Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Springtime Food - Lamb, Ramps, Peppery Cress......

I thought I'd get out ahead of the curve and share some amazing food with you all for Easter. Ahem... right... I can say that I most certainly tested and cooked and photographed all of this in advance of said date - with you all in mind - but that numerous projects took over my days and effectively pushed the frolic and fun I so wanted to share, back...

This really isn't an excuse, but more a plea that you'll still love what I have to share, even though the story depicts tales now démodé. The saving grace is that it is still spring, and that you'll easily find all of these yummy ingredients at the market should you be driven to make any of the recipes! And I think you will.

They are that good.

Each is worth making alone, as something special to impress your sweetheart, or to eat with friends over for dinner. They are worth the effort - which thankfully in most cases - is minimal. Which leaves you free to deal with all of your other projects, ahem. ;)

Please enjoy and let me know what you think! I would love to hear your adventures with these recipes and any tweaks you've made along the way. Bon appétit...

Caramelized Onion & Potato Gratin
Serves 6-8
9 yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly on a mandolin
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
7 or so sprigs of fresh thyme
butter for baking dish
olive oil for sauteeing
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Butter the baking dish and set aside. Sauté the onions and shallots together in a good glug of olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent and aromatic (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and add cream, stir to combine. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Layer the potatoes like shingles as you go, topping with the onion-cream mixture and then a scatter of grated cheese to cover. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Repeat fanning the potato slices for each layer, choosing a pattern which pleases you. Add the sprinkling of cayenne and nutmeg to a layer - I chose the middle of the three - and finish with the shingled potatoes on top. Press down to compact the layers and add the thyme sprigs and a final dash of s & p. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes. Check to see that it evenly browns and turn if necessary, baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until cooked through and golden on top.

Rack of Lamb Persillade - adapted from the fabulous Ina Garten
Serves 3-4
1 good-sized rack of lamb, frenched 
1 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic, halved
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp lemon zest
good olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
a good knob of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F). Place the rack in a roasting pan, fat-side up. Rub with olive oil and season with s & p. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the bread crumbs and lemon zest, and process again until combined. Remove lamb from oven and pat parsley mixture onto the meat. Drizzle melted butter over and return to oven, roasting for an additionl 15 minutes (for rare-medium rare). Take the lamb out of the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice into chops, and serve.

Shallot-Mint Sauce
1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
1 shallot, peeled and trimmed
1 cup good olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
pinch sea salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined. Resulting flavor should be zingy and bright. Taste, and season to adjust if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate extra. Serve on lamb chops (above), or steaks. Delicious as a dressing for rustic slaws.  Also great as dipping sauce for chips and flatbreads. Keep refrigerated. Good for up to 1 month.

Asparagus & Ramps with Hard-boiled Quail Eggs
Serves 6-8
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
1 bunch ramps, cleaned and trimmed - you can also use spring onions if ramps are difficult to find
9 quail eggs
good olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

for the dressing
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
sea salt
1 pinch red chili flakes

Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Meanwhile, sauté asparagus in olive oil over medium heat. Alternate covering, and searing uncovered, turning often, to achieve nicely cooked, yet bright green stalks - about 7 minutes. Add the ramps and brown for a minute or so, until they wilt. As water boils, add the quails' eggs in batches and simmer for a few minutes - no more than 4 minutes total each. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and immediately place in a bowl of cool water. Set aside. To make the dressing, whisk together all ingredients and season to taste. Adjust as necessary. Place the asparagus and ramps on a platter. Peel the quail eggs and slice lengthwise, dispersing them around the veggies. Spoon dressing over, reserving extra for the table. Can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature. 

Whoo! If you are at all drooling now that would be appropriate. Seriously, I'd love to hear your adventures with any of the recipes. :)

In other news, art director Jenny Barnes has made a gallery of my work here. She curates collections by artists and photographers around the world, all of them quite accomplished. I feel honored to be in such company. Thanks, Jenny!

News just confirmed - I will be teaching a workshop on food styling and photography, this October, with the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics! I'm over the moon with this.....to be able to share my knowledge and perspective with budding bloggers and photographers?? It really doesn't get any better! Look for me at the 2012 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, in Philadelphia. More on that soon....

And lastly, remember that there are three short days left to vote for my blog for Best Single Food Photo over at Saveur. Thank you all very much who have already registered your support and told your friends and loved ones! Even having placed as a finalist - after the editors at Saveur reviewed close to 40,000 submissions - is a wonderful accomplishment.  I hope you adore my work as much as I love creating it! Until soon. :-)


  1. Lamb, oh delicious lamb, you are my favorite spring indulgence. Great recipe, lovely photos!

  2. That rack of lamb looks incredible! And the potatoes...yum! Your photographs are stunning xo

  3. Such a beautiful herald of your springtime... lamb, asparagus and all good things.

  4. I do a caramelized onion gratin too and even though it takes so long to get those onions just perfect the flavor in the end is worth it. I love the little quail eggs on the asparagus. So wonderfully spring. Thanks for sharing it all (even though Easter has passed...no problem)!!

  5. the potato gratin looks fabulous! though, I'm a huge fan of ramps, even though I cannot find them here! I made a ramp pasto last year in London, it was delicious! I wold love to try it in your dish with asparagus and quail eggs, yes!