Island Cooking

Delights of Spring

• by Leah Mojer •

I don’t know what has possessed me this spring to delve so deep in the DIY methods of food preparation. Maybe it’s the damp cold spring we are having that is keeping me plenty busy indoors or the recent excursion to western mass for the opportunity to forage for wild edibles. Maybe it’s the many springs I spent outdoors as a child observing the tiny purple crocuses straining in the frigid temperatures or the delight it brought to see the first fiddlehead ferns popping through the mud by the brook. Maybe I am just grateful for the rebirth of spring. The way it must start from scratch each and every year! Whatever the reason, I am inspired and welcome the urge to cook, can, make, and forage whenever possible and want to share my current spring cooking obsessions with you.

Ramps are the proverbial canary in the mine for chefs chomping at the bit for springs culinary bounty. They are technically wild leeks, and they are gone almost as soon as they pop up, usually only 8 weeks a year in the spring. When ramps show up on the scene, you can be sure they will be on every seasonal menu from here to Texas. I had the chance to hunt for these garlicky beauties in western mass a couple weeks back with some luck. In keeping with sustainable practices though, I spared the roots and cut just above to let the ramps regenerate for next season, and only took what I could eat in a week or so (my own rule). They are supposedly great pickled but I thought I would try them fresh this time around.

Ramp Pesto

  • 2 handfuls ramps, coarsely chopped,buy at Specialty stores or forage (responsibly!) for your own
  • 1 C Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 C Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
  • water for thinning
  1. In a food processor, blend ramps and add in olive oil gradually. Add Parmesan, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest and blend until smooth. Thin with water until a saucy paste forms.
  2. Boom! You’re done! Add to soups, the pasta you’re about to make, risotto. Just be sure you’re eating with people you love because ramp breath can be formidable!

Carrot Jam

  • 3 Lbs. Organic Carrots, peeled, grated
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Sorghum Syrup (or sub Honey)
  • Water, for simmering
  • 1 T Ground Fennel Seed
  • 1/2 t Chili flakes
  • 1/2 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 T Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 1 Lemon or Orange (or both!)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  1. Melt sugar down in a heavy wide mouthed sauce pan. Stirring occasionally to make sure sugar melts evenly. When melted, add grated carrots and sorghum. Add water just to cover. Let carrots simmer and soften 30 minutes. Add fennel, chili flake, cinnamon and salt. Continue to simmer until soft, adding water if pan gets dry, for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest.
  2. The final jam should be just moist and shiny. Pack into jars and can in a water bath or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Serve with home made ricotta on toast or with spicy indian food!
  3. I was inspired last week to make pasta because of some beautiful Goose Eggs I had bought from a very special farm in Western Mass called Moon in the Pond. The owner Dominic goes on a real deal egg-hunt daily to find these huge gorgeous eggs his free-range geese lay around the property!

Fresh Egg Pasta

  • 4 eggs (or 1 Goose Egg!)
  • 2 C “00” Flour or AP will work in a pinch
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1/4 C Water
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  1. In a large bowl add flour and make a well in the middle. Add eggs, water, oil and salt. Make a wide fingered claw with your dominant hand and in a circular motion, gently “whisk” egg mixture into flour, pressing fingers down into the bottom of the bowl, gradually incorporating flour until the mixture comes together, two minutes. Don’t worry if there are flour remnants in the bottom of the bowl, you don’t want that dry stuff anyway.
  2. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Over your spent bowl, rub fingers together to get most of the dried bits off.
  3. Here’s the fun part! Knead dough, adding flour gradually until your hands become clean and the dough is soft but not at all sticky. Knead for at MINIMUM of 10 minutes, as vigorously as you can muster! The dough is done when you can pull a piece off and stretch thin enough to see light through. If it breaks apart before you can get a good stretch, you’re not done kneading. This is what bakers call the “final finish.”
  4. When your dough is soft, stretchy, and somewhat shiny with a nice deep yellow hue, dust with flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Let it rest 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Use immediately. Any longer and the dough’s delicate flavors will start to subside. I have never attempted to freeze it but I guess why not?

Articles by Date from 2012