Lindsay Gardner’s new book, “Why We Cook,” celebrates 112 women in food. The artist and illustrator started exploring the overlaps between the impulses that drew her to both cooking and painting. As she examined the many roles women play and balance in the modern world, Gardner responded by working out a series of questions raised in her studio. Expanding the conversations from her friends to the broader food community, she illustrates the essays, recipes, and interviews collected over two years.
Morel Toast with Charred Ramp Aioli
Morels, readily available in the spring, are heralded as one of the most delicious mushrooms. For me it’s not just because of their taste—woody, meaty, and almost truffle-like—but also because of how these fire or burn morels, as they are commonly called, grow every spring after forest fires raged through the woods the previous summer. It’s the perfect illustration of the earth caring for itself and for us.
- 4 thick slices country bread
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch ramps or scallions
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Sea salt
- 8 ounces morels, roughly chopped
- Freshly chopped herbs, such as chives and/or parsley
- Edible flowers (herb flowers, calendula, borage, marigold, lavender, nasturtium, dandelion, pansy)
-Once the morels have been acquired, it’s time to start the fire. (It seems fitting to prepare these morels over fire.) Drizzle the bread slices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set a grill grate over hot coals, then grill the bread until the edges are charred and the exterior is crisp while the interior stays nice and soft. Set the bread aside.
-Set the ramps on the grill grate and cook until wilted and charred in parts, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and repeat. Set those aside to cool, then roughly chop and stir into the mayonnaise to make the ramp aioli. Add a hefty pinch of sea salt and set aside.
-Set a large cast-iron skillet directly on the hot coals and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the morels and a hefty pinch of sea salt, then sauté, stirring frequently, until the morels are deeply caramelized.