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happyrampmonday
A walk in our woods today very pleasantly revealed that these ramps...



which we dug up from friends' woods last spring, which is overrun with them, and attempted to transplant to our woods...have successfully made it through this relentless winter and have become these ramps...



having successfully taken root and are now growing for us here!

If you haven't seen them already, ramps will be out in all their garlicy-oniony-wild leeky glory at the farmers' markets and on menu specials very shortly.  Here's a piece I did on them just a year ago, with a lot more rampalicious information.  And here are two recipes to start the drool:

Spicy-Tart Pickled Ramps

Ramp and Potato Tortilla


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Market Watch: Watermelon Radish
 



At the Union Square Greenmarket, this past Saturday in Manhattan, I came across giant, stunning Watermelon Radishes.  A relative of the Daikon, it is also called Chinese Red Meat, Beauty Heart, and Rose Heart.  This is one of the most mild radishes (which, incidentally was the one food I wouldn't touch as a child), with just a slight peppery bite, along with some sweetness and a lot of crunch.  But the colors are the real standout here.  Off white to lime green on the outside, giving way to brilliant magenta, flecked with tie-dye-reminiscent streaks of white when cut open.  Jaw droppingly beautiful on the plate.

We have somewhat successfully grown these in our garden the last two summers, but have never had them get quite so big.  From some further research I have learned that this variety of radish actually does the best when planted in cooler weather, growing through the winter--which most likely accounts for its sweetness.  The ones I found this weekend were nearly four inches in diameter, and about six inches long.  But ours at home, grown over the summer in much warmer months, did get to be about twice the size of a golf ball, and still as gorgeous.

Due to their unimposing flavor, these can be added to a large variety of dishes, particularly when you want an impressive pop of color.  Slice them thin and add to a salad, cut into matchsticks for an extra hue on a crudite plate, lightly pickle to finish off an asian noodle dish, or my favorite, a slice of crusty baguette slathered with really good butter, topped with radish slices and a sprinkling of crunch sea salt.

This heirloom radish has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years and is much easier to find as a result.  Keep an eye out for the next few weeks at your farmer's markets, or grow some yourself this summer.



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Spicy-Tart Pickled Ramp Recipe


This past weekend friends who live near us upstate, on an area overrun with ramps, graciously invited us over for our second annual swap of all-we-can-pick ramps for a pick-up truck full of our "like gold" sheep manure for their garden. (So very cutting-edge-hipster-locavore.   Then again, poop for weeds...)

After a very muddy morning, we brought home two substantial garbage bags of ramps with their roots and soil intact, to transplant to our woods, and a very generous shopping bag of loose ramps to cook and eat.   I got to work on a big batch of these slightly hot, slightly sweet, bright and tangy pickled ramps that night.  I am now addicted, and looking forward to ice cold pickled ramp martinis later this summer.  Oh, and picked ramps also go brilliantly with fish and roasted meats, on sandwiches, or alongside cheeses and charcuterie.


SPICY-TART PICKLED RAMPS

by Catie

2 large bunches of cleaned ramps, stalks only, trimmed of greens (about 2-3 cups, loosely packed) (Save greens for scrambled eggs.)

Kosher salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp peppercorns, white, green, or black, or combination
2 1/2" piece of ginger root, cut in 1/2" pieces
1 dried thai chili, about 2" long, seeds removed for less spice
1 bay leaf

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready nearby. Blanch ramps in salted water for about 30 seconds, and then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. This will preserve some of the ramps' color. Dry and transfer to a quart sized jar.

In a non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, sugar, water, ginger, chili, bay leaf, and spices. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over blanched ramps.

Cool, cover and refrigerate. Ramps will be sufficiently pickled in about 3 days, and will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. If you'd like to preserve them longer, process in a canning water bath to seal jar.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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