Roasted chicken has to be moist, tender, juicy and well marinated. This recipe is extremely easy and is made using very few ingredients. I had the butcher put deep BBQ cuts in the whole chicken and take the skin off. It is important to take it out of the oven and leave it covered with foil for at least 15 minutes before serving. This way the chicken is tender and moist when you serve it. I served it with steamed vegetables, but you can always have it with a salad or anything else that you like. If you are on a low carb diet then this is perfect for you. You can make the whole chicken, shred it and keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator and eat with salad or by itself whenever you are hungry.
Sounds fancy huh? Nope, this is the tawdry, “makes you gasp” version of a gorgeous salad I once had at a restaurant where I was served Arugula with delicious aged cheddar, sliced strawberries, a little blue cheese, almonds, and some other lovely ingredients. But, let’s be honest, no one is fancy on a daily basis. We eat a lot of salad and though we like our classics, we experiment with some very simple ideas all the time. This was one such time. This was ridiculously delicious, so stop freaking out at the “faux” vinaigrette. Lazy Wednesdays call for experimentation and easy alternatives. No measurements given as it all depends on your taste.
Colourful platters filled with delicious and appetizing food. Tables laid out with aromatic dishes and things you’ve never tried before. Several candles are lit all over the house giving off a lovely aroma that makes you feel welcome. This is the ideal dinner party!
Candles, flowers, napkins, cutlery, dinnerware all add personal touches that are very unique to you. Over the years you will gather items that will help you entertain better such as a cutlery caddy, better dishes, table cloths in various colours, chafing dishes for large parties and glassware for different occasions. You will also learn methods of serving and plating which will work for you. As you can see from the pics, I had a theme for the dishes, napkins, plates and platters. I used a red table cloth, with a black basket for naan. I used red and white napkins, red, green, black and white dishes. There was a white cutlery caddy, with black and white plates and red or cream candles lit up all over the main floor. This made everything look seamless as it was well put together. You don’t have to have a lot of dishes or dinner sets to make this happen. However, it is very important to always buy things that coordinate with your existing collection.
If something isn’t working, try to figure out a better and more efficient way of doing it. For example, I do not prepare dishes after my guests have arrived. Therefore anything that requires baking, assembling or cutting is already done beforehand. Some people can manage this, but I am not one of them. I like to have everything food related ready before my guests arrive. I don’t like being an unprepared hostess. I find it very odd when I go to someone’s house and they are cooking while I am there. It makes me feel like I showed up too early!
It’s wonderful having people over for dinner, but it takes a lot of prepping and planning. My style of prepping works for me, but it isn’t the only way of doing things. Various factors have to be taken into consideration. Are you going to be doing the grocery shopping and cooking? Are you having the food catered? Are you prepping, cooking, cleaning and tidying up the house by yourself? Do you have house help? Do you have an extra family member who can help you with cutting and washing pots and pans while you do the cooking? Will there be someone to help you when you are serving? Do you have a dishwasher in your kitchen? Is there a cook or a maid who can do all of the cleanup for you and put away all the clean dishes in the kitchen cupboards? Do you have a spot where you can “hide” your pots and pans as you reheat food in them? Is your kitchen in an open space or is it in one corner of the house behind closed doors? Yes, there are many factors to consider! Do not compare yourself to others and do not allow others to do it either as your situation is more than likely different from others. Keep your current situation in mind and do the best you can.
Experience has taught me that what others think suitable might not be suitable for you. Do whatever works for you by thinking everything through. Plan ahead where you are going to place your food on the table. Each platter or dish should have a designated spot so that you don’t have to think about where to place the piping hot dish while it is in your hands. Please refer to the other blog posts on party planning as I have gone into more details there. It should all look effortless where in fact you have spent several hours preparing yourself and your home for your guests.
In the past I used to be very concerned about having everything piping hot. Now, I have discovered a way of avoiding stress by having a couple of items that can be served at room temperature such as appetizers, salads and yogurt based items. Also, I always cook on the day of the party. As I am done with a dish, I plate it and let it cool. Then I cover it tightly with aluminium foil and leave it on the counter. An hour before I am ready to serve dinner, I preheat the oven to 350F and place all the dishes in there for 15mins. Then I lower the temperature to 200F and leave the food in there until I am ready to serve. Naan bread is a bit tricky to warm up. I find that it dries up in the oven if you place it in there directly. I usually warm up it up on a frying pan on the stove and keep it in a hot pot or I wrap 5 naans in foil and keep it in the oven along with the other food.
Here’s an example from the last dinner I held at my home. There were 16 of us and half the guests were children. When there are several ages at a dinner party, lots of factors have to be taken into consideration. Some of the dishes were spicy, while others were very mild. As usual, I had a table for dinner items and another table for dessert, tea, juice, water and pop. This way there was something for everyone. The same goes for desserts. I always make a fruit platter and on this day I used honey dew melon, pineapple, green seedless grapes, strawberries and kiwi. Fruit is always a great idea as almost everyone will eat fruit. I had brownies for the kids which I had prepared in cupcake liners. I had laid out several colorful bowls for homemade mango icecream. Tea was in a thermos with tea cups, milk and sugar right there for whoever needed it. Lemonade, pop and water were on a tray with lots of glasses and ice. This is the menu we had.
Dinner Party Menu
Macaroni, vegetable and cream cheese puffs
Sweet chill Thai sauce
Cucumber and mint raita
Mexican cob salad
Hara masala chicken
Home made brownies
Home made mango ice cream
As you can tell from the menu, 6 items needed to be warmed up. I prepared the biryani using the oven method for steaming in two separate oven proof dishes two hours before dinner was going to be served. I took them out of the oven and left them on the counter tightly covered with foil until I was ready to serve dinner. I then placed naan, hara masala chicken, tandoori chicken, tuna kebabs and seekh kebabs in the oven. When I was ready to serve dinner, all I had to do at that point was wear my oven mitts and place the dishes and platters on the designated spots and dinner was served. This method has created controversies in the past as some people think that it makes the food dry or that the flavours might disappear. Ideally the kebabs will be barbecued by one person while the curries were being heated by another and everything being served by another. This is not the case in my house, so I do what works for me and so should you. It’s nice to be a relaxed host who doesn’t need each and every guest helping out. That takes the fun out of being a guest. We all work hard in our kitchens in our own homes. We want to be pampered and enjoy dinner when we are invited somewhere else.
Make your guests have a pleasurable experience when they are at your house by having everything ready beforehand so that you can spend maximum time with them. Obviously this isn’t always possible especially when you have an occasion at home with more than 30 guests. Then you surely need the help of whoever is willing to help you.
What you Need:
For the chia pudding:
2 cups coconut milk (buy a carton or make your own; see recipe below)
⅓ cup chia seeds
1.5 TBSP sweetener of choice (raw honey/maple syrup/stevia)
⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed/sliced
handful of fresh mint (Moroccan mint goes really well)
pinch of chia seeds
pinch sesame seeds
1 TBSP coconut yogurt per serving (you can omit this if you don’t have any available, but it’s gorgeous with)
A bit of freshly squeezed lime juice (don’t worry if you have none, it’s awesome without as well)
optional: bee pollen
To make coconut milk:
2 cups water
½ cup coconut (dry, shredded, dessicated – whatever you have, just not flour)
pinch sea salt flakes
pinch vanilla seeds
How to Prepare: If you’re making coconut milk only for this recipe, the easiest way is to add everything to the blender, both the ingredients for the coconut milk and for the pudding, except the chia seeds.
1) Add: water, coconut (dry, shredded or dessicated), pinch sea salt, vanilla seeds, cinnamon and sweetener. Blitz until you get frothy milk.
For the purpose of this recipe, there is no need to strain the milk as the pulp will give the pudding more creaminess.
2) Pour the spiced coconut milk to a bowl or mason jar, add the chia seeds and give it a good stir or shake. Cover it and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (until the chia fully expands and absorbs all the milk) or overnight.
3) Add the toppings and be prepared to be dazzled.
Hat Tip: raw guru
One of my favourite things about summer: Picnics. Easy to prep for and an infinite amount of fun. People can lounge around reading a good book on the grass, climb trees, take a nap, play games, or just enjoy the weather. These pictures are from a surprise fathers day picnic a client of ours asked us to cater. I'm putting them up now because we're into August and I realize we don't have many warm summer days left- How time flies... I know I am definitely going to have some impromptu picnics- will you? I hope these inspire you to put together some snacks, grab a blanket, and spend time with your loved ones. Don't even wait for the weekend- have dinner outside in a park next to you this evening!
One of my absolute favorite desserts to have is a good moist cake. Especially silk cakes, because they're mostly... well, chocolate and sugar! But man is it ever bad for your health. We have far too much sugar in our foods and the over consumption is taxing on our organs. Most of the raw desserts rely on nuts and dates, which although are high in good fats and low glycemic sugars, you're still not supposed to have it very often. And not to mention they take a long prep time and have an extensive ingredient list sometimes. Then, I found THIS. Cue my hercules clap + ghetto booty dance (all in the privacy of my home I assure you).
This silk cake recipe is packed with plant based protein from hemp, contains the antioxidants and nutrients from cacao, utilizes hardly any sugar (you can substitute agave here too) and brings in the silky smooth texture of coconut.
And the bonus? It takes 5 minutes to prepare, and only 1 hour in the fridge to set. Or... you can be like me and blend this in a chilled bowl so you can have it like pudding right afterwards... HA!
Makes one 4 inch Cake
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons cacao powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
¼ cup hemp seeds
How to Prepare: Blend all your ingredients together in a food processor until the texture is pudding like. Place your batter into your mini cake pan and garnish with more hemp seed pressed with a fork. Let your cake set in your refrigerator for 1 hour. So simple! So delicious! Enjoy!
H/T: Young and Raw
It is barbecue season so I thought I would give you a new recipe to use on your grill. This tikka comes out brown instead of the usual red. The taste is different, yet very nice! As always, make deep BBQ cuts in the legs and thighs before marination. This helps the marinade seep into the chicken and you get the flavor in each and every bite. Here I have served it with paratha, tamarind chutney and a salad. You can have it with anything you like. This recipe makes 12 pieces in total but you can always multiply it depending on how much you are making. Also, I prefer to separate the thighs from the legs as I find that it cooks faster and there’s no wastage. Kids find it really easy to just grab a chicken leg and eat it. It is very important not to overcook the chicken as that is what makes it dry. Also never barbecue it on low heat as that will also dry it out. If you are not going to be having it immediately, then cover with foil and heat up in the oven on 400F for 15-20 mins.
What is desi cuisine without chaat masala? Adults and kids equally enjoy the taste and it is a staple in the kitchen for most desi families. I just peeked into my spice cupboard and apparently I have 4 different bottles/packages. Ummm yeah, and trust me they all taste and look different.
There are many prepackaged chaat masala packages on the market. If you like, you can also make it yourself at home. I have had variouos homemade chaat masalas but they don’t taste the same as the prepackaged ones. I am sure there must be a special ingredient that we don’t add when making it at home. I have always used Shan or National chaat masala.
Perhaps you've bought it before and have an entire box of chaat masala sitting in your spice cupboard and you are stumped on how to use it- I know a lot of people are. Here are a few different ways that you can use chaat masala in your cooking:
What are the innovative ways you use Chaat Masala?