Ramp Latkes!

Ramp latkesRamp latkes

🎵 Aaaaat laaaaaast spring has come along🎵 [sung in extremely Etta James voice]. It’s here! It’s finally here! I cannot recall a spring that took so goddamn long to arrive, but it’s finally here. I’m celebrating by soaking up all the sun and eating all the spring fruits and vegetables I can get my hands on. Ramps are very trendy where I live in the Northeastern United States of America and are on just about every restaurant menu in the area. No, I’m not talking about the incline you walk up to enter a building: Ramps are a species of wild onion that have long, smooth leaves and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. In terms of flavor, ramps fall somewhere between chives, leeks, and the green part of scallions. They impart a subtle onion-y flavor to a variety of dishes and scream “SPRING!”, so I thought I’d try them out in my favorite onion and potato dish: lakes! They’re my favorite Hanukkah food and this just might be my new favorite spring dish.

Ramp latkes Ramp latkes

Ramp Latkes

Yields: 12-14 latkes (depending on size)
Prep time: 25 mins

  • 3 pounds potatoes (I used yellow potatoes)
  • ÂĽ pound ramps
  • 1 small onion (about ½ cup chopped)
  • 2 cups matzoh meal
  • â…“ cup cornstarch
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or canola oil

Peel the potatoes then grate them using the shred blade on a food processor or against a box grater. Finely chop the onion. Remove the bulbs on the ramps and slice the leaves into thin ribbons. Combine the onions, potatoes, and ramps with the cornstarch, stir, and set aside for a couple minutes.

Add the matzoh meal, plus several hearty pinches of salt and pepper. Stir well and set the mixture aside for another 10-15 minutes. Magic happens and the whole thing should turn into a sticky batter (not crumbly).

Heat a skillet or shallow pot with oil. Press a small handful of the batter into a hockey puck with your hands. Place the latke in the pan and cook 5 or so minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or ricotta and a sprinkle of finely chopped ramps!

Ramp latkesRamp latkes
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Tahini Rice Krispie Treats

tahini rice krispie treats

I am of the mind that tahini could (and should) be used in pretty much everything. Tahini in my mac and cheese? Done. Tahini on my toast? Yep. Tahini in my cereal? Why not? Tahini as toothpaste? Alright, I’ve gone too far.

I have such a big crush on tahini (So smooth! So nutty!) that I decided to try it in my Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat recipe. I figured that the cloying sweetness of vegan marshmallows would be mellowed (MALLOWED?) out by the earthy, nutty flavor of tahini and I was totally right. [#nailedit]. I added black sesame seeds in for an extra little crunch and sesame flavor.  Ben thought they were ants. YES, BEN. I WENT OUTSIDE AND SCOOPED UP ALL THE ANTS TO PUT IN THE DESSERT. Anyway, these are my new go-to when I have a hankering for Rice Krispie treats (or ants).
tahini rice krispie treats

Tahini Rice Krispie Treats

Makes roughly 24 squares

  • 1 bag of vegan marshmallows (I use Dandies)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds

Melt the vegan margarine and 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the marshmallows are totally melted. Add the tahini and stir until the mixture is smooth and there are no clumps.

In a large bowl, combine the marshmallow mixture, cereal, and sesame seeds and mix well to combine. Press the mixture firmly into a 9×13 pan. Place in the fridge and let set for 15 minutes. Slice into squares and serve.

tahini rice krispie treats
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Kasha Varnishkes

I studied in Russia for a year in college. I have a lot of good stories from that era. There was the time I went to a club called Jesus and a rando picked me up and spun me around the dance floor on his head. There was the semester when my friend Sasha and I taught at an after school program called Galactica at the far end of the subway lineđź’«. There was thee toothless friend I made on a 48-hour train ride to Rostov-Na-Donu who bought me candy and made me balloon animals. Let’s not forget the elderly women who swatted my friend Izzy and me with bundles of dried sticks while we held hands, naked, side by side in a bath house. The time I embarked on a cruise around Lake Onega on a boat called the Karl Marx (and subsequently got locked in my cabin). Or the time my parents came to visit and I lost them in a crowd and thought I’d never see them again. The time I went to the Steppe and couldn’t stop making Ciara puns. Anyway, one of the interesting parts of living there was eating all the food in sight, but also remaining vegan. If you’re familiar with the mayo-drenched nature of Russian cuisine, you might be wondering what I ate. The answer is: A whole fucking lot of grechka.

Grechka (toasted buckwheat) is as common in Russia as white bread is in the United States. It’s served as a side dish at every single restaurant (sometimes with fried onions) and is super cheap to make at home. It was sort of my Russian answer to rice and beans for dinner when you’re totally broke.

Last summer I went to Brighton Beach with my friend Izzy and picked up some grechka (I absolutely lost my shit when I saw it for sale on the sidewalk in Brooklyn). I’d been saving it in my pantry and decided to use my prized grechka in Kasha Varnishkes. This is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish that combines grechka with bowtie noodles. Most of the flavor comes from the grains (super earthy and a bit smoky from the toasting) and ultrasweet caramelized onions.

Kasha Varnishkes

2 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large onions)
½ cup sunflower oil or other cooking oil
Âľ cup grechka (buckwheat groats)
Salt and ground black pepper
½ pound bowtie noodles (farfalle)

Place onions in a large skillet with the cooking oil over medium heat. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes until the onions are brown. Set aside.

Set another, smaller pot on to boil and combine about 2 cups water, the buckwheat, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer until the buckwheat is fluffy, 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.

Place a large pot of water on to boil and cook the bowtie noodles according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and combine in a large bowl with cooked, fluffy buckwheat and caramelized onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a splash more oil if desired. Serve hot.

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Cranberry, Pistachio, Cashew Granola

My aesthetic this holiday season is somewhere between “marshmallow dipped in white chocolate rolled in crushed candy cane” and “snot-encrusted nose dipped in shredded Kleenex.” I’ve been listening to the twee, unadulterated joy of the She & Him Christmas Party album (10/10 would listen on repeat for 18 days straight) and baking away all my problems. The glue in my holiday baking seems to be cranberries and pistachios, if not for their perfect combination of sweet and crunchy, then probably just because they’re red and green. I also got a good deal on them at Stop & Shop.

Granola is a great last-minute gift for the holidays: it honestly takes less than an hour to make, you probably have most of the ingredients on your shelf, and people will think you’re fancy. I know you want people to think you’re fancy.

cranberry pistachio cashew granola dsc_0160 dsc_0169

Cranberry, Pistachio, Cashew Granola

This recipe is adapted from the Do-It-Yourself Cookbook

  • 5 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cashews, loosely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, loosely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325*

In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined. Slowly mix in the rolled oats and cashews and stir until everything is coated in the maple mixture. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then spread the oat mixture across the whole sheet. Firmly press the mixture down with your hands. Bake at 325* for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow the mixture to cool for an hour, then with your hands break it up into clusters. Stir in the chopped pistachios and cranberries. Stir in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

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