Friday, May 23, 2008

Camp 2008 -- Menu for the senior banquet

The theme for this years Thursday-night senior banquet at camp is safari. I've been working on a menu that will appeal to the high school-aged campers and give them the look and feel of a meal they could receive on an African safari.

Authenticity isn't a big concern. My main concern is to give the kids familiar foods. My goal is to take common American food ingredients, like chicken breasts, and flavor them with spices and ingredients that are commonly found on a safari.

While writing the menu, I envisioned safari meals being cooked by a native chef who uses familiar African flavors to spice up meals that safari-goers know and love. I've built the menu on common African ingredients like long-grain rice, peanuts (or groundnuts), yams and chicken. Spices like curry, coriander and cardamon will booth the flavor-profile of the menu.

Here's the basic menu. Although I may change a few things before July, the basic menu for the banquet will remain.
  • Safari chicken -- I've adapted the common African stew with peanut sauce for the banquet. Instead of making a stew, I will pound and run a mixture of salt, pepper, curry and garlic on each chicken breast. After grilling on the barbecue, the chicken will be finished in the oven (until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.). If we serve family style, I may plate the breasts over a bed of sauteed spinach.
  • African red sauce -- The sauce will be a combination of aromatics (onion, garlic and green bell peppers) sauteed in olive oil, fresh tomatoes, stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and hot pepper sauce. I'll spoon it over the chicken breasts and place bowls on the table.
  • Jollof rice pilaf -- "Jollof rice," according to Wikipedia, "is a popular dish all over West Africa. Its base consists of rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and chili pepper, to which optional ingredients can be added such as vegetables, meats, and other spices." I may add black or red beans to the dish.
  • Roasted yams -- Since this common African food may not be as popular with campers, I'll prepare it in smaller quantities. A butter and honey simple glaze will add a wonderful flavor to the yams.
  • Dessert -- Even though I haven't fully landed on a dessert yet, one chef on another website suggested something made with pumpkin, another common ingredient. He said that a pumpkin cheesecake tart may hit the spot.

These are just a few ideas among many that I could use. I'll report back later in July after the banquet. In the meantime, please leave your comments and any additional ideas for the meal.


  1. Hey Steve, SOUNDS GOOD!

    Its funny, the pastors conference we will do here in Monrovia Liberia (West Africa in case others are ready your comments) on Monday and Tuesday for lunch my menu is:

    Spicey Roasted/Baked Chicken (bone-in)(we would do some fried that is too time intensive for all we have to do)

    Jollof Rice

    Spicey Black-Eyed peas (cooked in a kettle and later you sautee local peppers, onions, & Garlic in Red Palm Oil...and add the beans back in)

    Fried Plantains

    They want chicken both days so we will do the same kind of African Red Sauce you are doing (but again we will use the red palm oil -they use that stuff here in West Africa more like its a condiment, sauce or gravy!!!)

    And the next day we will probably do the Ground Pea Soup(which is the Spicey Soup made with chicken stock, aromatics, and of course peanut butter)we will probably use it more like a sauce for the chicken.

    Tuesday night we have one again for a different group 75 plus the regular crew, we may alternate a Pavlava sauce for that one, similar to the African Red Sauce, but you cook down casava or potato leaves in it (its kinda like a spinach sauce)

    And pumpkin is a common ingredient we get it here locally on the ship from time to time.

    I don't really thing you should try this for the banquet but I ate at a local restaurant the other night and they offered a nutella pizza, yes it was a pizza cooked with nutella as the sauce and still topped with wife said she ate it with her 'girlfriends' when they went for a ladies night out...and they all loved it. I have yet to try it myself.

    Over the years I have worked in the kitchen/galley with some great people from Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Benin, Sierra Leone, Liberia...

    SO I would say you are right on target with the menu for the theme safari food. The American ingredients will work great for your banquet and at the same time the heat from the spices won't send their head in orbit, like they sometimes do here! LOL!

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