An offer I could not refuse

As you may have noticed, I have been missing in action.

It was not a lack of love on my part, I wanted to share my stories with you and be with you, I did, I promise!

I am however in the final phase of writing my cookbook and that involves cooking and testing the recipes.

Everything I have bought, cooked and eaten has been for the book and since it is Top Secret… well you understand.

Then this week I went to the market with my list of items for the book and I saw them, a beautiful box filled with them… the long-awaited Ail des Ours (ramps). It has been cold here so while my cousin has been feasting on them for a while and I am sure US markets have also had them, we just got our first taste this week.

How could I refuse and not buy some… Impossible.

I decided to have a non-cookbook-dinner and invited a couple of friends for dinner.

On the menu:

As an apéritif: Lentil salad, some olives and a special duck and wild boar dry sausage.

For the first course:

Carrot and basil soup with fresh ricotta mixed with basil and chives

The soup, which I served just barely warm, is just spring onions and basil cooked on super low heat 5 minutes, then carrots 5 minutes then cover with water and cook 10-15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Let cool and add fresh basil and blend until smooth and creamy. The ricotta I simply added a bit of olive oil and chopped basil and chives.

And as a main dish I wanted to showcase the ramps and spring vegetables:

Spring Risotto with Ail des Ours, Asparagus, Fava beans and peas with a basil-chive ricotta.

Ingredients for 4
2 cups of arborio or carnaroli rice
6 cups of vegetable broth (I made mine with onions, thyme, parsley, 2 sage leaves,3 lemon slices, carrot and celery)
1 glass of white wine
1 cup of shelled fresh peas
1 cup of fava beans
2 cups of ramps
1 spring onion
10-12 Asparagus
1 piece of young pecorino cheese
fresh mint, basil and parsley
olive oil salt and pepper

Blanch the peas and fava bean in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes.
Steam the asparagus for about 6-8 minutes
Sauté the spring onion and half the ramps on very low heat (notice my ramps did not have an “scallion head” as they are really the first shoots. If yours do, sauté all the heads and reserve the leaves).
Add the rice and toast on med heat for 2 minutes, add the wine, let it evaporate and then proceed as with all risotto by adding the broth little by little stirring frequently.
When the risotto is half way done (about 8-10 minutes) add the vegetables and the chopped ramp leaves and fresh herbs.
When the rice is cooked (should still have just a touch of al dente) add another ladle of broth, remove from heat and add the grated pecorino cheese and a tbs of olive oil (or a tbs of butter) and mix well.
Plate and top with grated lemon zest and fresh pepper.

It may be a few weeks again before I am back with you but I truly enjoyed this “stolen” meal and the chance to say hi to everyone.

Be well and keep me with you.
Bon appetit,

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