Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Indian food for the Food Train!

Last Saturday we took the advice of a Food Train member and went to Hema's Kitchen on Devon Ave. in Chicago. www.hemaskitchen.com  This is a Check Please restaurant that we did not ever remember seeing. www.youtube.com/watch?v=-buX_YUiTg8, 

This turned out to be a fantastic place for Indian food. Very comfortable, relaxing and excellent food! It is a BYOB place with no corkage fee!

We started out with Tandoori Chicken, I was very skeptic because the only time we had Tandoori Chicken before it was very very dry. Well I am glad I didn't say anything out loud because this chicken was very good. It had a great flavor and was extremely juicy!
We also had Vegetable Samosa : A flaky homemade pastry shell stuffed with a delicate combination of potatoes, green peas and coriander leaves. And Kheema Samosa: Pastry shell stuffed with minced lamb, onions, green peas and cilantro leaves.  These are deep fried and fantastic.

We tried the Spinach Pakoras: Onion, bell peppers, spinach and green pepper dipped in a chickpea flour and deep fried. These were awesome! The flavor was just outrageous, and I don't like green bell peppers (not sure if that's what kind they are) but you don't get that over overwhelmingly taste of green bell pepper. It is spinach, spices and delicious.

We also had Papadam: Crispy lentil crackers (fried or roasted). The red sauce was sweet with a touch of spice. The green sauce is a cilantro sauce and it was very good even though I don't like cilantro.
For entrees we had several and shared, this is the best way to go. Fun because you get to try lots of different things. Lamb Vindaloo: "Seasoned lamb cooked in a rich gravy with potatoes, coconut and curry leaves. Very spicy".The menu says very spicy but it was not very spicy, even after asking them to make it extremely spicy. Don't think they believed us when we said we like it fire breathing.

We also had the Shrimp Vindaloo: "Seasoned shrimp cooked in a rich gravy with potatoes, coconut and curry leaves. Very spicy". It was even less spicy than the lamb, but very good.

Chicken Korma: Tender pieces of chicken cooked in cashew curry sauce (Mild Dish). This dish was good but didn't pack a big flavor.

My favorite dish was the Chana Masala: Chick peas cooked with potatoes, sliced onions and green pepper in light spices and special sauce.This dish was so flavorful, the curry and other spices just blended together so well. It was fantastic!

Sag Paneer: Fresh spinach and homemade cheese simmered in spices and gravy. Good flavor and even better when you get a bite with the cheese.
The breads we had were-Poori: Hand rolled homemade wheat bread deep fried.
Garlic Naan: Naan bread with crushed garlic with a hint of garlic oil.
Aloo Paratha: Whole wheat bread stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas.
Garlic Naan
Aloo Paratha
My favorite was the Poori, but probably because it was fried, almost anything fried is great. But it was really really good with the Chana Masala on it. The Garlic Naan was very good with everything on it also!

We all had a great time and would recommend Hema's Kitchen for those of you who want to try your first Indian food experience or those who love Indian food already. This restaurant is the perfect place for both. Go with a group or order a lot so you can try many different things.

with Hemma.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bulldogs Retro Diner in Wauconda

Our Food Train went up north again this weekend to Bulldogs a retro diner "in steadfast pursuit of the perfect burger" in Wauconda. www.bulldogsrestaurant.com
Each 1/2 lb burger is hand packed and cooked to order. They currently have 34 burgers on the menu. You can also have a Turkey burger, Black bean burger or Chicken breast.

They have wings with lots of different sauces. They have ones called "Asylum" that they do a challenge with, but we had the "Garlicky Parmesan", and they were awesome!
They also do hand cut fries with several different kinds of toppings or sauces. We had the "Killer Garlic Fries": fries tossed with fresh garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and parmesan. They were "killer", really very good.
My husband had the Highway to Hell Burger: fresh chilies, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and "Hellacious habanero sauce".
 I had the Area 51 burger: green chilies, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and guacamole.
It was very good! The turkey burger wasn't the best I've ever had but with the chilies and the other stuff on it, it was a very good turkey burger. The flavors were great together!

One of our friends had the Slap Yo' Momma: bacon, grilled onions, apple bbq sauce and cheddar cheese.
Her husband had the Chilihead Burger: chili, cheddar and grilled onion.

Our other friends shared the Corey burger: a burger topped with pulled pork, Carolina mustard bbq sauce and vinegar slaw.
So being a retro 50's diner they have a ice cream counter. I there fore had to have a chocolate shake with my burger! It was made with dark chocolate ice cream and was very rich, creamy and delicious! It was fantastic!

  We had a really fun time!  We would recommend Bulldogs, they have a lot of interesting burgers and I would  be intrested in trying a couple of others. 
Thanks to the Food Trainers who made it, you made it a great night. Hopefuly even more of you can make it next time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Surprise Dinner at Home

One Friday evening I came home from work to find a lovely dinner prepared by my loving husband! It was great, and not just the having dinner ready when I got home part.

Starting dinner with a sweet appetizer? Why not! 

These are pecan pinwheels: butter and brown sugar with chopped pecans rolled in puff pastry, sliced into pinwheels and baked till golden brown.

The main course was my husbands version of a Chicken Pot Pie. I love Chicken Pot Pie, is it a real comfort food for me!

He made a chicken stew with potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and carrots. He used this new chicken broth he found that is seasoned and has some wine in it. It added a lot of depth to the flavor. He then put the stew into individual serving dishes. They are broiler safe and great for French Onion Soup also.

Le Creuset ® French onion soup bowl- www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=114338

Then he covered them with puff pastry and decorated the top with a pastry heart, and baked in the oven. Put them on the highest rack you can and bake at 350 degrees till golden brown.

Then for dessert- Rhubarb Sorbet: my husband made a rhubarb sauce by cooking down chopped rhubarb and sugar. Then cool the sauce and put it into the ice cream maker. It's that simple!

Our ice cream maker is Krups but I don't think this particular one is available anymore. There are lots of good ones out there though and very easy to use.

This dinner was fantastic and a very nice surprise, Thank you babe, your the best!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Wonderful Wine Tasting

After a early lunch at a DDD diner we decided to find something to do till we were hungry again so we could go to another DDD and Check Please place for dinner. So what better way to work off lunch then to go have a wine tasting at Coopershawk Winery. www.coopershawkwinery.com.  We have been there a couple times for dinner and it is very good but this time we went just for the wine tasting.

The wines they had this month were very good, interesting selections and a nice surprise for me. I am not a red wine drinker, I do spritzers and sangria or that cool-aid red wine (Arbor Mist).

We started with Pinot Gris: sweet aromas of pear, grapefruit and melon. "Light-bodied and aged in stainless steel to maintain its light fruity characteristics". This was very light and crisp and fruity. I enjoyed it.

Then we had Sauvignon Blanc: flavors of  lemon zest, gooseberries and melon. "Well balanced light-bodied with a crisp acidity and long citrus finish". I enjoyed this wine very much, it reminded me of a late Riesling and the fruity flavors were excellent!

Next Viognier: the aroma of honeysuckle, guava, peaches and apricot. "the nose hints at something sweeter, but the dry taste will surprise you. Medium bodied with a long spicy finish". This wine was a bit to dry for me. I like my wines on the sweeter side.

Malbek was next. cherry, plums and vanilla with "hints" of black pepper. "A full body and smooth tannins ease into a long balanced and fruity finish". This wine was a typical red for me harsh and dry. It did have deepness of flavor but there was no hinting of pepper, it was right out there.

Up next the Syrah: "deep red with black cherry, white pepper, anise, vanilla and earthy aromas". "smooth yet full tannins and dark fruit continue on the palate into a lasting finish". This was an amazing red. I enjoyed this wine very much. It was very mellow and smooth. We had a wonderful treat, our server gave us an extra pour and had us compare the Syrah to the Shiraz. That was an unexpected fun bonus! It was very fun to compare the two. They were very different though. The Shiraz has "intense, rich bramble berry and plumy fruits entwined with hints of chocolate". It probably would have been much better with food, especially meat. but the Syrah was to me much richer in flavor and more fun to drink.

Their wine of the month was Magnum Meritage: with dark chocolate, anise, vanilla, black cherry, raspberry, leather and toast. "Full-bodied with gripping tannins that lead into a exceptionally long, dark fruit finish. I was surprised by this wine as well. I thought it would be a much harsher wine than it was. It was surprisingly mellow. It was not great (please remember I don't really enjoy red wines) but very smooth and had great depth of flavor.

The Pomegranate was next. made with "100% pomegranate fruit, this wine is sweet, well-balanced, light-bodied, with aromas of pomegranate, strawberry, and cinnamon with a long tart finish". This wine was amazing! I love fruity wine, I enjoy sweet wine and this was great! The richness of flavor with the sweetness was just fantastic. And yet we received another bonus as we were talking of fruit wines and how we liked them our server gave us another pour,this time of Rhubarb wine! This wine was also amazing! The rhubarb flavor was so bright and clean. It tasted crisp and fresh not syrupy or heavy.

The final tasting was Raspberry Sparkling. This was originally to be the wine to start the tasting but our server switched it up and served this at the end for a palate cleanser. A very good idea, crisp clean and refreshing! Sweet but not to sweet, the sparkling makes it lighter and crisper than the Pomegranate or the Rhubarb.

They also have a very extensive gift shop with neat and unique gift and wine items. I bought a real neat T-shirt.
This was a lot of fun at a very reasonable price. I also recommend the restaurant for lunch and/or dinner.