We’re going to be out of town this weekend, so we needed to make sure we made use tonight of any produce that might not make it though until Sunday. This category included one nice, big zucchini and a small bunch of delicious, delicious ramps.
Since ramps at the coop clock in at $9.21/lb., we bought a really modest amount (maybe eight ramps) in order not to bust our budget on them. Since we wanted to cook something that really featured the ramps, but we didn’t have that many ramps to feature, I ended up making a little vegetarian appetizer version of a classic southern (and maybe specifically West Virginian?) preparation involving eggs.
The flavor of ramps is generally described as being halfway between scallions and garlic. They are extremely tasty and both the bulbs and the greens will be very tender after very little time in the pan. A lot of thing I read about ramps suggest that people find them very pungent to both nose and mouth. This is crazy talk. Eat ramps now.
A Little Ramps and Eggs
8 ramps, washed
salt and pepper
1. Chop the white bulb ends off of the ramps (excluding any red stem sections, which are bitter), then separately chop the leaves. See the pic at the top of the post for an idea.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, and add the white bits. Cook for a few minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.
3. Add the leafy bits, stirring a bit, until they begin to wilt. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
4. Once the greens are wilted, crack that egg right into the pan and scramble with the ramps.
5. Serve and eat it all up.
Do to the generosity of a co-worker, I came into a tortilla press. This cinched it – I MUST make tortillas. I have a dirty little secret when it comes to things I know that I’ll need, but also know that it is more expensive in the Coop is that I troll supermarket circulars. For the corn tortillas, I knew I needed masa harina and the only version the Coop sells is Bob’s Red Mill (which is great, but I can’t spend $4 on a small bag). So I went online and looked at all of the supermarkets nearby to see if any of them had a sale on masa harina and our Pioneer Supermarket had a huge bag for $2.50! Counting on that on our weekly budget, we were looking to come in at just $30. However, no matter how hard you plan, sometimes people buy up all the masa harina and your stuck with getting a non-sale version. So we’re over budget, by a $1. We managed to also buy more nopales, the masa harina and a can of chipotle peppers. Even so, this bag of masa will last us a long time and make many delicious tortillas.
Back to the real concern – homemade corn tortillas! I used the recipe right off the back of the masa harina package (we used Maseca – their site actually has some amazing looking recipes) and utilized my trusty stand mixer to do the work. As recommended by a number of blogs, I let the dough sit, covered, for about a half an hour. The actual making of the tortillas was a breeze. It helps if you have two people – one to make the tortillas and one to cook them. Phil and I became a well-oiled tortilla making machine at one point. Served warm with a variety of rice, beans, salsa and other toppings, these were amazing and extremely cost effective.
You can make them without a tortilla press (use a heavy cutting board and a flat dish covered with wax paper and then a rolling pin to thin out the dough), but I highly recommend buying one if you see it for cheap – it makes a world of difference.
2 Cups Maseca Corn Masa mix
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/8 Cup Water (plus a little more on the side)
- Mix together all of the ingredients in large bowl using your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Continue kneading until a dough ball forms. If you need to add more water, do so at a teaspoon full at a time. You want the dough to easy come together, but not be sticky.
- Let sit in a covered bowl for about a half hour or so.
- Take a piece of dough and form into a golf ball sized ball (make sure you keep the rest of the dough covered). Place on tortilla press that has both sides covered in wax paper or a heavy ziplock bag. Press into a tortilla.
- Heat up a skillet and cook tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side over medium heat.
- Place in a baking dish covered with tinfoil or a dishcloth and keep covered while you make the rest of the tortillas
This is much easier with two people! One person presses the tortillas and the other can use 2 skillets and keep those babies moving!
Behold! This week’s receipt. We have to add on $1.22 (for the nopales and 2 hero rolls from Pioneer supermarket) and .50 from Chinatown (2 ears of corn). That means, we’ve spent $24.87 so far and will be spending more later today to get more nopales and some masa harina.
After many helpful suggestions regarding our celeriac, we ended up making soup. Not a puree, though those recipes looked great as well, put more of a classic chunky veggie soup. It was delicious, and what with celeriac being so economical, we got another one this week (receipt up soon) and used it right away. Half of it we sliced thin to add some crunch to a veggie burger, the other half we grated in the food processor to make a slaw.
Celeriac and Carrot Slaw
1/2 of a celeriac
1 medium carrot
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Just grate the veggies, put in a big mixing bowl, add in the rest of the ingredients, along with salt, pepper and dill to taste. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Anyway, this vegetable experiment worked out so well that we decided to try another. A friend is coming over for a Mexican dinner tomorrow night and we’ve decided to try cooking nopales. They don’t sell them fresh at our coop, so we went to the supermarket by our apartment. The nopales on offer there seemed a bit limp, and not being sure what we were getting ourselves into, we decided just to buy one (22 cents!) for a test run.
Following advice from this video, Tina de-thorned and sliced it, then scored it, spritzed it with some lime juice, and put it on the grilling skillet and baked it at 425 for about 15 minutes. It turned out tasty as well, so we’ll incorporate it into tomorrow’s dinner (along with homemade tortillas) and post in more detail then.
I somehow decided yesterday that the bunch of rainbow chard sitting in our fridge should be incorporated into a fritter – sort of along the lines of Spanish tortilla – to be served cold alongside some pasta salad for dinner. Upon inspecting the internet, Tina found that chard pancakes are apparently a typical vegetarian Passover dish. This was very fortunate, as we had been wondering exactly what we were going to do with all of our leftover matzoh meal. The recipe I used was based on this one from Epicurious, though my version doesn’t incorporate any cinnamon or allspice. It also seemed more like a “fritter” than a “pancake” to me.
Because it was very hot out yesterday and we were having mint juleps (the first of the season!…whatever season it is right now) with company, we were too lazy to take pictures. It was a beautiful fritter.
1 bunch of chard (4 or 5 large leaves), chiffonaded
1 meduim onion, chopped fine
1 cup matzoh meal (you could definitely also use flour, but might have to change the proportions)
1/2 cup soy milk
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, milk, and matzoh meal into a batter. Throw in a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
2. Throw in the chard and onion, stirring in order to get all the veggies coated. The way I did it, the raw chard has a lot of volume and doesn’t seem to get too thoroughly covered in batter. Despite initial misgivings, this ended up not being a problem for me. However, if you’re looking for a more batter-centric fritter, you might want to increase the proportion of those ingredients.
3. Maybe preheat the oven to 400 (see below).
4. On the stovetop, heat the oil in a medium skillet, making sure to coat the entire bottom surface. Pour the chard mixture into the pan, tamping the leaves down firmly. Cook over medium heat for five to ten mintues – enough so that the bottom of the fritter firms up and begins to brown.
5. This is the potentially difficult part. You need to flip the fritter to brown the other side, but since so much of it is leafy chard, it may not hold together so well. I decided to put the skillet in the oven and let it bake for another ten minutes in order for it firm up throughout before using a plate to flip it over and cook the other side on the stovetop. If you are a skillet ninja, you might be able to flip it as is, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
6. Whether it’s coming from the oven or not, flip the fritter in order to brown the other side.
7. Depending on how much batter you used and whether you put in in the oven prior, you might put the skillet (back) in the oven to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.
8. Cut into wedges and serve, either hot or cold.
I am normally not an advocate of TV, but my friend will be on The Martha Stewart show making her granola today! Tune in if you can or click here to find her recipe on Martha’s website. Neki sells Early Bird Granola at the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays (in Fort Greene) or online here. If you live in NY, come out and buy some!
Because of her generosity, I will also be selling fleur de sel caramels, coconut vegan caramels and toffee at her table, so stop by! If you haven’t been to the Flea already, it is a food lover’s paradise and also has some neat clothing, furniture and knick-knacks. It’s supposed to be 80F, so make sure you wear sunblock!
We made it tonight, without the okra, but with cornflour. I’m putting the recipe below because Bittman tells you the whole wheat version in his video (you should watch it for the reasons Phil stated below), but doesn’t write the recipe out in the article.
olive oil (or any oil or butter you like)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1 1/4 cup water (or up to 1 1/2 cup)
healthy dash of salt
spices that you like (we used a heaping tablespoon or more of garam masala)
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil or butter or vegetable oil over medium low heat in a pan that can go in the oven. If you don’t have one, just heat up the oil in the heated oven in an 8×8 baking dish (or whatever youo have handy).
3. Stir together all of the other ingredients with a whisk to break up clumps. You’re looking for a pancake batter consistency. If you need to add more water, do so.
4. Pour batter in the pan with the heated oil.
5. Place in the oven and cook about 40 minutes or so. Just check on it, if it looks brown and the edges are coming away from the pan, it’s’ done.
The garam masala added a really nice touch. I am very psyched to try the cauliflower/coconut milk version that is in the NYT’s, but I am even more excited to try out different herb combinations, maybe add some cheese at the end or caramelized onions? The possibilities are endless. I bet this would also be awesome underbaked a little and then grilled. Grill time is coming people!
Go here to see Mark Bittman’s most recent Minimalist post, on making flatbread. Witness the following reasons to admire Mark Bittman as the chief foodie at the Paper of Record.
1. The ridiculous opening sequence (notice the sponsor text at the end).
2. “I want them both.”
3. Talks with his mouth full.
We are going to attempt this tonight, but maybe with okra in place of cauliflower? Results upcoming.
A really successful impromptu dinner. And really low on effort – basically just dropped most of the stuff into the rice cooker and quickly sauteed the veggies in a pan.
Sweet and Savory Rice Pilaf with Sauteed Veggies
2 cups brown rice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup dried dates, sliced
2 eggs, hard-boiled
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp ras el hanout
2 tsp mint, chopped
salt and pepper
1. In either a rice cooker or a large saucepan, combine rice and an appropriate amount of water for cooking with dried fruit, the onions, mint, 2 Tbsp ras el hanout, 2 tsp olive oil, a couple pinches of salt, and put on to cook. Keep checking to make sure that there is enough water to get the rice fully cooked – the dried fruit will soak some of it up, so you might have to use more than usual. When it’s almost done, add the cashews.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat a Tbsp or two of olive oil, then sautee the zucchini and red pepper with the remaining Tbsp of ras el hanout, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve the veggies over the rice pilaf with an egg cut in half for each service. Maybe with pita?