This is the first time in over a year that I've let so much time lapse between posts. And I don't have the excuse of having been without power due the destructive storm innocently called Sandy. I was prepared for her arrival - she just never really demonstrated much force here in the upper Hudson Valley . I remember a summer lightening and hail storm that did more damage than she did. So how did I prepare? I cooked up a BIG pot of kale and mustard greens. Actually, simply sauteed the leaves, ripped off their ribs, in olive oil with garlic, and hot peppers and finished with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I knew that these cooked greens would last days longer than fresh greens and would serve as a backdrop to versatile preparations. A poached egg on the greens, for that matter an omelet with greens( and grated any kind of melting cheese), or chopped hard cooked eggs with greens would make rather tasty meals. Fully aware that if the power had gone out that the first thing in the freezer to thaw would be the sausage so I preempted the possibility and made a potful of pasta e fagioli - pasta and beans (I actually used chick peas) with bits of grilled sausage tossed into the mix - the potful of starch and protein - cooked with an inch of its life would surely have lasted a few days - unrefrigerated. And gotten tastier as each passed and the flavors of the ingredients absorbed each other.
Another freezer package that I knew would not have survived 12 hours without electricity were those plump strawberries from Blue Star that I froze in June with hopes to let them defrost on New Year's Eve in order for them to accompany a first bite of panettone on New Year's Day (the Italians believe - among many other things - that a first-of-the-year morsel of the classic sweet bread augers well for the upcoming year). Instead, I let them thaw and cooked them for a few minutes with light brown sugar and cinnamon. I made pancakes - nothing special - just Bisquick pancakes - Yikes! you say? Yep, from time to time I use a classic convenient food. Pancakes with June strawberry sauce - for dinner. Very satisfying. And of course, a strawberry - banana smoothie makes for an excellent breakfast.
Not finished yet. There was a big old cauliflower staring at me through its bag. Something had to be done with it. So I made soup:
. Cut the cauliflower into florets, placed them on a parchment paper -covered baking sheet with sliced red onions, sprigs of fresh thyme and some red pepper flakes. Tossed everything with olive oil and roasted them at 350 degrees F. until the cauliflower and onions were nicely browned - about 30 minutes.
. Added the cauliflower, onions and thyme leaves (removed from their stems) to a large saucepan and covered it with about a quart and 1/4 chicken broth. Simmered the soup until the vegetables were soft. When it seemed that the vegetables were about 2/3 of the way finished I added maybe 1/4 cup crumbled Black Ledge blue cheese from Cheese! in the Hudson Farmer's Market. The cheese had begun to dry out but hadn't lost any of its wonderful nutty flavor. It was a perfect addition.
. Pureed the mixture with an immersion blender. Reheated soup and served it with a dollop of whole milk yogurt and some crumbled blue cheese.
Something happens to the cauliflower when it's roasted. Its flavor changes. The soup tasted almost like a veloute of Jerusalem artichokes. Maybe it was the addition of the cheese too.
Would you be surprised to learn that more than two weeks after I made all of that food that I've just finished it? Egad. Better safe than sorry. I guess.
Now, I avoided nature's disaster simply by geography. I'm sorry for my friends and strangers in my favorite city, New York, and along the east coast, who suffered the supreme discomfort of lack of electricity (ancient doggies who had to walk up and down many, many flights of stairs several times a day) - and so much worse.
I am, however, extremely distracted from my normal routine because of the recent purchase of a new home - which is really an old wreck and needs more work than I ever could have imagined - even although everyone warned me this would happen. Honestly, it makes me nervous all the time. Except for the moments when I imagine all the beautiful colors on the walls. Thanks to some friends, I was directed to Hudson Paint in Red Hook, NY. I was bowled over by the colors and then learned that the wall paint was made with lime. I was hooked. In addition to all the benefits of having my walls painted with a substance that has low VOCs and is a natural disinfectant - my walls, when covered with the gritty paint will look like frescos - blank frescoes.
So, excuse me if I get distracted for awhile again. You're never far from my thoughts. Color = food, food= color.
FINALMENTE - finally. BONFIGLIO & BREAD (formerly LOAF) is set to open its 738 Warren Street doors on Friday, the 16th November.
VIVA Gabriele e Rachel. Can't wait to patronize you.