Tag Archives: carrots

Saturday Dinner: Chocolate Stout Braised Short Ribs

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Cold weather is settling in, so we turn our hymnals to those slow-cooked, warm-you-from-the-inside-out recipes that fuel us during the fall and winter. The type of recipe that you start at 1 or 2 p.m. and let roll until 5 or 6 p.m. The type of recipe that involves braising. The first thing I toss in the braising pan each fall are short ribs, simply because they are so good and so easy to make. Sear them, cook the veg, toss in some liquid and move to the oven for the afternoon.

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The problem is that I like my short ribs with bones. The bone’s marrow adds a lot of flavor and richness to sauce and they are typically cheaper than the boneless variety. Yes, you spend more money to get the quantity of meat you want, but it’s worth it for the flavor. According to the moustached man in the Wegmans Fairmount meat department, they stopped getting short ribs with bones weeks ago. While grocers charge more for the boneless variety, Mr. Moustache told me that wholesalers can get more for the bone-in variety from restaurants, who like the bone for presentation purposes. So, instead of $7.49/lb., I was left with $9.99/lb. for meat that was once considered a throwaway cut of beef.

“I remember when we used to just grind short ribs for hamburger,” said Mr. Moustache. “Some joker went on TV, made them famous, and now we charge $10 a pound.”

He’s absolutely right.

Continue reading Saturday Dinner: Chocolate Stout Braised Short Ribs


Al Dente On The Side: Pureed Parsnips and Carrots

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I’m declaring this the year of root vegetables here at Al Dente HQ. Brussels sprouts had been the go-to veggie here, and while they will still get their due, you will see more parsnips, turnips, celery root, and carrots here. I could have done a puree with any of these as the root veggies at Saturday’s CNY Regional Market all looked good.

In the past, parsnips would be tossed with oil and other veggies, and go in the oven as a side. I was looking for a slightly different presentation to go with the short ribs I made on Saturday night.

Mashed potatoes would be the natural, traditional side here. Since parsnips mash and whip like a potato, going with a puree is an easy choice. A little dairy gives it some creaminess, but otherwise the veg does all of the work here. Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: Pureed Parsnips and Carrots

Meatless Monday: Brothy, Garlicky Beans

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Convenience. It’s typically why I don’t use dry beans, going for the canned variety instead. While I plan dinners ahead of time each week, I rarely decide a given evening’s more than a few hours in advance. Soaking beans overnight requires more planning than the average Al Dente meal receives.

So, canned it is. Except when it isn’t. One of the things that stood out to me in Merrill Stubbs’ recipe at Food52 was the rapid soak-and-cook method of handling the beans. It worked…sort of.

I was a little disappointed that the beans weren’t softer, even after soaking them before boiling. In total, I soaked the beans for two hours, boiled them then let them sit for another hour. They were still a little too hard.  Continue reading Meatless Monday: Brothy, Garlicky Beans

Thursday Dinner: Muffaletta Burger

2014-07-31 at 17-22-58There has been a bottle of Central Grocery olive salad in my fridge since I returned from New Orleans this winter. I have broken it out for muffalettas, sandwiches and as a snack (a spoonful of olive salad at the right moment can fix everything wrong in the world), but I’ve been trying to figure out other ways to deploy it.

There was almost always a bottle of giardiniera in my house as a kid. Most of the time, it was store bought from William’s or one of the Italian grocery stores on the North side. Every so often, my father or mother would get ambitious and make their own. It actually doesn’t seem all that difficult, combining olives, carrots, cauliflower, celery and onions in a olive oil brine, but for something I only eat once in a great while, it strikes me as not worth the time or money.

That said, I still have this bottle of stuff from Central Grocery.

(Tangental side note: I really want to go back to New Orleans. Coincidentally, I also need to put a new roof on my house. I’m thinking that the order of priority will not go in my favor here.) Continue reading Thursday Dinner: Muffaletta Burger

Eat The Freezer/Meatless Monday: Kale and white bean stew

NOTE: Remember when The Cosby Show or The Golden Girls would run a clip show? Welcome to my version of a clip show. Eat The Freezer is where we work through the frozen leftovers in my basement freezer.

NOTE II: The quart in the freezer was a little low on liquid, so I added a can of vegetable broth to bulk it up.

This is getting annoying.

For the second straight meal, I’ve made a stew that didn’t thicken. (Side note: I know, for all of the things I could complain about and things that could be wrong, I’m complaining about a stew that will not thicken.) Saturday’s chicken and biscuits came out soupy, as did tonight’s.

Now, I didn’t mind that this came out more like greens and beans and less like a bean stew. I guess I was just a little disappointed, again, in Bon Appetit for tossing out another recipe that came up just a little short.

WHAT WORKED: The ingredients themselves made for a nice combination and a hearty soup.

WHAT DIDN’T: It needed salt. Desperately.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “It’s missing something. I’m not sure what it is, but it needs something.” SALT! It’s missing salt, woman!

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It certainly will, thanks to the leftover quart in my freezer. Continue reading Eat The Freezer/Meatless Monday: Kale and white bean stew

Wednesday dinner: Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Mix it all you want. Leave that damn thing uncovered. It can stand for a week. Something is up with this recipe.

Even though I followed it to the letter, I ran into an issue with there being a ton of liquid in the baking dish when I spooned out portions for The Wife and I. The veggies at the bottom were swimming in the puddled stock at the bottom of my Pyrex dish.

I usually don’t have these problems with Smitten Kitchen recipes. They’re, for the most part, rock solid and easily attainable. I’m chalking this up to somewhere between operator error and a necessary adjustment in the amount of stock used. Continue reading Wednesday dinner: Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Saturday dinner: Chicken and biscuits

Entertaining a group is a challenge, in a good way. Entertaining a group that has children involved is just a challenge.

I use the opportunity of having friends over for dinner to try something new. Try something new, pull out some stops, and leave ’em wanting more, right? The problem is that one can’t get particularly crazy when kids are involved. You still have to stay pretty vanilla to keep their attention.

Saturday night brought friends to the house, including two single-digit aged boys. Now, since The Kid exists solely on breakfast food, I don’t worry too much about her. Our friends’ sons are less picky about the food they eat, but I did not want to do anything to scare them away from the table.

Autumn brings the clarion call for comfort food. A stew sounded good, but I wanted something more. The best chicken and biscuits I’ve ever had is served on a regular basis at Jake Hafner’s in North Syracuse. I figured the chicken stew would be easy and that I would just pick up some biscuits during Saturday’s trip to the farmer’s market.

Wrong. Continue reading Saturday dinner: Chicken and biscuits

Meatless Monday: Go Veggies’ lentil burgers

One of the things I love about the CNY Regional Market is the vast variety of vendors.  Vegetables aside, I counted two seafood stands, four cattle or pig farms, two dairy farms, five bakeries and two or three “miscellaneous” type vendors. One of the latter was a stand from Go Veggies, a Buffalo-based cafe that makes vegan food for its diners and for sale.

The Go Veggies story is actually pretty cool. The owner, a native of Sri Lanka, is a computer programmer turned chef, who opened his business in a shared community kitchen. The popularity of his product propelled him into his own space and, later, a cafe on Bryant Street. His business plan includes a booth at the market.

The Wife and I were intrigued by the stand and the sign for carrot burgers. The hook for me, though, was the lentil burgers also for sale. We picked up a package of four for $7, got our cooking instructions (more on that later) and made our way through the building. The ingredients were simple: lentils, carrots, chickpeas, brown rice, and spices. The burgers are packed to about 1/2-inch thick and frozen, separated by sheets of wax paper. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Go Veggies’ lentil burgers