Posts from June 2013

Ramp Up Monday Dinner, Ramps with Pine Nuts, Raisins and Ricotta from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian

What's for dinner?

No need to scratch your head.

Go vegetarian with this first recipe excerpted from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian (Artisan Books, May 2013) by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark, closest you can get to Brooklyn's eaterie without going there.

Ramps with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Ricotta
Serves 4

Just a few years ago, no one knew what ramps were or how to cook them, but that’s all changed, and now they’re the hottest item at the farmers’ market. I think people get excited about ramps because they symbolize the arrival of spring. You know it’s finally here after a long, dreary winter—ramps are the first burst of green. Plus, the fact that ramps grow wild and can be foraged fascinates people. Years ago, when Andrew and I were living in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, we went for a hike just as the snow was melting, and the woods were filled with ramps. So we went home, got our gloves, and foraged some—it made us feel so resourceful.

Ramps are especially great when roasted; they caramelize beautifully, and the resulting sweetness is such a nice contrast against their pungent, garlicky flavor. That’s how you’ll find them here, on a bed of milky ricotta with raisins, pine nuts, and a touch of chili for heat.

3⁄4 cup fresh ricotta
1⁄4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons moscato vinegar (see Resources, page 357)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
20 thin ramps with leaves (about 3 ounces; see Andrew’s Note)
1⁄4 cup plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 teaspoons toasted pine nuts
1⁄2 teaspoon chili flakes
Four 3⁄4-inch-thick slices country-style bread

19_Ramps with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Ricotta

1. Bundle the ricotta tightly in a piece of cheese-cloth. Place in a sieve set in a small bowl and refrigerate overnight.

2. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the moscato and white wine vinegars. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, unwrap the ricotta and place in a small bowl (discard any water that has collected in the bottom of the bowl). Season with salt and pepper to taste, then use a whisk to whip the ricotta until light and fluffy. Set aside.

4. Trim the hairy roots from the ramps. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the ramps and cook, stirring, until the bottoms are golden and the tops are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook for another minute or so, until soft. Add the raisins, with some vinegar still clinging to them (reserve the remaining vinegar), and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then cool to room temperature. Toss the ramp mixture with the pine nuts, the 4 teaspoons olive oil, reserved raisin vinegar, chili flakes, 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper, and salt to taste.

5. Preheat the broiler. Drizzle one side of the bread slices with olive oil. Toast, oiled side up, until golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.

6. To serve, spread each toast with ricotta. Spoon the ramp mixture on top and drizzle with olive oil.

Andrew’s Note: If your ramps are skinny, you can cook them whole. If they are more mature, you will need to slice the bottoms into small disks and slice the green tops into quarters.

(* Excerpted from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark (Artisan Books). Copyright 2013. Photographs by John von Pamer.)

Spice Up your Fathers Day with Ethiopian Rooted Recipe from The Hot Sauce Cookbook

Spice up your Fathers Day with Ethiopian rooted recipe from The Hot Sauce Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, May 2013) by Robb Walsh.

Doro Wat 

Serves 4

¼ cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

3 cups chopped onions

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger (½-inch piece)

Water (optional)

¼ cup butter

2 tablespoons paprika

1 cup berbere paste (page 115)

¾ cup chicken stock

¼ cup red wine

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Injera bread or hot cooked rice, to serve

Doro wat

Combine the lemon juice and salt in a large, nonreactive mixing bowl and stir until slightly dissolved. Add the chicken thighs, one at a time, dipping both sides of each piece in the marinade to coat. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, purée the onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor or blender. Add a little water, if necessary, to get the blades moving.

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the paprika to color the oil. Stir in the berbere paste and cook for 3 minutes, until heated through. Add the onion mixture 
and sauté until most of the moisture evaporates and the mixture reduces, about 15 minutes.

Pour in the stock and wine, add cayenne to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the lemon juice and discard the marinade. Add the chicken to the pot and cover with sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. Add water, if necessary, to maintain the liquid level.

Add the whole hard-boiled eggs and continue 
to cook until the chicken is very tender, 10 to 
15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve hot 
with injera bread or rice.

Sik Sik Wat: Substitute cubes of beef stew meat for the chicken and cook until tender, which can take up to 45 minutes.

(*Reprinted with permission from The Hot Sauce Cookbook by Robb Walsh, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Food Photography credit: Todd Coleman © 2013)

Dream Beach in Portugal, Praia Piquinia as Seen by Photographer Christian Chaize

Here and there on my ever expanding book shelves you will find a photography book fighting for space with wine and food titles.


A quick glance at Time and Tide, Photographs from Praia Piquinia by Christian Chaize (Chronicle Books, May 2013) sold me. It convenes a sense of peace.


(* Photographs excepted from Time and Tide, Photographs from Praia Piquinia by Christian Chaize, reproduced with permission of Chronicle Books...Top photo August 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm...Second August 7, 2009 at 10:25 am)

Bold and Beautiful Tasting, Celebrating Junmai Sakes at Sakamai, NY, June 20

Not aquainted and eager to learn about Junmai Sakes which event organizer say can be boiterous or gentle or sharp and dry.

The Joy of Sake Ohana is hosting a Junmai Sakes tasting at Sakamai Sake Lounge in New York on June 20, 2013.


Some appetizers will be served:

Renkon Chips, Pork Bun, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings Anchovy Cream Cheese, Uni Crostini, Ahi Poke, Oysters, Southern Fried Chicken Confit Seared Filet Mignon.

Tickets available Online

Tasting Sake for Tokyo Thursdays # 257

It's Pouring Dolcetto in Bordeaux at Vinexpo 2013

My French relatives complain how damp and chilly May has been in France, even in Toulouse.

As a relief, it's pouring Dolcetto in Bordeaux at Vinexpo 2013 (June 16-20).

Image003 (1)

Thanks to Tessa at Clavesana for letting me know.

Too bad I will not be there.

Hope I can make trek to Cortina d'Ampezzo for wine event, a month from now.

(* Full disclosure, i was not paid to mention this)

Finally Serving 'Japanese Farm Food' February Interview with Nancy Singleton Hachisu

I met Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of Japanese Farm Food (Andrews McMeel, Fall 2012) late February at Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg.

We chatted for a short hour.

I have to thank a day with 2 car washes for finally bringing our conversation to this screen.

Q: Nancy, what makes you a “stubbornly” independent foreign bride?

I came to Japan when I was 32. I lived in Belgium for high school abroad program and I also spent a year in Mexico. While in Belgium, I stayed with a family. We were told by AFS High School Abroad program that we had to assimilate. When you come to a country as a visitor you follow local rules. In Japan, I felt like I needed to stay the course by following heart of customs not letter. As a foreign woman who settled in Japan and married a local man, I felt pressure from in-laws and also had to learn how to manage duties from farm life.

Q: Family roots?

Family has strong connections with MIT and Wellesley. My father worked at SRI. We had a Japanese inspired home.

Q: Your husband is an egg farmer, what type of chicken do you use and eggs they produce?

This is a commercial free range egg farm with 2000 to 3000 chicken, Rhode Island Reds. It takes craftsmanship to run which my husband has gathered over 20 years. You can taste difference in eggs depending on what they are fed with.

Q: Before studying at Stanford, you lived in Belgium for a year. Were you itching for a change of scenery even prior to heading for Japan?

Not really, I moved from northern California to southern California, center is my house and farm in Japan. When I travel, I like to go back to same places. I need a sense of place, a community.


Q: Was your English immersion program called ‘Sunny Side Up’ because of your roots as an egg farmer?

In part, mostly because it sounds much better than ‘Nancy’s English Club’.

Q: What is your role in ‘Slow Food Japan’?

We do farm related events. Food creates a sense of community. We show how easy it is to eat local.

Q: Describe recipes featured in your book.

Food in ‘Japanese Farm Food’ is what my family eats. Salads are my favorites.

Q: Can you name couple of must have kitchen tools in your daily cooking?

First, a vegetable knife (carbon steel) light and easy to handle for soft things, second, a grinding bowl and a grinder, good for western dishes and essential for Japanese cooking.

Q: Besides fact that you live on an egg farm, eggs seem present at various times of your life

Yes, in good times as in times of crisis, I think of eggs as the ultimate comfort food.

Q: Dango balls caught my eye in your book, what is their place?

Dango balls are for guests. In farming communities, they are served with soy sauce.

Q: What should be served with tea?

Sweet and savory foods are both present as well as canned coffee and carbonated drinks.
In many homes, food is not always seasonal and less and less homemade

Q: Last, describe region of Japan where you live in a few words.

Region is semi-rural with mostly small towns yet not as pastoral as Vermont

Thanks Nancy for your time!

Dash of Blue Curacao and Blueberry Vodka, Nordic Blueberry Caipiroska recipe from 'Cocktails'

We head north to Scandinavia for third recipe excerpted from Cocktails (H.F Ullman, Spring 2013) by Eliq Maranik.

Nordic Blueberry Caipiroska 

2 oz (60 ml) blueberry vodka

½ oz (15 ml) lemon juice

½ oz (15 ml) simple syrup

1 dash blue curaçao

Fresh blueberries for garnish 

Pour the lemon juice and simple syrup into a tumbler. Fill up the glass with crushed ice mixed with fresh blueberries. Add vodka and stir. Top with a dash of curaçao. Serve with a straw and a cocktail stick. 

You might mistake the sweet blueberry for its relative, the bilberry, which is edible, but has a much more watery, bland flavour. Bilberries are oval and their leaves a darker shade of green, but a bilberry or two could still end up at the bottom of your basket and water down your blueberry pie.

(* Recipe and photo from Cocktails, Fancy and Delicious Recipes for All Tastes by Eliq Maranik- published by H.F. Ullmann, Spring 2013, all rights reserved)

Ghivetch, Romanian Vegetable Casserole from 'The Book of Yogurt' by Sonia Uvezian

Rather than copying and pasting a recipe sent to me by publisher as usually happens, my love of yogurt led me as I have yet to receive any recipe I requested from The Book of Yogurt (Ecco, Paperback Re-Issue, Spring 2013) by Sonia Uvezian to type as I read it this recipe from the Caucasus.

Ghivetch (Romanian Vegetable Casserole)

A fascinating combination of flavors and textures, ghivetch exists in countless variations throughout the Balkans, Middle East, and Caucasus. This version can be served as a vegetarian entree or as an accompaniement to fish, poultry, or meat.

Serves 6

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 head cauliflower, separated into florets

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small unpeeled eggplant, stemmed, hulled, and cubed

4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut up

4 ounces green peas, shelled

1 sweet green or red peper, seeded, deribbed, and thinly sliced

1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cubed

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 stalks celery, finely sliced

1 parsnip, diced (optional)

1/2 cup pitted and sliced greengage or sour plums or 1/2 cup sour grapes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup flinely chopped parsley or fresh dill

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup unflavored yogurt


Arrange the vegetables and plums or grapes in layers in a 3-quart casserole, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley or dill and garlic. Pour the olive oil over all. Cover and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven about 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender, adding a little water if the mixture seems dry.

Serve hot or at room temperature, accompanied with the yogurt.

(* Recipe excerpted from 'The Book of Yogurt' by Sonia Uvezian-published in paperback by Ecco- Spring 2013- original publication: 1999)

Tonic for Party Guests, Sekanjabin, Watermelon, Mint and Cider Vinegar Tonic from 'The New Persian Kitchen'

I was dying to share 'Roasted Stuffed Artichokes with Mint Oil' from The New Persian Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, Spring 2013) by Louisa Shafia instead here's a drink recipe to fill your summer party pitchers.

Watermelon, mint, and cider vinegar tonic

This refreshing mixture of nourishing cider vinegar and juicy watermelon is restorative and hydrating on a hot day. The mixture of vinegar and sugar is a time-honored Persian sharbat, or fruit essence drink, that’s also used for dipping crisp romaine lettuce leaves in warm weather, another distinctly Persian way to hydrate. Just put a bowl of this beverage alongside a plate of romaine leaves and that’s it: your salad is complete! Use raw, unfiltered cider vinegar to complement the taste of the watermelon.

makes 5 cups concentrate,

enough for twenty 1-cup servings of tonic

3 cups water, plus more to serve
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup good-quality honey
6 cups coarsely chopped
1 cup tightly packed fresh
1 cup cider vinegar
Ice cubes
Sliced watermelon, sliced unwaxed cucumber, and spearmint, for garnish

Watermelon tonic

Bring the 3 cups water and the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the honey, stir to dissolve, and remove from the heat.

Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl. Stir in the honey-water and let cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar. Steep the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.

Strain the mixture and eat the watermelon chunks, if desired. Pour the concentrate into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To serve, pour 1/4 cup of the concentrate into a glass over ice and dilute with 3/4 cup water. Garnish with the watermelon, cucumber, and mint.

(* Excerpted from 'The New Persian Kitchen' by Louisa Shafia-published by Ten Speed Press, Spring 2013- Photography by Sara Remington)