Dinner Plans #34
The best thing Cat Cohen's ever tasted (it's hot cheese.)
Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in quarantine anymore! The sun is blazing down on us, our masks are on our wrists, and every restaurant has a two-hour wait again…….nature is in fact healing. If you’re still adjusting to eating food somewhere that’s not a park or your couch or a wooden structure in a bike line, we get it. Wearing nice clothes in a dimly lit dining room where a waiter [without a face shield] hands you a menu [that you can see without scanning a box with your phone] feels weird. It’s also nearly impossible to do, as having a reservation is once again necessary to eat at virtually any restaurant in this godforsaken city. “We couldn’t get in” will be the song of the summer, and that’s why we’ll be breaking down what to cook when you can’t get into our favorite places all summer long. First up is Kiki’s, a Dimes Square institution-slash-scene with a lengthy menu of cheap, perfect Greek food. Scroll down to find our backup menu for when the line to talk to the host wraps around the block. We also have a simply heavenly menu of Dinner Plans this week from someone you know (hint: she’s famously a published poet) and love (you probably love her Sexy Little Email, too). Yes, you got it, the rumors are true, the cat (oops, another hint!) is out of the restaurant tote bag — Cat Cohen is in the building.
P.S. — Sifted will (sadly, tragically, devastatingly) not be gracing your inboxes next weekend. We are taking some time to plan a few fun and possibly in-person things this summer. We’ll be back in two weeks with a sick event planned, lots of guests lined up, and of course, so much recipe inspiration. xx, your favorite recipe critics
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
CAT COHEN’S DINNER PLANS
Like any good, wholesome woman of a certain age (I’m almost 30) I simply love to cook, and more importantly, eat. My favorite food is sauce and I want to die at a dinner party. Any questions? Here are a few of my favorite recipes that have kept me warm at night. I’m a savory queen and have no interest in baking—I don’t follow rules, I break them! I’m joking I love being told what to do (in and out of the bedroom) XOXO
Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese: This is the most romantic food you can actually make. Let your lover chop the root veggies while you toss everything together. The longer it sits on the stove the better! Let it simmer all day while you Make Love or Watch Love Island season 3 on the couch next to your beloved. Stir it gently while pretending you’re a lady in a movie who is just starting to get things right after a long stretch of uncertainty, serve over your pasta of choice (I like linguine or rigatoni), top with parmesan of course, ladle with leisure onto the plate of someone you simply adore, sit next to them and swirl your little noodles around while sipping a red wine. This is the ultimate home-cooked meal. Cozy, easy, and makes great leftovers. I also like to eat the sauce without pasta, cold out of the fridge the next day.
Ottolenghi’s Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice: Oh my god up in heaven above, this one pot meal is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted!!! The rich spices, the moist chicken, the almost creamy rice, the caramelized onions (best food alert). I made this for my family over the holidays and we were all clinically addicted. You can’t go wrong with Ottolenghi <3 Dreamy, steamy, goodness. Maybe serve with some arugula tossed with lemon and olive oil? I don’t know, just a thought…I sometimes have those in my beautiful little head.
Fried Halloumi: Honey need I say more? You go to the store, buy a log of halloumi, cut it into pieces, put it on a pan for literally 2 minutes (on each side) and it is hmmm the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I like to serve it with hummus, baba ghanoush (ideally homemade if I’m feeling industrious), olives, harissa, and warm pita. Hot cheese? It’s heaven and you need to deal with that sweetie!!!! XO
SO YOU COULDN’T GET INTO KIKI’S
Greek Salad: Speaking of halloumi, let’s talk about my other favorite Mediterranean cheese — feta. Not the weird shaker bottle full of “crumbles”, the big block sitting in salty brine. There are few things better than a big chunk o’ cheese, especially when crested atop a messy pile of haphazardly chopped vegetables. According to several Greek food blogs I read (yeah, we do the research) there are a few rules for a Greek salad: there is NO lettuce, NO mixing, and NO chopping of the olives — WHOLE ONLY! In my world, there is another rule: no green peppers (ever on anything). I love to make a recipe like this one, subbing Cubanelles for green peppers (slightly sweeter and crunchier), and absolutely covering the top with thick slices of feta, seasoned them with lots of oregano, (or Herbs de Provence if I’m feeling kooky!) It’s my ideal summer meal, preferably accompanied by a plate of hot, garlicky fries and a glass of very cold orange wine. Cold Wine Summer.
Spanakopita: A liter of wine, hot and crispy charred octopus, a scallion, dill and feta-filled maroulosalata salad, something that comes with a big pile of fat, salty french fries — it’s a tried and true Kiki’s order, it’s my Kiki’s order, it’s the best and the only Kiki’s order. No spanakopita? you might be wondering? Yes, that’s right, I’m saying no spanakopita! It’s not that I don’t absolutely love the buttery, cheesy, herby pie, it’s that despite Kiki’s being perfect, their spanakopita is not. It lacks all the food’s best qualities — creamy cubes of feta, buttery phyllo layers, and LOTS of herbs. This super simple, straightforward recipe has all of that and more. It’s everything spanakopita should be, plus an unexpected (but very welcome) sprinkling of nutty sesame seeds.
Baklava Sundae: This non-recipe recipe comes from my former job on a Food Network Show that shall not be named. We once produced a fun summertime segment on ‘international sundaes’, probably titled something lazy like “Sundae School”. For our Mediterranean host we came up with the “It’s All Greek to Me” Sundae, a name that made little-to-no-sense but nonetheless described a behemoth of vanilla and pistachio ice cream, nuts, honey, and chopped chunks of baklava. Despite its terrible name, it was an extremely delicious combo. Baklava can be cloying, but the cold creaminess of ice cream brought a welcome contrast of texture and flavor. For my riff, I like to do a good pistachio gelato, toasted walnuts, and either a piece of crumbled baklava if my bodega sells them in single packs, or more likely, baked-off leftover phyllo from the aforementioned spinach pie, drizzled with honey. In hindsight, we should have named it the Shrek Sundae, because this baby has layers (+ a pleasantly green hue.)
BBOTW (BEST BITES OF THE WEEK):
Court: If by some odd chance, you’re not following us on Instagram, you should do that because we’ll be trying out some new #content in the coming weeks like product/restaurant reviews, tutorials in reels, potentially a live? Only time will tell! This week, we posted a series of stories reviewing a massive haul of new products from none other than Sir Trader Joes. Many of the products were good, some were great, but only one reigned supreme: the incredibly good Patio Potato Chips. I’m famously and disgustingly a sweet, not salty, person, but these chips could convert even the most adamant sweet tooth. Each bag contains a mix of four types of chips — Salt & Vinegar, Dill Pickle, Ketchup, and BBQ, resulting in a veritable roulette of flavors, each tangy and delicious in their own way. Beyond the flavors though, the chips themselves are some of the best I’ve had from a bag-- thick, extremely crunchy, with a majority of the chips being Foldy Boys a.k.a. The Best Chips. 100/10 would recommend you go out and buy a bag today before I buy out their stock and you never see these chips again.
Gab: I stopped by the Bạn Bè x Natasha Pickowicz pop-up bakesale not once, but twice this weekend. Maybe it was because I live just three short blocks away, or maybe it was the crazy menu of adorable little scoops of red bean ice cream and strawberry sorbet, huge squares of a nori and spring onion tart, and — my absolute favorite — slices of black sesame layer cake. The soft and slightly savory sesame cake was ethereally light, almost cloud-like, as was the airy, tangy cream cheese mousse layered on top of it. A tart and seedy pineapple-strawberry jam situation was also present, and its deep red hue against the grey cake layers made for a dessert that was as spooky-looking as it was delicious.