Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wild Ramps

by Kathryn Washburn Breighner

When I commented to Perry that we had done a version of one of his pizzas with wild ramps, he had to look up ramps to find out what I was using. Wild ramps are like a wild leek only smaller, with flatter leaves, and with a garlic taste. They are rampant in the woods--rampant ramps that would be--and with our long, cool, spring (freeze warning tonight and it's almost June), the ramps are just waiting for the picking. Ramps can be found as far south as Mississippi and as far west as Iowa.

Marty came back from the woods with a bag full of morels and a bag of ramps. Not a bad hike! Like an onion, ramps can be pulled from the soil. Last weekend, he brought home about 10 pounds of them. They are not the easiest to clean. When done, we had a huge stack of them and decided to pickle them. After a few hours of work, we had 18 gorgeous jars of pickled ramps on the counter.

This was the earliest canning adventure we've done. We are avid canners and in late summer and fall, we process hundreds of jars of various vegetable products.

I did two versions: one spicy and one dilly. These are the perfect cocktail accompaniment. We have been using the fresh ramps in risotto, sauteed with asparagus, on pizza, and in an amazing cheese grits dish with the morels.

For both canned versions, the ramps should be blanched for 30 seconds and then dropped ice water.

Dilled Wild Ramps

This makes 7 pints. Bring to a simmer:
5 c vinegar
5 c water
1/2 c salt

In the bottom of a pint canning jar, add:
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t dill weed
1 clove garlic

Fill the jar tightly with the ramps, top with the liquid leaving 1/2" at the top of the jar. Process in a hot water bath for 15 min.

Spicy Pickled Ramps

This makes 9 pints. Bring to a simmer:
4 c white vinegar
4 c sugar
4 c water
3 T salt

To each pint jar, add:
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
1 t fennel seeds
1 t peppercorns

Pack the jars tightly with ramps. Top with the liquid leaving 1/2" of space at the top, process in a water bath for 15 min.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pizza Night with Perry

By Perry Washburn

My pizza books have arrived!

Pizza Night with Perry....24 recipes and 22 cooking class secrets in one little book

From the promo material:

"This amazing little pizza book is full of recipes and tips that will surprise and amaze your Pizza Night guests. Unique taste combinations include: Blueberry Portobello, Apple Prosciutto, Green Bean and Goat Cheese, Salmon Mango Rosemary and Perry's signature Maque Choux with Fresh Corn and Andouille Sausage. Born from creating countless Pizza Nights and teaching dozens of cooking classes, Perry brings you savory doughs, tangy and unusual sauces and unexpected toppings. This little book is a gem!"

Price $20 each. If you are out of town, I will ship them for free. If you are near me, I will give you $5 off your next cooking class.

Contact me:, or

You can send me a check (940 Brentwood Circle, Waukee, IA, 50263), or pay through PayPal:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Candied Carrots

by Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This is a dish that I served at Thanksgiving to rave reviews and Jordan has now called home 3 times for the recipe so it's time to blog it:

2 c carrots cut into 1" pieces (or be daring and use sweet potatoes or a blend of both)

Place the carrots in a well seasoned cast iron skillet, toss with:
2 T olive oil
salt, and pepper

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 min.

While the carrots (or orange root vegetables) are baking, make a sauce:

2 T butter
2 T orange zest
1/4 c orange juice
1 1/2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t ground cinnamon

Melt the butter, once it begins to brown add the remaining ingredients and cook for 2 min. until slightly thickened. When the carrots are done, toss with the sauce and serve.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Potato Kielbasa Gratin

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This is today's clean-out-the-fridge dish. Some friends stopped by just as it came out of the oven and it was a hit. Kind of like a frittata, but topped and finished differently.

Saute in a seasoned iron skillet for about 5 minutes:
1 med onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 med potatoes, diced

Add and then saute another 5 minutes:
1/2 lb diced kielbasa

Mix together:
4 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 t cayenne
1 t sweet paprika
2 T diced chives
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the mix over the eggs. Top with seasoned bread crumbs and 1 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven until the top is browned and bubbly, 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Red Bean & Kielbasa Soup

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This soup is super easy and a real winner. This has been a favorite in our house for years and has great flavor while being a snap to make.

1 med onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
1/2 lb kielbasa, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 c chicken stock
1 T cumin
1/4 cayenne
salt pepper

Saute the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes; add the kielbasa and cumin and continuing cooking until the onion is translucent.

Puree the beans in a food processor. Add 1 1/2 c chicken stock to the food processor and process until smooth. Add the puree to the saucepan with the onions and kielbasa along with the remaining 1 1/2 c chicken stock, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.

This makes about 4 cups of soup so double if you have a crowd to feed.

That's it!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cajun Red Beans & Rice

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We have several different version of Red Beans and Rice that we love and this is one of them. Each version is quite a bit different and each has their own unique tastes.

Marty went to the grocery store to get dried red kidney beans and all they had was a bag of organic, very expensive beans. But, oh, are they fabulous. This was something new for me: I didn't realize how different dried red kidney beans can be. We have brought home several different brands of red kidney beans from New Orleans and this Michigan brand tops them all.

This version came from Gourmet Magazine years ago and has been adapted to our tastes.

1/2 lb pound dried light red kidney beans--Honey Boy Bob's Michigan Organic--wow!
1/4 lb chopped salt pork or bacon on Canadian bacon or a mixture of these
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 t dried oregano (I used 1 t fresh from my AeroGarden)
1/4 t dried thyme (ditto from above)
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 lb crumbled fresh pork sausage
1/2 c sliced scallions with greens

Combine beans and salt pork or bacon, cover with 2" of water, bring to a boil for 2 min., then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hr.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in onions, green peppers, garlic, spices and seasonings, and tomato sauce and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add hot water if it gets too dry.

Stir in the sausage and scallions, cover, simmer stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.

Serve on rice. One tip: double this recipe so you have lots of leftovers!