Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tasty Indian Restaurant Near Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Meal at Maharaja, Indian restaurant near Chicago's O'Hare Airport
If you happen to find yourself looking for a meal near Chicago's O'Hare Airport, as we did this week, Maharaja is a tasty Indian restaurant in Rosemont that is worth trying. We were at the end of a week of travel, staying near the airport to catch a morning plane. We weren't too motivated by the end of the day to head back into downtown in search of a restaurant. Jodi and I have always loved Indian food, and our lad is developing a taste for it as well--OK, mostly mango juice and the breads, but he likes those enough to happily join us for Indian!

We started with vegetable samosas. That's another item B will now eat. In fact, he watched carefully to make sure he got his fair share of the 2 large samosas that came with that appetizer order. For entrees, we shared the chicken curry and a palak paneer, Indian cheese cubes cooked in spinach, tomatoes, onion and spices. Everything was very flavorful, and the palak paneer dish was especially fresh tasting, and not as heavy as this item can sometimes be.

Indian also tends to be a good option among ethnic cuisines for B's food allergies (egg, nut, dairy). Other Asian food like Thai and Chinese features peanuts so frequently, we tend to avoid them when dining as a family. Like the Indian restaurants we frequent around home, the staff at Maharaja were attentive to helping us identify which dishes aren't prepared with dairy or could be adjusted to meet our needs.

Wine pairing: I had to try one of the Indian wines featured on their menu, as I don't think I'd had it before. The Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc was rather oaky when first tasting it. Surprisingly, the oak character seemed less noticeable when having it with the food--the wine tasted better with the samosas then when sipping on its own. It was fun to try, but I did opt for the Chateau St. Michelle Riesling for a second glass. Not exciting, but a solid pairing for the Indian food spices.  I asked to get a photo of the bottle, but they brought out the Sauvignon Blanc by the same producer as the Chenin Blanc.
Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Indian wine

Try it yourself: Maharaja is in Rosemont at 9765 W. Higgins Rd, a bit over a mile from the O'Hare Hyatt where we stayed. A short drive or cab ride from the airport hotels, or walkable if you want some exercise. The restaurant is also a friendly on the budget; our entire meal for three including wine wasn't much more than the cost of one steak at some other eateries in the area. Another good reason to go for a taste of India when you are staying near O'Hare! I'm recommending the restaurant to fellow travelers, but should also note there seemed to be plenty of locals there enjoying it, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes for #SundaySupper

Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes. Cooking Chat #SundaySupper recipe

This recipe for Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes was too good not to share! I was glad to see that the #SundaySupper BBQ Party is featuring a wide array of dishes beyond true "barbecue", so that I could bring this recipe to the virtual party. Thanks to Jenny from the Messy Baker and Melanie from Melanie Makes for co-hosting the event.

Inspired by the flavors of Sicily, this dish was so fresh tasting with awesome tomatoes and plenty of garlic to punch up the flavor of grilled swordfish and eggplant. A certain someone in our house who often passes on the seafood options was very enthused about how the swordfish tasted in this dish.

heirloom tomatoes diced and tossed with olive oil, garlic and parsley

Not a fan of eggplant? I wasn't either, until I learned to salt it, then grill as I do here. If you're already a fan, that's just another reason to make this soon! But please, if you come upon this dish later after tomatoes have gone out of season, please do not make this dish with hardened tomatoes found in the grocery stores in the winter! This is meant to be enjoyed in the summer only, with those awesome tomatoes just starting to roll in. I used a tasty heirloom variety. Enough preliminaries, on with the tasty details!
tomatoes on cutting board for Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant pasta dish

For the swordfish
12 to 16 ozs swordfish steak
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
dash of salt

Veggies and pasta
2 small eggplants, sliced semi-circles 1/2 inch thick
2 medium good quality summer tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp parsley
1 head of garlic, roasted (you can easily do this on the grill)

12 ozs fusilli pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup feta cheese
extra parmesan cheese to pass at table

First, spread the eggplant sliced out on a plate in a single layer. Salt the eggplant slices generously, and let the eggplant sit and aborb the salt for at least 30 minutes. I've found this salting process to be a key factor in getting me to add eggplant to the list of veggies I enjoy.

grilling eggplant to toss with fusilli, tomatoes and grilled swordfish.

Preheat a grill to medium high. Spread the salted eggplant out in a grill pan or other such device to keep the eggplant from slipping through the grill grates. Coat with cooking oil spray. Place the grill pan on the grill to cook the eggplant. Turn the slices over after 5 minutes, and grill for another 5 minutes or so until the eggplant is cooked to a nice tenderness and has begun to caremelize. Remove the eggplant from the grill and set aside to cool. Note:  you can grill the eggplant directly on the grill if you don't have anything to put them in, but you'd want to use whole circle slices and turn them carefully. You can leave the grill on to be ready for the swordfish.

When you put the eggplant on the grill, start a pot of water to boil for pasta and prepare the swordfish marinade. Combine the 1/4 olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a dash of salt in a large bowl. Add the swordfish, and gently turn it over to coat it thoroughly. Let the fish marinade for 10 to 15 minutes at room temp.

As the fish marinades, prep the tomatoes. Gently combine the diced tomatoes with 1 tbsp of olive oil, parsley, 1 clove of minced garlic and a dash of salt. Set aside.

fusilli getting stirred with grilled eggplant, tomatoes and feta cheese, to be served with grilled swordfish. Cooking Chat recipe.
Put the pasta on to cook just before you start grilling the swordfish. Remove the swordfish from the marinade, and gently shake off the excess marinade. Reserve the marinade. Place the swordfish on a the grill, and grill covered on medium high for about 6 minutes. Turn the swordfish over, and grill until just cooked through, which will take about 6 more minutes. Keep in mind the fish will cook a bit more while resting and you don't want to overcook it. Our swordfish steak was about an 1 1/2 inches thick, if yours is different that would impact the cooking time a bit.

When the fish is done, place on a platter and loosely cover with aluminum foil to keep warm as you put together the pasta dish. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it and combine with 1 tbsp olive oil, the roasted garlic (squeezed out of the garlic skin after it has cooled enough to work with) and eggplant. Next stir in the feta cheese and olives, followed by one-half of the tomato mixture, saving the other half of the tomatoes to top off the dish. Bolded that step because the fresh tomato topping is key to taste and presentation!

To plate the dish, divide swordfish to have a piece ready for each diner. Plate a serving of pasta, followed by a piece of swordfish, then spread some of the reserved fresh tomato topping. A tablespoon or so is good to start, and pass the tomatoes along with parmesan cheese for additional toppings. Enjoy!
Grilled Swordfish and Eggplant with Fusilli and Tomatoes. Cooking Chat #SundaySupper recipe

Be sure to check out all these tasty creations from my fellow #SundaySupper bloggers!

Sides and Accompaniments
Main Dishes
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Join us for #winePW 3: Wine for Summer's Bounty

Update: We had a great time sharing on the theme "Wine for Summer's Bounty." There's a roundup posted here on Wine Pairing Weekend with links to the tasty pairings the 12 participating bloggers came up with. Stay tuned for #winePW 4 on the theme, "Regional Food and Wine Pairings", Saturday, September 13.

Here in New England, the good stuff really starts rolling in from local farms and gardens in the month of August. There's nothing like those August tomatoes, fresh corn, basil...I could go on with all this yumminess, but you get the idea! The challenge for Wine Pairing Weekend 3 on Saturday, August 9, is to share a dish that uses summer's bounty, and match it with a great wine pairing. Maybe you will break out another refreshing summer wine such as what we covered for Wine Pairing Weekend #2, or maybe your summer bounty is served with some grilled meat that calls for a red wine. Get creative, and join us for the #winePW fun!
Wine for Summer's Bounty is the next #winePW theme. Tomatoes sure to be featured!

Before I get into the details about how you can join use for #winePW 2, let me give a shout out to the bloggers who joined us for the first of these events: Curious Cuisiniere, Vino Travels, Culinary Adventures with Camilla, ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, Take a Bite Out of Boca, foodwineclick and Confessions of a Culinary Diva. A great group, and we'd love to add you to the list for #winePW 3 if you are a blogger!

Details for participation
Are you ready to jump in and participate in the third #winePW? Here are the details:

  • Send an email to tell me you're in: Include your blog url, Twitter handle, link to your Pinterest profile, and any other social media detail. If you know your blog post title now, include that...but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I'd like to get a sense of who's participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. The email is winepairingweekend AT
  • Send your post title to me by Tuesday, August 5 to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include " #winePW 3" (Note: I'd like us all to use the hashtag in the title to make it easier to see the posts getting shared on Twitter)
  • Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-7:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, August 9. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up around then.
  • Include a link to the other #winePW participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I'll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post--which will link to people's general blog url--then updated code for the permanent links to everyone's #winePW posts.
  • Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts' to comment and share. I'll follow-up later with some specific strategies for that social sharing.
  • Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.
  • Live #winePW Twitter Chat August 9, 11 a.m. ET: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject will connect via a live Twitter chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject who didn't get a chance to share a blog post. You can definitely still join the blog event if you're not available for the live chat.
  • Highlights on Some #winePW participants will be invited to have their posts featured on the Wine Pairing Weekend site. The goal of the site is to create a growing database of great pairings for a wide variety of wines and food.

  • OK, that's all I can think of for now. For more of the backstory on Wine Pairing Weekend, check out the original post introducing the idea. Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments; or you can also email me at winepairingweekend AT Cheers!

    If you are grilling meat to go with summer's bounty, this zinfandel is a nice choice & great #wine value!
    bottle of red or bottle of white with summer's bounty?
    This is a good value red if you are so inclined!

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa and a White Burgundy for Wine Pairing Weekend

    Grilled Salmon topped with Mango Salsa, served with a White Burgundy. #winePW

    I didn't set out to make this my "Refreshing Summer Wine Pairing" contribution for Wine Pairing Weekend 2 (#winePW).  But grilled salmon topped with fresh mango salsa certainly sounds summery and refreshing, doesn't it? And I hit it pretty lucky with the pairing. I had gotten a white Burgundy at a wine club dinner that I was curious to open. I basically thought it would have enough weight to work with the salmon, but didn't recall much about the details of the wine's taste.  As it turned out, it was summer in a glass and played perfectly with the mango salsa, and I had a refreshing summer pairing ready to share with you. Bonus feature: it's pretty easy to make! Here's how:

    slicing mango for salsa. Easy Cooking Chat recipe.
    10 to 12 oz wild salmon fillet
    tbsp olive olive oil

    Salsa ingredients
    4 tbsp mango, fruit chopped into small pieces
    1 tbsp onion, minced
    1/2 tsp garlic, minced
    1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
    1 tsp lime juice
    1 tsp olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Make the salsa: In a small bowl, combine the salsa ingredients through the cilantro. Gently stir in the lime juice and olive oil, then add salt and pepper to taste. Set bowl aside while you grill the fish. Note this is enough to serve two, but could easily be scaled up.

    Mango Salsa for Grilled Salmon. Easy Cooking Chat recipe.

    Grill the salmon: Spray the grill with oil spray to coat the area you will use for the salmon. Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Rinse and pat dry the salmon fillet, then spread the tbsp olive oil over the flesh side and sprinkle a bit of salt to taste. Place the salmon on the grill, skin side down. Grill covered for about 4 minutes, then gently turn the salmon to the flesh side. If the skin sticks to the grill, no big deal, just place the fish on a clean portion of the grill. Grill covered for another 3 to 4 minutes. It may be cooked at this point--cut a bit in the middle of the fillet to check. You still want a bit of the dark orange color for nice, moist salmon. If you want to cook a bit more, turn over one more time and cook for a couple more minutes. You don't want to overcook fish!

    Remove the salmon to a platter when it's done on the grill, and let it rest for a couple minutes before serving.

    Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa and White Burgundy

    Enjoy the pairing: Divide the salmon fillet and plate topped with a bit of the mango salsa. Offer additional salsa at the table--I kept scooping a bit more onto my salmon, it was such a good combination.

    2012 Guffens-Heynen Macon-Pierreclos Le Chavigne, a very good and reasonably priced White Burgundy.
    Now, taste the wine. I paired the grilled salmon with the 2012 Guffens-Heynen Macon-Pierreclos Le Chavigne from Burgundy . We got honey and clover on the nose. Nice fruit on the wine--cantaloupe perhaps? Also a touch of honey--the fruit and honey definitely made this taste like summer in a glass. Perhaps most notable was the depth of texture in this wine, providing a great mouthfeel and long finish. This really made the pairing work--the wine had just the right weight to go along with the salmon--not to light, not so big it would overwhelm. The flavors in the salsa flowed seamlessly with the fruit and honey taste of the wine.

    I loved the wine, but it's not the style I tend to expect and seek in a white Burgundy. I typically gravitate toward an austere style with lots of minerality, and don't expect such ripe fruit as we had in this one. I guess this is just a reminder that great Burgundy can come in different styles! Our pairing worked great, but I would by no means make a general recommendation to pair Chardonnay with this dish--many chards would be too oaky and/or buttery to play nicely with the flavors in the mango salsa. For Chardonnay to work here, it needs to be one that really let's the fruit shine as our choice did. For a Burgundy, this one from Guffens-Heynen is a good value and worth tracking down--it seems to be available for around $30ish.

    Wine Pairing Weekend #2 Bloggers: Be sure to check out the great pairings my fellow bloggers have come up with for the July Wine Pairing Weekend! 

    Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted "Green Fig Ice Cream + Cambiata Albariño"
    Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog shared "Orzo salad and Trebbiano d'Abruzzo"
    Curious Cuisiniere posted "Grilled Trout paired with a Tropical Fruit Viognier"
    ENOFYLZ Wine Blog paired "Ceviche and Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc"
    Take a Bite Out of Boca shared "Grilled Mango-Sriracha Shrimp, Pineapple and Peppers paired with Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Spatlese Kerner"
    foodwineclick shared "Steamers and Cava on the Porch"
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about "Aperol Spritz"

    Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme "Refreshing Summer Wine Pairings" on Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the August Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on "Wine for Summer's Bounty" on Saturday, August 9.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Refreshing Summer Wine Pairings: Preview for Wine Pairing Weekend

    What wine is in your glass when the summer temperatures rise above 90? What foods do you like to pair with that refreshing summer wine? Refreshing Summer Wine Pairings is our theme for Wine Pairing Weekend 2 coming upon Saturday. Stay tuned for some great blog posts for refreshing summer wine pairing ideas, and join the conversation in our live Twitter chat.

    Refreshing Summer #Wine Pairings is theme for Wine Pairing Weekend 2 on July 12.

    As I explained in my post introducing Wine Pairing Weekend, I find plenty of online events focusing on food and wine separately, but not too much looking at the interplay of food and wine. Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW for short and on Twitter) is a monthly event featuring bloggers posting about a pairing in response to a particular theme, along with discussion on social media about the topic. This will include a live #winePW Twitter chat at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday July 12. Anyone interested in the subject can jump into the conversation on Twitter at that time, which can also be accessed on our Twubs page for easy viewing and tweeting.

    Below I'm linking to the bloggers that have let me know they plan to participate. Thanks to the early responders to this second #winePW! If you're reading this before July 12, you can still jump in with a blog post of your own. Just check out the July intro post for more of the blogger details and email me at winepairingweekend AT If you've come to us after July 12, consider joining us for #winePW 3 on Saturday, August 9, which will have the theme "Wines for Summer's Bounty".

    Culinary Adventures with Camilla is posting "Green Fig Ice Cream + Cambiata Albariño"
    Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog will share "Orzo salad and Trebbiano d'Abruzzo"
    Curious Cuisiniere is posting "Grilled Trout paired with a Tropical Fruit Viognier"
    ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is pairing "Ceviche and Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc"
    Take a Bite Out of Boca will share "Grilled Mango-Sriracha Shrimp, Pineapple and Peppers paired with Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Spatlese Kerner"
    foodwineclick is sharing "Steamers and Cava on the Porch"
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva will blog about "Champagne Aperitivo"
    Cooking Chat is pairing "Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa and a White Burgundy"

    And perhaps another one from you?

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Grilling Favorites: 4 for the Fourth

    When I think of the Fourth of July holiday, grilling comes right after fireworks in my mind. So as we get ready to enjoy the big holiday, I thought I'd roundup some of my favorite recipes from the grill. Each photo is followed by a link to the original recipe so you can quickly navigate to the one you'd like to try. Let me know how it comes out, or drop a comment about what's on your grill these days!

    Grilled Ribeye Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub

    Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub Starting with grilled beef seemed like the right thing to do for the big American summer holiday. This simple rub adds some nice flavor with out much effort. If you're grilling a flavorful cut such as the ribeye shown in the picture, you don't need much adornment for a tasty entree!

    Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa from Cooking Chat. #healthyeating

    Grilled Swordfish Topped with Pineapple Salsa Another great summer grilling strategy is to counter the hot weather with a refreshing topping. The pineapple salsa here certainly fits the bill. I love grilled swordfish, and this is a flavorful way to enjoy it. The salsa works nicely on chicken, too.

    Burgers topped with Garlicky Arugula. 1 of Cooking Chat's "4 for the Fourth"

    Burgers Topped with Garlicky Arugula Burgers are a mainstay on the Fourth, of course. I don't actually have many burger recipes here on Cooking Chat. Typically a burger night means simply throwing some good quality (i.e. grass-fed) ground beef on the grill without doing too much else. This arugula topping was inspired by the challenge of trying to use up extra greens from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.

    Penne with Grilled Chicken, Broccoli and Garlic via Cooking Chat

    Penne with Grilled Chicken, Garlic and Broccoli: You probably weren't expecting a pasta recipe in this roundup, but I thought I'd end with something a little different. I've always been a fan of chicken, broccoli and pasta combo, so I decided to try a different version featuring grilled broccoli and chicken. If you haven't tried grilling broccoli, give it a shot! It takes on a whole new flavor as it get caramelized along with some garlic here.

    OK, I've shared some of my favorites for the grill. Would love to hear about yours?

    Penne with Grilled Chicken, Broccoli and Garlic via Cooking Chat