The Most Delicious Ramp Butter

Ramp Butter

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. We’ve adapted the recipe below to use only the ramp leaves, and you’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors.

“Ahem,” [Taps mic, looks around nervously]. “It all started around ’98. ’99. It was like they were giving it away, you know? We just thought, ‘hey, these are pretty good!’. We didn’t understand. We didn’t know what would happen.” [Squares shoulders, takes deep breath]. “My name is Emily, and I am addicted to ramps.”

This is me at the farmer’s market during ramp season:

I feel a tiny bit bad about evangelizing a vegetable that can be very hard to find but this was just too good not to share. Making ramp butter, along with pickling, is one of the best ways to preserve ramps so you can enjoy them all year round.

Ramps (wild garlic)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ramps, I’m going to shamelessly cut and paste the description from our last ramp post, Brown Butter Ramps and Oyster Mushrooms on Ricotta Crostini;

Your basic ramp, Allium tricoccum, is a North American species of wild onion that grow across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. (The European/Asian variety is allium ursinum.) I know that doesn’t sound very exciting but they have a unique oniony-garlicky flavor that, if you like that kind of thing, is really fantastic. They are also notoriously difficult to cultivate and their growing season is very short, so they are a true delicacy. That means crazy people (me), will travel far and wide to find them, so if you’re lucky enough to have them in your region, don’t expect to saunter over to the farmer’s market at noon and expect to find any left (because I got there at 7 and bought them all).

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Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

A simple orzo salad with tasty colorful summer produce of zucchini and tomatoes, tossed with olives and feta cheese. Delicious and healthy!

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

Happy July 4th! Of course, this blog post is pre-recorded, so you’re probably reading this on July 6th, (or August 23rd if you’ve just got around to cleaning out your spam folder. Not judging!), but as we write this, it is a wonderfully sunny and warm July 4th, and we’re all sitting in the garden, grilling burgers and drinking beers – the sound of laughter and ball games percolates across the neighborhood, fireworks are starting down by the Hudson River and … Okay, I can’t keep this up, it’s pissing down, it’s been storming heavily for two days straight, the garden is basically flooded, and the only people enjoying a ball game are the German World Cup team. We’re sitting in our living room eating dry crackers and watching a Star Trek: Next Generation marathon (in between World Cup matches, of course). We downloaded a firework app on our iPad. Wheeeee. Look, that one’s in the shape of a hot dog. Happy now? Are you? Are you happy? *Sobs*

Tomorrow (yesterday for you) will be (was) sunny and warm, so fireworks, grilling, drinking and general merriment has been postponed a day. But here’s the thing. Some dishes are better prepared the day before, and left to marinade for a day. And, lucky us, this orzo salad is one of them.
Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

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Pickled Ramps

Pickled Ramps

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. If you have your own private ramp patch with bounty to spare, feel free to use the bulbs, as we did in this recipe.

Yeah, yeah. I know ramp season is over but I made these a while ago and they were so good I decided to blog them anyway. When it comes to ramps, it’s really the green leaves that are incredibly perishable so every once in a while, you can find just the bulbs for sale long after you stop finding the leaves. But what to do with them?

You may have guessed that I’m fond of making pickles. What’s that? Oh, that’s just Matt running in to the room holding a jar of brined pencils, screaming “Obsessed! You’re obsessed”.  Fine. Yes. I’ll admit it. I love pickled red onions, radishes, cucumbers, even grapes.

So it should come as no surprise that when I found the last batch of ramp bulbs hidden away in a overlooked corner of our local market, I immediately decided to preserve them in a delicious, sweet/tart brine.

You can use these pickled ramps anywhere you would use pickled onions (on sandwiches, tacos, bean dishes, etc). I also really love them sliced up in this Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Olives and Feta.

Pickled Ramps

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Grilled Swordfish, Fresh Tomato Relish and Sautéed Ramps

We make grilled swordfish as soon as the weather is warm enough to fire the grill up – we use a quick marinade and serve it up with tomatoes and ramps.

Grilled Swordfish, Fresh Tomato Relish and Sautéed Ramps

I’m going to set a little scene for you. Ready?

It’s a warm, early summer evening and after days of torrential, flooding rains, the sky finally clears and you can see a million stars. You can smell the damp earth and the new leaves on the trees. You can hear the frogs that have just woken up from their winter-long sleep. You pull up to the lovely, perfect little restaurant where you’ve reserved a table, excited because you’ve heard great things about it and also because it’s been a long, hard winter and you haven’t gone out in what feels like forever. You hold your husband’s hand as you walk to the entryway, listening to a stream gurgling in the distance that you can’t see because it’s the country and it’s dark. You walk in and the place is adorable and there’s a seasonal cocktail menu written on the chalkboard above the bar and then they seat you at a table RIGHT NEXT TO PETER FRIGGIN DINKLAGE.

Yup. In the car on the way to the restaurant, Matt and I talked about how there was no Game of Thrones on Sunday because of Memorial Day and then they seat us right next to Tyrion Lannister himself. How tempted was I to say the waitress “Bring us bread, two of those little fish, and some bacon burned black?”  Very. But I restrained myself. Just barely.

Oh, and they also had grilled ramps. So, yeah. It was a good night.

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Spinach, Cheddar and Egg Breakfast Tarts

Spinach, Cheddar and Egg Breakfast Tarts

Baked Egg Breakfast Tarts: Buttery, puff pastry tarts filled with everything we love at brunch; creamy spinach, bacon, cheddar cheese and eggs. This is a real breakfast special. 

Well, I don’t know about you but so far my spring has been…less than stellar. Not to bore you with the details but I’ve been pretty much out of commission for the last few weeks with shingles. If you’ve ever had them, you know that the majority of your day is spent sitting stock-still so absolutely nothing touches you (when what you really want to do is raise your fists up to the sky and scream “Why God, why!” at the top of your lungs). I’ll just say that if, next time (please, please let there not be a next time), I’m given a choice between wearing a helmet of bees and having shingles again, I’m going with the bees.

This is my long-winded explanation for the lack of posts recently, because honestly, cooking and photographing were just not happening around the ol’ Clifton place of late.

But the weather has turned warm and I’m not writhing in pain anymore so, for my triumphant come-back, I wanted to post something really special.

The idea for some kind of spinach-y, cheese-y and egg-y tart or pie had been kicking around my noodle for awhile and over the weekend I realized we had all the ingredients I thought would work on hand so I decided to give it a whirl.

I’m calling it a “breakfast tart” because of the bacon and egg components but we had them for dinner (and then for lunch the next day) and they were perfect. They’re really easy to make and would be great for a brunch party. You could easily customize them for the crowd (no bacon on one, mushrooms on another, etc).

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Ramp and Fontina Biscuits


I know ramps are a little out of season by now (their season is crazy short) but these biscuits were really good so I wanted to post the recipe. Ramps are also irritatingly trendy right now but even though it’s such a jerk move to say so, I’m going to declare it anyway: I’ve been obsessed with ramps for years. Starting around 1995, I used to go to the Union Square Green Market when it was pretty much the only one in town and I would try to get whatever was just in season, whether I was familiar with it or not. In very early Spring, that meant asparagus, fiddlehead ferns (which I just never got a taste for), and ramps.

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