Tag Archives: mirepoix

Meatless Monday: Kale-Quinoa Minestrone

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In most parts of the country, autumn is a transitional season where summer slowly transitions into winter. Leaves turn colors, fields are harvested and turned for the next season, and our sleeves get longer.

Here in Central New York, autumn lasts about three weeks. September gets progressively colder, so much so that you think it is October already. By the time Halloween hits, parents debate whether snowsuits are necessary underneath the costume for trick or treating. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Kale-Quinoa Minestrone


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

Sunday Dinner: Chicken Stew

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It’s not what I would call and “ordinary” chicken stew, nor would I call it chicken casserole, as authors Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn did in their book, My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve. The story behind the dish is that Armstrong was cooking a chicken casserole on his off-day from helming the kitchen at D.C.’s Restaurant Eve. He got a call that President Obama was headed in for dinner. So, he stopped what he was doing, ran into work and cooked. He has included this story and recipe, which he calls President Obama Stew, in the aforementioned book.

This was a great Saturday evening dinner: there are a lot of ingredients, the recipe goes slowly and every flavor complements one another. It’s quite a thing.

Continue reading Sunday Dinner: Chicken Stew

Tuesday dinner: Chicken and wild rice soup

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Chicken breasts have been a staple in my kitchen since college. We went through so many that I would buy the big frozen bag from BJ’s on a monthly basis. Gradually, I shifted to buying them at the grocery store and trimming my own. But, recently I’ve converted from buying chicken breasts to thighs.

2013-02-19 at 17-47-54Think about Thanksgiving. Everyone says they are going to eat healthy and go for white meat, but when you look at their plate, you can see dark meat buried at the bottom. Why? More flavor. Why? More fat, and fat equals flavor. Meat from most animal legs is tough and typically reserved for slow-cooking or braising. Chicken thighs break the rule. They are only slightly tougher than chicken breasts, which can be resolved in most recipes by cooking a little longer, and that fat content is only negligibly higher than breast meat (2.6g per serving for boneless, skinless breasts vs. 3.9g for boneless, skinless thighs), according to the National Chicken Council. And, when you stack them against one another nutritionally, they are not that different. Boneless, skinless breasts have 114 calories, 21.2g protein, and 116mg sodium per serving. Thighs have 119 calories, 19.7g protein, and 86mg sodium.

For me, thighs are more versatile, have more flavor and do not dry out as quickly on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. And, they work quite well in soup (foreshadowing…). Continue reading Tuesday dinner: Chicken and wild rice soup

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