We're switching up our regular Link Love coverage this week to introduce you to a blogger whose recipes made us hungry.
Meet Cristina Sciarra, the blogger behind The Roaming Kitchen, whose writing and recipes and photographs (both on her blog and on Food52) are constantly making us hungry. Cristina originally started The Roaming Kitchen in 2011 as a way to document all the things she was inventing in her kitchen; she was "a year out of culinary school and a year into an MFA in Fiction Writing." Here, she tells us a little bit about where she finds inspiration, her love of farmers markets, and what goes into making the Ramp Risotto that caught our eye this week.
The kitchen is where I feel comfortable and in my element. I'm quite a visual person, so I'm inspired by photos in magazines and on Instagram, but even more by what I can see (and touch and smell) at the farmers market. The Saturday market is a bit like church for me—I leave feeling happy, energized, and like all is well with the world.
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This year I was lucky enough to go foraging for ramps with my favorite farmer. It was a lot of work! But at home I was rewarded with the ramp risotto I posted about. I also pickled some of the ramps for future sandwiches, laced them into quiches, and made several Tupperwares' worth of pesto.
Ramps are wild alliums; they have a light, almost sweet, lemon-garlic flavor. They’re special because their growing season is incredibly short, just a few weeks per year, and because they’re one of the first harbingers of spring. But what makes them especially precious is that they cannot be cultivated; they must be foraged. This means that, to harvest them, you must have prior knowledge of a patch where they pop up every year–and you should probably keep it a secret, so it’s not obliterated, and there will be seedlings left to repopulate the next year. This—combined with the physical labor it takes to dig them up—is what allows them to fetch the prices they do.
I wanted to create a recipe that featured ramps, yes, but one that could also be made with a substituted allium, for those who don't have access to ramps. Risotto is one of those technical recipes that—at least I—was intimidated to make before I actually tried. With a little patience, it's such an easy and adaptable way to cook rice. Also, leftovers set you up for arancini, which I fry in a cast iron pan the next night and serve with a big salad. A lot, I play what-to-make-with-these-disparate-ingredients-I-just-bought-at-the-market... Simple things that, with a few tricks, become more than the sum of their parts.