It’s been a crazy few days on the East Coast. I hope that all of you affected by Sandy managed to weather the storm safely. I think I was definitely one of the naysayers who thought she’d be a hyped-up bitch, and overall tease. Not so.
I spent my Saturday afternoon cooking for a kitchit catering event, and in between dishes, constructing a DIY edible Halloween costume to wear to a party later that night. I wanted to go as Bagels and Locks, a pun-y costume I dreamed up years ago but never had the patience to execute. This year, however, since I was going to the market anyway, it ended up being the one thing I was able to shop for and put together using materials entirely from my kitchen (and a few locks from the hardware store). Tin foil skirt? Check. Cooking twine bagel bikini? check. Cheese cloth bustier? Nah, too much.
I spent Sunday on a hangover-induced mandatory lockdown, which meant that by Monday, I was more than stir crazy. Regardless, I hunkered down with the rest of New York and took the day indoors as an opportunity to use up some things in my freezer. I made a huge pot of stock with some leftover chicken bones from the catering event. I ate spaghetti with wayward bolognese for lunch. And for dinner, I decided to whip up a quick miso red curry stew with some random veggies I had lying around. As I added the herbs and went to check on the timer I had set for the rice, that’s when things went dark.
I was immediately relieved I was the type of person who splurged on decorative candles, and ate my curry by candle light with al dente rice. It needed a little lime juice, but I was afraid to open my fridge and let out the cool. Since all my electronics were almost dead, I decided the natural solution would be to cover the stew, go to sleep early, and see what was doing by morning. The answer: nothing.
The weather seemed better, but I had no idea what was going on in the world, so I wrapped my computer in three plastic bags, stuffed it in a backpack, and decided to hike uptown to my parents’ apartment. I’m so lucky to have had family 40 blocks away, and felt even luckier when I ducked into a deli above 34th and found out that all of downtown was in darkness.
The Upper West Side seemed to be in the best shape of the whole Tri-State Area, and my parents’ house soon became a refugee camp for all of my downtown friends. I made lentil soup. We watched the news and charged electronics. And then my dad and I drove down to my apartment on a mission to get some clothes (it was clear I might be staying a while), rescue my stew, and evacuate my fridge.
It feels weird to celebrate Halloween on the eve of so much horror. But I feel incredibly grateful that all of my loved ones are safe, and that, like on Halloween’s past, I’ve gotten to spend so much time with my friends.
I hope some of you will be celebrating tonight. In the spirit of black and orange, and Food Network Fall Fest pepper week, I’m sharing with you cauliflower steaks over a simple and vibrant romesco sauce.
What did you all eat/cook during Sandy? Would love you to share your story in the comments section!
Cauliflower Steaks with Romesco Sauce
Makes 2 servings
If you’re a vegetarian, it’s nice to find a main course that really feel elegant and substantial. These cauliflower steaks are perfect for this type of presentation. At $3 a head, they also put any carnivorous option to shame. You’ll only use the middle part of the head, so make sure to reserve the florets for other uses, like this simple cauliflower soup.
1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup romesco sauce (recipe follows)
1. Trim the leaves off the cauliflower head. Cut the stem slightly so it sits upright on a cutting board. Slice the cauliflower into ½ inch steaks, angling through the core so that the florets hold together.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the cauliflower in an even layer – you may need to do this in more than one batch. Cook until the cauliflower steaks are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
3. To serve, spoon the romesco sauce onto a platter and arrange the cauliflower steaks on top. Season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The Simplest Romesco Sauce
Makes ¾ cup
½ pound roasted red peppers
¼ cup blanched whole almonds
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
¼ – ½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. In a small food processor, pulse the peppers, nuts, and garlic until finely chopped. Add the vinegar and puree.
2. Stream in the olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with the salt and red pepper. Give it one more pulse. Serve or store in the fridge for up to two weeks.