Dinner Plans #15
xxxx, Gab & Court
New Year’s Eve always feels kind of magical. For me, it usually means finding out how to magically avoid paying for a bar ticket, i.e. convincing one of my friends to host a house party. But I must admit there is an undeniably bubbly, magnetic energy that buzzes in the air the day of. Perhaps it’s the antici….pation (sorry) of wrapping one year, wiping the slate clean for the next, and finding someone to kiss in the middle of all that. This year I believe we’re not legally allowed to recommend kissing someone (outside your bubble that is) so instead, we’ve got recipes that feel as celebratory, sexy, and fun as a *midnight kiss*. More exciting though, we’ve got Dinner Plans from Jake Stavis and Salonee Bhaman of Digestivo, an incredibly well-written, funny, and dare we say sophisticated newsletter that we can’t recommend enough. They shared some of their favorite recipes du moment and if this menu is any indication, we may just have to invite ourselves over for dinner in 2021.
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
DIGESTIVO’S DINNER PLANS
Lasagna: For me (JS), a small silver lining of the pandemic has been the normalization of personally consuming most or all of an entire casserole over the course of two to three days. If ever there was a baked pasta to house by oneself, Food52's birthday lasagna is it. Sometimes I'll sub in hot Italian sausage for some or all of the ground beef, but otherwise this recipe is pretty much perfect as is. Cheese lovers may raise an eyebrow at the lack of ricotta and seemingly modest amount of mozzarella, but rest assured the bechamel works wonders, simultaneously providing some richness and structural integrity. Don't be tempted to use fancy mozzarella here—low moisture or even ~pre-shredded~ mozz' will melt and brown much better. Serve with a classic Caesar and tiramisu (dessert casserole?) for full Joanne's Trattoria cosplay.
Tomato Egg Drop Soup: Think fanqie chaodan, but make it soup. I’ve (JS) been eyeing a couple recipes for this quick and flavorful dish ever since Lucas Sin posted them to his Instagram highlights last week. I feel like most recipes cooked with fresh tomatoes often end up tasting like hot reddish water; this definitely doesn’t! Grab some eggs, a couple plum tomatoes, a bunch of scallions, a quart of stock and your preferred soup noodle and you’re good to go. Watch both videos for tutorials on how to make fine strands or a blanket egg drop. Feel free to play around with the seasoning a bit: throw in a few ginger coins, a pinch of white pepper, a bit of bouillon or a lil’ MSG (as a Bad Jew™ who did not indulge in Chinese takeout this Christmas, the least I can do is lobby against racist misinformation). As Lucas says, “embrace variance!” And taste as you go.
Slow Roasted Salmon: I (SB) would be so bold to say that the low-and-slow roast is my favorite way to prepare a salmon filet. This simple preparation from Genevieve Ko via the NYT might be my new favorite. In short, salt and pepper a salmon filet (and here, it really is worth investing in some high quality fish-- salmon is notoriously over-farmed, etc) and coat it with a mixture of maple syrup, mustard, mayo, and chopped cilantro stems. Roast it for 20ish minutes at 350 degrees and top with the leaves from those cilantro stems. Douse the whole mix with the juice of a lemon, and serve something (rice? pilaf? potatoes? follow your bliss) that'll be at home covered in that sumptuous sweet and salty sauce. Seeing as I’m sitting next to Jake on the bandwagon, I’ll also be making some roasted sweet potatoes Lucas Sin style after to really feel good about myself.
Aloo Paratha: Sometimes you want the kind of meal that's essentially bread stuffed with potatoes, no apologies. I (SB) am personally a big fan of the aloo for both its versatility and comforting heft; it's something like a distant, vegetarian cousin to the pupusa. Priya Krishna's recipe is a great guide, and the parathas are great with an Indian pickle of your choosing, some yogurt, and perhaps a pat of butter melted atop them. Use the leftovers for an aloo toast, somewhere between a bread samosa and a grilled cheese. I enjoy them with some spicy ketchup, but you might consider dipping them in a chutney or hot sauce of your choosing.
SO YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT TASTES AS MAGICAL AS A MIDNIGHT KISS
Celebration Nachos: For me, there are few things more satisfying than digging into a large, loaded, layered plate of nachos. I love the mix of textures, temperatures and flavors. Nachos feel like celebration; celebrating that you got through another year, or another week, or just that you’re an adult, which means you can decide when you want to eat a big plate of chips ‘n’ cheese for dinner. When it comes to making my nachos, I love to start with a thin layer of chips and a sharp ched (mostly because I can eat it), and a sprinkle of black or kidney beans. Rinse and repeat for a minimum of 3 layers and make sure to top with extra cheese. Broil all of that on medium for a few minutes until everyone gets nice and melty, then top with cool, creamy, spicy things. I like drizzling salsa and hot sauce over them, then making little pools of guac and sour cream, and finishing with a sprinkle of sliced green onions and my favorite—canned black olives. If I’m celebrating with other lactose-intolerants or vegans, I’ll whip up a batch of vegan queso. (Side note: had the best queso of my lil’ lactose-free life at Yellow Rose this week, but more on that later.) I prefer silky, spicy, and smoky than fake-cheesy i.e. turmeric + nutritional yeast, so I riff on this recipe. I blend some potatoes with tomato paste, soaked cashews, garlic powder, pickled jalapenos + liquid, and my secret ingredient: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend, taste, season, taste, party. -CK
Rigatoni alla Vodka: Few things in life give me that ball of nausea you get deep in your stomach. Looking back on an apartment you’re moving out of, empty of furniture and full of memories; walking away from someone you love after saying goodbye for weeks or months or forever; not making enough sauce to properly coat a whole box of pasta. This viralvodkasauce (recipe here) makes enough slightly-spicy, silky sauce to give each and every rigatoni (or bucatini, something squiggly-shaped, anything but penne) noodle its own creamy coat. It’s kind of perfect—easy, a little messy, and seemingly impressive, just like a New Year’s Eve kiss. -GS
Chocolate Mousse: Christmas is a PG holiday (too much eggnog is involved to be rated G), and New Year’s Eve is an NC-17 holiday. It’s sparkly, shiny, sweaty, see-through, and another s-word I won’t say here. I plan on being and feeling all of those things, even if it’s with just a few of my best friends and not at a crowded stranger’s apartment that my friends and I have somehow ended up at where a big TV is playing Mariah Carey asking for her hot tea. A big bowl of the most sensual dessert, simple and intense chocolate mousse, should bring that NYE energy to whatever plans you have, and this recipe is simple and straightforward, as long as you can get your hands on a big blender or food processor. The sugar syrup it calls for (just mixing sugar and water together until it starts to boil) makes me feel like a chef, which is sexy, and it yields a cold, creamy, fluffy mousse that’s perfect next to a second bowl of whipped heavy cream. -GS
BBOTW (BEST BITES OF THE WEEK):
Gab: Like a dog who hears “get the ball,” “let’s go for a walk,” or if you’re my dog, “here’s a treat, now please let go of my expensive sweatpants that you’re about to rip in half like an old washcloth,” my ears perked up at the words “hot sfogliatelle!” and my nose dragged my body to the sweet, cheesy, buttery smell coming from the kitchen. I took a knife to the loud, crunchy layers and hot, sugary, citrusy ricotta oozed out as I cut the freshly baked pastry in half. While I ate (both halves) in bliss, I heard murmurs about how they came from Napoli via Restaurant Depot, a place where I do not and cannot have an account because of how much money and time I would spend buying obscure pans, very specific tools and frozen treats from Italy. If you do have a Restaurant Depot account, or enough self control to make one, a quick “frozen sfogliatelle napoli” search should lead you to these babies.
Court: Everything at Yellow Rose, the new Tex-Mex spot from Superiority Burger’s Dave Rizo, looks really good. And everything we’ve tried so far is really good. But the standout bite (besides the impeccable flour tortillas) was a bite of salty, crunchy tortilla chip dipped in chocolate-cream cheese frosting aka the 2020 version of a french fry dipped in McFlurry. The chips were accompanied by the aforementioned vegan queso, but the pro move is to save some chips for dessert and dip them in the rich, almost-but-not-overly decadent chocolate frosting that comes on the Texas sheet cake. Since I’m decidedly a Cake Person and not a Frosting Person, the cake-frosting ratio was a little heavy on the latter for me, but that’s where the chips come in. It tastes like the Tex-Mex version of a chocolate covered pretzel; simultaneously completely ridiculous and absolutely delicious. If you, too, miss the Chaotic Good of Superiority Burger’s daily specials menu board (and Instagram captions) I cannot recommend following, and eating at Yellow Rose enough.