Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Handmade spaghetti with ramps

Signs of spring have finally begun to show up in the local grocery stores. The other week, I bought a bunch of English peas at the market, and yesterday, the market had a bunch of ramps.
Ramps with spaghetti is a pretty classic combination, and I think that they go especially well with fresh pasta.
RECIPE (2 servings):
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 bunches of ramps (about 16)
1-2 strips bacon (optional)
red pepper flakes
grated parmesan cheese

Form the flour into a mound and create a well in the middle. Add the eggs to the well along with a pinch of salt. You can also add some pepper at this stage if you like. Beat the eggs, slowly incorporating the flour. Knead the dough for about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep adding flour if the dough feels too wet. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes. After resting, roll out the pasta and cut it to the desired width.

While the pasta is resting, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Rinse the ramps thoroughly, and cut them in half crosswise to separate the leaves from the bulbs. Cut the root ends off of the bulbs and wipe off the outer layer of skin on the bulbs. When the water has reached a rapid boil, blanch the root ends until tender (about 4 to 5 minutes). Remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then let drain in a colander. Blanch the leaves for about 30 seconds, place in an ice bath and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon. When the bacon is crisp, remove and drain on paper towels and then crumble into small bits. Remove any excess fat, leaving 1/2 to 1 tablespoon in the pan.

For the final step, you need to do a couple things really quickly. You don't want to over cook anything, so pay attention to timing here. Make sure the pasta is at a very rapid boil, and add the pasta. Next, add a pinch of red pepper flakes and saute for about 30 seconds over medium high heat. Add the ramps and the crumbled bacon, and saute over high heat for about two minutes, tossing frequently. After the pasta has been cooking for two to three minutes, it will be done. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, then add the cooked pasta to the saute pan, and toss thoroughly along with about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and pepper. Add a bit of pasta water if the mixture looks to dry, and keep tossing the mixture until everything is well incorporated. Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paella meets risotto with beet salad

This dinner was a bit of a pantry raid. I didn't feel like going to the store, but we had some beets, radishes, and guanciale in the fridge and some shrimp and peas in the freezer. I started out thinking I would do a risotto with shrimp and peas, which is something I've made several times before, but then I realized that I had some guanciale in the fridge and a bunch of saffron in the pantry, so I decided to go a different route and make a "paella inspired" risotto. The result actually turned out pretty good.

-3 to 4 oz. guanciale, diced into 0.5 cm squares (you can substitute pancetta or chorizo)
-1/2 white onion, fine dice
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 to 1 tsp saffron
-3 sprigs thyme
-1 cup arborio rice
-1/4 cup grate parmesan
-2 Tbsp creme freche
-1 cup peas
-6 jumbo shrimp, shells off and cut into 4 pieces (or an equivalent amount of smaller shrimp)
-salt, pepper
-1/8 to 1/4 cup white wine

Heat up 4 to 6 cups of chicken stock. Put the thyme sprigs in with the stock so that the cooking liquid becomes infused with the thyme flavor,

In a separate, medium sized pot, heat up a little bit of olive oil over medium high to high heat. Add the guanciale and cook until the fat has rendered and you are left with crispy little bits of guanciale. If the oil begins smoking, turn the heat down. Remove the guanciale and drain on paper towels.

Turn the heat down to medium and pour out any excess fat. You only want about 1 T in the pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. If the onions begin to brown, turn the heat down. After about 5 to 6 minutes, add the saffron and continue to cook for another minute or two. Add the rice and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to coat the rice.

Add the white wine, stirring constantly until the wine is absorbed, then begin adding chicken stock, 1.2 to 1 ladel full at a time. Keep stirring the risotto. After about 15 to 20 minutes, begin checking the rice. Keep adding the liquid and stirring until the risotto is done. You want to get the rice to a point where it still has some bite, but the interior is no longer chalky.

While you are cooking the rice, cook the shrimp. Since shrimp are usually previously frozen, they tend to be waterlogged, so to cook them properly, you will need to cook them in small batches in a screaming hot pan. The shrimp will give off a lot of water, cooling the pan down, and it will be difficult to get them to cook right if the pan is too crowded. You may end up stewing or steaming the shrimp instead of searing them, and they won't taste nearly as good. When the shrimp are nearly cooked, add a small pat of butter. You don't want to add the butter beforehand or it will scorch. Drain the shrimp on paper towels and sprinkle a pinch of salt over them.

Once the risotto is done, stir in the grated parmesan and creme freche. This gives the risotto a nice, creamy finish. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the peas, guanciale, and shrimp. If the risotto is too thick, stir in a bit more stock. The risotto should be runny, and not have enough body to stand up on its own.

The recipe for the beat salad is a bit simpler: roast beats, peel and cube, toss with orange zest, some orange juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Add sliced radishes and pieces of orange. Chill for at least one hour. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I went to an Asian market earlier this week and picked up a couple of dolsot (stone bowls), so I could make some legit bibimbap. Here's a picture of the finished product.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Roasted branzino with lemon and capers, Braised chard with pine nuts and raisins

Few things are easier to make than a roasted fish. For this dish, I just seasoned the fish with salt and pepper, fill the cavity with lemon slices, rosemary, basil, and thyme, place the fish on top of slices of lemon and place another layer of thinly sliced lemon on top, cover with 1/4 cup olive oil, and add another 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white wine to the roasting pan along with some capers and olives, if you have them. Roast the fish at 400F for 20 to 30 minutes, and use the reserved liquid from the roasting pan as a sauce.

Chard is a nice accompaniment to the fish. Start by rinsing the chard and slicing it into strips that are about 1" wide. Saute with olive oil and garlic. Season with salt (I used smoked salt), paprika and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add a splash of white wine and about 1/4 cup of water or broth along with a handful of raisins. Cover and let simmer for around 20 minutes. When the chard is done cooking, garnish it with toasted pine nuts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The last couple of times I've been to Isaacson & Stein, they've had some nice looking corvina, a white fish that is commonly used to make ceviche. So, of course, Abby and I had to try our hand. This picture comes from our second batch of ceviche. The first time around, we just used the corvina, but we added shrimp and scallops to this batch.
-1/2 lb corvina
-1/4 lb shrimp
-1/4 lb scallops
-1 serrano pepper (minced)
-6 limes
-1 lemon
-2 shallots
-1/8 cup chopped cilantro
-1 Tbsp basil (chiffonade)
-2 shinly sliced radishes
-1 green onion, thinly sliced
-salt, pepper
-olive oil

Cut the fish, shrimp, and scallops in cubes (about 1cm). Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut the shallots in half, lengthwise, and then cut into long strips. Toss together the seafood, shallots, serrano pepper, radishes, and green onion. Reserve the zest from one lime and one lemon, squeeze the juice from the lemons and limes and add to the fish mixture along with the zest. Mix together, cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover most of the fish, and check in on the ceviche occasionally to give it a stir. Keep tasting the fish until it has "cooked" to your liking. When it is ready, stir in the basil and cilantro. Season with more salt if necessary, and garnish with olive oil. Serve with corn chips to add some texture.