Archive for May, 2012

Spaghetti with ramp pesto, walnuts, and parmigiano

29 May 2012

Coming home from a few lovely days in the country /
The heavy air washes away the weekend breeze /
There’s not much in the kitchen /
Some ramp pesto squirreled away in the freezer /
A few walnuts cracked /
Spaghetti and parmigiano always in the house /
Rosé /
Home. It doesn’t take much.


I was lucky enough to have ramp pesto left in the freezer, but this works perfectly well with traditional basil or any other pesto. I always buy fresh pesto (in the refrigerated section) rather than the jarred long-conservation kind, and store it in the freezer so there is always pesto in the house.

Spaghetti, 100g per person

Ramp pesto, one generous tablespoon per person


Wedge of parmigiano (not grated)


Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil. Coarse sea salt works well for this; the water should be as salty as sea water.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the ramp pesto until it is warm but not hot.

Crack the walnuts.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut the parmigiano into thin shavings .

Once the water boils, carefully slide in the spaghetti. Cook in a heavy boil. Start checking the pasta regularly after about 8 minutes (by carefully taking one out and eating it). Drain quickly in a colander as soon as the pasta is just al dente (or to desired consistency) and return immediately to the pot used for boiling the pasta (one could use another pot but it’s much simpler this way). **It is important not to overdrain the pasta. If it is too dry it will become sticky.** Quickly drizzle generously with good olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick.

Stir in the pesto and combine well. Plate the pasta, add the walnuts and parmigiano on each plate individually. Eat.


Related posts

At the market | Ramps (ramp pesto)

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, mozarella, and basil

Chive blossom vinegar

22 May 2012


It is barely a recipe. Just cut ripe chive blossoms off their stems. Wash them in a bowl of cold water. Spin or lightly squeeze them dry. Fill a jar with the blossoms, about halfway full. Add good white wine vinegar to the top. Within a day or two, the lavender-colored blossoms will have tainted the vinegar raspberry pink. After two weeks, strain the blossoms and pour the vinegar into a bottle for easy use.

I am certain it will be a stunning addition to salad dressings, but that remains a surprise for me, too. In the meantime, the color is justification enough.

I had never flavored oils or vinegars, but I stumbled onto this excellent idea by Food in Jars via Lottie + Doof the other day. It was propitious as my balcony was all abloom with light red roses and these purple chive blossoms. It looked so pretty I couldn’t bring myself to cut them. So I waited as long as I could, until the faintest sign of wilting, before chopping all the blossoms — I’m sure the vinegar won’t mind them past their prime. It is barely a recipe, and such a great idea!

Quick lemon and lime tart

2 May 2012

In my world, lemon pie is a little like roast chicken; having been introduced to the utterly convincing very elaborate version, I had forgotten how quick and easy it can also be.

The herbs-stuffed-under-the-skin-of-the-chicken version of lemon pie is that of the River Café Cookbook Blue. It requires 6 whole eggs plus 9 yolks and half an eternity of patient stirring over a very low fire. It is the mother, grandmother, fairy godmother, and evil aunt of all lemon pies. It should be made at least once in a lifetime.

But if you don’t have 15 eggs or an entire day to spare, there is this recipe, which asks for nothing more than to whisk all the reasonably proportioned ingredients together, pour them into a pre-cooked tart shell, and bake.

This is the child prodigy of lemon pies. Effortless. Very tart, with an unconventional twist of lime. Addictive.


Recipe slightly adapted from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

1 unbaked sweet pie crust

Egg-wash (1 egg and a little milk)

Zest from 2 limes

3/4 cup (200 ml) fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

Zest from 2 lemons

3/4 cup (200 ml) fresh lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)

1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar

8 large eggs

1 1/2 cups (350 ml) heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

With a fork, mix 1 egg with a little milk and egg-wash the uncooked pie crust before baking blind.

Bake the pie crust blind for 10 to 12 minutes minutes. **When baking blind either poke a bunch of small wholes into the crust with a fork, or use dried beans or ceramic baking weights on the crust to prevent it from rising.**

Remove the blind-baked crust from the oven and set aside while making the filling.

Grate the limes and lemons for their zest. Squeeze the limes to obtain 3/4 cup juice and the lemons to obtain 3/4 cup lemon juice.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until the yolks are completely broken up and the mixture becomes very smooth.

Stir in the heavy cream, then the lime and lemon juice.

Place the blind-baked pie crust back onto the oven rack then pour in the filling (this avoids spillage, as the pie will be filled up to the rim).

Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes until it is barely starting to turn golden and still a little wobbly in the middle. It will set as it cools.

Let cool completely before serving.

Fresh strawberries or raspberries would be a great complement to this pie, but just a little unsweetened home-whipped cream goes really well too.


Related posts

Walnut tarte with Chartreuse

Roast chicken with lemon and fennel seeds

Basic | Sweet pie crust

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