Entertaining With: Amanda Agati

Amanda Agati

Entertaining is a skill that takes practice to acquire but when you’re a guest of Amanda Agati’s, she makes entertaining seem effortless. Amanda and her brother Greg hosted an elaborately catered pool party for about thirty guests last weekend. And Amanda herself presented us with a colorful variety of summer dishes poolside.

With an eye for food and fashion, Amanda’s culinary prowess is as impressive as her own. Amanda’s astute preparation allows her to wine, dine, and schmooze her guests without worrying about the food. Amanda’s charm paired with her divine seasonal fare make her an excellent hostess and an even better caterer.

Amanda’s attention for detail in the kitchen is apparent and appreciated in her execution. From appetizers to desserts, you can tell that the components in each dish were meticulously placed which is what makes them so refined.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

Grilled Vegetables

Amanda says she never follows any one recipe. When asked about how she comes up with recipes Amanda says, “I create new recipes of my own based on dishes I’ve eaten, recipes I’ve read, and my own ideas. Anyone can follow a recipe, but to create a new dish that is completely your own is really challenging and rewarding, but it is also exciting- and that is where my passion stems from.”

Moroccan Chicken

Steak Fajitas

The elegant presentation of Amanda’s food is reflective of the sophisticated ingredients she takes care in using such as the arugula and ricotta salata in her Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad. But with her favorite foods & ingredients being lobster, truffle oil, rabbit, and homemade pasta I’m not surprised! In regards to her sophistication Amanda says, “I have a high appreciation for fine dining since my parents exposed me to a variety of fine cuisines at a very young age. In college, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, a place I consider to be one of the great food capitals of the world. I also traveled extensively throughout Europe exploring regional cuisines. Enjoying great food is one my many pleasures in life.”

Entertaining by definition is to hold someone’s attention and Amanda Agati has clearly mastered that! At 24, this young and beautiful caterer has captured my attention with her enthusiasm for both food and life. Amanda is a third year law student at Fordham Law School and is currently interning with Burberry’s Intellectual Property Legal Department. Her interests include dancing, traveling, the culinary arts, and fashion. Amanda caters for small gatherings and intimate dinner parties, and can be reached at TheCutieFoodie@gmail.com to plan your event.

To be able to cook for people and share my love of food with them brings me great satisfaction,” Amanda Agati

Chocolate Cheesecake

Advertisements

Texas Food Facts

Dr PepperThis week at work, I was tasked with creating a proposal for Texas Tourism. Boy, was that finger lickin’ fun! And you know what, it actually was because I found some really entertaining food bits that I never would have learned.

Did you know that Texas is as large as all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois combined? A state this large MUST have some great food facts…

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken, Cooked

Roast chicken, a perfect meal sought after by many and achieved by few. And you’re probably thinking, what makes a perfect roast chicken? The answer is salt! No matter what spices, herbs, or marinades you might use, a liberal sprinkling of sea salt rubbed in the chicken cavity and on the outside of the chicken (through olive oil) will tremendously improve the overall flavor of your roast chicken.  According to John Hastings, salt combats bitterness and penetrates proteins on a cellular level, and when used to make a brine, it leaves meats juicier and more delicious. 

And salt isn’t the only secret to my perfect roast chicken! Since I love vegetables I like to smother the bottom of the pan with tons of fresh mushrooms, baby carrots, chopped onions, and celery. When the chicken cooks, its wonderful juices saturate the vegetables and make for a fantastic gravy! After the chicken has finished cooking, I puree half the vegetables and add them to a stock based gravy. The vegetable puree adds great depth and texture to the gravy making it a perfect compliment to the moist roast chicken!

After making about 6 different roast chickens, I believe that this one was by far my favorite. Practice makes perfect and I’m sure you’ll invent a special secret of your own, which I hope you’ll later share with me! Bon Appetit!

Perfect Roast Chicken, Pre-cooked

Roast Chicken, Served

Roast Chicken with Spinach

Perfect Roast Chicken, adapted from Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 6-7lb Chicken
  • 1 Bag Baby Carrots (or 3 carrots, chopped and peeled)
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Box Sliced Mushrooms, coarsley chopped
  • 2 Medium Onions, chopped
  • 2-3 Small Red Potatoed, chopped
  • 1 Package Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3-6 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Sea Salt (can use kosher)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock/Broth
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Immersion Blender

PREPARATIONS

  1. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one. Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with sea salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle onions, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots at the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Place the palm of your hand on top of lemon and, pressing down, roll lemon back and forth several times. This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely. Pierce entire surface of lemon with a fork. 
  4. Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity. Place chicken on top of chopped vegetables and rub the entire surface with olive oil. Then sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika and place breast side down in pan.
  5. Cover chicken entirely with aluminum foil making a tent. Place in the oven, and roast for 1 hour. After the first hour turn the chicken breast side up and roast uncovered for another hour and twenty minutes or until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced.
  6. When chicken seems done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees.
  7. Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Meanwhile, let the pan drippings cool for a few minutes and puree half of the cooked vegetables with your immersion blender. After the pan drippings have cooled, pour them into a plastic bag, leaving the remaining vegetables in the pan. Cut a hole in the corner and pour the pan drippings into a sautee pan with 1 cup of chicken stock. Heat on med-high until it boils and reduced down to half, about 4 minutes.
  8. Then pour chicken stock mixture into the bowl with the vegetable puree and combine. If you want to add lemon, take the lemon out from the chicken cavity and squeeze the juices into the gravy mixture.
  9. Carve the chicken, and serve with your choice of sides (matzoh stuffing, rice, cous-cous, sauteed spinach or broccoli). For plating the chicken place starch in one plate corner, spread some of the gravy on the remainder of the plate and place chicken on top.

*This recipe serves about 6 people. Stay tuned for ways to turn the remainder of your 7lb chicken into tomorrow night’s lunch or dinner!

Hoisin Chicken with Steamed Vegetables

This chicken dish is the second installment of the Healthy Cooking on the Cheap Series and is a simple and quick recipe that you can easily prepare for you and a friend in 30 minutes tops! I don’t know how hectic your weekday schedule is but I know mine is pretty busy and this dish is perfect for a last minute dinner.

I happen to really enjoy preparation of this recipe because of how incredibly easy and fast it is. Often times, the first time I cook a dish it takes twice as long. This is probably common for most cooks because a good cook READS THE ENTIRE RECIPE FIRST. It usually takes at least two preparations to really get familiar with a recipe, which usually quickens the preparation time. But even someone who has NEVER cooked before can make Hoisin Chicken with Steamed Vegetables in their sleep.

It’s fairly common for me to multi-task in the kitchen and this dish complements a busy lifestyle quite well. I recommend marinating the chicken in the Hoisin sauce, or other Asian-inspired marinade you might have on hand, in advance. Most chicken tastes better when it has marinated for a longer period of time, so feel free to let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator while you are prepping your vegetables. I usually tend to throw in whatever vegetables or spices I have on hand to make the dish a little more interesting and spicy, since you all know by now how much I enjoy spicy foods. Some of the ingredients I’ve added in the past are chopped garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sriracha, and hot chili flakes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and experiment with the ingredients you have laying around YOUR kitchen! Unfortunately I was unable to post the pictures of this dish today but check back tomorrow for photos.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (can subsitute for Teriyaki, Soy Vey, or your marinade of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons Sesame Seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chopped Garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 – 1 lb chicken tenders (or chicken breasts cut into bite-sizes pieces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup butternut squash (or any vegetable of your choice)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 package pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1 Ziploc Steam Bag
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)

Preparation

1. Combine the chicken tenders, garlic, Hoisin Sauce, chili flakes, and sesame seeds in a plastic bag and marinate for at least a half hour.

2. Dice vegetables and prepare rice (if not using pre-cooked brown rice).

Hoisin Chicken Sautee3. Coat and heat a medium or large saucepan sprayed with Pam. Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and cook in sautee pan for about 3-4 minutes or until the tops of the chicken tenders become less pink.

Hoisin Chicken with Green OnionsSteamed Vegetables4. Once the chicken starts cooking through turn the tenders over and add the green onions. While the chicken finishes cooking, microwave the pre-cooked rice and the vegetables (in the Ziploc steam bag) and heat them based on the package directions. Be sure to steam the spinach separately as it takes a very short time to steam.

5. Once the vegetables, rice, and chicken have finished cooking, place 3/4 cup of rice, 1 cup of vegetables, and three chicken tenders in each of two bowls and serve. Feel free to top with soy sauce or sriracha.

Hoisin Chicken with Steamed Vegetables

Curried Chicken Penne with Peach Chutney

Maybe it’s because I live in “Curry Hill” but I’ve really taken a liking to curry and just Indian food in general. I’ve made a few curries in my day and this is my favorite recipe so far. Usually I head over to Kalustyan’s, which is a great specialty food shop in the neighborhood. I get all my exotic spices there, as it’s very convenient and reasonably priced!

I initially saw the recipe for Curried Chicken Penne with Fresh Mango Chutney on Cooking Light.com and never got around to making it. I slightly altered the recipe, as the original was a bit too sweet for my taste. But I must admit that the addition of pasta is a great substitute for rice given its texture and tastes even better when served the next day! This dish was teriffic and very easy to make, though it does require using multiple pans. If you have mango chutney on hand or can make it a day ahead I would recommend using it so there is less of a cleanup. Using something on hand also cuts back on cooking time.

I also substituted peach for the mango in the chutney and only used 1 tbsp brown sugar total to reduce the sweetness. I tend to like my curry a little spicy so I added 1/2 tsp of tumeric and used chili paste instead of red curry paste.

Before you go ahead an make this delicious dish, I would like to pass on a few pointers:

  • If you cook curries or thai food on somewhat of a regular basis, I suggest purchasing a bottle of fish sauce as the flavor is much more suited to this dish (though soy sauce would suffice)
  • You should probably cook the three main components of this dish simultaneously (pasta, chutney, & chicken) so be mindful of the cooking time each part is called for
  • I also suggest simmering the chutney on low heat after it boils to synchronize the timing with the chicken and pasta. The great thing about the chutney is that you can continue to add small amounts of water as it simmers, without lessening the flavor, if it begins to dry out

Ingredients

Chutney:

  • 2 cups diced peeled ripe mangos or peaches (about 2)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water (use accordingly)
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger (or ground ginger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Chicken:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste (or red chilli paste)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups hot cooked penne rigate (about 2 cups uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
Cookware:
  • 2 medium – large saucepans
  • 1 medium pot (pasta)

Preparation

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally.

2. While the chutney is simmering, heat oil in a separate large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chicken; sauté 5 minutes. Combine coconut milk and next 4 ingredients (coconut milk through fish sauce), stirring with a whisk. Add coconut mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Add broccoli and cauliflower; cover and cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in chutney and pasta; toss well to combine.