Last week, I made it to two book signings for Karen Seiger for her book Markets of New York City.* This is a wonderful resource for the locations and wares of the many markets in the five boroughs. I've known Karen for a few years and had been waiting to get my hands on this book to read it and to see what tidbits she had unearthed during her research for this project. The many markets, flea, food, etc., each with its own personality, are some of my favorite things about this city.
The Greenmarket at Union Square (p. 221) is one of my go-to places for weekly grocery shopping. One of the things I found a few weeks ago at the market were garlic ramps. These were the 'new black' of a few years ago, when they seemed to flood the farmers' markets at the first sign of spring. They showed up on restaurant menus pickled, alongside meat dishes, and in other formats. I've tried to jump on the ramp bandwagon as well, but it has been a challenge.
Aside from cutting the leaves separately from the white bulb and sauteing them each on their own, I haven't really been able to figure out much to do with them. The top and the bottom cook in completely separate ways, with the leafy part being more like an herb and the bulb as sort of a cross between an onion in texture and mild garlic in flavor. So, unfortunately, this week, as I was taking inventory of my crisper drawer, I found a bunch of ramps with withered tops lurking at the bottom of it.
Not wanting to be wasteful, I was stumped for how to salvage the ramps in order to do something at least with the bottoms. Then, I remembered an email that Karen had sent to me while she was wandering through the markets a few weeks back. She alerted me to a stand that was selling ramp butter. Ah, ha! Here's a possibility for these, I thought, and my mind started working as to how this could come together.
One of the vendors I visit each time I'm at the Greenmarket is Ronnybrook Farm. I'm an ardent fan of their products. The people who run the farm are out selling their wares in the freezing, bitter cold of winter and in the sultry, blazing heat of summer. For this project, I decided to use their Salted Sweet Cream Butter. Normally, I go with unsalted butter for my recipes, to control the salt content, but this time I thought I'd see how I did with salted.
So, I finely diced about one and a half tablespoons of the ramps (white part and some of the green stem only), added it to four ounces of the softened butter, and threw in a hefty pinch of freshly-ground white pepper. I wrapped up the seasoned butter in plastic wrap and rolled it into a log. Then it went into the freezer to harden. This way, I can keep it on hand to add to recipes as I need it. I didn't add any other herbs or seasonings so that I have the flexibility to use it with a variety of dishes. Many thanks to Karen for her great idea!
before mixing everything together
ready for the freezer - marked as already salted
*Markets of New York City is available on Amazon.com. You can also follow Karen on her website of the same name, subscribe to her Twitter feed, and become a fan of Markets of New York City on Facebook.