Let Black-Eyed Peas Bring a Bit of Fortune to You in 2015

Black-Eyed PeasMany people turn up their noses at black-eyed peas, but I am not one of them.  If properly cooked, they add a different and unusual taste to your traditional flavor profile.  While I don’t eat them regularly, I always eat them on January 1, because the tradition goes that it will bring you good fortune.   Sheila has been force-feeding me these legumes since we got married and I can say with some degree of certainty that I have been blessed with having Nurse Ratched’s clone in my life for more than 40 years.

Now many people think that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a southern tradition, but according to the New York Times, this is a tradition that has deep roots in the Middle East.   So, start soaking those peas tonight and look forward to a most prosperous 2015.

For good fortune in the New Year, a plate of black-eyed peas is considered auspicious, especially in the American South. Believe it or don’t. For many, consuming this frugal dish on the first day of the year is said to augur wealth.

Of course, there’s a back story.

Sephardic Jews were evidently eating black-eyed peas for good luck on Rosh Hashana centuries ago, and the custom eventually traveled with them to America. (We think of beans as purely New World, along with tomatoes, chiles and potatoes, but legumes like field peas, chickpeas and lentils have been Old World staples since biblical times.)

Black-eyed peas also arrived in Florida and the Caribbean, carried by African slaves. Just as African seasoning influenced Creole cooking, so black-eyed peas became part of the wider culture.

More Ramps: Ramps with Poached Eggs

bon appetit poached eggsThey say that getting to like ramps is an acquired taste, but for me it was love at first smell. Short of a nice cup of coffee, there is nothing better than the smell or ramps gently sautéing in butter in the kitchen. This delightful recipe for Ramps and Poached Eggs served over toast comes from a recent Bon Appétit.   The recipe is quoted in its entirety below, but just follow the hyperlinks and you can see how they do it on an embedded video:

Poached Eggs on Toast with Ramps

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ramps
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices ½”-thick country-style bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation

  1. Cut dark-green leaves from ramps and slice crosswise 1” thick; slice bulbs and red stems crosswise ¼” thick.
  2. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add bulbs and stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, 5–8 minutes. Add tops and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 2” water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer and add vinegar. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then gently slide egg into water. Repeat with remaining eggs, waiting until whites of eggs in water are opaque before adding the next egg (about 30 seconds apart). Poach until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done.
  4. Toast bread, brush with 2 Tbsp. oil, and season with kosher salt. Spread toasts with goat cheese and top with ramps and eggs. Drizzle with more oil and season with sea salt and pepper.

Editor’s Note:  If you have issues with goat cheese, you can substitute it with something more to your liking, however, the goat cheese is a nice counter-balance to the ramps.  Also, we generally use Ezekiel bread which is lower in carbs and can generally be found in the frozen goods section at most Whole Foods.

Ramps and Gruyere Omelette

rampsI know for sure that Spring has arrived when I am served an omelette with ramps (wild baby leeks) and Gruyere cheese for breakfast.    Now, I have eaten hundreds of omelettes, but springtime ramps make all the difference in the world.  For those unfamiliar with ramps, they grow along the Atlantic seaboard from April through May.  

Generally hand-picked, ramps can generally be purchased in most specialty/organic groceries in the early part of Spring. They have a distinctive taste that is somewhat of a cross between a new onion and a mild garlic.  Found below is a rather ancient recipe from the New York Times for a ramps and Gruyère omelette.

Ramps and Gruyère Omelette

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 4 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs of butter
  • 1/2 cup of chopped ramps
  • 1 ounce Gruyère, grated

Preparation

  • Crack the eggs into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and beat lightly with a fork
  • Heat an omelette pan over medium heat and add the butter.
  • When the butter begins to sizzle add the chopped ramps and cook for 30 seconds or so until softened.
  • Pour the eggs into the pan and gently incorporate the ramps
  • As the eggs begin to set, tilt the pan and and lift the edges of the omelette to allow any of the uncooked egg to settle to the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook for another minute or so and sprinkle the grated Gruyère over the omelette
  • With a spatula, fold the omelette into thirds and tip the omelette onto a platter seam-side down
  • Serve immediately

Great way to kick off spring with this delicious omelette