Tonight our friend Andy came over for dinner, and to show off his new motorcycle. I made shish kabobs, and had planned just to marinate the chicken in a Hawaiian/sweet and sour type marinade, but then decided that they would taste better if they were also basted with some sweet and sour sauce while grilling so that the pineapple and veggies would get a flavor boost, as well. I made up a sweet and sour sauce based on my recollections of making sweet and sour sauce for stir fries, and it was delicious. I also chose to bake rice, because I was reading the 1979 edition of Craig Claiborne’s “The New York Times Cookbook,” and was intrigued by his claim that his recipe (quite different from my usual method” would yield “a perfect dish of rice.” It did.
Finally, I wanted a fruit salad, and cut up some gorgeous strawberries, several nectarines and a couple of bananas. I wanted a little dressing of some kind for two reasons: the strawberries were a bit tart in their natural state, and I wanted some lemon juice on them so the bananas wouldn’t turn brown before dinner. I made up a dressing based on what I had in the fridge, and it was pretty darned good. It was a fairly healthy, quite delicious dinner that I would definitely serve to company again, unless we wanted to keep it all for ourselves.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Shish Kabobs
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thighs would work, too)
- 2 green peppers
- 2 red and/or sweet white onions
- 2 cans pineapple, rings or chunks in their own juice
- One bottle Hawaiian Marinade (I used Lawry’s)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/3 cup white vinegar (or cider, if that’s all you have)
- 1 can reserved pineapple juice
If you are using wooden skewers, put them in water to soak.
Cut chicken into cubes and put into Ziploc bag with bottle of marinade. Let marinade as long as possible – overnight, if possible.
Cut peppers and onions into chunks roughly the same size as the chicken pieces. If you are using pineapple rings, cut into quarters (its faster to stack 3 or 4 and cut them all at once). (Note: I generally prefer fresh pineapple, but I wanted the juice from the canned type. You could also use fresh pineapple and canned juice). Retrieve your marinated chicken and thread chicken, onion, pepper and pineapple on skewers. If you run out of something, keep going until you have everything skewered. I personally love a skewer with nothing but pineapple and veggies.
Make basting sauce. In small saucepan, mix brown sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice and Soy Sauce. Bring to a boil, then mix 2 tablespoons of hot mixture with cornstarch. When cornstarch is dissolved, which mixture back into pan, and boil and stir until mixture is thickened.
Grill (or, in my case, have someone grill) the shish kabobs. Towards the end of cooking, brush the sauce onto all sides of the kabobs.
A Perfect Batch of Rice a la Craig Claiborne
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cups rice
- tabasco or cayenne pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Stir and cook until onion wilts.
Add the rice and stir until grains are coated.
Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce. Add bouquet garni consisting of a small bundle of parsley sprigs, bay leaf and thyme. (Note: I omitted the bouquet garni and my rice was still delicious).
Add broth, and let it come to a boil. At the boil, cover tightly and place in oven. Bake for exactly 17 minutes.
Remove from oven and discard bouquet garni. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and toss to blend.
This recipe can also be made on top of the stove as long as the saucepan has a tightly fitting lid.
Summer Fruit Salad
- Strawberries (at least a pint)
- 2 large or 3 small bananas
- 4 ripe nectarines or peaches (try other fruits, too, including pineapple, grapes, berries, or melon)
- 4 ounces light cream cheese
- 1-2 tablespoon milk
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- sugar or sweetener to taste
Hull strawberries and quarter, slice bananas, and cut nectarines into bite-sized chunks. Place in bowl.
In food processor or blender, mix cream cheese, milk, lemon juice and sweetener. Blend until smooth. Taste, and add sweetener if necessary. Mixture should be about the texture of heavy cream; if it is too thick, add more milk in tiny increments until its thin enough to pour. Pour over fruit mix, and toss to coat.