Sunday Dinner - Minor modification to the routine

Blog PhotoNow that school has started for our grandniece and she needs a good night's sleep, we've moved up our dinner time to 6 pm.  John and I eat later than most people do and we'd been letting dinner time on Sunday nights slip past 7.  No problem at all to move it up.  Besides, it just wouldn't be the same without my niece and her family.

While looking through the Wente Vineyard cookbook ("The Casual Vineyard Table from Wente Vineyards" by Carolyn Wente and Kimball Jones) for inspiration for a special menu for Saturday night I discovered several recipes to try and chose two for our Sunday dinner.  

        Grilled Summer Vegetable Ratatouille 
        Thyme-Barbecued New York Steak with
                Corn and Blue Cheese Pudding
        (recipes below)

The Ratatouille recipe combines grilling and sautéing for a hearty vegetable dish.   The eggplant and squash are marinated before being grilled.  Then the remaining ingredients are sautéed on the stove until reduced.  At the end, you add the grilled vegetables to the sauté pan.  This method provides an opportunity to grill ahead of guests arriving.  Also it opens up the grill for cooking the meat.

New York Strip steaks are easy to find and reliably good.  This recipe has you season the steaks with salt and pepper and thyme leaves.  Then add the thyme stems to the fire for something of a smoked flavor.  Honestly, the thyme was not even perceptible when finished.

The Corn and Blue Cheese Pudding was a nice complement to the meal.  I used fresh corn and made two pans because the instructions say one recipe serves 4.  We have almost a complete pan leftover and we served 8.  It uses pureed corn and corn kernels, eggs, milk, sour cream jalapeño and mild blue cheese.  It bakes for one hour, so that was also good to have that in the oven before guests arrived.

Our friends brought a black bean hummus with pita chips and wine and my niece brought strawberry shortcakes.  Our grandniece left for home with her jammies on  in time for a good night's sleep.  

Grilled Summer Vegetable Ratatouille
Serves 4 for a main course and 8 generous side portions

Blog Photo1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick pieces 
4 yellow crookneck squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4 in thick pieces
4 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick round slices
2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
3 cups peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

Vinaigrette for marinade
 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used dry vermouth)
1 t finely chopped fresh thyme
1 t finely chopped fresh oregano
1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of one lemon

Whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette and set aside.

Place eggplant slices on paper towels in a single layer, salt lightly.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Put sliced eggplant, squash and zucchini slices in a large ziplock bag or non-reactive dish. Marinating time is not specified.  I let them marinate for about 1 hour.  

Prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat gas grill to medium-high.  

Grill eggplant and squash in a single layer until tender.  Remove from grill and set aside to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut eggplant and squash  into 1 1/2" pieces.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 T olive oil.  When oil is hot, add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft, but not browned.  Add the bell peppers and sauté 3 to 6 more minutes.  Add tomatoes and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer until juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the chopped grilled vegetables; cover and cook until vegetables are heated through. 

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cheese and parsley.  

Blog PhotoThyme Barbecued New York Steak
Serves 4

2-12 ounce New York Steaks 
1 T chopped fresh thyme, stems reserved
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bring steaks to room temperature.  Rub on olive oil and season with salt pepper and thyme.  Add the thyme stems to the fire.  Grill steaks as usual, cooking until desired doneness.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil; let rest for 10 minutes.  

Slice meat on the diagonal across the grain.  Serve with Corn pudding.  


Blog PhotoCorn and Blue Cheese Pudding
Serves 4 (generous servings)

1 cup pureed corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1/2 cup corn kernels (about 1 ear)
3 eggs 
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1/4 cup crumbled mild blue cheese, such as Maytag
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.  In a large bowl combine corn, eggs, milk, sour cream, jalapeño and cheese.  Mix well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour.  Top will be golden brown and the pudding is set.  

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