Wild, Wild Ramps

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Wild, Wild Ramps! “We have become foragers!”, my daughter-in-law proudly proclaimed as they walked through the front door. My son extended his hands with a large bouquet of wild ramps, as though they were a dozen long stem roses. “You can eat the tender bulbs as well as the leafy greens!”, they said in unison. Imagine my surprise. Little did I know that every Spring, foodies as well as seasoned chefs embark on a quest to unearth this subterranean gem known as Wild Ramps. What I learned that day is that ramps are simply wild leeks. Their flavor mimics garlic and onion. The fleshy leaves are a savory delight when sautéed in olive oil and butter. I promptly washed and trimmed the precious globular buds before serving them with breakfast. How unexpectedly delicious! It was only later, while traveling, I discovered their value at a farm-to-table restaurant when the waiter boastfully announced Wild Ramps on the menu. My smile said it all.

WILD, WILD RAMPS

1 large bunch wild ramps, skins discarded, washed, and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Using an iron skillet, warm butter and olive oil over medium heat. Swirl 3-4 minutes until slightly browned and nutty. Do not burn. Add the wild ramps. Sauté until pieces are slightly charred and leaves are crispy, turning occasionally. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup! Just hearing the word “soup” during the summer months can make someone rolls their eyes enough to make people pay no attention to what is being said. But hear me out. Let me remind you that the silky consistency of melted ice cream actually brings out the flavor more than its frozen counterpart. Right? Well, “vichyssoise” is a French word for velvety smooth potato and leek soup, usually served chilled. When eaten slightly cold, the sheer creaminess is truly divine. Leeks are mild fancy onions, so if you prefer to use yellow sweet onions, permission granted. Personally, for this recipe, I went all out and used both. I also chose Yukon potatoes for their sweet flavor and moist flesh making them fluffy in texture. Make sense? Obviously you can make modifications to suit your palate. Be creative and send me your thoughts.

VICHYSSOISE COLD CREAMIER SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; green and white parts only

2 Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

14 ounces chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the yellow onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the leeks and sauté 5 minutes longer until soft. Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Carefully transfer small batches of soup to a blender. Purée until smooth. Repeat process until no lumps remain. Pour the smooth texture back into the saucepan. Heat to medium. Add light cream and stir. Soup will thicken within 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and then chill for one hour before serving. Pour into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve.

Leeks and Ham Gnocchi

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Leeks and Ham Gnocchi! Leeks are nothing more than giant green onions. They add a mild onion-like taste to any dish and seem to be more flavorful when cooked. By combining them with gnocchi and ham, the leeks turn these little dumplings into a gourmet Mac ‘n Cheese alternative that is pleasing to the palate. The biggest challenge lies in preparing leeks for eating. After all, like an onion or shallot, they have a small bulb and a long stalk of green tightly-wrapped leaves. First I trimmed the tops and cut off the roots. Then I found that when filling the sink with water and submerging them, what little dirt that collected near the leaves fell to the bottom. Once rinsed, they were easy to slice and fun to separate the rings. Use what you need and freeze the rest for soups, casseroles, or other dishes later on. Isn’t it fun to try new things?

LEEKS AND HAM GNOCCHI

Ingredients:

1 leek, sliced into rings

1 cup chopped ham

1 16-ounce package gnocchi

8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded

1 1/4 cups light cream

3 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 slices Hawaiian bread, torn

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Grease lightly 3 individual casserole dishes. In a medium bowl, combine ham, gnocchi, and Havarti cheese. Divide evenly between casseroles. Whisk together light cream, flour, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper until smooth and flour is dissolved. Pour over gnocchi, dividing equally. In a bowl, place bread and leeks. Pour melted butter over all to coat. Gently toss. Sprinkle over gnocchi casseroles. Bake 35 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.

Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing! With the holiday season on the horizon, here’s a tasty side dish that is sure to please. If you have the time, I suggest substituting homemade breadcrumbs (which is about one loaf of day-old bread) for the stuffing mix. I split the difference and added homemade croutons on top of the casserole.

LEEKS AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces shiitake wild

mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

6 ounce box chicken stuffing

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a covered casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the wild mushrooms and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Using the same pan, add one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté leeks and celery until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth, butter, and parsley flakes. Bring to a boil. Stir in contents of stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Fold in wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Stir until well combined. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes; remove lid and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Ramen Noodle Shrimp and Egg

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Ramen Noodle Shrimp and Egg! So often, in college, a regular diet may consist of ramen noodles in lieu of the standardized meal plan. I remember buying ramen noodles by the case for my son during his freshman and sophomore years. Sure, it stretches the budget for other essentials, but in the long run if you can ditch the salt-laden seasoning packet and add a few veggies, it’ll hike the nutritional value with a burst of flavor as well. Try sautéed shrimp and leeks. (Frozen vegetables are also a cheap option because a little goes a long way.) Add red pepper flakes for spice and toasted sesame seeds for crunch. It transforms the dish into a main course meal.

RAMEN NOODLE SHRIMP AND EGG

Ingredients:

6-10 frozen precooked jumbo shrimp, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1/2 cup leeks, sliced

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 package ramen noodles, discard seasoning packet

2 eggs, soft-boiled and cut in half

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Sesame oil, to taste

Garlic and onion chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add jumbo shrimp. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Turn to coat both sides. Sauté shrimp 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Warm one more tablespoon olive oil in skillet. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, and sliced leeks. Stir for one minute. Add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add ramen noodles. Using a fork, break noodles apart after 2 minutes. When done, transfer noodles to two soup bowls. Divide the broth mixture between them. Add sautéed shrimp and sift-boiled eggs. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with garlic and onion chives. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing! With the holiday season on the horizon, here’s a tasty side dish that is sure to please. If you have the time, I suggest substituting homemade breadcrumbs (which is about one loaf of day-old bread) for the stuffing mix. I split the difference and added homemade croutons on top of the casserole.

LEEKS AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces shiitake wild

mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

6 ounce box chicken stuffing

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a covered casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the wild mushrooms and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Using the same pan, add one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté leeks and celery until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth, butter, and parsley flakes. Bring to a boil. Stir in contents of stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Fold in wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Stir until well combined. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes; remove lid and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Leeks and Wild Mushroom Stuffing! With the holiday season on the horizon, here’s a tasty side dish that is sure to please. If you have the time, I suggest substituting homemade breadcrumbs (which is about one loaf of day-old bread) for the stuffing mix. I split the difference and added homemade croutons on top of the casserole. 
LEEKS AND WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING 
Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 ounces shiitake wild 

mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

6 ounce box chicken stuffing 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a covered casserole dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the wild mushrooms and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Using the same pan, add one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté leeks and celery until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth, butter, and parsley flakes. Bring to a boil. Stir in contents of stuffing mix. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Fold in wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Stir until well combined. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes; remove lid and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve warm. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Leeks and Ham Gnocchi! Leeks are nothing more than giant green onions. They add a mild onion-like taste to any dish and seem to be more flavorful when cooked. By combining them with gnocchi and ham, the leeks turn these little dumplings into a gourmet Mac ‘n Cheese alternative that is pleasing to the palate. The biggest challenge lies in preparing leeks for eating. After all, like an onion or shallot, they have a small bulb and a long stalk of green tightly-wrapped leaves. First I trimmed the tops and cut off the roots. Then I found that when filling the sink with water and submerging them, what little dirt that collected near the leaves fell to the bottom. Once rinsed, they were easy to slice and fun to separate the rings. Use what you need and freeze the rest for soups, casseroles, or other dishes later on. Isn’t it fun to try new things?
LEEKS AND HAM GNOCCHI 
Ingredients:

1 leek, sliced into rings

1 cup chopped ham

1 16-ounce package gnocchi 

8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded

1 1/4 cups light cream

3 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 slices Hawaiian bread, torn

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Fresh chives, for garnish 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Grease lightly 3 individual casserole dishes. In a medium bowl, combine ham, gnocchi, and Havarti cheese. Divide evenly between casseroles. Whisk together light cream, flour, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper until smooth and flour is dissolved. Pour over gnocchi, dividing equally. In a bowl, place bread and leeks. Pour melted butter over all to coat. Gently toss. Sprinkle over gnocchi casseroles. Bake 35 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.