What to do with ramps and morels?
Posted: 13 May 2008 12:27 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi folks,

I bought some wild ramps (an onion relative) at the market today, and some wild morels from a co-worker on Saturday. I think it’s time to make a special dinner…

I’ve never cooked with ramps before, can you use the big green leaf part at the top, or just the scallion-like stems?

We always have chicken for meat dinners because it’s just about the only meat my husband eats. I’m thinking of having a wild rice/brown rice pilaf as well. A salad on the side, garnished with fresh violets out of the garden and yard.

Although I suppose we could have a quiche instead. I have no Swiss cheese on hand, though. Cheddar, colby, provolone, ricotta, feta, parmesan, romano and asiago, yes (hey, we live in Wisconsin, known as a “dairy state”).

Any suggestions for how to combine all this into a tasty dinner?

P.S. I’ll be sure to post some pictures later on!

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Posted: 13 May 2008 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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SOOOO jealous Barbara - fresh morels - yum.

How about a beautiful cheese (prov AND parm!) ramp and morel risotto - perfect with the salad, light dressing, a few glasses of white wine .... *sigh* ... chicken optional as the morels would be the hero of the dish smile

Or… make a pistou (pesto) with the ramp and serve it on roasted chicken breast with a side-dish morel pilaf or poached morels….


Ok… must stop drooling now…. smile

Cheers
Cate

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Posted: 13 May 2008 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Barbara, check out these sites:

http://www.mountain-breeze.com/kitchen/ramps/
http://www.wild-harvest.com/pages/ramp.htm

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Posted: 13 May 2008 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi-

Depending on your time zone, you may already be feasting.

Anyway, my favorite way to eat morels is simmered in cream, a recipe lifted from Elizabeth Schneider’s book “Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide”. Just simmer 2 T of minced shallots in 3/4c light cream with a pinch of salt until soft. Add 1/2 lb carefully cleaned whole or sliced morels to the cream mixture and simmer covered until the mushrooms are tender, about 10-12 min. Season with pepper and (optional, IMO) minced fresh tarragon, chervil, or basil. You can eat this as a decadent side dish, a sauce for chicken, or serve over pasta. A half recipe makes pasta sauce for 1/2 lb of pasta. The book warns not to eat morels raw, BTW.

The ramps I’ve had in restaurants seem to have been blanched (2 min. says Ms. Schneider) then treated as cooked leeks, served with a vinagrette, or cheese sauce, etc.

One way or another, Bon Appetit!

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Posted: 13 May 2008 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oops. I forgot. You blanch the ramps whole, having just trimmed the roots, the papery covering around the base, and any yellowed or damaged leaves.

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Posted: 13 May 2008 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks, everyone, for your great suggestions!

I didn’t have any arborio rice on hand so had to pass on the risotto idea—although I will keep it in mind for future dinners.

I went with a pilaf made with 1/2 c. wild rice and 1 c. long-grain brown rice. Liquid was chicken broth thinned with water—I simmered the “not spoiled but cosmetically challenged” parts of the morels and ramps in it for extra flavor. I chopped and added the stems of the ramps to the pilaf, but I thought the flavor got lost after the long cooking needed for wild and brown rice. Next time (next spring, most likely) I will use minced shallot or onion for the pilaf and use the ramp stems with the morel mushrooms. Seasoned the pilaf with dried thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and a little bit of white wine reduction.

(I got the idea of keeping wine reduction on hand from Cooks’ Illustrated. I buy a big 150 ml bottle of a decent white wine, not too “oaky,” simmer it with a bit of onion, mushroom and parsley, strain out the veges and reduce it down to just 1 cup. Then I store it in the freezer and use a teaspoon or two as needed.)

The morels were already sliced in half. They were pretty clean but did have a few insects lurking here and there, which I discarded! I sauted the morels in butter, set them aside, and deglazed the pan with some more chicken stock. The stock was set aside for cooking the chicken (I set it to simmer on a back burner so it would already be somewhat reduced by the time I used it to cook the chicken breasts).  I later poured the pan reduction sauce from the chicken over the morels. Then they went on top of the pilaf. They were delicious!

I steam-blanched the ramp leaves for 20 seconds, ran cold water over them, drained, and pureed in a blender with olive oil, a touch of salt, and water as needed to thin it down. Flavor was a bit mild for my taste, next time I will try using at least some of them raw & unblanched. They stayed a nice bright green, as you can see!

Chicken breasts were seared in a hot pan, then simmered briefly with chicken stock & white wine reduction. The stock had already been reduced quite a bit on the back burner and needed only a little more reduction to make a good pan sauce. Then I poured it over the morels.

Served with some Praire Fume from Wollersheim Winery. A wonderful wine, but not sold outside of Wisconsin.

As ever, it seemed like a lot of cooking for just a few minutes of eating—but we both enjoyed those few minutes a lot!

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