We had a little party last night. It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids. For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up. How does that happen, you wonder? Well, people bring people. They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends. The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance. It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20. I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests. Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”. They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds. There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering. They celebrate EVERYTHING. Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party. They never miss a chance to live in community. I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken. Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything. So, I decided to come up with my own concoction. You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!
Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos). There’s always room for a few extra people…
Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 whole garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 small onion
dash of chilli flakes
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat. Wash and set aside. Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion together. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well. Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium heat and serve!
It’s (almost) summer time and that means lots of cooking on the grill. I really enjoy using the grill to cook during the warmer weather because it keeps the house cooler and I love how everything tastes when they are grilled. I decided to make pizzas on the grill. It’s one of my fast go-to grill dishes because everything can be cooked outside without any prep in the “house” kitchen. All you need is a grill basket for vegetables so smaller pieces don’t fall through and you’re good to go.
I have been using the no-knead artisan bread for my pizza crusts because they turn out beautifully and this bread dough is a dream. You mix the thing up with a wooden spoon and stick it in your fridge, it’s sooooo easy! I usually have some in my fridge ready to go (each batch can keep in the fridge for almost 2 weeks). The toppings for these pizzas are as varied as the person making them. I hope you try some out and go crazy with the toppings. When my basil is full-grown, I plan to make home made mozzarella and have Margherita pizzas on the grill. What’s not to love?
Assorted vegetables: red onion, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants etc.
If using chicken breasts, cut into strips and marinate in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar,salt, garlic and thyme and throw it on the grill to cook.
Cut vegetables into strips and the cherry tomatoes into halves. Toss with salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil and olive oil and place in grill pan on the grill and let it cook.
Take a small portion of the dough and roll it out fairly thin (about 1/4 inch thick) and pat it lightly with olive oil on both sides. I like to make it personal size – so about 6-8 inches “circles” or whatever shape they turn out to be. When vegetables are cooked, place pizza directly on the grill and close the lid for 3 minutes (grill should be on high heat, 600 degrees or so). Flip the dough over so the cooked side is on top and place some of the grilled cherry tomatoes on the dough along with other veggies and chicken (if using). Sprinkle a little cheese (go easy) less is better. Close the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Pizza should be done with the cheese melted and the crust wonderfully crunchy and smoky.
There’s nothing more delicious and delectable than a good fresh fruit tart. Sometimes, I’d rather eat that over chocolate (gasp!). The key to a great tasting tart is the crust of course but also a great pastry creme. We had friends coming over for dinner, what better way to top of a great meal than with a wonderful, fruity dessert? The only real “tool” you need is a tart pan with a removable bottom. I have little ones and a couple of big ones (9 inch). They are under $10 at any baking store. They are great for making savory quiches and tarts as well sweet desserts. It also makes you look like you spend a lot of time and effort (my kind of food!).
The Pate Sucree or sweet pastry crust recipe is from here. But I shall re-write it for you, for your convenience.
Sweet Pastry Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Mix flour and salt together and set aside. Place butter in mixing bowl and beat until softened and smooth (use stand mixer or electric hand mixer). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the beaten egg until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix until it just forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Lightly spray with cooking spray a 8-9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Pat the chilled pastry dough into the pan going up too the sides of the pan evenly. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400°F and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of tart shell with a fork as this will keep it from puffing up. Place tart on a large cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 400° then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 mintes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. You can seal the crust with an egg white glaze or apricot glaze. Can be covered and stored for a few days.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise or a tsp of vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tbsp grand marnier or Brandy
In a heat proof bowl mix sugar and egg yolks together until creamy. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and add it to the egg mixture until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a sauce pan heat milk and vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from heat and add a little bit to the egg mixture and whisk (this tempers the egg so it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs). Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking the whole time. Take out the vanilla bean and take a knife and scrape all the little seeds and add it to the milk/egg mixture. Return everything to the sauce pan and cook until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to boil and it’s thickened remove from heat and immediately whisk in liquer. Stir in vanilla extract if using this instead of the bean. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until needed (keeps up to 3 days in fridge). Beat or whisk before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Do not discard the vanilla bean, wash it gently and pat it dry and place in some sugar to make wonderful “vanilla” sugar.
Fruit Tart Assembly:
Spread pastry cream evenly in pastry crust and top with fresh fruit. I like to work my way from the outside in so it looks pretty or you can just dump all your fruit in…it’s a personal choice. To give the fruit a nice shiny top, you can heat up a little apricot jam with a tsp of water in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so and brush it over the fruit.