Archive for the ‘Crowd pleaser/party food’ Category

Coconut macaroons & Chocolate dipped coconut macaroons

Forget those vacuum sealed dry chunks that you have to choke down at the end of the Seder, while pawing for your last drops of coffee or Manichevitz, these are delicious for year round enjoyment!  Moist, delicious and easy to prepare, amaze the mishpucha (family) with the best ever coconut macaroons they have ever experienced!  The only thing you may say is “OY VEY” I didn’t make enough!  (By the way my goyim (non-Jewish) friends, this isn’t just Jew food, you all eat bagels now, don’t ya?)

30 Cookies

Prep 40 minutes with baking

  • ¼ cup flour (or matzo meal spun for 1 minute in a food processor to make it fine)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened coconut (1 used flaked and chips for texture)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bitter or semi sweet chocolate, chopped (if making for Passover, remember to use Passover chocolate or omit this step)

In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour (or matzo meal.

Heat over low-to-moderate heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture is very lightly toasted.

When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.

(At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)

When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use silicone baking mats (my favorite for baking!) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds, with moistened fingers, evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15  minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely.

To dip the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.) Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the wax paper. Allow them to cool completely.


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chorizo and shrimp skewerThe latin infusion of flavors in incredible in the dish!  We ate it all without speaking. . .just a chorus of oooh’s and aaah’s!  Really just marvelous! 

Prep 20 minutes

Marinate 1 hr –overnight

Cook 40

Serves 6-8 small appetizer plates or 4 of us!

  • 1 ½ lbs chorizo sausage
  • 2 lbs. jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • Shrimp marinade:
    • ½ cup cilantro
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • Juice of a small lemon
    • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 slice white bread, ground into bread crumbs
    • 1 tsp. dry oregano
    • 2 tsp hot paprika
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Aioli:
      • 1 extra large egg yolk (if you only buy large eggs like me, crack two eggs and use 1 ½ of the yolks)
      • 2 cloves garlic
      • ½ tsp sea salt
      • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
      • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
      • 2 tbs olive oil
      • 3 peppers, one each of red, yellow and orange; julienned (sliced thin)
      • 1 large red onion
      • 2 tbs red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350° and prick sausage casing several times.  Cook it in an inch of water in on oven proof skillet for 20 minutes until fully cooked turning once halfway through.  Refrigerate one hour or longer than slice into ½ inch slices. 

Combine all ingredients for the shrimp marinade and marinate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Aioli (which should have 2 dots over the first I but I don’t know how to do that, sorry), add everything but the olive oil into the food processor.  With the food processor running, add the oil slowly to form a thick emulsion.  Place this in a small bowl or Ziploc bags that you can later cut off the corner to use to easily squeeze it out onto the cooked skewers.

Heat up your grill to very hot. Thread your skewers (bamboo skewers need to be soaked for at least 30 minutes in water first so they don’t burn).  Grill for 6-8 minutes until sausage is brown and shrimp are cooked.  Meanwhile sauté peppers and onions in a pan until nicely browned and then add the vinegar to pan and toss or stir.  Divide the veggies among 6-8 appetizer plates (ok, we devoured this among 4 people, I’ll be honest – it was sooooo good!) Drizzle with the aioli.

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Here’s a fastnacht recipe that I’ve tried and is very delicious.  The authentic German recipe is made with a potato dough.  This one looks great. . .try it and let me know what you think: http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/Fastnachts.htm

Makes about 3 dozen donuts

Prep 15 minutes

Total proof time 1 hour 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes total

  • 16 c. flour
  • 6 c. warm water
  • 2 pkg. yeast
  • 2 c. sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 3/4 c. oil or Crisco, melted

Mix yeast, sugar and warm water until foamy about 10 minutes then add salt and oil. Add flour, a cup at a time. Knead; let rise in a warm place (like an oven set at 135°) about 1 hour.  Punch down and knead again. Cut into squares. Cover and let rise again for 20 minutes. Deep fry at 360° for 1 ½  minutes on each side.

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Chicharrones de Pollo

Latin-Style Chicken Nuggets / "Chicharrones de Pollo"

I have modified the savory, traditional “chicharrones de pollo” which are made with the skin on, bones-in and deep-fried to crispy golden perfection to be just a little better for you.  This rendition is pan-fried still just as tasty and easier to butcher using skinless, boneless cutlets instead of whole breasts.  At this point, any calorie saved is worth it, right?  There is two options for breading, Panko or matzo-meal, both are delicious and my tribesmen can refer to this recipe for Passover which is right around the corner!

 A “chicharron “is probably best translated by “cracklins” and it’s easier to find chicharrones de cerdo (pork cracklins) in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico than these chicken ones.  Often just the pork skin is fried up and served as well. 

Prep 40 minutes with frying

Marinate chicken overnight

Serves 6-8

  • 1 ½ – 2 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (since you are going to be cutting this into little pieces it will go far)
  • ½ cup Goya Mojo Crillo
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup Goya White cooking Wine (or other dry white wine)
  • Panko seasoned bread crumbs or Matzo meal for breading
  • 2 cups flour
  • Vegetable, Corn, etc Oil for frying

Prepare chicken by cutting into thin filets and trimming fat and grizzle.  Place into a Ziploc bag with the Mojo Crillo at least overnight. 

In three separate dishes, get your work stations ready:

1)      Flour with seasoning to dredge (drag through then shake off) chicken.  Season flour with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder (1 tb each).

2)      Egg wash – three eggs with white wine added.

3)      Breading – either Panko or Matzo meal – both are delicious and give a different texture to the chicharrones

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Heat your oil over medium high heat and don’t start frying into you test a piece of chicken into the oil and it immediately starts frying quickly.

Work chicken through all three stations in order then right into the oil. I choose to pan fry rather than deep fry, hoping it’s absorbing less oil – eh, who know! It will go quickly.  Flip chicken only once when toasty brown then drain on a paper towel before serving.  For an authentic Latin meal, serve with rice, beans, and tostones (see my post).

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Easy and delicious. There are no boundaries to what you can do with this recipe. It’s just the beginning to get your creative juices, as well as your salivary juices, flowing. The type of vegetables, the quantity, and the seasonings are up to you. I just am the  art teacher and you are the students who will take the palette and design your masterpiece to your liking.

Suggestions for veggies (make sure all your veggies are about the same size and thickness for even cooking on each tray)

  • Eggplant – cubed
  • Zucchini, summer squash
  • Parsnips, chopped
  • Carrots, baby
  • Green beans (my favorite)
  • Peppers – sliced

Make as many as you like or just one.  Now, once you have your vegetables cut up, place them in a zip lock bag with the herb of your choice BUT it needs to be a hearty herb that doesn’t break down in the cooking process quickly.  I suggest thyme, rosemary, oregano, or sage.  My personal favorite being the first two listed. 

Quite simply, chop up 3 tb of fresh herbs or 1 tsp dried herb to every 2 cups of vegetables.  Add 2 tsp crushed garlic and 3 tb olive oil in that zip lock bag.  “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” and, if you have time, let it marinade for up to 1 hour to develop the flavor. 

Place on aluminum foil coated with non-stick cooking spray in a 400° oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the vegetable and the degree of tenderness you like.  Be vigilant and keep checking on them after 10-15 minutes. 

Roasting them retains more flavor and nutrients then boiling which releases both into the water and it’s super delicious!

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Hazelnut, Pecan, White, Dark, and Milk Chocolate Truffles

Most of our family traditions revolve around food.  It brings the family together, either cooking something in the kitchen, or around the table at a special family meal.  Years ago, I started making truffles every Valentine’s Day for the family and it’s since been multiplied many times over as a special treat for close friends and, if I’m extra energetic that year, as a teacher’s gift.

  • 8 oz. good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped (not chips – a special additive is added to help them retain their shape and it’s really not great for making truffles although it can be used I don’t recommend it.)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. vanilla (or any liqueur – Kahlua, Grand Marnier, etc)
  • Extra chocolate to enrobe (coat) truffle or sifted unsweetened cocoa power (1/2 cup)

Melt chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  Pour cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Add liqueur and stir only to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until firm.

Using two spoons form a ball with about 1 tsp of truffle mix. Then roll in sifted cocoa powder coating truffle completely.  Chill until firm.  These will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.

You can also choose to roll the truffles in tempered chocolate. This takes a little more time and skill.  You need dipping forks (see my post about Bev’s to purchase some) to fish the chocolate balls out of the chocolate.

Tempering chocolate isn’t difficult and it gives your final product a smoother shiner finish.  It also makes the chocolate easier to work with when you dip it.

Use at least a lb of chocolate at a time and chop it to the same size (I use my food processor for this).  Only melt 2/3 of the chocolate to start in a double boiler set over simmering water.  Heat the chocolate to 115°(for dark) and 110° (for white and milk).  Remove it from heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate to cool it down to 84°.

Without turning the water back on, place the chocolate back over the double boiler for a few minutes to reheat the chocolate back to 88-89° (87° for milk and white).

That’s it.  To test that it’s properly tempered, spoon a thin strip over wax paper.  If it’s smooth and shiny, ya done good!

You can decorate the tops of your truffles with drizzled chocolate, nuts, sprinkles, or whatever you desire.  Vary your liqueurs for different flavors.  Use white chocolate instead of milk or try dark as well.  This basic recipe can create hundreds of varieties.

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Yuca chips
Yuca a.k.a. Cassava and Yuca chips

My family enjoys yuca chips more than plantain chips although I am partial to the plantain.  I learned a lot researching the yuca today so that I could educate you.  First of all, the yucca scrub native to South America has nothing to do with the edible yuca.  This yuca is also known as cassava and, unbeknownst to me, when dried into it’s starchy, pearly extract it’s called tapioca!!  You learn something new every day!

It’s one of the major staple foods in developing third world countries because it is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics.  It provides a basic diet for about 500 million people.  They are rich in starch, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C.  That said, there are probably hundreds of ways to prepare this versatile starch. 

Hands down my favorite is still the simplest . . . peel, slice and fry!

Choose a yuca with no soft spots.  Peel through the brown skin and purple under coat and slice on a mandolin, with a grater or with a knife to make thin potato chip like slices.  Pan fry without crowding in Canola or vegetable oil. 


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