Tag Archives: Rosemary

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


Garden 2013: Day 79


IMG_4275It’s been a while.

Since we last checked in, the herbs have outgrown their planters and the tomatoes survived our trip to Delaware. This is always dicey because of the heat. When it’s too hot, The Mother-In-Law does not spend a lot of time watering. But, they thrived on the sunshine and The Kid picked the first tomatoes on Monday night.

IMG_4279The Kid has been a huge help. Much like last year, she takes great pride in watering the plants. Of course, most nights she waters herself more than the garden, but what are you going to do, right?

The dill needed a serious cutting back last week. I’m hoping I can regenerate enough to make a batch of pickles at the end of the month. Next year, I’ll skip that. The lemon thyme cannot be stopped. Is thyme a weed? It certainly grows like one.

And my cilantro is still alive! With any luck, it holds out long enough for me to get a good crop of tomatoes for salsa. At the very least, it has served us well at dinner time.

The Garden: Day 37


Things look good.

This weekend’s dinner and sides were seasoned from the garden. The lemon thyme was particular fragrant, which is a good thing because it is exploding throughout the planter.IMG_3532


The tomato plants seem to be progressing nicely without the sunshine and heat that they require in order to thrive. They have just about doubled in size.


Garden 2013: Day 17

IMG_3344When we last checked in, the plants had been purchased and were waiting patiently on the back steps to be planted.

Photo May 28, 6 03 54 PMThe Wife, God love her, married plants to dirt on Sunday…just in time for a healthy frost that covered Central New York. This was the same cold front that dropped 30+ inches of snow on Whiteface Mountain over the weekend. We moved them in before heading out for a Sunday evening excursion to Syracuse’s Strathmore neighborhood for dinner and loud conversation, and the overnight in the garage kept them alive.

On Day 17 (May 28), everything was alive and growing. The basil was pressed into service with Tuesday dinner.

Tuesday marked day one of The Kid’s planting project. Last year, The Kid harvested green beans. The Wife let her have a flower this year, which she planted and took great pains to water (along with my herbs and tomatoes).

Photo May 28, 6 01 47 PM Photo May 28, 5 52 55 PM

Garden 2013: The beginning


My gardening woes have been documented at length on this website. Last year was particularly demoralizing when The Kid did a better job of it than I did.

This year, I decided to keep it simple: herbs and a few tomatoes.

Saturday’s trip to the Central New York Regional Market yielded the flowers and hanging baskets to decorate outside, as well as a handful of herbs. This year, we are going with parsley, basil, lemon thyme, cilantro, dill and rosemary. I also have a pack of roma tomatoes, that I will no doubt kill before harvesting any fruit.


I am certain that the cilantro will die before July and that the dill and thyme will explode and overgrow the entire box.

In the past, we have purchased plants from Chuck Hafner’s in North Syracuse. It was the farmstand of my youth and the plants were always hardy and productive. This is the first time that we bought direct from farmers at the market.

Thursday dinner: Hearty White Bean and Spinach Soup with Rosemary and Garlic

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The genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt went vegan this month. If you are not a regular reader of Serious Eats and his Food Lab columns, you’re missing out. He breaks down the science of cooking in an unpretentious manner, showing all the curiosity of the kid on your street who would take apart machines to see how they worked. One of his finest works is a complete deconstruction of an In-N-Out Burger Double-Double Animal-Style.

Regular readers of this blog know that soup is a staple of our diet here at Al Dente HQ and bean soups make more appearances than others, hence this appearance on the blog. The recipe was pretty basic. He used a homemade vegetable stock and I opted for store-bought, otherwise I followed his plan to the letter. It was tough to resist the urge to render a couple of ounces of pancetta for flavor and fat, as I wanted to hold as close to the original as possible. Continue reading Thursday dinner: Hearty White Bean and Spinach Soup with Rosemary and Garlic

Meatless Monday: Pasta and white beans with garlic-rosemary oil

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Smitten Kitchen is the apparent gold standard in terms of food blogs. I know little about the writer and its purpose, but my sister worships at its altar. I think she is trying to work each recipe on the site and in its recently released cookbook, which she received as a Christmas present from The Wife and I.

I think its popularity comes from the beautiful photography and the fun narrative that the writer spins with each recipe. I write a recipe from a more technical standpoint. If I didn’t, I would lose an instruction or ingredient along the way. The writer of SK, who I’ve now discovered is named Deb, injects a lot of personality in her instructions in that, “It’s not that hard. You can do it” sort of way. Good on her. It’s probably part of the reason she gets as many viewers in a week as I get in a year (various sources say that she gets 68,000+ unique visitors per month; I get…less than that). Continue reading Meatless Monday: Pasta and white beans with garlic-rosemary oil

(Sort of) Meatless Monday: Tuscan white bean soup…with pancetta

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I have a weakness. Okay, so I have many weaknesses, but the one I’m going to focus on here is for pancetta. I’m not sure there is a more perfect food to cook with. Sure, it’s full of sodium, fat and cholesterol, but it’s also full of flavor and the (intangible) things that make you proud to be Italian. Let the Irish have their whiskey and corned beef and cabbage. Let the French have their wine and snails. The Germans can keep their schnitzel. I have pancetta, therefore, I win.

And, that’s why this deviates slightly from Meatless Monday. The pancetta provides the fat base for this soup and the cooked pancetta is used as a topping for the hot soup. The pancetta could go away entirely, or just be used for the fat, I suppose. Either way, you get a good Tuscan-style bean soup out of it. Continue reading (Sort of) Meatless Monday: Tuscan white bean soup…with pancetta