It’s been a really trying week for New Yorkers, especially those in the food and restaurant community whose businesses were shuttered. There were some amazing stories from downtown restaurants like Tertulia and The Spotted Pig who, lead by their fearless chefs Seamus Mullen and April Bloomfield, managed to maintain service with prep cooks wearing headlamps and bars covered in candles.
Power came back on downtown Friday night, and I spent the weekend trying to give back to local businesses and the community as best I could. On Saturday, I joined together with some of my high school and college friends to volunteer at City Harvest, a fabulous organization that is dedicated to rescuing food waste from local restaurants and grocers, and reallocating it to New York’s hungry. We spent the day packing various pantry goods into into individual bags so they could be distributed to Red Hook residents. It was a really fun and rewarding way to spend the day, so I urge any of you in the area to contact City Harvest if you’re looking for ways to pitch in.
If you’d like to donate your cooking skills, kitchen surfing has been organizing meal service in Far Rockaway, where people were hit especially hard. The devastation is mind blowing. Through Kitchit‘s chef network, I’ve also heard that Salsa Caterers is making a total of 20,000 meals for hurricane relief this week. They have been given donations by Goya and could really use people with or without kitchen skills to help out. If you’re interested, please call Salsa Caterers directly at 718-716-2020 and let them know if you can join them in The Bronx for prep.
As for what’s on the menu here today, this Spanish spinach and chickpea stew is one of my favorite tapas from when I traveled in Spain. I wrote up my recipe for it years ago in the early stages of Big Girls, Small Kitchen. But I didn’t get it quite right. One of the silver linings of the storm was that it allowed me to catch up on my magazine reading. Bon Appetit had Jose Andres’ version of this dish, and while I usually never follow a recipe start-to-finish, I put myself completely in his hands for this one. The result was absolutely delicious, and just how I remember it. I made a few tweaks here and there, but nothing major. It’s a great hardy vegetarian main course, and if you’re not gluten-free, crusty bread is a must.
Wishing all of you, in the tri-state area and beyond, a week full of much more light than the last. And I hope those of you who are able to will do your own small part to help the area rebuild, whether it’s with your knives, by donating a few spare cans from your pantry, or simply by buying yourself dinner at one of the restaurants affected. Dana Cowin pledged via twitter to donate $2 to City Harvest if you tweet her a photo of a paid bill from a restaurant between 39th Street and Battery Park City in Manhattan today or tomorrow. Use the hashtag #dineoutNYC. Even Andrew Carmellini took her up on it.
Many x’s and o’s.
Spanish Spinach and Chickpea Stew
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat. Saute half the garlic cloves until beginning to turn golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Add spinach to pot. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted but still bright green, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Wipe out pot.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over medium heat. Add onion and the remaining garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, 3–4 minutes. Add cumin and paprika. Saute until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to caramelize and chickpeas begin to brown, 8–10 minutes.
Add 3 cups of broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, occasionally mashing some chickpeas with the back of a spoon or a potato masher, until sauce is thickened, 15–20 minutes. Fold in spinach and simmer for flavors to meld, adding more broth by 1/4-cupfuls if too thick, 8–10 minutes.
Pour oil into a large heavy skillet to a depth of 1/8" (about 1/4 cup) and set it over high heat. Follow these directions to fry the eggs, two at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining 2 eggs.
Spoon chickpea stew into bowls and top each with a fried egg. Serve with crusty bread and a good Spanish wine, white or red.