Dinner Plans #47
How do you measure a year in a life?
in take outs,
in Best Bites,
in guests and Dinner Plans,
in ice cream, in bakes, in brownies, in cakes
🎶 Sifted in oneeeeeeeee 🎶
Yes, our sweet Sifters, this thing we call a newsletter is one year old. (side note: a true story about me, Court, is that we sang that song at our eight grade graduation and I was specifically told I should mouth the words so as not to throw other, more on-key singers, off 🙃) Without getting too sappy, let us just say: we’re so happy you’re here. Whether you’ve been with us from day one or just subscribed, we’re honored to have you at our metaphorical dinner table, and hopefully at our literal table in the very soon (but more on that soon!) To celebrate, we want to take it back to square one; to the very first Sifted we sent out. And, as always, if you have any ideas for what you want to see from Sifted in Year Two, drop them in the comments:
The start of September brings all the nostalgia of back-to-school and feelings of a fresh start, albeit without the taut three-ring binder and pack of gel pens. If your summer was anything like ours, most time in the kitchen was spent unpacking takeout and cutting orange slices for spritzes. We’re welcoming in the however-metaphorical new year with herby dinner plans, ideas for the last of summer’s stone fruit, and more.
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Fennel and Celery Salad: One of my favorite things to eat is this light, crunchy, salty fennel and celery salad from Misi in Brooklyn. It has paper thin slices of celery and fennel, shards of parmesan, and crunchy walnuts (that I sometimes toast on the stove first). It’s perfect for serving with a cheesy pasta, mustardy pork tenderloin, or a loaf of chewy sourdough. -GS
Vietnamese-Style Meatballs: Oh, September. (*Alexa, cue Earth, Wind, & Fire*) Clinging to the last vestiges of summer as the temperature drops steadily in its wake. I find myself craving a little more sustenance, yet still wanting all of my food to be herby, crunchy, and bright. These meatballs tick all the boxes, and here’s a veg-friendly version to boot. They are endlessly adaptable; any ground meat or meat substitute will work, as will any other toppings you have on hand. Think of these as an opportunity to clear out your kitchen; pickles, kimchi, any herbs or veggies dying in your crisper. Then hit the pantry for fried onions, shrimp chips, or toast and chop those peanuts rattling around in the bottom drawer. Like most of our favorite dinners, this tends to become less of a plated meal and more of a sprawling spread with many tiny bowls full of yummy toppings. It’s the perfect thing to keep me satisfied as I anxiously await the next edition of this incredible series. -CK
Herby Summer Squash Gratin: Gratin is absolutely not a summer food, but I still found myself piling spoonfuls of this squash one onto my plate on a warm September night. The buttery, cheesy layers of sliced squash, soft shallots and crunchy breadcrumbs bake with a salsa made of herbs, capers, olive oil and... an anchovy. Use a mix of squash and zucchini, or all zucchini. You can even add an extra squash or zucchini. Do (almost) whatever you want, it’s hard to mess up something with this much butter, cheese, and bread. Whatever you do, make sure you save any leftover salsa verde to spread on your next BLT or turkey sandwich. -GS
SO YOU’RE IN DENIAL THAT THESE ARE THE LAST WEEKS OF WARM WEATHER & BOUGHT POUNDS AND POUNDS OF LATE SUMMER PRODUCE
The Infamous Plum Torte: It’s perfect in a regular cake pan, but I’m also known to bake it in a buttered 8” nonstick skillet. You can bake this in larger pans, but I prefer a thick layer of batter so that the center bakes into a sort of custard-cake hybrid and the top is crispy, sweet and golden. Late summer fruit like plums, peaches, figs, or a mix of all 3 get nice and jammy in the oven, but berries also work beautifully, and I’m always tempted to toss in chocolate chips instead of fruit. I also like to brown the stick of butter and add an ice cube (see Cookie Fact #8), let it cool in the fridge until it’s the texture of room temperature butter, and then use that in the recipe for an even deeper, more luxurious tasting cake. Find the recipe here and here and here and probably a lot of other places. Yeah, we told you it’s a BIG DEAL.
Chicken with Roasted Stone Fruit and Onions: Roast your stone fruit for dinner with chicken thighs and red onions. This recipe is so simple, especially if you skip the fennel seed step (my spice budget is already allocated to spicy cinnamon, flaky salt and painfully expensive vanilla extract) and use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I top the pan with extra lemon juice and eat it with a big salad and crunchy slices of grilled homemade bread.
Gazpacho, Two Ways: I once played a game of ‘Marry-Fuck-Kill’ with my sister but instead of unattainable men, I swapped in Peaches, Corn, & Tomatoes. We concluded you must fuck tomatoes because although they’re the best, they’re a fleeting temptress, coming and going whenever they please. If you did get your hands on some of this summer’s last tomatoes, one of the best things you can make is gazpacho. If you prefer a chunky gazpacho, my favorite recipe comes from unofficial summer queen, the Barefoot Contessa herself. However, my all-time favorite is 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 served super cold, topped with a drizzle of your best olive oil and a copious amount of fresh pepper and flaky salt. For bonus points, I’ll top it with fennel fronds from what I mistook for a very full dill plant at the store. Or scratch all that and make another BLT, we support you.
Just… eat it. A sliced, salted and cinnamon-ed peach with a big spoonful of fancy nut butter. Bread + the best butter you can find (this is my favorite) + fat slices of tomato + salt. Figs from the fridge, plums from the icebox.
It’s been a week of great TV premieres from across the pond, from new seasons of Great British Baking Show to Drag Race UK. And my Love Island-induced accent was just wearing off! Regardless, even the first sight of the bake-off tent fills my black little heart with intense joy and a strong desire to dig the malt powder out from the back of my cabinet. I look forward to seeing the Italian engineer and the German engineer in the finals, alongside the requisite underdog 19-year-old (this year she’s vegan!) I could spend hours spitballing food-themed drag names (mine is Zooey Béchamel), so I was extremely happy to see Choriza May enter the workroom with the best entrance line we’ve got on Drag Race in some time. We, of course, got plenty of perfect memes from both shows, but this has got to be my favorite:
My life summed up in a single tweet:
And finally, why you’re all here in the first place: