Dinner Plans #31
Hot take: spring is cold!
Spring! My predominant spring activities consist of walking, texting my environmental studies friends photos of random trees I encounter on said walks for identification purposes, and huffing antihistamines to counteract congestion that makes me sound like Macie from As Told By Ginger (90s kids remember!). Maybe it’s the congestion, or maybe it was the back-to-back-to-back-to-freaking-back rainy days, but I was not in the mood to cook, or really eat, last week. Dinners looked a lot like this. Too often, spring rolls around and we think, We did it! We made it out of winter! But can we talk about how April is kind of miserable? The flowers and trees bloom, but then it rains, even hails, and the winds gust, and it’s actually not warm at all. This week hit 70 degrees in New York for the first time… just days after a 30 degree night. So until Mother Nature stops playing games with our heart, we’re giving you spring dinner plans, but also some cozy, cheesy things for when you come to terms with the fact that 60 degrees is sadly, not that warm. And yes, we’re really talking about weather — it’s nearly month 14 of a global pandemic, cut us some slack.
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Ramp & Cheddar Scones: I’ve been wanting to make Briana Holt (of Tandem Bakery fame) scones since last March when she shared her beloved recipe as part of a staff-relief fundraiser. When I joined the Never Ending Salon DEMI chat a few weeks ago and saw that Briana’s scones were not only one of the weekly bake-off recipes, but also one of the most frequently posted recipes in the chat, I knew I had to make them. TBH I also saw Jake from Digestivo make them with feta, dill, & scallions and simply had to have them. I filled mine with two (!) varieties of cheddar cheese (Tillamook & Unexpected Cheddar) and garlicky ramps (duh). Unsurprisingly I was impatient on the final freeze, eager to shove these scones down my gullet as fast as possible, resulting in some pretty dramatic butter and cheese leakage. Was anyone mad to eat the butter-fried-cheese-frico? No. Were they gone in 24 hours flat? Yes. The recipe can (kind of) be found here and here, just use your judgement on adjusting the sugar depending on sweet or savory, and swap your preferred toppings in (you’re gonna want to shoot for about two cups total.) -CK
GS: I can confirm (after inhaling an entire scone right before sitting down to eat dinner) that these plump, crunchy, cheddar-stuffed, ramp-studded babies are worth both every buttery bite.
Spring Pea Tortellini: I’m not one to self promote, but sorry, this recipe is really good! I know it is disrespectful to many cultures to use wonton wrappers in place of pasta sheets for “tortellini” but *extreme food blogger voice* in a pinch, they really work! They yield a dough thinner than I could ever get in my pasta machine-less home, and if that won’t sell you, the filling will. It’s salty, sweet, zesty, and creamy; the kind of filling you’ll find hard to even get into the final dish, because you keep eating it straight out of the food processor. In the recipe you’ll find instructions for both ravioli and tortellini, but I recommend going with the latter. A little more time-intensive to make, they are easier to serve and eat, the perfect mouthful in each little pouch. Mix in some pea shoots at the very end and you’ve got yourself a little ode to spring in a bowl. -CK
Lemon Squares: It’s rare that anything other than a deep and dark, intense and gooey, chocolate-y concoction comes out of my oven. I almost always want a dense, chewy brownie or a warm, underbaked chocolate tart — any dessert that people take one bite of and say “Wow, that’s rich” is the dessert for me. But the fat, fluffy flowers that are springing out of sidewalk cracks and these jean jacket-appropriate rising temps led me to this recipe for bright, buttery, tangy lemon bars. The almighty Comments Section warned me that these can turn out pretty thin, so I doubled both the crust and filling for a square 9x9” pan. That left me with bars that were equal parts mostly-crunchy, slightly-soft shortbread crust and creamy, intensely tart lemon curd. A heavy SIFT (!) of powdered sugar balanced out that salty crust and citrus filling just enough to make these impossible to stop slicing slivers off of, though there are a few lucky leftovers in my freezer, waiting patiently to be chopped into chunks and swirled throughout a homemade pint of vanilla ice cream. Yes, it’s almost that season again! -GS
SO 60 DEGREES ISN’T AS WARM AS YOU THOUGHT IT WAS
Plush Cinnamon Rolls: Will Gab and I ever stop talking about cinnamon rolls? Likely not. We’re doing our civic duty to find the plushest, gooiest, best cinnamon rolls on the internet! Isn’t that why you’re here?! This week, I tried on the newest King Arthur recipe for speed. I love this King Arthur recipe and have previously discussed it, but as I remarked before, it yields a ridiculous amount of buns. More than any one person could ever eat, no matter how deep the seasonal depression. The new kid on the block is a similar recipe but scaled way down (thank you Arthur!) As with their first, the dough starts with tangzhong, ensuring your buns are the kind that stay soft and pillowy for days to come. This dough is the stuff of dreams; so soft, so light, so fun and enjoyable to work with. I could roll and shape this dough forever. Best of all: they require zero overnight rise aka planning ahead, so when the temp. drops below 55 and the craving strikes, you can have rolls on rolls on rolls in no time. -CK
White Pizza Kale: A particularly nice perk of this side dish (side skillet?) is that it will probably pair perfectly with whatever the main dish on your menu is. The recipe, which comes from Julia Turshen’s brilliant brain, is simply kale (the superior kale, the one of many names: lacinato, Tuscan, dinosaur), sautéed in a skillet until it’s tender and wilted. It then gets a few big dollops of creamy ricotta and a sprinkling stretchy, shredded mozzarella before the whole pan gets put under the broiler to sizzle for a few minutes. You pull out a pan full of hot, crispy-edged kale, slightly-browned and melted mozz, and molten pools of ricotta that you’re left to top as you would a slice of pizza — oregano, parm, red pepper flakes, garlic powder. Real New Yorkers will know how to proceed. -GS
Crispy, Cheesy, Broiled Gnocchi: I spend multiple hours a week roaming my neighborhood’s Italian specialty stores. There are a few of them, all of which have warm and milky mozzarella balls, tins of fancy anchovies, any and every shape of pasta I could ever possibly need and loud men who offer me thin slices of salami while I shop. While those things are delicious, convenient and/or comforting to me, there’s another, much more puzzling, concerning thing all of these markets have — shelf-stable bags of gnocchi. What are meant to be plump, pillowy pieces of pasta are instead stuffed into vacuumed packed plastic bags, somehow made to look both slimy and dry. Just LOOK at these things! Naturally, I was horrified when I first stumbled upon this recipe from NYT Cooking that calls for this exact type of gnocchi, but after discovering there were blistered-in-brown butter-cherry tomatoes, no boiling (just broiling, Sifted’s preferred cooking method), and seared (!) until crispy and golden (!!) gnocchi involved, I was convinced. The 1:1 tomato to gnocchi ratio gives us the both freshness and decadence we’re looking for in a cozy springtime dinner. -GS
BBOTW (BEST BITES OF THE WEEK):
Court: Hold your horoscope-trashing antics please; [nearly] everyone that I love is a Taurus. Were you born between (roughly) 4/21-5/21? I probably love you! I spent the entire weekend baking for my dad and boyfriend’s back-to-back birthdays. More on these shenanigans next week because we have yet to eat either of said cakes, but I can safely say at least one component is friggin’ gooooood. My boyfriend is an ice cream connoisseur, spending increasing portions of his paycheck on gourmet pints like 1900 Ice Cream ([continue to] take all our money!) I knew if I was going to make him an ice cream cake for his birthday, I had to bring the big guns. The only thing he likes more than ice cream? Movies. Behold: the best intersection of movies and ice cream since Dibs at the AMC Theater, Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream. Despite still being #LactoseIntolerantAsHell I licked the paddle and bowl clean, and look forward to disrespecting my body even further tonight when we dig into the cake. Highly recommend.
Gab: A bite that needs no introduction, the ShackBurger I ate at the baseball game this weekend was disgustingly delicious. No, this was not my first time trying Shake Shack — in fact, I famously stopped by the chain every afternoon my freshman year of high school to taste that day’s custard flavor. (Real ones remember the custard calendar.) It’s been a while since a ShackBurger last touched my lips, though. It could have been that fact, or maybe it was watching the Mets lose miserably, but the burger’s thin, salty and lacey-edged patty, greasy melted cheese, fluffy (neither limp nor useless, as In-N-Out fans love to claim) and plush pillow of a potato bun skyrocketed me far far far out of Citi Field.