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

Laut Reviewed

Last Monday a few coworkers and I tried out Laut for lunch. I guess I’ve been on an ethnic food kick the last two weeks with the curry and Moroccan chicken posts. But today I decided to go with a Malaysian/Thai post. Wikipedia says that Malaysian cuisine reflects the multi-racial aspects of Malaysia. Various ethnic groups in Malaysia have their dishes but many dishes in Malaysia are derived from multiple ethnic influences. I probably wouldn’t have seen Laut if it weren’t for a previous trip to Cafe Medina, since they are on the same street. But because of how packed the restaurant was that day and the fact that the menu looked fabulous, I had to go back and try it out.

Laut has a variety of lunch specials priced at around $12 though doesn’t include any appetizer, drink, or dessert, which was a little disappointing. I ordered the Sambal Dish which consisted of beef, okra, eggplant, string beans, bell peppers, and onions in a spicy chilli shrimp paste sauce. My coworkers all ordered the Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken, pepper, green pea, carrot, egg, and onion in a mixed spice sauce. Although I didn’t try the rice dish, mine appeared to be more hearty and delicious. The mixture of vegetables added more depth to the dish, though it wasn’t as spicy as I’d hoped. So being that I love condiments, I added some of their hot sauce to it.

Overall I thought the food was very tasty and would be more likely return for dinner so I could try a few other items on the menu. I recommend trying this restaurant out if you’re in the neighborhood.

Laut

15 E 17th Street (between Bway & 5th)

Sambal Dish with Brown Rice

Sambal Dish with Brown Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

Moroccan Chicken

According to Wikipedia, Moroccan cuisine is one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. The reason is because of the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Arab, Berber, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean African, Iberian, and Jewish influences.

The history of Morocco is reflected in its cuisine. Political refugees left Baghdad in the Middle Ages and settled in Morocco, bringing with them traditional recipes that are now common in Morocco, but forgotten in the Middle East. We know this because there are striking similarities between a 12th century (Christian reckoning) collection of recipes by Al-Baghdadi, and contemporary Moroccan dishes.

A signature characteristic is cooking fruit with meat, such as quince with lamb, or apricots with chicken (which the original Cooking Light Moroccan Chicken Recipe called for). Spices are also used extensively in Moroccan food. Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, pepper, paprika, anis seed, sesame seed, coriander, parsley, saffron, and mint.

This was my first time both eating and cooking Moroccan food and I really enjoyed the mix of spices and sweetness of the raisins. I must admit that it’s not the most attractive dish but the combination of flavors are wonderful. As in previous recipes I’ve posted, I have slightly changed this recipe, and I believe for the better. I usually get most of my recipes from Cooking Light as they are a healthier version of the original, though they usually require additional steps and ingredients. Since many Cooking Light readers are avid cooks, the recipes are catered to people who have a stocked kitchen. And I know better than anyone, that this is usually not the case with NYC dwellers, which is why I always try to include helpful tips and substitutions.

So for example, in this recipe, you can use some of what you have on hand. The initial recipe had called for dried apricots but those tend to be both expensive and sometimes harder to find. I felt that raisins are a great and less expensive alternative. Another substitution I’ve made is using ground ginger instead of fresh and have actually doubled the spices to add more flavor. If you like your chicken a bit spicier, you can add some tumeric or cayenne pepper to heat yours up. I also chose to use bone-in chicken instead of boneless, as I feel it gives the dish more flavor. Though I would recommend using a mix of dark and white meat to give the dish more texture. I’ve also substituted butternut squash for chick peas, since it’s delicious and in season and used brown rice instead of couscous because I already had it on hand. But feel free to experiment with your own substitutions!

Servings & Cooking Time

8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cook Time: About 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds mix of bone-in chicken thighs & breasts (you can use boneless but bone-in has more flavor)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash (1/4 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dry brown rice (+ 2 cups water or chicken broth)

Preparation

1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides and then repeat procedure with remaining chicken. Place browned chicken on a plate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Add onion to pan; sauté for 3 minutes or until tender. Add ginger and next 6 ingredients; sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

3. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return chicken to pan and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. (The chicken should be falling off the bone at this point)

4. While the chicken simmers, combine 1 cup of dry brown rice with 2 cups water or chicken broth in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. You should check on your rice to make sure it doesn’t burn, adding additional water as necessary. After the 20 minutes, turn off the burner and let the rice sit for another 10 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon and cool slightly. Once the chicken has cooled, carefully shred the chicken into bite sized pieces.

6. Then add chicken, butternut squash, and raisins to pan. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

7. When the dish has finished cooking, spoon about 3/4 of rice into a small bowl and then 1 cup of the Moroccan chicken and serve.