The best thing about hosting a themed dinner party, is that it's fairly easy to create a menu. Select dishes that you feel confident serving to guests. Instead of offering several sit down courses, have appetizers ready and waiting when the guests arrive. Guests can mingle, sip cocktails, and enjoy hors d'oeurves before sitting down to the dining table. Instantly transport everyone to a sandy island with balmy breezes by serving tropical chicken on sugarcane skewers with peanut-plantain dipping sauce or vegetarian spring rolls. Get these finger licking good recipes, just
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup store-bought pineapple juice
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, (3 to 4 oranges)
2 scotch bonnet or other small hot fresh chili peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 1/2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 unripe papaya, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 unripe mango, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 unripe pineapple, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
2 firm avocados, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 very ripe plantain, sliced
- In a medium saucepan, combine rum, allspice, pineapple juice, orange juice, peppers, brown sugar, lemon juice, and peanut oil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until mixture has reduced to 1 1/4 cups, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. (The marinade may be kept, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 1 day.) Place half of this marinade in the bowl of a food processor. Divide remaining marinade between 2 nonreactive baking dishes; set aside.
- Arrange 1 piece of chicken on a skewer with 2 pieces of fruit, with the exception of the plantain. Alternate papaya, mango, pineapple, and avocado with chicken on skewers, until all ingredients are used. Transfer skewers to the prepared baking dishes, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium heat, or prepare an outdoor grill.
- Meanwhile, add plantain to marinade in the food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl, and set aside.
- Remove skewers from marinade, and place on heated grill, in batches if necessary. Baste with remaining marinade during first half of the cooking process. Cook until chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Serve on a platter with the reserved sauce.
Makes 3 dozen.
1 ounce fine cellophane noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup green cabbage, shredded
1 small carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
24 spring roll wrappers
- Place the noodles in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Cut into 2-inch lengths.
- Heat the peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, beansprouts, cabbage and carrot and fry for a minute.
- Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, pepper, cilantro and mint and take off the heat.
- Stir in the rice noodles.
- Arrange the wrappers on the counter, pointing diagonally. Spoon a bit of the filling onto the bottom corner of the wrapper. Roll the point of the wrapper over the filling, then fold the side points inward over the filling. Continue to roll up the wrapper away from you, using a bit of water to seal the roll if needed.
- Brush with oil and bake in a 400 F oven until crispy, about 15-20 minutes. You may want to flip the spring rolls halfway through baking. You can also freeze these unbaked and then bake from frozen. This will take about 25 minutes.
Serves 12-24 depending on the size of the wrappers that you use.