Grilled Pork Chops and Vinegar Potatoes

Sunday Dinner – 16 December 2018

Pork Chop Dinner

This week it was grilled pork chops, vinegar potatoes and sautéed green beans for Sunday Dinner.

I usually marinate the chops, but this time I simply seasoned with Custom Culinary Spice and grilled them. I used the Salt & Vinegar Potatoes recipe from Kitchn, and it came out even more delicious this time, roasting the par cooked potatoes on the Genesis. Claudia steamed the green beans for a bit, and then sautéed them with some onions and Penzey’s Mural of Flavor herb mix. She and Aunt Pat made a nice salad with raspberry vinaigrette too.

Wine was the 2017 Crowdpleazin Dry Creek Zinfandel. Really tasty, and we got to try out a Rabbit aerator that Pat gave us. I’d always thought that it was only old, high-tannin reds that could benefit from aeration, but it amped up the bouquet and flavor of this young jammy Cali Zinfandel nicely. Looking forward to trying it on a bottle of white wine soon.

Caroline baked cookies to go with ice cream for dessert.

Grilled Chicken with Pasta Bake

Sunday Dinner – 9 December 2018

Grilled Chicken with Pasta Bake

This week we grilled chicken on the Genesis and Claudia made a nice pasta bake with Ricotta. Wine was a Calavaras County cuvée from F. Stephen Millier.

We have some white meat and some dark meat fans in the group, and it’s taken me awhile to learn how to cook the leg quarters properly. This time, they turned out perfect. I seasoned them with coarse salt, black pepper, Herbs du Provence, garlic and onion powder, and a little MSG. The grill was set up with the outer burners on medium and the center burner off. The chicken went on the cooler part, in the middle, skin side down at first for about twenty minutes. Then I flipped them and let them cook another twenty minutes indirect. This allows the fat underneath the skin to render. Once the internal temperature was around 170 °F I turned the middle burner on as well, and finished them skin side down over direct heat. This crisped up the skin nicely and brought the temp up to 185 in the thigh. I put the breasts on over direct medium heat (one of the outside burners) as the leg quarters were finishing. The legs came off first to rest, so that we could serve everything as soon as the breasts were done (they cooked about twenty minutes total).

The pasta bake was made with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmigiana, with a red sauce on top. Claudia also made a fresh green salad and steamed some broccoli and cauliflower with garlic. Aunt Pat brought cookies and ice cream for dessert.

Linguine con Vongole

Sunday Dinner – 2 December 2018

Linguine con Vongole

This week, I made Linguini with Clam Sauce, an adaptation of a recipe from my friend, Joe Placido.

If you’re an American of a certain age, it’s very likely that you have heard Giuseppe “Joe” Placido’s voice. In the 1980s, he was the announcer for Chrysler Corporation’s “Guaranteed Rebate” advertising campaign. Lee Iacocca heard Joe’s voice on local Detroit radio, and nabbed him right up as the voice of the campaign.

I met Joe in the mid 1970s when we were both working in Decatur, Illinois at WSOY radio. He introduced me to some great music, and some great food. The first “authentic” Italian cuisine I ever tasted was around the table of he and his wife Jini’s apartment. This is one of my favorite recipes, and one of the first things I attempted to cook on my own.

It starts with a sauté of onions and garlic in butter and olive oil. Then you add some salt, Italian herbs and white pepper. Then the juice of a couple cans of chopped clams, and some white wine. Eventually, you add the clams. I usually add some cream or half and half as well. That, the pasta and shredded Parm, and you’re ready to eat.

We enjoyed this with a lovely salad with raspberry vinaigrette that Claudia made, some pesto stuffed mushrooms, and bread with drizzles of Bahue Olive Oil, herbs and Parm shreds. The wines were Sauvignon Blancs. Aunt Pat brought a coconut cream pie for dessert.

Here are some shots from around the table.


Lasagna Two Ways

Sunday Dinner – 18 November 2018

Claudia made two kinds of lasagna this week for Sunday Dinner. The first was Italian Sausage in red sauce. The second was mixed vegetables in white sauce. Both were delicious.

She also made a nice mixed greens salad and baked some garlic bread to go along. Grammy brought hot fudge pudding for dessert. Wine was Miriam Alexandra Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa County.

It was especially nice to have my son James with us this weekend. He’s marvelous company. :)

Yardbird Chili

Sunday Dinner – 11 November 2018

Yardbird Chili

This week we made chicken and white bean chili for Sunday Dinner.

The recipe came from a co-worker of mine nearly thirty years ago. It was based on a popular menu item from Cody’s Roadhouse in Mattoon, Illinois. I’ve adapted it a bit over the years. My version includes 6 cans of Great Northern beans, 4 cups of chicken stock, some grilled chicken strips, two cans of green chilis, four cloves of garlic, a rough chopped onion, 2 teaspoons of cumin, a teaspoon of oregano, salt, cayenne and white pepper to taste. We serve it with grated Jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

I also made Ro*Tel® Queso Dip, and Cowboy Caviar. Dessert was a mixed berry pie à la Mode. The wine was an excellent D. H. Elliott Petite Sirah.

I love meals like this as the weather turns colder.

Hot Browns for Sunday Dinner

4 November 2018

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

This week we had Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches for Sunday Dinner.

It’s been several years since we made these. Aldi’s had a decent price on turkey breasts, so the meal suggested itself, even though it’s not Derby weekend. It was a nasty rainy day here in the Chicago Southland, which prompted us to cook inside for a change. The turkey was done after about an hour and a half in the Nesco roaster at 325 °F. I used white Cheddar in the sauce this time, and I think that was an improvement. We roasted some mini peppers in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Claudia made Green Goddess dressing for a mixed greens salad, and also baked a Jewish Apple Cake with fresh whipped cream for dessert.

Jewish Apple Cake

Wine was a delicious Evangelos Bagias Zinfandel from Lodi. I also snuck in a couple of Jim Beam Old Fashioneds, because Kentucky.

If you’re a fan of food history, here’s the story of the Hot Brown, from the hotel that gave the sandwich its name. They have a pretty decent recipe too, of course. :)

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sunday Dinner – 28 October 2018

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This week we tried our hand at an updated version of Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I used the RecipeTin Eats instructions, and they turned out beautiful. These cuts were a little large, so they took some additional time in the oven. Otherwise, I followed the “super easy method” to the letter. The mustard sauce was especially good.

Claudia made mashed potatoes and salad for sides, and I baked a green bean casserole. Wine was a Coloma Zinfandel.

Spicy Artichoke Alfredo

Sunday Dinner – 21 October 2018

Spicy Artichoke Alfredo

Claudia made one of our favorite dishes for Sunday Dinner this week.

Aunt Pat is back with us from her trip out west, and we also were happy to have our son, James, visiting this weekend. Claudia made Fettuccini Alfredo, with marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and chilis. It’s been a family favorite for years. She also cooked broccoli with garlic butter, and made a beautiful green salad.

We started with some antipasti (cheeses, salami, olives, etc.). The wine was Jacqueline Bahue’s delicious Sauvignon Blanc. Aunt Pat provided dessert, a lovely lemon pie from Baker’s Square.

Recipe for the pasta dish to come, if I can talk Claudia into it. :)

Turning Another Bird

Sunday Dinner – 14 October 2018

Rotisserie Cooking

We roasted another chicken on the Weber Kettle rotisserie this week.

This was about a six pound bird. I dry brined it, seasoning with course salt and black pepper Saturday night. Sunday morning I also hit it with garlic powder, onion powder, Herbs de Provence and a little MSG. Hickory chunks added the fire spice. Since it was largish, it took about an hour and a half to get the temp up to 165 °F in the center of the breast. I also par cooked three pounds of potatoes in the microwave for about ten minutes before putting them in the drip pan. There’s really nothing like potatoes that have roasted with chicken drippings.

Claudia made a nice salad and cooked some fresh green beans. We also had radishes and cornichons. The wine was a deliciously bracing Bokisch Andrus Vineyard Albariño from Lodi.

Sunday Dinner Plated

Claudia also baked cupcakes for dessert.


Pork Burgers and Corn Relish

Sunday Dinner – 7 October 2018

Sunday Dinner Plated

Every now and then I get a craving for corn relish. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened last weekend. I looked around the condiments, pickles and salsas in three different grocery stores and wasn’t able to find any. So I decided to make it myself.

Corn Relish

It wasn’t that difficult. The canning jar that I used was big enough for a double batch, so when it was safely in the fridge, it occurred to me that we could have it for a side dish at this week’s Sunday Dinner. Then the question became what to do for a main.

Pork burgers came to mind, and my memory went wandering back to the first time I ever ate them as a child. I can still vividly remember the smell of the charcoal, and that first amazing umami bomb bite. It’s my first memory of charcoal grilled food, and I remember it being the most delicious thing I had ever tasted at the time.

The way I remembered it, my brother-in-law, Berwyn, had grilled them, and he had used a special seasoning from the Illinois Pork Producers Association. This was fifty years or so ago, though, so I wasn’t sure. After researching online to no avail, I fired off an email to my sister, which began “This may sound crazy…”

Turns out that the memory was correct, and that their family still uses the spice to this day. Vicki was able to give me an Amazon link, and even went so far as to contact the Pork Producers to find out if it was the same spice recipe as the one made in the 1960s. They said that it is. It’s made by the folks from Custom Culinary in Oswego, Illinois.

So I was all set to relive the taste this weekend, except that the shipment of the seasoning wouldn’t arrive in time.

I improvised, after looking at the ingredients label, with a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard and MSG. I also seasoned the burgers with salt and pepper. They turned out great. Mrs. Noe said “I like these better than hamburgers.”

Pork Burgers on the Genesis

I also made potatoes with vinegar and salt, which was a hit.

Crispy Vinegar and Salt Potatoes

Claudia made a terrific salad, as usual, and she and our daughter, Caroline, made apple crisp for dessert.

Apple Crisp

Wine was a Columbia Valley Riesling from Aldi’s that was really quite nice.

I still have some of the Custom Culinary seasoning on the way, and am looking forward to trying that before long.

And we’re counting down two more weeks until Aunt Pat joins us at table again. :)

Red Beans and Rice for Sunday Dinner

30 September 2018

Red Beans and Rice

We attended a performance of our local theater company this afternoon, so we wanted to prepare a crockpot meal for Sunday Dinner.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice is one of our favorites, and couldn’t be simpler. I gently sautéed some Cajun Trinity (onions, bell peppers and celery), adding some minced garlic towards the end, then added it to a crock pot with red beans, Worcestershire Sauce, black pepper, a couple of bay leaves, some dried parsley, Tabasco Sauce and liquid smoke.

This turned out delicious, as always. Claudia made a lovely banana cake with chocolate frosting for dessert. In keeping with the Louisiana theme, I had a Sazerac cocktail before dinner, and we opened the last bottle of one of my favorite French wines (a Côtes Catalanes) to drink with the meal.



Ratatouille Casserole

Sunday Dinner – 23 September 2018

ratatouille casserole

Claudia is on a ten day green smoothie cleanse, so I wanted something for this Sunday that wasn’t too incompatible. This dish is mostly baked veggies, so I figured it would fill the bill.

I sautéed some onions and garlic in a cast iron skillet, deglazed with red wine, then added a can of tomato paste, some thyme and S&P. Then, off heat, I made concentric circles of yellow squash, eggplant, orange pepper, zucchini, and red pepper. Once the whole thing was in place, I drizzled olive oil over the top, and sprinkled with the same seasonings.

After about 45 minutes in a 375 oven, and a little grated Asiago, it was ready to serve, along with Penne, salad, and some French Bread with olive oil and HDP.

Ratatouille and Pasta

Grammy brought another nice pie for dessert this week.

Wine was a marvelous Cabernet Franc from Jacqueline Bahue.

We’re missing Aunt Pat during her travels, and look forward to her joining us at table again in a few weeks. I think she would have liked the “Traditional French” music station from Pandora that we had playing during dinner.


Another Long Cook

Sunday Dinner – 16 September 2018

This is the first time we’ve repeated a main course for Sunday Dinner in 2018. We had a six pound Boston Butt in the freezer, and the weather was favorable, so it was hard to resist the long cook.

I was up at around 6:30 AM to set up the Weber Kettle and start the coals. I’d rubbed the pork shoulder Saturday Evening with my usual seasonings, and set up the Kettle as usual with a drip pan full of water between ten unlit briquettes on each side. I added several lit coals and some wood chunks before placing the pork on the grate. After about three hours, I wrapped the pork in foil to get it through the stall, and eventually moved it over to the Genesis Gas Grill to finish. After about six and a half hours total, the internal temp was 203 degrees F. We let it rest for about another hour before shredding.

I’d made pasta salad on Friday evening, and Claudia made a delicious green salad, plus some truly amazing green beans with onions and bacon for sides. The wine was from F. Stephen Millier (a Lodi Shiraz which paired perfectly with the barbecue). Claudia also made brownies for dessert.

We’re missing Aunt Pat while she spends some time with family out west. It was another lovely Sunday with Grammy and Grampy, though. It’s such a blessing to be able to be in their company each week.

Chili con Tres Frijoles

Sunday Dinner – 9 September 2018

This was one of the first things that I learned to cook well, and remains a favorite after decades.

It starts with a sauté of onions and garlic, which goes into the crock with kidney beans, pintos, black beans, diced tomatoes, some picante sauce, cocoa powder, liquid smoke, S&P, a bottle of beer and a package of Chili Man seasoning. Usually I add a couple of dried whole cayennes, but we’ve finally run out of the ones we’d grown and dried years ago. I started this on low at 8 PM Saturday night. This morning I cut up a couple of green peppers to add, checked seasonings, and added a little more ground black pepper and some kosher salt. At the very end, I added a handful of rolled oats.

I used to make cornbread from a Miracle Maize mix, but nowadays I mix it up from scratch – 1 1/4 cups of cornmeal, 3/4 cup of flour, 2 T sugar, 2 t baking powder, and 1 t coarse salt for the dry ingredients, then 1 1/4 cup of milk, 1 egg and half a stick of melted butter for the wet. Half an hour in the oven at 375 does the trick.

We served this with chopped avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream. I put Cholula sauce in my bowl. Grampy always has a little maple syrup on his cornbread on the side. The ladies opted for no wine this week. I opened a bottle of Shiner Bock for me, and a can of Busch NA for Grampy (which seemed to agree with him).

Grammy brought an incredible triple berry pie for dessert.

Triple Berry Pie

We missed Aunt Pat this week as she had other family obligations.

I’m looking forward to chili cheeseburgers for supper one night this week.

Zini al Forno, Salsiccia con Peperoni

Sunday Dinner – 2 September 2018

Baked Ziti

For this Sunday we made Baked Ziti and grilled Italian Sausages with peppers and onions.

I use the Ziti al Forno recipe from the Sopranos Family Cookbook – one of our favorites for years. We also sliced a couple of onions and four bell peppers for the bed underneath the sausages. I put them in an aluminum pan on the grill with olive oil for ten or fifteen minutes, then poured in a bottle of Pinot Noir, and placed the sausages on top. After turning the sausages every five minutes for about half-an-hour, I moved those to the grill grates for a few minutes before bringing the entire pan inside.

Italian Sausages

Claudia and Aunt Pat also prepared a salad, and breaded some zucchini slices with egg wash, bread crumbs and grated cheese that we grilled on the plancha.

Zucchini on the Grill

Everything was delicious. Dessert was a lovely cake that our Cousin Jennifer had brought us earlier this weekend, simply known as “The Cake.”

Farsi Chicken and Grilled Peppers

Sunday Dinner – 26 August 2018

Chicken and Peppers

We’re celebrating Aunt Pat’s birthday this week, so we made barbecue chicken for Sunday Dinner. Last weekend I told her the story of our Farsi Chicken recipe, so Claudia and I decided to go with that. Luckily this time I was vigilant, and didn’t burn it to a crisp.

Claudia made Basmati rice with Garam Masala, and we also grilled some peppers as a side. I made two of our favorite Wisconsin Supper Club appetizers, marinated olives and marinated mushrooms, and also churned up some lemon custard ice cream for dessert. The wine was an exceptional 2010 Côtes du Rhône.

Everything turned out just about right.

Deutsche Senfbraten

Sunday Dinner – 19 August 2018


Still clearing out the freezer, so I decided to make pork roast with mustard gravy this week from a five pound pork loin.

The recipe came from The Daring Gourmet. Essentially, you slather the roast with mustard, brown it in a Dutch Oven, add some aromatics, wine and broth, and cook it at 325 for three hours. When everything comes out, you add a flour and stock slurry and simmer to thicken the gravy.

This is the sort of simple, savory food that my mother would have prepared when I was a child. I don’t remember her ever cooking this particular recipe, but the flavors brought back memories nonetheless.

Grampy’s 80th birthday is coming up in a few days, and he does love his pork, so I figured it would be a fitting dinner this weekend.

Aunt Pat had other family obligations today, so she didn’t join us, but we did have a chance to get together with her and Claudia’s cousins, Dan and Monica (and Monica’s husband, Ron) Saturday evening for a bit.

We served a Columbia Valley Riesling from Aldi’s with the Senfbraten, and I went easy on it because I may have been overserved Saturday night. It rarely happens, but it does happen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Grammy brought a super delicious cherry pie for dessert.

Pork Chops and Hasselback Bakers

Sunday Dinner -12 August 2018

Pork Chops Hasselback Potaotes

This was a simple, delicious meal. We had some pork chops in the freezer, so I decided to use one of my favorite brines for pork from Vrobel. We were out of Bourbon, so I used dark rum in the brine, and also omitted the glaze.

For the Hasselback Potatoes, we used bakers. I made slits in them 1/8th inch apart, sprayed them with olive oil, and sprinkled with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. They went into a pan on the grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes, then got hit with olive oil again, roasted another 20 minutes, then I put them over direct heat for another 15. I’d put some cloves of garlic in olive oil in the bottom of the pan as well.

The pork chops were on for maybe twenty-five minutes total over direct heat. Claudia cooked some corn that had been put away last year, and made a nice fresh green salad. She also baked a banana cake from scratch earlier in the day for dessert.

Chicken Vesuvio

Chicken Vesuvio

This made a delicious meal, and only took about an hour from start to finish.

Although the traditional steakhouse version uses bone-in thigh quarters or half chickens, I used boneless skinless breasts so I didn’t have to worry about crisping the skin. I cut two 3/4 pound breasts into sixths, seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and browned for five minutes per side in a skillet with some olive oil. I removed the chicken and sautéed the halves of maybe ten small Yukon Gold potatoes cut side down for ten minutes. After removing the potatoes, I added a teaspoon each of oregano and thyme, a little salt, plus two pressed cloves of fresh garlic to the pan, and cooked until they were fragrant (less than a minute). Then I added 3/4 cup of Sauvignon Blanc to deglaze, and a cup or two of chicken broth. Then the chicken and potatoes went back in the pot to simmer for maybe half-an-hour. Finally, I reserved those to a platter, and finished the pan sauce with a little butter and a cup of frozen peas that had been thawed.

The only complaints were that there should have been more peas, and the potatoes were a little unevenly done. Next time I’ll double the peas, and maybe cut the potatoes in fourths instead of halves.

Chicken was done and flavors were perfect, though.

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Sunday Dinner – 5 August 2018

This week we grilled a bunch of veggies and made sandwiches.

Neither of us can remember precisely when, or why, we started making this particular meal, but we know that it goes back at least a decade to when we were living in Mattoon, Illinois. It’s basically a huge mess of vegetables, grilled in batches and put between bread with cheese and returned to the grill to get gooey.

We included eggplant, Portabello Mushrooms, zucchini, red and orange peppers, red onions and tomato slices. These were all seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Herbs de Provence, and grilled with liberal spritzes of olive oil. Once they were grilled, Claudia and Aunt Pat assembled them with Provolone slices between the halves of three loaves of Italian Bread, and wrapped them in aluminum foil, and then we put them back out on the Weber Genesis to warm through. Datsa Sanguige!

Prepping Sandwiches

We also grilled some halved nectarines for a few minutes, then topped them with Mascarpone, Balsamic Vinegar and honey before taking them out to finish.

Aunt Pat also brought a delicious lemon meringue pie for dessert.

We served a couple of bottles of rosé (once from Lodi and one from France) with the meal. Mrs. Noe and I aren’t huge fanatics for blush wines, but I do like them every now and then in hot weather (which was certainly a feature of this weekend).