HERE AND NOW

I miss home. I’m from a suburban Los Angeles community nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. There are amazing Chinese and Mexican restaurants if you drive 5 minutes in any direction — places like Chang’s Garden which serves Shrimp Sauteed with Longjing Tea and Tacos La Bufadora with its Wednesday $1 fish tacos. Of course, I miss my family as well. My parents recently took out the front lawn and planted a drought-resistant native garden. Mom says she is beginning to notice the fragrance — so too are the butterflies.

Living in Philadelphia, I have a tendency to complain about public transportation and state-controlled liquor sales, not to mention winter. (It was long and rough) But my trip to Reading Terminal Market today filled me with gratitude for the bounty of spring, which is not something I experience with such intensity out west. I brought home a bundle of locally foraged ramps (wild leeks) and Morel mushrooms, pale blue eggs, rhubarb, the season’s very last Meyer lemons, and muscat grapes (probably from California). I still miss home, but with market days like today’s, I’m learning to savor the here and now.

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CROSTINI with MORELS & CHIVES

for 3-4 appetizer servings:
1/2 a loaf of rustic table bread
extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp excellent butter
1 large handful of Morels
1/4 cup of finely chopped chives
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place several thick sliced of bread under broiler until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Now gently rinse off the Morels to remove dirt. Dry them. In a separate pan, heat the butter on medium and saute the Morels until fragrant and slightly crispy on the outside. Remove from heat. Brush the mushroom-flavored butter onto the bread. Slice the mushrooms in half and place them on the bread. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chives.

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CROSTINI with RAMPS & RICOTTA 

for 3-4 appetizer servings:
1/2 a loaf of rustic table bread
extra virgin olive oil
a bundle of ramps
1 cup of fresh ricotta
lemon zest
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Brush several thick slices of bread with oil and place under broiler until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Brush dirt off the ramps but there’s no need to wash them. Cut the roots from the ramps and discard. Now chop off the white bulb and white stem. Saute these in olive oil on medium heat until softened. Chop the leaves in half and add them to the pan. Saute until tender, just a few minutes. Spread a spoonful of ricotta over the bread. Place a portion of sauteed ramps on top of the ricotta along with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon zest.

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