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
I’m not sure I can quantify The Wife’s dislike for peas. It’s odd. They are innocuous little things, full of vitamins and fiber, and they’ve never done anything to harm anyone, particularly her. Still, there she is, sneering at the little buggers when I serve them.
In an effort to get her to eat some peas and see if the appearance of the green sphere would take some of the edge off, I went with a soup from Kitchen Confidence: Essential Recipes and Tips That Will Help You Cook Anything by Kelsey Nixon. It’s a nifty little book. Anyhow, Kelsey purees the peas, mixes them with some stock and dairy, and BAM!, soup. So, how did it go over? Continue reading Meatless Monday: Sweet Pea Soup
The best reason I can come up with for why I don’t use more black-eyed peas is that I never really ate them while growing up. We all branch out and try new things, but when it comes to things like beans, I think we just lean on the familiar. Cannellini beans are popular in Italian cooking. Black-eyed peas are popular in Southern cooking styles and dishes like Hoppin’ John. So, maybe it’s not so unusual.
Anyhow, black-eyed peas are high in calcium, folates, protein, dietary fiber and vitamin A. When paired with kale, high in vitamin A, C, K and calcium, you can get a lot of nutrients out of a meal.
The original recipe included sausage, but it was easy to eliminate it for Meatless Monday purposes.
Continue reading Meatless Monday: Kale and Black-Eyed Pea Soup
As the pall of autumn casts itself upon us, Meatless Monday will likely incorporate more dishes like this offering. Soup seems to be a rather easy meatless option for us here at Al Dente HQ. It was a staple food in both The Wife and my house as children. I’ve talked about my family’s attachment to escarole soup in the past. The Wife and I were both raised on the little pearl pasta known as acini di pepe, or pastina.
Frankly, there’s no better smell in a house than the combination of celery, onion, bay leaf and chicken (or beef) broth bubbling away on a stovetop.
Continue reading Meatless Monday: Gnocchi and Spinach Soup
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
Al Dente HQ is in the process of having its roof replaced. I’ll spare you, dear reader, the messy details about the job itself other than to say that the work crew has been here longer than planned and it’s not their fault.
As a result of the increased traffic and trucks in my driveway, I really don’t have a lot of room to haul out my grill at night. So, the pound of ground lamb waits in the fridge for another day. And, on a day where we topped out near 80 degrees, I made soup.
(Tangent: We went long stretches in Syracuse during the month of August where it didn’t hit 80 degrees, and not it has done so three times in the past seven days in September.)
So, soup on a
hot warm day isn’t the worst thing thing in the world. This particular entry from Jennifer Olvera at Serious Eats has a crisp citrus flavor, which surprises you at each spoonful. Continue reading Wednesday Dinner: Spicy Cuban Shrimp Soup
It pays to read recipes.
Take tonight, for instance. I had skimmed this recipe by Merrill Stubbs at Food52.com for a broccoli soup. It looked like a quick dinner that I could pull together within an hour with little prep work. Apparently, my haphazard Sunday read led to my missing the very important step where I was supposed to saute the broccoli for an hour. One step for an hour.
Of course, I didn’t notice this until well after I had chopped the broccoli and started boiling water. I really have to spend more time reading the damn instructions before settling on something for dinner. So, in an effort to speed things along and cut out the hourlong saute session, I slightly overcooked the broccoli during the boil to soften it.
Continue reading Meatless Monday: Broccoli and Lemon Soup
Bisques are fun. They are creamy and thick, but are balanced by the ever so slight flavor of a wine and the dominant primary ingredient — typically mushroom or seafood.
This…was not a bisque. No, this was more like cream of spinach soup. This bothers me some as I actually cut as much extra liquid as I could, knowing that this would be too watery. In the end, it was a good soup but I felt like something didn’t work right.
Maybe the recipe developer didn’t take into account that the spinach would drop its water or that 4 cups of broth was far too much. You expect a bisque to cling to your spoon and warm you from inside, like a chowder. This was fine, but less than advertised. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Spinach and Goat Cheese Bisque