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Give your holiday dinner party a worldly flair

Looking to spice things up a bit for your next dinner party? Try inviting friends over for a virtual trip to Italy or a night filled with Parisian elegance. Cookbook author David Rosengarten was invited on the “Today” show to discuss his new book, “David Rosengarten Entertains,” and to share recipes and tips that will help you throw your own theme-dinner extravaganza.Granita — flavored i
/ Source: TODAY

Looking to spice things up a bit for your next dinner party? Try inviting friends over for a virtual trip to Italy or a night filled with Parisian elegance. Cookbook author David Rosengarten was invited on the “Today” show to discuss his new book, “David Rosengarten Entertains,” and to share recipes and tips that will help you throw your own theme-dinner extravaganza.

Granita — flavored ice, scraped to make a spoonable dessert — is wildly popular in Italy. A form of it has long had popularity in the U.S., too; in cities all over America, many a Little Italy merchant drizzled syrup over shaved ice and called the concoction a "snow cone." That early 20th-century practice morphed into "Italian ices," still a popular American treat. The following concoction is a perfect end to your grilled-pizza party — light and refreshing, it's made with Limoncello, a sweet, lemony liqueur from the Naples region. It, too, is wildly popular in Italy; among liqueurs there, only Campari gets served more often. The granita will take about 4 hours from start to finish. It could be made the morning of the party, as it's not going to freeze rock solid; just remember to check it every hour and rake it with a fork to keep the soft, flaky consistency. If you wish, you could garnish individual servings with fresh mint and/or slivers of candied lemon peel.

About espresso machines

You may well have an espresso machine that already makes you happy. If you do, simply make espresso for this party as usual. However, if you're shopping around for a home espresso maker, I'd like to point out that I've fallen under the sway of the very fine new generation of espresso machines that require only capsules, or pods, of pre-ground coffee to make espresso. The results are startlingly restaurant-like and the process couldn't be simpler!

One of my favorites is the FrancisFrancis! espresso maker, produced by the Italian coffee company Illy. (It's available in five models with five different styles, all making the same great cup of espresso.) You simply purchase Illy's E.S.E. servings (short for "Easy Serving Espresso" and known as "pods"), pop one in the machine, press a button, and 30 seconds later you have a great individual cup of espresso, topped with the lovely, rich, copper-tinged foam called crema. Espresso for 12, at this party, can easily be done in this fashion in less than 10 minutes.

I adapted this dish from a recipe in a cookbook I bought in India, and using only oven and broiler, it brings my kitchen insanely close to an Indian restaurant. Since I'm this close, in fact, I've decided to go with the food coloring that Indian restaurants always use; the red-orange tones bring a Hindu kind of festivity to the dish that I think, despite the artificiality of "food color," is well worth including.

Start this dish the morning of the day you plan to serve it; it needs 7 hours of marinating.

Chicken, Tandoori StyleDavid Rosengarten

Serves 12

Cut the chickens (or ask the butcher to cut the chickens) into 4 pieces each: 2 breasts without wings (save wings for another use), and 2 legs (drumsticks and thighs must remain attached to each other). You will have 12 pieces altogether. Remove and discard all skin. Slash the flesh, not too deeply, with a small, sharp knife (about a dozen small slashes, evenly spaced, on each piece).

Whisk 9 tablespoons vegetable oil, the vinegar, chili powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Place the chicken pieces in a pan large enough to just contain them in one layer, rub the oil-vinegar mixture all over the chicken, and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.

In the meantime, prepare the yogurt marinade. Place the following ingredients in a spice grinder: cloves, cardamom seeds, chilies, peppercorns, caraway seeds, mace, and nutmeg. Grind to a fine powder.

Place the spice powder in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the ginger, garlic, yogurt, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Process until smooth. Add the food color and process until blended.

When the chicken has finished its initial marinade, transfer it to a large bowl. Cover the chicken with the orange-colored yogurt marinade, stirring to make sure the marinade covers all parts. Refrigerate, covered, for 6 hours.

When you're ready to cook, heat the oven to 500°F. Place the chicken pieces on a rack or a grooved broiler pan. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the oven and place them under a hot broiler. Broil until both sides of the pieces are sizzling and a little brown, turning once, about 5 to 10 minutes of broiling in all. Serve immediately.

To serve chicken tandoori the restaurant way, sizzle some thick onion slices under the broiler along with the chicken. Serve the chicken pieces with sizzled onion and lemon wedges.

To really do it up, buy a sizzle platter at a restaurant supply store, heat it in the 500°F oven while the chicken is broiling, and place the finished chicken, onions, and lemon wedges on the hot sizzle platter for service. As you deliver the platter to the buffet table, the sound and the steam are amazing!

912321360481610992915360662chickens33 whole chickens, 3-1/2 to 4 pounds eachvegetable oil12tablespoon12 tablespoons vegetable oilmalt vinegar6tablespoon6 tablespoons malt vinegarmild chili powder0.5tablespoon1-1/2 tablespoons mild chili powderkosher salt1tablespoon1 tablespoon kosher saltcloves66 whole clovesSeeds Seeds from 15 green cardamom podsred chilies44 dried red chilies, each torn into a few piecespeppercorns2tablespoon2 tablespoons black peppercornscaraway seeds1tablespoon1 tablespoon caraway seeds mace1.5teaspoon1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground mace nutmeg0.75teaspoon3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg ginger6tablespoon6 tablespoons grated fresh ginger minced garlic6tablespoon6 tablespoons finely minced garlicyogurt3cup3 cups plain yogurtorange food-color powder2tablespoon2 tablespoons orange food-color powderSizzled onions for garnish (see Serving Note), optionalLemon quarters for garnish

Special ingredients for Tandoori-style chicken

Here are some specific products that will make your chicken taste especially authentic. They are all available by mail:

Chili Powder. There are many Indian chili powders available at many levels of spicy heat. There is a good amount in the first marinade — for flavor and to set the color — but the dish should not be blazing hot. Use one of the milder chili powders, like Kalustyan's Mild Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, which is full of paprika-like flavor.

Green Cardamom Pods. Cardamom pods encase cardamom seeds, the part of the cardamom you use in cooking. I've cracked many a green pod and found a real favorite: Nirav Green Cardamom, available from Namaste. After I got to the seeds, I found them to be the sweetest, least medicinal of all the seeds I tasted. Big surprise here: They come from Guatemala!

Mace. Oh, you can use powdered mace if you wish. But it is so worth the trouble to acquire Kalustyan's Blades of Mace (Myristica Fragrans), Joyatri-India, and to grind them yourself in a spice grinder.

Orange Food Color Powder. If you wish to arrive at the precise color that you find in Indian-restaurant Chicken Tandoori, you must buy a food color specifically designed for Indian cooking. I use Preema Orange Food Color, a powder made in England and available through Kalustyan's.

For more information about David Rosengarten and the Rosengarten Report, please visit his Web site at: