Tuesday Dinner: Pasta With Mushrooms in a Mustard Cream Sauce

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The Sister pinned a recipe the other day on Pinterest that looked really good. As I tend to do when this happens, I repinned the recipe to my Things I Want To Cook board and checked out the originating website.


I was struck by the beauty of the design, followed by the wonderful array of recipes displayed at Seasons & Suppers. Written by a Muskoka, Ontario resident named Jennifer, S&S cues up recipes based on the seasonally available ingredients in her hometown, located just east of Lake Huron in the central part of the province.  Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Kale and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

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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.

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Grocery List: October 19, 2014


“You’re aging right before my eyes.”

The Wife and I watched a lot of television before The Kid came along. We were series regulars to about a half-dozen shows. After The Wife gave birth, the regularity with which we watch television was shattered. That’s okay because, well, I don’t feel too bad about it. I couldn’t really declare a loyalty to a television show, since our viewing patterns were messed up.

A couple of years ago, we got into Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown, and it became appointment television for us. The storytelling is as good as it gets, while the cinematography is amazing. And, on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself wanting to hop on a plane to eat exactly what Bourdain ate. Aside from that, Tosh.0 and Key & Peele have become the only shows that we watch regularly.

I noticed a disturbing trend this fall. The Wife and I watching a lot more PBS, and for the children’s programming. The Wife, a history teacher with a particular interest in immigrant history, likes Henry Louis Gates’ show Finding Your Roots. The desert of decent television on Mondays has led us to an old standby: Antiques Roadshow. I’ve found myself DVR’ing Nova and Frontline more. I usually end up watching Newshour 3 to 4 times a week. As I write this on Saturday night, The Wife tells me that I’m aging right before her eyes. Why? A 1978 edition of The Lawrence Welk Show“Salute To Our Senior Citizens” — is on our 50-inch Panasonic plasma television.

I’m beginning to get worried. I’ve always had a bit the curmudgeonly old man in me, yelling at kids on my damn lawn. But, I’m concerned that I’ve slipped into my middle-aged years a little quickly.

My exact age never really bothered me. My 30th birthday was pretty anticlimactic; I thought 35 was worse, because I had moved into a new demographic grouping (from 25-34 to 35-44). The idea of getting older doesn’t really appeal to me too greatly. For a long time, I was the youngest person in my office. Now I’m somewhere in the middle to high range on the chart.

On Friday night, The Wife and I went to Lewis Black’s show at The OnCenter. We were expecting a 30 to 50 year old crowd, but it was more of a 60+ set. We found ourselves one of the youngest in the crowd by a couple of decades. It was strange.

So, maybe I have nothing to worry about. Maybe I am still young.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, one of Lawrence Welk’s singers is doing “Among My Souvenirs.”

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Sunday Dinner: Pork-Hominy Stew

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Sunday was spent supporting our area’s agritourism industry, which is to say that The Wife and I took The Kid to Critz Farm in Cazenovia for some autumntime fun. I’ll write more later about why Critz’s fall festival weekends are awesome, but my point here is that a day at the farm meant that I wouldn’t have time to grocery shop or fuss much over dinner.

Last week I bought a boneless pork shoulder at Wegmans. I had no real plan for it when I tossed it in the cart. I do this from time to time as my Iron Chef skills test here at Al Dente HQ. Pork shoulders are awesome and versatile and I figured, at worst, I would make a pork ragu to serve over pasta. Continue reading

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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

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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

Meatless Monday: Macaroni and Cheese Part IX

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Part of our continuing series on the glory and splendor that is macaroni and cheese. See Parts: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII.

So, this recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation.

Food blogging is an area where plagiarizing someone else’s work is very easy to do. Let’s take macaroni and cheese. No one holds a trademark on it, so ingredient lists are not unique or special. The recipe as it is written by the person who developed it, however, is. I come up with about half of the recipes that I have published her at Al Dente. The other half come from a book or website. Those works are protected by copyright and, while I do give credit, I’m careful how I use these items because I don’t seek permission from an author or publisher before I use the recipe. Transcribing Donald Link’s recipe for his smoked sausage and pork belly cassoulet, as it appeared in his latest cookbook, would be wrong on so many levels. Continue reading

Grocery List: October 12, 2014

The Kid and The Wife at Critz Farms in Fall 2013. We'll withhold their names to protect their identity.
The Kid and The Wife at Critz Farms in Fall 2013. We’ll withhold their names to protect their identity.

It’s tough to construct a grocery list when you haven’t determined what you are having for dinner this week. I woke up at 8, went out to procure coffee, returned, played Bingo with The Kid, got some stuff rolling for dinner, changed and now I’m writing. For once, I’m actually holding everyone else up, as we are due to depart anytime now for Critz Farms in Cazenovia with a stop over at a nearby gas station.

We try to get out to Caz and Critz once each fall for their festival weekends. They have a massive play area for children, plus the promise of apples, cider and pumpkins for The Kid. The connected Harvest Moon Cidery is also a nice  diversion for my liver. For $20 bucks or so, you get access to just about everything, including a hard cider tasting. The pass you buy on your first visit gets you in for the rest of the season. If we weren’t 45 minutes away, it would be a tremendous value, simply because we would make 3 or 4 trips. Instead, it’s a reasonably-priced way to spend a Sunday at a great local business.

And did I mention the hard cider?



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