While cooking, listen to this: NICE - The Carters
I've lived in New York for a while now, and there are some things I don't think I'll ever get over: the view of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge park, pizza availability at 3 AM, access to some of the best museums and music in the world.
Oh, and the ACCEPTABILITY OF A 15% BROKERS FEE.
My person and I are moving in together, which is so exciting and wonderful and great. But it is also STRESSFUL AF because at the end of the day, New York wants your money and does not care how it gets it. Which I've accepted! I think. I can either leave the city I call home and essentially go fuck myself, or I can suck it up and spend the next month of my life scouring Craigslist, looking for someone who won't bankrupt me with a 2 bedroom.
(Side note: I'm still fairly convinced that using Craigslist is how I'll get murdered. I didn't even watch that Lifetime movie and I still really, truly believe that an apartment listing on that website is the gateway to my death.)
Anyway! I'm basically a bundle of nerves and excitement and stress and broker-rage, so some of the things that are keeping me going through the apartment hunt are the prospect of my new job and cooking for this blog. When my brain goes to the scary I'm Never Going To Find An Apartment Better Look For A Nice Box To Live In Place, I distract myself with new recipes we can post. Which is how we got to rhubarb barbecue sauce.
We love rhubarb here, but we haven't done anything with it that isn't a dessert. I've wanted to make a fruit-based barbecue sauce for a while now (aren't I WILD), and when I learned you can use rhubarb I was sold. Alyssa got some in her CSA last week and our fate was sealed.
We also fried a ton of cauliflower to dip, because there is never a reason not to fry cauliflower.
The rhubarb barbecue sauce is sweet, sour and THICK, and the acidity of it cuts the fattiness of the fried cauliflower. It's fantastic vegan comfort food, best eaten with friends, preferably over a kitchen counter with zero manners. I imagine you could also use the sauce with veggie burgers or something lentil-y, or just a go in with a spoon. I fantasize about fruit barbecue sauce all day, who am I to judge you?
Love and meows, Rina
RHUBARB BARBECUE SAUCE + FRIED CAULIFLOWER NUGGETS
Yield: 1½ cups
Active Time: 25m | Inactive Time: 15m
Category: Snacks, Dips + Sauces, Vegan, Comfort Food
Special Equipment: medium sauce pan, food processor or high speed blender, cast-iron/heavy-bottomed skillet, tongs, cooling rack
Note: we had some leftover batter so we tried baking some cauliflower instead of frying and it just didn't work. I'm sure there's another batter out there that's great for baking cauliflower, but this recipe should really be fried. You can also just roast the cauliflower with some salt and oil at 425F, but if you want to go all in, frying is the way to go.
fried cauliflower nuggets:
1 head cauliflower
½ cup flour
⅓ cup cornstarch
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
Water as needed, around ½-⅔ cup
Sunflower oil, for frying (you'll probably need 2-3 cups)
rhubarb barbecue sauce:
1-2 Tablespoons neutral oil (enough to coat the bottom of your sauce pan)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cups fresh rhubarb, finely diced (about 2 large or 3 medium stalks)*
⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon water, plus more to thin sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
½ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire** sauce
½ teaspoon salt, plus more (or less) to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
*Rhubarb stalks should be bright pink and firm, without any spots or slimy bits. Rinse well before using, that stuff literally grows out of dirt.
**This is the first time I've spelled this word right on the first try. Did I just peak?
Prep the fried cauliflower: cut the cauliflower into medium florets (I like mine to be about two-bite-sized, but you do you). In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add water in ¼ cup at a time - the consistency of the batter should be runny but able to coat the cauliflower. Think chocolate syrup. Set aside.
Start the rhubarb barbecue sauce: heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil is all shimmery, add the onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are soft but aren't browning. Add in the rhubarb, brown sugar and 1 Tablespoon water, and raise the heat to high. Let the brown sugar melt and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb can be smashed easily with a spoon. Remove from the heat and let this sit for 15 minutes, lid on.
Fry the cauliflower: place a cooling rack over a thick layer of paper towels - this keeps the cauliflower crispy (great tip courtesy of Lindsay). Have some salt in arm's reach. Place your skillet over high heat and add enough oil so that cauliflower pieces will be covered halfway (a few inches of oil should do it). While oil is heating, add the cauliflower to the batter and use tongs to evenly coat all of the pieces. Pick a small piece to offer as a sacrifice to the oil gods and place in the pan. When it starts to sizzle and bubbles form around the edges, you're good to go. Add about half of the cauliflower pieces to the oil, making sure to not crowd the pan to much. Fry a few minutes on each side, until the cauliflower is lightly golden brown. When it's done, place on the cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with a bit of salt. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
Finish the sauce: after the rhubarb-onion mixture has sat for 15 minutes, stir in the mustard, honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Add to a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add water if you want to thin the sauce - we added another Tablespoon or so.
To serve: I'm not prepared to say that we ate this standing up directly from the cooling rack, but I'm also not prepared to say that we didn't. So, serve this from a plate, a kitchen counter, whatever. Just maybe not directly from the pan.
To keep: fried cauliflower should be eaten immediately; sauce can be kept refrigerated for a few days. We haven't tried freezing it, but it could work! May change the texture a bit, but worth experimenting with.