Fresh Start to Summer

Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in life and forget the little things that make your eyes sparkle a bit brighter - like the unofficial kickoff of summer.  Memorial Day weekend always signifies a seasonal shift for me and this year didn't disappoint given the wave of heat that has blanketed the city.  Summer has me dreaming of the beach, grilling out, relaxing in the sun with great friends and making the most of a quieter city on the weekends.  Thankfully, I was able to start off the season in good form: a few days in Montauk to lay in the sand and then back to the steamy city to host a few friends for a lazy Monday dinner al fresco.  I admit, it was so lazy and chill that I chose not to take full photos of the meal, so you'll just have to trust me on the menu and the two recipes noted below.  I promise, this sparkler and salad also won't disappoint and may just carry you through a fantastic summer.  Cheers!

Lazy Memorial Day Monday Grill Out

rose` sparkler with thai basil & strawberries

grilled calamari with piment d'esplette and lemon

grilled Long Island scallops with garlic scape-lemon-butter sauce

grass-fed flank steak marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, chili, garlic, ginger & lime juice

"kitchen sink" black rice salad with sugar sneap peas, summer herbs, strawberries, mango and toasted almonds

grilled asparagus with pickled red onions and feta cheese


"Kitchen Sink" Black Rice Salad :: with Snap Peas, Summer Herbs, Mango, Strawberries & More

Serves :: 10


*Black "forbidden" rice is rich in antioxidants, high in fiber and has a nutty flavor.  Look for it in Whole Foods or at  This makes a vibrant gluten-free, aromatic salad that's great for large groups (or small ones).  

2 cups black rice

3 cups water

2 cups sugar snap peas, blanched and chopped

1 small bunch radishes, quartered

1 mango, peeled and diced

1 pint of strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

4 to 5 scallions, chopped

1 to 2 garlic scapes, minced

1 small red chili, minced (if desired)

3/4 cup thai basil, loosely packed and torn

3/4 cup mint, loosely packed and chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

zest and juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons avocado or grapeseed oil

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds





Rinse rice well until it's no longer cloudy.  Place in a medium saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low - just the slightest simmer - cover and cook 35-40 minutes until water has evaporated.  Remove the lid and remove from heat.  Place a towel over the pot and let stand 10-15 minutes to steam.  Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl to cool.  

Add remaining ingredients to rice and lightly toss.  Garnish with extra almonds and lime zest if desired. 

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Life’s Lemons and Asparagus Soup

Sometimes when life gives you lemons, an overflowing bucket full, all you can do is make some soup.  Well, at least that's what I did this week.  This week's gray weather, matched my gray mood perfectly.  I turned to some asparagus and spring herbs to brighten both up and the outcome was a gorgeous emerald green soup that took no time to make and is incredibly light, fresh and full of fiber and antioxidants.  Springtime is all about renewal and rebirth, and that's what I'm focusing on, with soup spoon in hand.  

For the pickled rhubarb-ricotta crostini pictured with the soup, click here for the recipe.

And looking on to the weekend...the Kentucky Derby AND Cinco de Mayo are sure to kick up some trouble in the best way possible.  Stay tuned on Monday for a delightful bourbon cocktail and cocktail nibble featured in the launch of an awesome new lifestyle journal that's going to take online mags by storm!


Asparagus Soup :: with Spring Herbs and Lemon

Serves :: 4


1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped in 2" pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek (about 1 - 1.5 cups sliced)

4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 medium potato, peeled and cut in small chunks

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 tablespoons fresh dill

kosher salt and pepper to taste

mint, dill and minced chives for garnish

lemon slices for garnish


Blanch asparagus spears in boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes, and immediately transfer to an ice bath to retain color.  Set aside. 

In a heavy-bottomed pot, add olive oil and saute leeks over medium heat until translucent  and tender, about 10 minutes. Add in broth, potato, herbs, salt and pepper, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until potato is soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add asparagus back into soup and cook for another 5 minutes.  Using an immersion blender (or transfering soup to a regular blender in batches), puree soup until smooth.  Garnish with additional herbs and one or two lemon slices.  If desired toss in some whole wheat garlic croutons.*

*For quick homemade croutons: Rub 3-4 slices of fresh or day-old bread with the open part of a halved garlic clove.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and cut  into 1" cubes.  Toast in a 375F oven for 5 to 7 minutes until crisp.   

TAGS: spring, rhubarb, asparagus

posted: 05.04.12

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