This time of year I keep my eye out for ramps, a stunning wild and rare plant with a unique flavor all of its own. Ramps have two green leaves the color of spring green with an oniony stem that turns from green to purple to a creamy white at the bulb and root end. I believe they are as beautiful to look at as it is to eat, but I am a total fan of green and purple foods.
There are countless ways to prepare ramps, but my favorite way is to grill them. When grilled, the harsh garlicky bite turns sweet and compliments the smoky flavor from the grill. If you have never tried them before, grilled ramps are simply delicious and the perfect introduction to their unique onion flavor. All you need are a couple of grilled ramps to pair with your favorite grilled fish, meat or vegetables with a side of potato salad for a memorable spring BBQ feast.
Likewise, grilled ramps make an excellent hors d’oeuvres. Mix them with fresh ricotta cheese and lemon zest then smear it on grilled French bread. The ricotta tones down the sharp bite from the ramps but is makes a creamy garlicky lemon blend that tastes great on grilled toast. Only use fresh ricotta cheese and not the commercial brands. The ricotta flavor of these toasts stand out with the ramps and commercial ricotta just doesn’t sing the way homemade or freshly bought ricotta does. Seared toast with a smear of ricotta cheese and grilled ramps are a crowd-pleasing appetizer at any cocktail party, graduation party, or picnic in the park.
If you want to have a more potent grilled ramp flavor, omit the ricotta just add 1-2 grilled ramps per slice of bread. Chop them up and arrange them decoratively on each slice then add a squeeze of lemon juice right before serving.
Ramps are a member of the Allium family with a harvest season of only three weeks in May/June. The taste is like a cross between garlic cloves, scallions and leeks yet has its own unique garlicky-oniony flavor. Often ramps are referred as wild leeks or spring onions, ramps are neither. They are simply and uniquely ramps.
Because they are rare and only grow in the wild, people get ecstatic when they spot them at the farmer’s market or out in the wild. Like a lot of rare food finds they have a devoted following among chefs, home cooks, and foragers. But their popularity has led to some problems. As I was researching ramps for my post, I learned that ramps are on the protected plant list in Quebec Canada and on the watch list along the eastern continental United States.
The reason for the protection status is because of over harvesting combined with the length of time it takes for ramps to make seeds, germinate seeds and grow mature enough for harvesting. Like a lot of wild plants, it takes several years. Because of the slow germination period, as explained in this article in Epicurious, only 10% of a single crop should get harvested over the course of the season. Unfortunately, as with most trendy wild foods, they are in high demand and command a high price. The higher the price the greedier foragers get and pull up more ramps than the regulated amount and the plant cannot sustain its life cycle.
Eat Ramps Responsibility
Once I learned about ramps protected status in Canada and being on the watch list in the US, I felt very guilty not only for buying them but posting a recipe with ramps as the main focus. I take these concerns very seriously. Yet, I believe if we eat ramps as a special treat and not excessively then the ramp population can sustain itself. It is the consumer’s responsibility to demand responsible behavior from the farmer and not support foragers and markets that do not follow the guidelines for foraging ramps. If we get greedy and take more that is sustainable and buy from individuals not following the rules, there is a strong likelihood ramps will get protected status list as it is in Canada. Hopefully chefs, and especially celebrity chefs, will take action and help protect ramps like they have done in the past.
More Ways to Cook with Ramps
Add fresh ramps as a substitute for chives in Cheese and Chive Herb Bread.
Replace the leeks with chopped and sautéed ramps then add to Leek Asparagus Risotto.
Mince then sauté ramps then add to the Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary.
Use sautéed ramps to replace the garlic in Garlic Bread.
Grilled Ramps, Two Ways
Grilled Ramps are delicious hot of the grill or minced into fresh ricotta cheese and smeared on toasted French bread.
Serve hot grilled ramps with your favorite grilled meat or fish like Arctic char or with other grilled vegetables. Or, mix them up with fresh ricotta cheese, lemon zest and mint then smear on toasted bread for a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Perfect for a cocktail party.
Substitute grilled or braised leeks for the ramps with one clove of roasted garlic.
The toasts are best eaten as soon as they are make or the bead will get soggy and stale.
- 16 ramps
- 1 Tb Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1 pinch of Kosher Salt
Grilled Toast with Grilled Ramps and Ricotta
- 12 slices of French baguette cut thin on the diagonal
- ½ lb. fresh ricotta cheese
- 16 grilled ramps
- Zest from half a lemon
- 5-6 small mint leaves chiffonade
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat your grill, gas or charcoal to up high with the charcoal pushed to one side.
Clean, dry and trim off the root from each ramp. Cut away any soggy parts of the leaves, if any. Place the ramps on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with Kosher salt. Toss the ramps about using your hands to get the olive oil and salt evenly distributed over the ramps.
When your grill is hot, lay the ramps in a single layer over your grill and away from the coals to cook with indirect heat. Turn them over after a couple of minutes and grill the other side until charred and beginning to get soft.
You can also grill ramps indoors with a grill pan on a burner. Depending on the size of your grill pan, you will need to grill the ramps in batches.
Remove from the heat and enjoy hot or make into an appetizer. If serving as a side dish figure on 2 ramps per person.
Crispy Toast with Grilled Ramps and Ricotta
Toast both sides of your bread until browned on your grill or under the broiler. Set aside.
Place the ricotta in a small mixing bowl. Cut the green leaves off the ramps and mince the ramp bulbs . Add them to the ricotta.
Set aside a few, about 3, ramp leaves for garnish. Chop up the remaining leaves and add to the ricotta.
Grate the lemon zest into the ricotta and add the chiffonade mint. Stir everything together and taste. Correct the seasoning with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread a spoonful, about 1 tablespoon, of the ricotta and ramp mixture over each toasted slice of bread. Garnish with thin strips of grilled ramp leaves and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Are you a sweet or savory breakfast person? If you are like me, someone who finds it difficult to choose between the two, frittatas are a wonderful choice and a healthy(ish) alternative to quiche. Because frittatas lack an all butter pastry crust, heavy cream and extra cheese, they are not as rich as quiche, Plus they are much easier to make. What this means is, you can serve up a savory frittata as a main course and include all the pastries or coffee cake you crave. Sweet and savory satisfaction without the guilt, (kind-of). I created this spinach frittata with the dual purpose of making something elegant and savory to serve for breakfast or brunch that also leaves room for something sweet, like The Best Damn Lemon Cake or Apple Muffin with Lemon Glaze.
Spinach Frittata Inspiration
My spinach frittata recipe combines two ideas from my favorite egg dishes. The first idea is from Deborah Madison’s cookbook, In My Kitchen. She adds saffron to her Swiss Chard Flan recipe, giving the custard an exotic floral nuance that I love. Saffron compliments custards and leafy green vegetables nicely, so I decided to use it instead of freshly grated nutmeg for some extra elegance in the frittata. I love saffron and don’t mind spending the extra money to buy it. However, if you rather not use saffron, add some freshly grated nutmeg directly into the egg mixture. Fresh basil or mint provides a brighter and fresher tasting substitution for saffron, and it pairs very nicely with the spinach frittata.
The second idea is the addition of fresh ricotta, whipped smooth and spooned on top of the spinach frittata. The first time I tasted a ricotta topped frittata is when I made Joshua McFadden’s Red Pepper, Potato, Prosciutto Frittata with Ricotta from his cookbook, Six Seasons. The ricotta transformed an ordinary western omelet into a very special occasion. The ricotta gets soft and warm baked with the frittata and you want every bite filled with this light creaminess. I totally got hooked on ricotta topped frittatas and now want to add ricotta cheese to just about everything.
It pays to buy the freshly made ricotta cheese, there is a big difference in taste. Usually you can find good quality ricotta near the deli department at your grocery. Or make a small batch of ricotta cheese. It takes a lot less time than you think and tastes like real milk.
Making a frittata is fairly straight forward and quick. The only challenging part in this recipe is to julienne the leeks. For a change I decided to julienne slice the white and light green parts of the leek instead of cutting them into circles or half-moons. It doesn’t really matter how they are prepared as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and cooked till soft and translucent. The julienned leek disappears into the spinach and eggs but adds lovely sweet onion background flavor.
To julienne the leeks, cut the leek in half lengthwise then clean between the layers. Then cut across the leek dividing it into chunks the size of your desired length, mine where about an inch and a half (3.5 cm). Then slice the portioned leeks, lengthwise in very thin strips, mine were about 1/16-1/8 of an inch (about 2-3 mm). Because you won’t see the leeks you do not have to worry about being precise like you would for julienned carrots in a vegetable sauté, so don’t fret about it.
Check out this video for a live example of how to julienne leeks. In this video he discards the root end of the leek. I do not discard it and julienne cut the root as best I can.
Coming up with a name for this spinach frittata was challenging. With all the special ingredients, it could easily have a name that takes longer to say then it does to cook. Yet the mood of this frittata is all about spring and representing new life and the warming of the earth and air. Fresh farm eggs give the vegetables its foundation with a salty bite of Romano cheese. Young spring spinach and leeks provide a sense of newness to the frittata which in turn is gets grounded from the floral but earthy notes from the stamens of spring crocuses, otherwise known as saffron. Warm, creamy fresh ricotta tie all the flavors together for a sunny “Good morning” greeting. All that goodness is invigorating but not filling leaving plenty of room for pastries or dessert.
Frittatas are delicious for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a light supper. For a spectacular Mother’s Day brunch (or any brunch), serve the spinach frittata with your favorite sides like sausage, bacon, green salad, fruit salad and your favorite pastries.
Ricotta Spinach Frittata
An elegant frittata recipe for the times when you want a special breakfast or brunch that is also easy to make. It is a lighter and healthier substitute for quiche.
- 1 pinch of saffron 1 TB boiling water
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup 24 g finely grated real Romano cheese
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1-2 TB olive oil
- 1 leek about 6 oz (187 g) Pale green and white parts only
- 5 oz 142 g spinach cleaned, and stems removed
- ½ cup 117 g real ricotta cheese
Prepare your ingredients
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6 and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Place a pinch of saffron in a small bowl and add 1 TB of just shy of boiling water to the saffron. Set aside and let the saffron steep.
In a medium size bowl, mix the eggs together with a fork until there are no egg whites visible in the mix. Add the Romano cheese and mix again until combined. Set aside.
Thoroughly clean and julienne slice the white and pale green parts of the leek, about an inch and a half in length and about 1/16 of an inch wide. See blog post for a video demonstration.
In a small bowl, whip the ricotta with a pinch of Kosher salt and a few grounds of black pepper until smooth. A fork works nicely for this job. Set aside.
Place an 8-inch (20cm) skillet, preferably a non-stick skillet with an oven-proof handle, on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Pour in the olive oil and heat up. Add the sliced leeks and turn down the heat to medium then sauté until soft, but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add the prepared spinach, in batches, and cook down until completely wilted and soft, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the saffron and water to the eggs, making sure you get every last drop and all saffron threads, and whisk together with a fork.
Make the Frittata
Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the spinach and leeks. Tilt the pan to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed across the whole skillet. Turn the heat to medium and let the eggs cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes.
Run a thin rubber spatula around the edge of the frittata to loosen the eggs. Pull the eggs toward the center with the spatula creating pockets for uncooked runny eggs to fill up. Repeat this step going around the circumference of the frittata. Continue to gently cook the frittata until there is a thin liquid layer on top of the frittata.
Drop spoonfuls of whipped ricotta cheese around the frittata, about 6-8 spoonfuls. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until it is solid all the way through, about 6 minutes. You may need to place the frittata under the broiler to brown the top. It is not necessary, only if you want browning on the top. If you do, watch the frittata carefully because it should only take a few minutes.
Remove from the oven and run the frittata around the edge of the skillet, then slide the frittata on to a serving plate.
Frittata is best eaten warm the same day it is made.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
What food do you crave on those warm sunny spring days? I crave ice cream, fresh fruit and salads filled with fresh herbs from my garden. One of my favorite combinations is strawberries and basil. The two just compliment each other perfectly. The strawberries taste so bright and fresh and the basil is warm and sunny. After all, what is more enchanting than the classic combination of strawberries and cream? Strawberries, cream and basil, whipped into no-churn ice cream.
Without an ice cream machine, making homemade ice cream is challenging. So, when I discovered Nigella Lawson’s No-churn coffee ice cream recipe last year I was thrilled. At last ,I can make homemade ice cream. I am not sure who came up with the idea first, either Nigella or Martha Stewart, but it doesn’t matter because it is brilliant and now is a universal recipe. No-churn ice cream is so simple and easy to make, even people with ice cream makers will want to make no-churn ice cream.
How to Make Strawberry No-churn Ice Cream
The basic no-churn ice cream recipe is simple with only 3 ingredients, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and flavoring like vanilla or freeze-dried coffee granules. However, if you want fruit flavored no-churn ice cream the fruit must steep in the heavy cream for about 20 minutes. It doesn’t take long for the cream to taste like strawberries, but it does take time for it to chill before you can whip it up into fluffy peaks. Flavoring no-churn ice cream with fresh fruit adds extra time to the overall amount of time to make this ice cream, but it is worth it and essential. The strawberry basil cream, or any fruit flavored cream, won’t whip unless it is completely chilled. This process takes about 3 hours resting in the refrigerator.
Additionally, you must plan for 6 hours to properly set and freeze the no-churn ice cream. This is not a dessert for those spontaneous moments, but your anticipation will be rewarded with homemade ice cream. I did notice the longer, as in days, the no-churn ice cream sat in the freezer to harder the ice cream got. I love the texture within the first 24 hours of making it. It is like a cross between soft serve and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream with it is smooth and creamy texture.
Other than allowing enough time for chilling and freezing, no-churn ice cream is easy to make and tastes just as delicious as churned ice cream. First you whip the heavy cream till fluffy with stiff peaks, then gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk. You do not need more sweetener because the condensed milk is sweet enough for the whole mix. One other area to watch out for is mashing the strawberries too much. The pulp could affect the texture of the ice cream if there is a lot of strawberry pulp in the cream.
Along with 80 plus food bloggers and Instagramers, on April 25th we are celebrating this spring featuring strawberries #strawberriesarethejam for a social media strawberry party. Strawberries are not quite in season here in New York, but they are bursting open in other parts of the US. After this crazy sprinter I am wrapping myself in sunshine by any means possible. This collaboration is made possible by Rebecca Bloom and Ruth Bloom the mother daughter team of Square Meal Round Table. We shared our seasonal recipes and ideas over this past year following their inspiring seasonal selection. Below my recipe is the list of all the participants in the strawberry party. Please check out what other creative food lovers are making with strawberries.
More Strawberry Inspiration on Lemon Thyme and Ginger
Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream
I love how easy it is to get real strawberry flavor into ice cream just by steeping the berries in cream for several minutes. It is a great technique and an easy way to build up more flavor. I love strawberries and basil together. They pair almost as perfectly as strawberries and cream, No-churn ice cream is so easy and is a great alternative if you do not own an ice cream maker. Adding the strawberry flavor takes some time and the cream must be completely chilled before you can whip it. Infuse the cream and chill it the night before, then make the no-churn ice cream the next morning.
Note: Allow for a minimum of 3 hours to chill the strawberry basil infused cream before whipping.
Makes about 40 oz (1 liter 250 ml)
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 lb. (453 g) fresh strawberries, stems removed and rough chopped divided
- 3-6 medium size basil leaves see notes
- 1- 14 oz can (396 g) sweetened condensed milk
Infusing the cream
Pour the heavy cream in a medium non-reactive sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium. Add 10 oz (296 g) of fresh strawberries and the basil leaves to the cream. Mash up the strawberries in the cream with a potato masher. Bring the strawberry cream just to the boiling point. Turn off the heat and let the strawberries and basil steep in the cream for 20 minutes. Taste the cream and add more strawberries if you want more strawberry flavor.
Pour the strawberry basil cream through a fine mesh strainer held over a small bowl. Strain out the strawberries and basil leaves from the cream. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cream is completely chilled, about 3 hours. You can prepare this step the day before you make the ice cream.
Making the no-churn ice cream
Pour the sweetened condensed milk in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Take the chilled cream out of the refrigerator and using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer beat the cream until fluffy and stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-whip the cream.
If adding chopped strawberries into your ice cream, rough chop about 5 strawberries.
Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the bowl with the condensed mile and fold in to loosen it up. Add the remaining whipped cream to the condensed milk and fold in until completely Incorporated. Be careful not to deflate the cream.
Pour the strawberry basil condensed cream into an 8-inch (20 cm) loaf pan or a 2-quart (2 liter) freezer safe container with a tight-fitting lid. If you are adding fresh strawberries to your ice cream, pour about half of the mixture into the container and scatter some chopped strawberries over the top. Add the remaining cream and sprinkle the remaining strawberries. Take a knife or chop sticks and swirl it through the cream mixture.
Smooth out the top and cover the surface with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals. Freeze for 6 hours or until set. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings like chopped pistachios, chocolate sauce, or more strawberries. Or serve in an ice cream cone.
Depending on the size of your basil leaves will depend on how many you need to infuse in the cream. Start with four leaves, then after the cream has steeped for 8 minutes, taste the cream. Adjust the basil with more or less basil leaves if you feel it needs it.
Check out all the great strawberry recipes from all the #strawberriesarethejam participants. All blog posts should be live on April 25th 2018. As this is a collaboration of individuals from around the world the timing could be spotty. If you get a 404 page, try again at a later time. Some of the titles do not have links but you can copy and paste them in your browser. You can follow everyone on Instagram using the #strawberriesarethejam.
Square Meal Round Table’s Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova
The Cooking of Joy’s Strawberry Matcha Cream Cheese Tart
This Healthy Table’s Strawberry Tahini Shortcake
Flours in Your Hair’s Strawberry Milk Donuts
The Wood and Spoon’s Strawberry Icebox Pie
Smart in the Kitchen’s Rustic Strawberry Galette
The Herb and Spoon’s Strawberry-Jam Filled Brioche Donuts
Better with Biscuit’s Straw “berry” Cobbler
My Kitchen Love’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
Sift and Simmer’s Rose Strawberry Hibiscus Mille Crepe Cake
What Great Grandma Ate’s No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars (Paleo, Vegan)
A Modest Feast’s Greek Yogurt With Crispy Quinoa and Roasted Strawberries
Hola Jalapeno’s Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Margarita
Worthy Pause’s Strawberry-Basil Shrub Cocktail
Hot Dishing It Out’s Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jelly
Figs & Flour’s Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Apricot Salsa
Pie Girl Bakes’ Strawberry Ginger Pie
Crumb Top Baking’s Strawberry Chia Jam Oat Bars
The Gourmandise School’s Strawberry Pistachio Salad
Tiny Kitchen Caper’s Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake
Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Ganache
Something New For Dinner’s Watermelon, Tomato and Strawberry Salad with Burrata
A Spicy Perspective’s Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Easy and Delish’s Strawberry Brigadeiros
Plays Well with Butter’s Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, & Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Katherine in Brooklyn’s Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
Sugar Salt Magic’s Strawberry Mousse Tart
The Healthy Sins’ Coconut Flour Crepes Topped with Fresh Strawberries and Coconut Yogurt
Lemon Thyme and Ginger’s Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream
Jessie Sheehan Bakes’ Strawberry Basil Turnovers
Bavette Meat & Provisions’ Pickled Green Strawberries
Rezel Kealoha’s Apple Cider Rose Poached Strawberries with Thyme Flowers
Made from Scratch’s Roasted Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream
Eat Cho Food’s Strawberry Basil Glazed Donuts
What’s Karen Cooking’s Strawberry Eton Mess
More Icing Than Cake’s Strawberry, Balsamic & Black Pepper Babka
What Annie’s Eating’s Vegan Strawberry + Basil Ice Cream
Fufu’s Kitchen’s Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
Flotte Lotte’s Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
Rumbly Tumbly’s Strawberry Scones
Well Seasoned Studio’s Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries
A Small Kitchen in Genoa’s Italian Riviera Strawberries Salad
Maren Ellingboe’s Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream & Strawberries
Cooking with Cocktail Ring’s Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake
Reencontrándome con la Cocina’s Chocolate Meringue with White Chocolate Mousse and Strawberries
Le Petite Eats’ Strawberry Elderflower Ice Cream Sodas
Clean Plate Club’s Mini Strawberry Bundt Cakes with Lemon Glaze
Just Date Syrup’s Strawberry Date Syrup Oat Crumble
Well Fed Soul’s Strawberry Almond Mascarpone Cake
Marianne Cooks’ Strawberry Madeleines
Food Solutions’ Strawberry Soup (Savory and Sweet)
Champagne and Cookies’ Strawberry & Sesame Whole Wheat Pop Tarts with Strawberry Tahini Glaze
Annie Campbell’s Strawberry Pavlova
Blossom to Stem’s Mezcal Lime Strawberry Pavlova
Cosette’s Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcake
Ful-Filled’s Lilac Sugar Strawberry Shortcakes with Greek Yogurt Whipped Cream
Babby Girl Yum’s Strawberry Spinach Almond Salad
An Amazing Appetite’s Vanilla Strawberry Tart
Cocoa and Salt’s Strawberry Pistachio Tart
Frosting and Fettuccine’s Strawberry Basil Layer Cake with Strawberry Simple Syrup
Baking the Goods’ Mini Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes
My Berkeley Kitchen’s Strawberry Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
No More Mr. Nice Pie’s Fresh Strawberry Pie
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.