I'm writing to you from up in Maine where the warmer seasons unfold a little slower than they do down in the city. This means I'm getting to enjoy peak spring in full swing all over again. What a treat.
I'm also getting to celebrate mother's day in my mom's cabin. I only wish she could be here too, walking on Popham Beach with me, foraging for goodies, and cooking up a storm with Billie Holiday playing in the background.
She would love all of the beautiful ingredients that are showing up in markets, gardens and forests. This weekend I've been lucky enough to find ramps, fiddleheads, asparagus and rhubarb. I've also brought along some morels we had left over from work (a really nice perk!).
So far I've cooked the asparagus with soft-scrambled eggs, fresh cream, and chives, grilled the fiddleheads on a cedar plank, and coaxed the rhubarb into an oat crisp. I cooked the rhubarb crisp on the grill, too. (I love to cook with fire up here, even more so since I can't in the city.)
The recipe I'd like to share with you today is one I made up to showcase the ramps, morels and gorgeous eggs with deep orange yolks I got from Sparrow Farm.
First, I pickled the ramp bulbs to add a zippy note to the dish and to preserve the extra bulbs since ramp season is so fleeting (just a few weeks).
Next, I sauteed the morels and ramp leaves in butter, then spooned them into tiny cast iron skillets. I cracked an egg on top, splashed a spoonful of fresh cream, then popped them in the oven.
A sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a few slices of pickled ramps are all I needed to finish the dish. I served it with a big green salad and slices of toasted porridge bread from Hootenanny Bread (such a great name for a bakery).
Just a quick note: Don't worry if you can't find morels or ramps. This dish would be just as lovely with any kind of mushrooms you have on hand, and spinach in lieu of ramps. You might try pickling some shallots, too.
Happy mother's day to all of the mothers out there, those who are with us and those who are not.
Baked eggs with ramps and morels
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
1/4 pound ramps, bulbs and leaves separated (substitute spinach and shallots)
1/4 pound morel mushrooms (substitute other mushrooms)
4 tablespoons cream
Salt and pepper
Slice the ramp bulbs into coins and quick pickle them for about an hour. For a good basic pickling liquid, see here.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 4 individual cast-iron skillets with butter. (Ramekins would work well, too.) Place the skillets or ramekins onto a baking sheet.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the morels and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ramps and cook until wilted, a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the morel-ramp mixture among the skillets, reserving a few morels and ramps for finishing the dish. Crack an egg into each skillet. Splash a tablespoon of cream to each.
Bake until the whites are just set, but the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes. Scatter the remaining morels and ramps. Sprinkle with some pickled ramp bulbs and salt and pepper. Serve hot with toast and a green salad.