a light rice noodle soup for a summer day (or any day)

a light rice noodle soup for a summer day (or any day)

No surprise here! My heart belongs to any farmers market wherever I go, and since Englewood, Fl doesn’t have one this time of year, I had to make the most of it in Venice, Fl on the only Saturday I’d be around. Which, at first, didn’t sound very promising as I was walking from farmstand to farmstand. Very few vendors (which is okay!). I still managed to nab the last of the blueberries, tomatoes, and happily nabbed apriums, pink-hued garlic, and tiny red onions. Which, btw, sat very pretty in my newest one-of-a-kind whitewashed bowl I found later that day.

But then, on our way to the parking lot, I spotted Maria from Fresh Harvest farm, a wonderful woman I met a year ago at Englewood farmers market with a farmstand I fell in love with. I was pretty much jumping for joy. Now I’m heading back with ubes (purple yams), lemongrass, young luffas, green onions that are a mmmaybe a few feet long, water spinach, and the most insanely beautiful ginger (or galangal!?) I’ve ever tasted. They are floral and delicate and I’m pretty sure it’s not ginger but galangal. Ginger’s cousin.

Who would think to enjoy a bowl of soup on a Florida afternoon? This girl. These ingredients were meant to cook slowly, together, with delicate rice noodles. I was going to top it with slices of Dan’s long hot green chili peppers that traveled with me from Brooklyn, but to make this heartier, I used them to spice up some roasted chickpeas, which is now officially how I’ll always top my rice noodle soups. The crunch is fannnntastic!

Let’s make the chickpeas first.

for the chickpeas
pre heat your oven to 400

-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
-1 small green chili, sliced
-tbs lemon juice
-1/2 tsp grated galangal (optional)
-salt, to taste
-generous drizzle of olive oil

Place everything on a sheet pan, tossing so that the chickpeas or coated. Roast for about 20 minutes, or til the chickpeas have browned and crisped up.

Now for the rice noodle soup

-1 1/2 tbs garlic, 2-3 cloves, minced
-2 tbs galangal (or ginger), peeled and grated, about a couple of inches
-2 green onions, sliced, greens divided from whites
-1 oz dried shitake
-4 cups water
-4 cups veggie or beef stock
-5″ lemongrass, smashed
-about 2 cups trimmed water spinach, or regular spinach (optional)
-bean sprouts, sliced red onion, crispy chickpeas
-4 oz rice noodle, cooked separately, or 1-1 1/2oz per person
-salt and pepper, to taste

In a pot under medium heat, saute garlic, galangal, and the white ends of the green onions for a couple of minutes. You’re reserving the green, sliced tops for serving. Then add your stock, water, shitakes, and lemongrass. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or til mushrooms are fully hydrated. Spoon them out and slice.

Add water spinach as soon as you turn off the heat. At this point, give it a good taste. Feel free to add other flavors, such as soy sauce, chili pastes, fresh lime juice, etc. I kept mine simple and light. Keep in mind that the chickpeas are when an additional spice comes in.

Serve immediately as the chickpeas lose their crispiness over time when sitting in broth. Which shouldn’t be a problem. A bowl of this in front of anyone and it’s gone in minutes.

Next up…what I did with apriums, blueberries, and more galangal. Can’t wait! Right now, I’m just enjoying another bowl as I write up the recipe for the sweets.

Citrus and Z’hug Marinated Manchego

Citrus and Z’hug Marinated Manchego

When Saratoga Olive Oil Company asked me to write recipes for them using their latest products, I said YES, PLEASE AND THANK YOU, knowing full well that I had a million other things on my plate, including moving in exactly two weeks. Thankfully, I had this recipe in mind for awhile and a plate full of marinated cheese ain’t something to be stressed about.


I think you might’ve heard me talk about their olive oil before. But here’s a reminder: five years ago during my first picnic, an incident occurred. To keep the story short, my Canon Rebel had Herbes de Provence olive oil seeping out of it’s pores for 3 months straight. Fun times.

I’d love to tell you that I was real chill about being asked to create these recipes and that I didn’t spend an entire day testing out 5 of them at once, but you know I did. And I enjoyed every minute of it!

The menu was inspired by their blood orange olive oil, cara cara vanilla balsamic vinegar, and their z’hug spice blend that I have been putting on literally everything. It has a few of my favorite spices and a few of my new favorites: cardamom, caraway, cumin, coriander, roasted garlic, parsley, tellicherry pepper, Turkish Marash pepper, lemon and Himalayan pink salt. This blend is amazing, especially for being the dry version of something so fresh and so green.


So, in order to meet a deadline, I stayed true to myself and the first thing on the menu was CHEESE. Marinated cheese. Manchego. The kind of cheese I’d bring to my next party or picnic or next series binge before bed.

This young manchego is marinated in Blood Orange Olive Oil, lightly sweetened with Cara Cara Vanilla Balsamic, and gently spiced with Z’hug. Basically, what cheese lovers should make for other cheese lovers.

*If you don’t have this spice blend on hand, try a combo of cumin, dried herbs, red pepper flakes. Try to use only the white balsamics or honey.*

Citrus and Z’hug Marinated Manchego

-7 oz young Manchego cheese (3 months), broken into small pieces
-1/2 cup Blood Orange Olive Oil (or regular olive oil)
-2 TSP Z’hug seasoning (or your own blend)
-1/2 TSP cumin seeds, toasted
-5 strips of orange zest
-2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
-1 sprig rosemary
-2 TSP SOOC Cara Cara Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar
– drizzle of SOOC Blood Orange Olive Oil (optional)

1. In a small saucepan under medium-low heat, add olive oil, z’hug, cumin, orange peels, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes before adding the rosemary, then continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.

2. Set aside and let cool completely. Add Cara Cara Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar and stir.

3. Pour over cheese, gently tossing to make sure everything is coated.

4. Cover and chill for 12 hours, or up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: Feel free to add a long, fresh drizzle of Blood Orange Olive Oil. You can also try this recipe using other varieties of semi-firm cheese and spices. Serve with bread.


Danny told me he thought it looked like marinated cauliflower for a second. I’m not mad.

my garlic scaped week

my garlic scaped week

I will gladly eat the almost-flowering buds of a hardneck garlic bulb. I would also eat their flowers, but I haven’t seen them in bloom yet.

I saw these wild scapes at the farmers’ market for 2 bucks and needed to have them. They reminded me of the strange curl of my hair, each thick strand curving in a different direction, looping dramatically each morning.

This bunch had about 18 scapes and I put them in every dish I could think of for the week. They are a tad bit less intense than garlic itself, but the garlic flavor is still clearly present.

The first dish was Lemon Scaped Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes.


I filled my cast iron pan with cut scapes, slices of red onion, grape tomatoes, quickly sauteed in olive oil + salt and pepper, then roasted til tomatoes looked ready to pop. I tossed this with thin spaghetti, arugula and spinach, lemon zest and a few squeezes of it’s juice. That’s it. Simple and bright. You can eat it hot or cold.

Next day we BBQed, and my side dish was a pasta tossed in garlic scape pesto with BACON.


That’s right. Crispy bacon took the place of the saltiness of grated parmesan that I did not have. I noticed with my first few posts that I sorta/kinda appear as if I am a vegetarian. Friends, I am not. In my food processor I put peppery arugula, spinach, scapes, fried bacon, walnuts and olive oil, blended well. It was the sort of intensity I was after.

For the rest of the week I added a scape or two to anything I’d normally put garlic in, which is pretty much everything. Soup. Stew. Pot pie (which I’ll write about next week.)

I thought this would be the first and last time I see scapes for the summer, and then I met up with Tory and Jon at the Brooklyn Grange and Tory handed me the last of ’em grown there. Oh, my heart. I happily carried them with me, along with two bulbous candy onions.


Also, on the Grange, we spotted us a beekeeper. Sunflowers. More chickens. More things to photograph. More to love.

Some of my favorite Saturdays have been spent with these two beautiful people.

After the Grange, we walked ourselves to Milkflower and had us a beautiful meal of blistered shishito peppers (my first time!). She warned me about the occasional spicy ones. Like 1 out of 12? Let’s just say I barely tasted our pizza that Tory and I split, (cherrystone clam w/ garlic and fresno chiles) but that squeeze of lemon wedge truly brought out all of it’s flavors for me and what I barely tasted tasted freaking amazing. I’ve never been disappointed eating there with them. And this time? We sat underneath the young grapes.

On my way home, my mom was visiting, and she sent me a text stating, simply, “I’m hungry.” Although I just ate, I was still very eager to use these candy onions and scapes, so I ran home and whipped us up a plate of braised london broil and salad. The onions here live up to their very sweet names, and roasted scapes will always add a much-needed touch.


If you see these loopy green scapes around, please buy them! I see no reason not to. It means no part of garlic goes to waste, not even it’s flowers, and I love everything about that.