My mother worked as a teacher’s aide at my elementary school for much of my and my sister’s childhood. She would get out around 2 or 2:30 p.m., come home and start cooking dinner. Every night, we would sit down at 5:30 p.m. to have whatever came off the stove or out of the oven. This means that she had anywhere between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to prepare dinner each night.
I’m not sure any employed person has this kind of time anymore to work on the evening meal and expect to eat before 8 p.m. This isn’t a prelude to a rant about this dissolution of the American family because both parents work, or because we don’t all sit down to dinner anymore. It’s more a feeling of bewilderment that someone had that kind of time during the day. (The tradeoff, of course, was that my mother made next to nothing, though she did get the sweet school district health insurance.)
This recipe’s three parts add up to about 1 3/4 hours of cooking time, not including prep. This is exactly the type of dinner my mother would make, but is completely unheard of now. It’s the type of thing you buy frozen or as takeout.
Or that you can make ahead of time.
Continue reading Meatless Monday: Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella
Very rarely does soup come together in less than an hour. One of the great things about a soup is that it sits on the stove, simmering and reducing itself into super-concentrated flavor from meat or veggies in the pot. I was a little skeptical at the recipe for tonight’s offering from Serious Eats, as it promised a total work time of 40 minutes.
But when you read the instructions, the only flavors that need to meld are the garlic, onions, stock and the tomatoes, which receive plenty of time to work together in the beginning. The chickpeas don’t offer much in the way of flavor, adding starch, bulk and protein instead. The Swiss chard absorbs the flavor from the broth. The key here is salt and making sure you use plenty of it. Sea salt probably works best here since you can season without the added sodium (sort of the “tastes great, less filling” argument). Continue reading Meatless Monday: Tomato-chickpea soup with Swiss chard and rice
What I know about barley can be summed up in a soup bowl, usually with a thick beef broth and some hunks of top round. What I did not know is that it is a grass native to Egypt and, according to the Purdue University School of Agriculture, it is the fourth-most important grain grown in the United States.
It is also one of the cheapest grains you can buy; a 16-ounce bag of Goya-brand pearled barley is $1.19 at Wegmans. The cup I used for this recipe came from a bag I bought last winter and keep in an airtight container. I probably should throw it out, but there’s still about a third of a bag left and I would hate to waste it.
Continue reading Meatless Monday: Barley stew with leeks, mushrooms and greens
The Italians love their soup. At least the Italian-Americans do. As a child, there was one shelf in our pantry that devoted to cans of soup. The basement freezer that kept the meat cold also held an endless supply of frozen soup.
Meatless Monday during the winter typically brings a combination of pasta and veggies and soup, more often than not it’s the latter. Time becomes a problem here, as the best soups often take more than an hour to prepare, which is often impossible on a Monday evening. A soup like this can start on Sunday and finish on Monday, as the tomatoes can be roasted separately without compromising the flavor of the soup. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Roasted tomato, garbanzo and chard soup
We’ve done this before, but I wanted to add a couple of quick notes. I bought what could be the largest head of broccoli I’ve ever seen while at the regional market this weekend. I mean, look at this thing…
All said and done, it produced about a pound of florets that I mixed with Trader Joe’s Lemon and Pepper Pappardelle. I tweaked the original recipe slightly for tonight, but it stays close to what I made in my original post. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Pasta with broccoli
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
For a while, I taught evening graphic design and English courses at a local junior college. Dinner on those evenings varied from leftovers to salad to soup. For a while, I went through an udon streak. Wegmans carries instant udon soup in about four or five different flavors, much like ramen. After a while of watching me eat it, The Wife got curious and fired up a bowl of it for dinner before I got home one night. The result was my buying twice as many packages each week. I think its the texture that I like best in this noodle. The thick rice udon is a little gummier than typical pasta, but not in a gluey, sticky sort of way.
Always on the look out for something new, I ran across this recipe from Serious Eats. I was immediately intrigued. Sadly, Wegmans’ robust Asian grocery section failed me. No kombu. No katsuobushi. No watercress. No tofu. And, the Asian grocery on the east side is closed on Sundays, so my choices were limited. Rather than make my own dashi for this soup, I bought the powdered dashi mix sold at the store. In the interest of full disclosure, I had no idea what dried bonito flakes were until I looked it up online. Naturally, I was skeptical how dried tuna would translate into soup. You should know that smell that comes from the jar of dashi is vile; there is no question that fish, or some sort of fish product, is inside. I swapped out the kombu for some dried wakame to add a little color and flavor to the broth. Speaking of the broth, the mirin and soy provides a phenomenal contrast to the salty, fishy flavor. The Wife already packed the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Continue reading Monday Dinner: Niku Udon
I like meat. I like pie. Empanada translates to meat pie. You really can’t go wrong.
The recipe at for pulled pork empanadas at Serious Eats caught my eye and, since I did not have anything better on tap, this looked like worthy. I happened to have some empanada discs in my freezer (What? You don’t?) so getting this together was going to be pretty easy. Wegmans carries Dinosaur Barbque pulled pork, a pre-cooked refrigerated pork that isn’t overly sauced like some other brands. I would have liked to make my own pork shoulder, but on a weeknight three minutes in the microwave beats 12 hours of slow cooking.
The end result was pretty good, but it was missing something. I think a little Monterrey jack cheese or even something more exotic like cotija might provide a contrasting sharpness. But, that said, these were pretty solid as is. Continue reading Monday Dinner: Pulled pork empanadas