Easy Side Dish: Bombay Rice

6 Nov

Plain rice can get boring, especially if it’s accompanying a protein with basic seasoning. During the week, I often end up eating baked chicken with some vegetables (snore…) and the leftovers make for an unexciting lunch the next day. So I decided to spice things up with a recipe for “Bombay Rice” I clipped from somewhere a while ago. I made a couple of changes based on the ingredients I had available. This rice probably has nothing to do with India but it’s yummy nonetheless and it smells delicious while it’s cooking.

I made this rice in my four-cup rice cooker – this is the maximum amount of ingredients you’ll be able to fit in a four-cup rice cooker – but you could certainly make this on your stovetop instead.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 540 ml rice (2 ¼ cups, or 3 cupfuls in the little cup that comes with your rice cooker)
  • about 5½ cups water (fill rice cooker to the appropriate line)

Directions

  1. Put rice, water, curry powder, and cumin in the rice cooker, and stir. Start the rice cooker.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan. Stir fry onion, red pepper, and zucchini until tender. img_20161009_193518770
  3. When the rice is almost done, add the raisins and stir to mix.
  4. When the rice has finished cooking, stir in the vegetables.
  5. Serve! Here, my rice accompanies grilled chicken and zucchini.img_20161009_201356546

Neapolitan Pizza in Chicago: Spacca Napoli

30 Oct

Looking for some solid Neapolitan-style pizza on Chicago’s north side? Spacca Napoli is a good option.

We started off with a grilled vegetable plate – a generous amount of grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers, and zucchini.

Spacca Napoli

The grilled octopus was alright. It came as a a couple large pieces, so it was bit more challenging to eat than most other presentations I’ve seen.

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The pizzas are where Spacca Napoli shines. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are all sized to suite one person. They are so good you probably won’t want to share anyway. There are many options, including a couple of daily specials.

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The disappointment of the night was the Peaches Vesuvio we ordered for dessert, which was I suppose more of a misunderstanding than anything. I thought that the peaches would be fresh, but they are not. The menu says “Peaches (Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)”, meaning they are jarred peaches from the national park in Italy. Though they may have originated from Italy, they tasted like run-of-the-mill canned peaches from around here…I expressed my disappointment to our server, and he graciously took the dessert off our bill.

Info: Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, 1769 W. Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 USA
Spacca Napoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pearl’s Southern Comfort, Chicago

9 Oct

I‘ve been to Pearl’s Southern Comfort in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood three times now – the food is delicious, there are good beer and cocktail options, the service is friendly and attentive, and I like the ambiance. Pearl’s also has a rooftop deck that opened this past summer that serves up drinks and bar bites. Pearl’s is busy, but I’ve never had to wait for a table. Plus. the bar has a couple of good screens for watching the Cubs game.

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We love the boudin balls,  delicate fried dough balls filled with sausage and a bit of rice.

Pearls Southern Comfort - Boudin balls

The catfish bites are lightly battered pieces of flaky fish.

Fried catfish bites

The gumbo is so flavorful, packed with dark meat chicken, sausage, and okra. (This photo was taken after we had already devoured half the bowl!)

Gumbo

Hubby ordered the shrimp po’boy. The fries were extra crispy.

Shrimp po'boy

I had the blackened catfish which was nicely done. It was served with collard greens, and the only disappointment of the night – the mac n’ cheese. Which, unfortunately, was a huge disappointment. I ordered the catfish partially because it came with a side of mac. However, this was probably the worst restaurant mac n’ cheese I’ve ever tasted. It kind of made me wonder whether the restaurant had run out of real cheese, and came up with this Kraft dinner / cheese whiz concoction instead. It tasted so bad, I couldn’t eat more than one spoonful of the mess.

Blackened catfish

Luckily, the fantastic banana bread pudding redeemed the night. This gigantic dessert was epic. Don’t attempt to finish this on your own, this is a dessert meant for sharing. It’s soft, sweet bread layered with banana and served on a plate drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. There were hints of rum in there as well.

Banana bread pudding

 

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The Final Word: Overall, Pearl’s severs up excellent Southern food, and it’s a great place for a date or dinner with friends. The only thing I’d wish they’d change is the mac n’ cheese. 

Info: Pearl’s Southern Comfort, 5352 N. Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60640 USA

Pearl's Southern Comfort Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hearty Harira Soup

28 Aug

Meaty soups are good all year round, summer included. Or in my case, I was feeling under the weather, and a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup left me incredibly disappointed – I didn’t recall supermarket chicken soup being so…bland, yet tinny. So I decided to make this harira soup and set it to cook in my slow cooker overnight, so I could awake to its hearty aroma. You can also make this soup over the stove.

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This recipe calls for boneless lamb, but I got a nice 0.86 lb hunk of lamb shoulder with a large bone in the middle. I cooked with the bone in the soup – just remember to remove it before serving!

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup celery, diced (about 3 ribs)
  • 28oz canned tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water
  • ~ ¾ lb boneless lamb rack or shoulder, cut into 1-centimeter dice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch saffron threads
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

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Directions

  1. In a large pan, sautee onion in olive oil until soft, about 2 minutes.DSC02305
  2. Add lamb, and cook 2-3 minutes until lamb pieces are seared.
  3. In a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker, add chickpeas, lentils, celery, canned tomatoes, chicken stock and water, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.  Add the onions and lamb.
  4. Stir lightly to combine.Harira soup
  5. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  6. Add lemon juice, spinach, and saffron threads. Stir.DSC02307
  7. Serve, with chopped cilantro.

Makes about 3 quarts

 

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