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Philadelphia, PA 19145

Phone: 215.468.0518
Fax: 215.468.0818
E-mail: info@philadelphiacatering.com
 
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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Summertime Luau: New Jersey Style
By Deirdre Cooper

 

 
 

Our friendships go back over 50 years. High School, Weddings, Babies, Grandchildren. We "bridesmaided" for one another, traveled together, helped each other during health crises and caring for sick parents. We have managed to stay within driving distance of each other and make sure we get together several times a year. Our emails going back and forth are the stuff of legend. Like the one recently where one food assignment was Ambrosia, but a computer tablet changed that to "Cambodia", thus starting a rumor that one of us was going to Cambodia.
 
Our summer picnic is a highlight of the year and we have taken to having a theme, this year being the Year of the Luau. While my husband would have loved to dig a pit and cook a whole pig for 16 hours, logistics made that a little difficult. Not to mention convincing our host that the big hole in his lawn would - eventually - fill in! However, we did come up with a nice island theme and recipes that mimic the Hawaiian cuisine and tastes. Decorations helped set the mood with tropical tablecloths, flowers, inflatable palm trees and the obligatory leis.
 
So, on that sultry July day, we started to set the mood with Mai Tai Cocktails. Mai Tai is actually the Tahitian word for "out of this world". And they surely are. The traditional Mai Tai recipe is:
 
Mai Tai Cocktail
 
1 oz white rum
1/2 oz orange liqueur such as Triple Sec or Curacao
1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
Stir all together and top with a maraschino cherry.
 
For variety there were also Pina Coladas, Sangria, a Pimms Punch, Wine and plenty of ice cold beer.
 
 


 
 

The buffet table was laden with everyone's contributions of side dishes, including a Pineapple Souffle, Hawaiian Baked Beans, Asian Noodle Salad, Pineapple Kabobs, Corn Salad and a fresh green Tossed Salad.
 
The Teriyaki Beef skewers were beef tenderloin, thinly sliced, which had been marinated overnight in teriyaki sauce. They were threaded on skewers with green and red peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and cooked on a hot barbecue just long enough to sear the meat and soften the vegetables. The same idea carried over to sliced Chicken breasts, skewered with vegetables and cooked on high heat until chicken was cooked through.
 
Shrimp Kabobs were brushed with a citrus/lime dressing, placed on the hot barbecue for only about 3 minutes per side, just enough to turn the shrimp perfect pink and serve with a mango salsa on the side, nicely presented in a hollowed out pineapple shell.
 
 


 
 

The desserts also carried the tropical theme. Hawaiian dishes are heavy on pineapple and coconut, as well as mango and this was reflected in the desserts.
 
 


 
 

Ambrosia Fruit Salad
 
8 oz of either frozen whipped topping, thawed or stiffly whipped heavy cream
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 oz drained fruit cocktail
8 oz drained pineapple chunks
11 oz drained mandarin oranges
3 cups miniature marshmallows
10 oz maraschino cherries, drained
Optional sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg
Mix all ingredients in large bowl and chill for at least 45 minutes. Serve cold. Approx 12 servings.
 
Pineapple/Coconut Upside Down Cupcakes
 
Cooking Spray
1/2 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
24 maraschino cherries
20 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 16.25 oz package pineapple cake mix such as Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
10X Sugar
 
Preheat oven to 350 and spray 24 muffin cups with cooking spray. Spoon 1 tsp melted butter into the bottom of each sprayed muffin cup. Spoon 1 tbsp brown sugar in each cup and a pinch of coconut on top of sugar. Press a maraschino cherry into the center of each cup. Spoon a heaping tbsp. of crushed pineapple over the cherry and compact with the back of a spoon into an even layer.
 
Mix cake mix, eggs, pineapple juice and oil in a large bowl and beat with mixer on low speed until moistened, then beat another two minutes. Pour batter into the cups filling almost to rim. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow cakes to cool about 5 minutes before inverting muffin cups. Serve with pineapple side up and sprinkle with 10X sugar. These will be more like small cakes than cupcakes and are extremely moist.
 
A Coconut Custard Pie, Coconut Flan and Mango Flan rounded out the dessert menu.
 
So all in all it was a most successful and fun day. Now we have to think of something to top it next year... Aloha, everyone.
 
 
 

Deirdre is a culinary enthusiast who enjoys traveling, gardening, and needless to say works wonders in the kitchen. Deirdre, a native New Yorker, now resides in Ambler with her husband John, and can often be found entertaining family and friends. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 

2017
 
Jan.  | Feb.  | Mar.  | Apr.  | Current Recipe
 
 
2016
 
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2019 South 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 · Phone: 215.468.0518 · Fax: 215.468.0818 · E-mail:
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