India in Kankakee

Sunday Dinner – 24 February 2019

This week, since the boys were with us and I’ve been telling Aunt Pat about it forever now, I fixed Indian dishes. It’s a a hearty way to eat vegetarian, and mix up the ethnic themes. As long as you have the spices, most of which can be found in your local grocery (I did have to get the Garam Masala from Amazon), there’s nothing unheard of in these dishes. It just takes a lot of chopping, and I’m thankful that Aunt Pat was here early to dice the potatoes and cut up the cauliflower!

Indian Meal Plated

I first fixed Indian food a few years back when our Girl Scout troop had India as our country for World Thinking Day. What an opportunity to grow as a cook. Just goes to show that it’s not just the kids who learn new things through scouting.

The salad dressing this week was also inspired by the cuisine. I had a very little bit of fresh ginger left from the main dishes, so I decided to make it into a vinegaratte, much like I did for the Chinese New Year. I used avocado oil, white wine vinegar, grated ginger, a little garam masala and agave to sweeten. It was absolutely delicious!

I started with the Indian Chickpea Curry with Spinach so I could put it in the crockpot since I was making two main dishes. Onions, garlic, ginger, chickpeas, tomatoes and a slew of aromatic spices are simmered, before adding to the crockpot. I doubled the recipe, so it was A LOT. To the pot I added about 12 ounces of spinach, and just stirring wilted it nicely. I added another 8 ounces of spinach later, once I had enough room in the pot again.

I prepared the Gobi Aloo last so I could serve it directly from the pan. Potatoes, cauliflower, coriander seed, ginger paste, turmeric, cumin, paprika and garam masala blend nicely together for a beautiful dish. I stumbled on this one awhile back when I had some cauliflower that I needed to use up, and remembered from my Sundays spent at the Hindu Cultural Center in Park Forest that we’d have something with that and potatoes. What did we ever do before Google?

To accompany the main dishes, we had Naan bread, which our local Aldi carries year round. You might wonder why we didn’t have rice as a side, but you’ll understand when you get to the dessert!

I’ve never been a fan of rice pudding. So much not a fan that I never tried to make it until the aforementioned World Thinking Day. Basmati rice (I use the white for visual appeal), coconut milk and cardamom really make this Indian Rice Pudding something special. Of course the whole milk, sugar and heavy whipping cream don’t hurt, either. The golden raisins add a nice sweetness and texture. The first time I made this, I didn’t use any nuts, but I also don’t think I used Alton Brown’s recipe. Thankful to Aunt Pat, Thomas and James for shelling all the pistachios (risking injury no less). I’m still not sure how I feel about having them in the pudding. Maybe I’ll have a more decisive feeling after I have seconds.

Indian Rice Pudding

Wine accompanying the meal tonight was a Shiraz from F. Stephen Millier.

Kudos to my family for being adventurous and trying new things. While nothing was “hot” spicy, the flavor profiles are certainly not something most of us are accustomed to.

One disclaimer…I do make Indian food more than once a year. It’s so quick and easy that I sometimes whip it up during the week. We always have chickpeas and frozen spinach (this was the first time I used fresh) on hand, so particularly during Lent on a Friday night, it’s a a hearty and comforting meal.

From Chicago to Detroit

Sunday Dinner – 30 December 2018

Chicago and Detroit Pizza

For our last Sunday Dinner of 2018 we made pizza two ways, with a Lou Malnati style Chicago deep dish and our first run at a Detroit style pie.

Inspired by Chef Garibaldi, I’d been wanting to try my hand at Detroit pizza for awhile now. I used my usual dough recipe from AB5. Lacking one of the typical high sided 13 x 9 pans, I used a square cake pan, coating it with cooking spray and olive oil before stretching out the dough. I covered that with shredded Monterrey Jack, and then put the three iconic stripes of sauce across the top.

The sauce was a can of diced tomatoes, some olive oil, two pressed cloves of garlic, a little sugar, salt and pepper, and some oregano and basil – all smashed up with a potato masher. It went into a 500 °F oven for 15 minutes.

The other pie was an old favorite alla Lou Malnati’s, baked in a cast iron skillet.

Malnati Style

Claudia made a marvelous Wulff salad with Balsamic vinaigrette. Wine was a 2016 Sangiovese, for those not drinking Newcastle Ale.

We’d definitely make the Detroit style pizza again. In fact, Claudia said that she actually preferred it today. The sauce was just a bit too garlicky for her taste, and we’ll likely add some Italian sausage next go ’round. It’s nice to add another pizza to our repertoire, and particularly one that is so easy to prepare and quick to bake. I can see this becoming our go-to for weeknights.

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. :)

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.

 

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).

Cinco de Mayo

Sunday Dinner – 6 May 2018

Sunday Dinner this week was filled with some delicious flavors of Mexico.

  • Homemade Guacamole
  • Shrimp Ceviche
  • Green Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
  • Pineapple Black Bean Enchiladas
  • Chili Bean Stuffed Peppers
  • Tres Leches Cake
  • Margaritas
  • Micheladas
  • Rumchata

Recipes to come. :)

Squash and Onions

squash-onion-grill

I managed to catch a wisp of smoke in this shot of yellow squash, zucchini and onions on the Genesis. We ate this over Penne Rigate. Quick, delicious and nutritious.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

red-beans-rice

This was made in the crock pot, not on the grill, but it was wonderful – one of our favorite recipes.

It starts with sautéed onions, celery and garlic. Then in addition to the beans there is Worcestershire Sauce, fresh parsley, dried cayennes, bay leaves, green bell pepper, cracked black pepper, Crystal Sauce and a little liquid smoke flavoring.

Another Malnati Style Veggie Pizza

We used up the last of this batch of dough to do another Lou Malnati style deep dish pizza for Friday night.

I’ve adapted the recipe from this one, which was on an episode of Throwdown.

Charred Eggplant with Curried Chickpeas

I ran across this recipe idea in The Wall Street Journal last week, and as it happened my wife had just brought home a couple eggplants.

I split the eggplants in two, lengthwise, scored the skins and put them on the grill over medium burners for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, after hitting them with a little olive oil spray and kosher salt. Also charred a red pepper at the same time.

Then I sautéed a chopped red onion and several cloves of garlic, diced the roasted pepper and added it. After a few minutes I poured in some white wine vinegar, then added the can of (drained) chickpeas and a tablespoon or so of curry powder. Once everything was combined and heated, I spooned it over the Eggplant halves, topped with a little chipped cilantro, hit it with olive oil and salt again, and then put it all back on the grill in a foil pan to finish. Mrs. Noe cooked the quinoa on the stovetop.

This turned out really delicious, and was a nice departure from our usual fare. It’s also prompted me to review an old cookbook titled Curries Without Worries that my wife gave me years ago and I’ve never cooked from. I think that a lot of the recipes seemed too intricate and intimidating when I was younger. Hoping that I’ve grown as a cook since then and can find some treasures in its pages.

Grilled Melanzane Alla Parmigiana

Eggplant Parm On The Grill

Served with pasta and red sauce, or simply as a side, eggplant has become one of our favorite grilled dishes.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

We’ve grilled several batches of stuffed peppers this Summer, but these were my favorites. I grilled the peppers for a bit to soften them up, then my wife stuffed them with a combination of quinoa and sauteed zucchini with other delightful veggies before we put them back on the grill to warm. I’m honestly not sure what all she put into them. I almost grilled them too long prior to stuffing, so we had to be careful not to tear the flesh before we were ready to serve them.