director who delivered the rack of black cod to our table remarked (it should be noted that even the tables were constructed specially for this pop up–or rather grown with compostable materials and mycelium). Needless to say, the guys in the kitchen are pros, but perhaps they were a wee bit less meticulous as they broke down the fish for our sake, so that we would have a little extra sweet meat to pull off of the cut and enjoy with carrot top marmalade and a fish skin and parsley vinaigrette.

Our meal was lit by a candle burning in clear liquid labeled “beef.” In fact, it was tallow (rendered animal fat), and was poured into a shallow dish of fresh pepper and herbs for us to soak up with the grainy bread from reject seeds that was offered at our table.

Monkfish wings (which are somewhat terrifying appendages that extend off a monkfish’s fugly head and are usually removed and cast back into the sea immediately by fishermen) were brined in the olive bin, fried and served in a basket with gingham paper and a bottle of fish pepper hot sauce meant to invoke the all American charm of buffalo wings and their requisite Frank’s hot sauce, and while it was certainly strange, one couldn’t ignore how tasty it was or how much meat was on those enormous projections.

Lastly for savory, we indulged in Danny Bowien’s special: a smoked fish skin and peanut heart furikake with chili-pickled ikura, broken rice and sesame leaves, which was delicate with just the right amount of hedonism as those bright red ikura exploded on our tongues.

Truthfully, if it hadn’t been called out ahead that we were feasting on detritus, we would have simply thought we were feasting. Instead of focussing on environmental or population issues–the greater causes for thinking about food in this way, Barber reiterated how much he wanted the meal to be delicious, which it was at every turn. The Blue Hill gang did away with a prix fixe and encourage diners to pick and choose 1 dish from each section for $15 each. The genius of this is that one could return many times in the 18 night series and always have a different meal. Scoring a reservation may not be easy, but it’s walk-in only every evening after 9pm.

Go for the inspiration on how to use, eat and enjoy everything. Go there for the deliciousness, just go. I mean it, get in line already. More details here on Tasting Table.

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212 539 1776

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