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.

manchego7001851930432340915.jpeg

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.

20190221_170533336086101907972770.jpg

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.

received_9837406318167546045437195469892997.jpeg

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

Indian-Spiced Roast Chicken

Indian-Spiced Roast Chicken

When winter comes, I crave the warm, heart-reaching spices. Garam masala is made with my mortar and pestle. The bright reds of cayenne, chili, and paprikas are used more often to paint every dish. Pinches of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg in almost everything, from home-cooked meals to all baked goods. This isn’t to say I don’t welcome them during the warmer months; I do. This is to say I celebrate the hell out of them when trees loosen up and we find ourselves bundled up, head-to-toe.

IMG_20180104_122328_093

When we spent our first cold and snow-filled week at New Paltz, we ate plenty. But when we ordered take-out from their one-and-only Indian restaurant, Dan and I ate, like, well, animals, according to his father. It was a feast of chicken tikka masala, masoor dal, chana dal, chicken and vegetable biryani, meat and potato samosas, naan, sauces–one a very bright green which reminded me of pandan, something Tory and I discovered while eating Kaya Toast. This feast was everything we NEEDED, and some. It was the best we’ve ever tasted, too.

When we returned to the city, I have not stopped using the spices that filled us that night. I’ve made masoor dal (as usual), Orange Cardamom Crumb muffins, chana dal, and this Indian-spiced roasted chicken. Once in my dutch oven on a bed of scalloped potatoes, and again in an aluminum roasting pan.

IMG_9266

In truth, I was never a fan of the colder months til I fell in love with these spices, especially what they can do when they find themselves together as a rub, marinade, or in soups, stews, pilafs, and baked goods. For this roast chicken, I, unsurprisingly, made a marinade using the juice of an orange and it’s zest. My brother said to me yesterday, “whenever you use an orange in your cooking, it’s damn good.” I use an orange in almost all my cooking these days, so that’s a major compliment coming from someone who has given me a total of 3 within the last 20-something years. Thanks, Bruh.

img_8981.jpg

Marinade for 3.5-4 pound chicken:

1 sm orange, juice & zest
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, paste or grated
1 inch ginger, paste or grated
2 tsp garam masala, preferably homemade
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder, or cayenne/Hungarian paprika
cinnamon, couple of pinches
salt, to taste

Combine all in a small bowl, whisk marinade thoroughly. Clean chicken, pat dry. Generously salt your chicken inside and out. Rub marinade under skin, in cavity, as well as all over. Refrigerate in a sealed container overnight or up to 24 hours. Day of roasting, oil your dutch oven or roasting pan. Heat oven to 375. Depending on your seasoning/heat tolerance, I sprinkle some more chili powder and garam masala before putting it in. Cover tightly and leave covered for 1 hour. Uncover for next 20-30 minutes, til crisp.

Everyone’s got their favorite way to roast a chicken. Sometimes I like to begin with it roasting breast-side down, then flip it over after about 30 minutes. Sometimes I leave it uncovered at all times. But I am currently in love with my dutch oven. It kept mine very tender, and soaked the potatoes in its spicy goodness.

IMG_9278

Next roast, I’ll use similar spices but create the marinade out of yogurt, which is more traditional to Indian cooking, and usually how I go about making Butter Chicken. On the top of my list of recipes to test out is Chicken Biryani. I have a feeling it’s going to be a favorite of ours.

 

Thai-inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

A Healing Soup for Jen

All soups are meant to heal, but this one’s for my sister-in-law who has saved me one tiny bowl each time I’ve made big pots of it. I’d receive a text from her while at work that’d say, “Sorry. Don’t hate me.” She had a sore throat all week long and this was the only thing that was soothing to her. How could I be mad? When I was not feeling myself for a good week, she was the one who made us dinner each night. I sent her a text giving her all my thanks and told her I’d get right back in the kitchen very soon.

img_96342037416707737148800.jpg

Jen and I are spice maniacs. She introduced me to Valentina hot sauce and I now put that on (almost) everything. That is, when I’m not using sriracha, which this soup has plenty of. There’s heat, acidity from limes (which may be her favorite thing about this soup) and a silky broth of chicken stock and coconut milk which just happens to be the perfect recipe for curing any cold. Don’t forget the ginger!

img_9609-18656610373475126322.jpg

I first came across this recipe from Brooklyn Homemaker and made some changes according to Jen, and according to what I had around/in stores. String beans because her mother once made us Mole de Olla, a red soup that I fell head-over-heels in love with–it had ears of corn, whole string beans, and oxtail. It’s red heat had superpowers. I have every intention of standing right by that woman’s side the next time she makes it so I can take some notes.

I’ve also added fresh turmeric for it’s golden color and also because it’s my favorite thing ever these days. Use powder if you have that instead.

Thai-inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

img_96206243866321812624090.jpg

2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 large breast or 2 meaty thighs
1 small onion, cut in half then thinly sliced (optional)
3 carrots, thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 inch knob of ginger, minced
1/2 inch fresh turmeric (grated) or 1/4 tspn powder
2 1/2 cup string beans, cut into thirds
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 limes, juiced (or more! or less)
4 tspn sriracha (or more! or less)
6 oz angel hair (or rice noodle)
cilantro
scallions
salt n pepper to taste

I usually salt my chicken the night before but day of is fine as well.

Lightly sear the chicken about 3-4 minutes on both sides then set aside. Saute your garlic, ginger, and onion with the turmeric. A minute later, add your carrots, stirring everything together. Pour your stock over everything and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove chicken and wait about 5-8 minutes before dicing or shredding them. Add coconut milk, sriracha, lime juice into the pot. Taste often at this point til the flavors and heat are just right for you. Add your string beans and pasta about 10 minutes before you turn your pot off. (Or add your noodles separately.) Stir in the chicken. When your soup is done, light it up with all the green garnishes you want.

VARIATIONS

When I FIRST tested out this soup, it was during a visit from Jess. She gave me a hand with it and I ended up throwing in a leftover baked potato from the night before. I also like to add oregano. Sometimes jalapenos. Play around with this recipe because even a leftover potato tastes amazing in it. Big thanks to Brooklyn Homemaker for the inspiration. His Loaded Mac-n-Cheese is also a favorite of Jens!

img_9624202672786488879502.jpg

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.

DSC_3305

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.

DSC_3316

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.

IMG_6931

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.

IMG_6952

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.