Dinner Plans #41

It’s getting hot in here, so turn off all your ovens.

APÉRITIF:

After a truly terrifying few weeks of PCC (proof of climate change), it’s been particularly sticky and swampy in New York, London, and just about everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. Except of course the easy, breezy coastline of California where Gaby remains despite my desperate calls for her return. While I anxiously await her homecoming, I’m staying cool with as many rainbow sprinkle-covered Mister Softee swirls as possible and absolutely no turning on of the oven. Another thing that’s been helping me? Dinner Plans from the wildly talented writer, recipe developer, and all around brilliant mind behind the newsletter Kitchen Projects, Nicola Lamb! We are so excited to share her decidedly summery, delightfully British menu (hello metric system!) highlighting the best of this season’s produce, even if we (sadly) don’t have access to Nicola’s mum’s garden. The best part? Zero ovens required for this entire newsletter. You’re welcome. 

P.S. Look out for our upcoming change.org petition to have Americans start calling zucchini and eggplant courgette and aubergine, respectively. Please!!!! Egg. Plant. Really — who thought that was good? And while we’re at it, let’s just kill ‘garbanzo beans’ altogether.


ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:

NICOLA LAMB’S DINNER PLANS 

  1. Ricotta. On. Anything.: However, mostly ricotta with things on toast. I made some peach syrup the other day and ever since I've been inhaling the soft poached peaches it produced, nestled in a thick spread of ricotta on toast, finished with olive oil and Maldon salt. Hard to say if it's savoury, hard to say if it's sweet but come on, it's 2021 y'all — labels are over. It's an absolute workhorse of a simple snack, and perfect any time of the day. I can attest it has been enjoyed as breakfast, lunch and dinner (two slabs, slightly thicker toast). If you, understandably, don't have poached peaches on hand, juicy, in-season tomatoes will happily fill-in, and labneh would also be cute here in place of ricotta. Don't overthink it.

  2. Chicken Salad: During this smoggy London heatwave (I can't tell you how hot 30°c / 86°F feels when you're walking next to a giant slow moving bus), it is borderline criminal to turn on the oven. Chicken salad, though, is my summer jam, so what to do? Outsource it with the magic that is food delivery services, of course! My favourite rotisserie chicken joint in London is Berber & Q, whose beautiful spice-rubbed chicken comes with a side of zhoug, meaning you're on your way to an amazing salad dressing without even trying. I order half a chicken, remove the skin and shred the meat in a big bowl. Then, in a pan, I re-crisp the skin (rotisserie almost has it all, just not that chicken fat crisp glory) in a little oil. I set that aside, and in the same oil, fry some cut up pita bread until it’s crunchy and sprinkle it with a little aleppo pepper. Finally, I add crunchy little gem lettuce, some chopped mint, a thinly sliced red onion and a bunch of cherry tomatoes to the shredded chicken bowl and finish it all by tossing the pitas, that chicken-y fat oil and crunchy skin back into the mix, plus the zhoug, a spoonful of tahini and another of yoghurt. Mix it all up and VOILA — roast chicken salad heaven with approx. 1% of the work.

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  1. Fried Courgette Blossoms: My mum has the most delicious veg patch situation going on at the moment. Her courgettes are thriving (much to the chagrin of the neighbouring strawberry and aubergine plants) and thriving courgettes = lots of courgette flowers. Hallelujah. We picked them, stuffed them with feta and ricotta (1:2 ratio + lemon zest) and fried at 180°c / 350°F until crispy, about 2 minutes. The batter is easy: 100g self-raising flour + 190ml beer or cold sparkling water. We finished them with honey, mint and crispy oregano. If you've never eaten deep-fried oregano I URGE you to do it soon — I got that tip from my friend Milli.

  2. Custom Lemonade: Here's a reminder to invite your friends over to celebrate their double-jab status with custom lemonade. Making your own flavour syrups for it is rewarding and herby ones are my fave currently — I made a raspberry shiso pink lemonade for my pop-up Lark! in June and fell in love with it. (Find the recipe on my KP+ subscriber newsletter). Shiso is a pain to find in London without the help of restaurant suppliers, but mint and basil will give you approximate shiso energy. Just boil your chosen leaves (blackcurrant, fig and peach come to mind, too) with an equal quantity of sugar and water and leave everything to infuse before straining and chilling overnight. Then simply add lemon juice, ice and fizzy water to taste for a beautiful refreshing treat. BONUS: You can make granita with your hard earned syrups by freezing it in a container and agitating it with a fork every 30-45 mins until it freezes into glorious icy shards.

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SO YOU CAN’T (OR DON’T WANT TO) GET INTO SQ*RL

  1. The Actual Best Gazpacho: The only soup I want in summertime besides this one. I first wrote about this gazpacho nearly a year ago in the first-ever edition of Sifted 🥺 It is my all-time favorite and something I look forward to all year long. It’s also the perfect dish for this time of the summer when tomatoes are good, but not quite peak yet. Everyone knows peak-season August tomatoes are for two things and two things only: for slicing and eating raw and for BLTs. (Or vegan BLTs a.k.a. tomato toast.) End of list. Until then, I’ll be making Julia Moskin’s aptly named Best Gazpacho (here without a paywall). Emulsifying with olive oil renders this gazpacho silky smooth and creamy, with a slight sweetness from the addition of sherry vinegar (I sometimes add a pinch of sugar if my tomatoes are less-than-perfect). It’s best when chilled in the fridge until super cold, then served topped with a drizzle of your best olive oil and a copious amount of fresh pepper and flaky salt. That’s summer cooking at its finest. 

  2. Spicy Cold Noodle Salad: Cold, crunchy, and creamy are the three C’s of summer eating and the prerequisites for everything I want to eat in the heat. Cold sesame or peanut noodles not only tick all those boxes, they also capture the elusive 4th C: Cheap. Making cold noodles in summertime? Groundbreaking. I know. But you’ve gotta love Hetty McKinnon’s iteration for a few reasons; a big one is it uses soba noodles, with their slippery coating and nutty buckwheat finish (sorry, but save your spaghetti for marinara), plus lots of julienned veggies to bulk up the nutrition and satiation factors. The sauce packs more punch than your standard peanut butter-soy combo, plus some chili oil heat. If you aren’t mooching off your friends’ parents’ NYT Cooking account, fear not, you can find an even simpler version from Hetty here

  1. No-Cook Sungold Sauce: Sungold tomatoes, if you aren’t familiar, are tiny, bright orange, super sweet cherry tomatoes that are in season right now. I like popping them into my mouth like M&Ms or slicing and salting them to top buttered toast with, but Queen Jane Precisely uses the summery fruits/vegetables/whatever they are in this silky, no-stove-required pasta sauce. After smashing the sungolds, you let them sit for a bit with sharp garlic, hot red pepper flakes, sweet basil and bright vinegar. Sure, you still have to boil water, but by the time you’ve grated a pile of parm, eyeball a 2 tablespoon-chunk of butter, open a bottle of chilled red and pour yourself a glass, your pasta will be perfectly al dente and ready to be tossed with its starchy pasta water, the prepped parm and butter, and your sweet, salty, marinated tomato sauce. ‘


TAKEOUT:

  • Have you heard the good news? We designed a collection of necklaces and bracelets with Wear Your Snacks so you can finally wear our favorite phrases (Packaged Food Princess) on your arm. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a rotating charity organization (this month's is City Harvest). Orders are on hold right now, meaning you have some time to decide which (or how many) pieces to make your own.

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  • Sweet, salty, silky summer pastas are hitting subscribers’ inboxes tomorrow. Want in?

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