Saturday, January 25, 2014

Slow it Down

Sometimes you have to complicate things to make them simple. My life feels very complicated right now, which is what happens with the apartment you've lived in for the past four and half years has been sold and you need to find a new place to live, and you're not sure what exactly you're looking for or what you can afford and sometimes it looks like your cat has pulled through and other times she spends 12 hours- all through the night- puking and you think, cat, you are six years old, you are too young for me to be worrying about you like this and your kitchen cabinets stink vilely because the sink had been leaking underneath them and you don't want to open them for fear of stinking up your kitchen but you need to open them to get to your pots and pans and everything feels like just too much in between phone calls with your landlord trying to work details re: your exit date and phone calls to the fix-it man and checking on the cat.

So you slow it down. You go into the kitchen- your stinky/not stinky kitchen- and even though you are feeding only a few people that night and you should take the opportunity to do something simple, you go complicated. You go complicated because right now you need to narrow your world down to the knife in your hand, the rhythmic sound of it hitting the cutting board, the smooth skin of a pepper under your hands, the way a tomato yields to a serrated knife, these are the only things that are important at this moment.  You need to fill your world with just this. Only this.

Everything is manageable in the sunlight in your kitchen. Noise falls away.

To go complicated I went with Deborah Madison, which is ironic, since Deborah Madison is about as uncomplicated as it gets. And to be honest, her potato and chickpea stew from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is not that complicated, it's just that there are a lot of components. The stew is, as Madison says, delicious and comforting and perfect for a winter night when you want something warm and filling, but not heavy. The real star of the evening, though, was one of the added components to the stew- the romseco sauce that Madison suggests you serve with the stew. All my dinner guests loved it and I ate the leftovers all week- with leftover stew, in sandwiches, by the spoonful. I gave some to my friend who brought me my new computer from Chicago. I gave some to my sister who brought me perfume from Paris. I would give it to everyone, if I could. (And in a way, I guess I am). The romesco sauce is garlicky and sweet, slightly smokey and rich with almonds, hazelnuts and fried bread. It is not an uncomplicated sauce to put together- the bread needs frying, and the pepper needs roasting- but it is so entirely and simply, good.

Romesco Sauce

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 slice of white bread
olive oil
1/4 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 teaspoons of chilli powder (to taste)
4 tomatoes
1 tablespoon parsley leaves removed from stems
1 teaspoon paprika
1 red pepper, roasted
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Prep: fry the bread in a little bit of olive oil until golden and crisp. Try to refrain from eating it straight from the frying pan. Roast your nuts if they are not already roasted. Roast the pepper, too.

2. Put all the ingredients, save the vinegar and olive oil in a food processor. Blend. Slowly add the vinegar and then the oil until you receive a sooth, thick sauce. Taste for seasoning. Serve with everything. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for two weeks.