Hosting family and friends in our home is something that my husband and enjoy and from time to time we will have “feasts” most times without the expected association with a major holiday like Christmas or Easter (although we typically host friends and family during those periods too).
So when Gbemi and her family flew in from Houston for a short 4 day visit to Lagos it went without saying that we would have them over. Not only is Gbemi and her husband, Debola a very dear friend but she single handedly saved me from a wedding dress fiasco by miraculously making a dress for me in one day! Read all about that drama here.
We also had our fab friends, Bolaji and Okiki Marinho as well as the Ajuluchukwus over. It was a splendid gathering.
I wanted to keep the menu simple but with a mix of complementary flavours so I settled on Teriyaki Chicken, Spicy Meatballs, Sauteed Potato wedges, Hasselback potatoes, Pilau rice, Sun dried tomato focaccia and Rosemary focaccia (both accompanied by herb butter), Lemon Blueberry Bars, Orange Syrup Cake and Banana Raspberry Swirl ice cream; I basically pulled from my arsenal of favourite recipes.
It sounds like a lot but the great thing about this menu is that a lot of the dishes can be made a day ahead! So on Saturday I made everything save the potatoes, rice and chicken (which I marinated overnight).
For the Pilau rice recipe check out the “Flavour Infusion; Taste Explosion” post. My recent post titled “Special Cakes and Bakes; This is all it takes” has the decadent Orange Syrup Cake recipe and the banana raspberry swirl ice cream which is completely dairy and sugar free therefore completely guilt free can be found here. Follow the basic recipe and customize it to suit you, in this case I threw in a few raspberries. For a step-by-step guide to making hasselback potatoes please read the Tra-la-la-la-laa-laa-laa post. Spicy meatballs which is an FFF favourite can be found here. The easy focaccia recipe comes with a detailed step-by-step too. Herb butter is easy to make and you can take it anywhere. This version was inspired by a version I saw on We Call him Yes Chef! and I incorporated chopped basil, parsley, red onions, garlic, black pepper and chilli powder.
The teriyaki chicken and lemon blueberry bars were such a hit that I know they will become fixtures in future feasts. Here are the recipes.
The Lemon Bluberry treat was adapted from a recipe I found on Two peas and their Pod
For the crust:
1 250 gram packet of plain digestives (blitzed to fine crumbs in a food processor; alternatively, you could use graham cracker crumbs and you will need about 2 ½ cups and 1/3 cup sugar)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest of one lemon
For the filling:
4 large egg yolks
2 (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 ½ cup fresh blueberries
The “How To”
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and spray an 8”x8” baking dish with cooking spray and line with parchment paper; ensure that there is an overhang on two sides as this will help with lifting it out.
In a medium bowl, combine the digestive crumbs or graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar (if using), and lemon zest. Stir until the crumbs are moist. Using the back of a flat implement like a wooden mallet, press crumbs firmly into prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the oven. Remove from and allow to cool to room temperature. I will advise that you leave the oven on.
While the crust is cooling, make the filling; combine the egg yolks and condensed milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Continue mixing until it is smooth and begins to slightly thicken then fold in the blueberries.
Pour the lemon blueberry filling evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it is just set. Remove it from the oven and cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. If you can chill it over night that is even better, just be sure to carefully cover the pan with cling film (don’t let the cling film touch the surface of the dessert). When you are ready to serve, simply lift the parchment paper using the overhang, place on flat surface and slice with a sharp knife.
The recipe will keep in the ridge for 3-4 days but it so good that I seriously doubt that it will last that long! I mean just look at it!
For the Teriyaki chicken you will need
1 ½ kg chicken drum sticks
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs chilli powder
1 tbs chopped fresh ginger (or ¾ tbs powdered ginger)
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tbs black pepper
2 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp salt
The “How To”
Place all the ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it ensuring that all pieces are coated. Leave to marinate for at least two hours but if you can leave it overnight that would be better.
Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celcius. Heat a large thick bottomed skillet with 2 tbs of vegetable oil and sear chicken pieces, about 1 minute on each side and carefully arrange chicken in a deep roasting pan. Then pour the left over marinade over the chicken. Half way through the cooking time cover the chicken with a piece of foil if it looks like it is drying out. The chicken should be ready after about 30-35 minutes but please check for doneness before turning the oven off.
You should have quite a bit of juice at the bottom of the pan which is superb because this is the base for your glaze.
Carefully drain the juice into a saucepan and set over medium heat until the juice reduces to a dark slightly thick glaze. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Glaze all chicken pieces and garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds if desired.
I thoroughly enjoyed having my friends round and for once I was not harried and sweating like an unfit hippo in the final stages of labour!! (Apologies hippos; you are gorgeous pleasantly plump creatures. I was only making an analogy) Making some of the meals ahead took A LOT of pressure off me!
Everyone enjoyed the meal and most people left with take away packs which gladdened my heart.
And there you have it; the anatomy of a feast. Read all about another “Anatomy of A feast” which I wrote about a few years ago here.