a spot of summer

better than a dozen roses any ol' day

A few years ago, my husband found a clump of thorny, wayward vines along the south side of our house. One trellis, a bit of twine, and a few years later, I have a wall of roses. Not to mention a seemingly endless supply of rose buds, petals, and hips to use in the kitchen.

With summer temps finally reaching into the 90s, I don’t want to stand in front of a burner for more than five minutes, ten tops. These pan fried noodles have been hitting the spot.

Hong Kong in my kitchen

Hong Kong style noodles

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Hong Kong noodles are the perfect combination of crispy/tender, and are usually made with a particular style of Chinese egg (+flour) noodle, if memory serves. A lifelong eschew-er of all things egg (and wheat free by necessity), I took a walk on the wild side and started making this dish with fresh rice noodles, which can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and probably your big box store of choice. They will look like ramen or spaghetti noodles, only fresh! – not dried. The package will say something along the lines of “boil water, add noodles, simmer for 1-2 minutes.” For this recipe, though, you’ll skip that step. If your skillet is hot and your vegetables are plenty, the heat and moisture will be more than enough to steam the inside and crisp the outside of your noodles. The vegetables listed below are what I most often have on hand, but really I just throw in two to three handfuls of whatever vegetables need to be used from the crisper, and whatever greens I have on hand. Mushrooms, red onion, and chard make for a great combination. Corn cut fresh off the cob and basil or shiso leaves would be nice too, I think. And feel free to add a protein – I was out of both tofu and tempeh the night I took this picture. When I do add it, I give it a quick sear and then remove it from the pan before adding the vegetables, to keep it from re-absorbing any liquid.

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1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/4 onion, sliced into half moons
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 handful (~3 oz) fresh rice noodles
splash of toasted sesame oil
splash of tamari

season to taste with salt, pepper, more tamari, chili sauce

Bring a cast iron skillet to medium/high heat. Just before it starts smoking, add the bell pepper and onion. The vegetables should be losing enough liquid that you don’t need to add oil; if they start sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. As soon as the vegetables begin to caramelize, push them to the sides of the pan and add the rice noodles to the center. Add a few drops of sesame oil and tamari, and toss the noodles to coat. Spread the noodles into a layer in the center of the pan and allow to cook for two or three minutes, until crisp on the bottom. Turn the noodles over and continue to cook. Once they are crisped on both sides, add the spinach and toss everything in the pan until the greens are just starting to wilt. Turn off the heat and season to taste.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Two things

One: a picture of Daisy, the hen Nina sponsors at the Refuge. When I was visiting a couple of days ago, she couldn’t wait to rush over and give me a smooch.

daisy kisses

Two: a favorite way to eat chickpeas. Because sometimes a big mess of gooey, savory-sweet chickpeas is all it takes to make me happy. Especially served over sticky rice.

2014-08-02 14.26.13

Teriyaki chickpeas

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This recipe is adapted from a teriyaki sauce my friend Kevin Archer made for one of our cooking classes. Truth be told, I often have a giant jar of this hanging out in the fridge for drizzling into stir fries or dipping spring rolls, it’s that good. If you want to do the same thing, just quadruple the recipe; it should keep for a couple of weeks. I use an enamel-coated cast iron skillet when making these chickpeas. If you’ve ever had to scrape something sticky out of a regular cast iron skillet and then re-season it, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

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1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
splash rice vinegar
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can), drained

Dissolve the cornstarch, adding an additional tablespoon of water if necessary. Whisk in everything else except the chickpeas. Warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the drained chickpeas, then the teriyaki mixture. Toss to coat. Simmer until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally to keep the chickpeas from sticking.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes