Fun food for election night parties

The inspiration for the Chickadillo Casserole recipe comes from Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. The inspiration for the Coconut Shrimp with Ginger Pineapple Chutney comes from Democratic Senator Barack Obama who spent time growing up in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Coconut Fried Shrimp with Ginger Pineapple Chutney
1 lb medium raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp chopped cilantro

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups skim milk

1/2 cup cream of coconut

4 oz. flaked coconut

Peanut oil for frying

Marinate shrimp in mixture of lemon juice, sweet chili sauce, salt, ginger and chopped cilantro for 1 or 2 hours. Drain well.

Prepare batter with 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder, milk and cream of coconut. Coat shrimp with remaining flour and dip in prepared batter, then dip lightly into flaked coconut. Fry in hot peanut oil (350 to 375 degrees) in a deep-sided saucepan for about 2-3 minutes. Depending upon size of fryer do not cook more than 8-12 shrimp at a time.

Ginger Pineapple Chutney

1 medium pineapple, or about 4 cups chopped

1 1/2 cups vinegar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 lb. raisins

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp minced ginger

2 tbsp minced garlic

3 small red chilies, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup chopped almonds

Peel, core and chop pineapple and combine with all other ingredients except nuts. Cook slowly until pineapple is tender, about 1/2 an hour. Add nuts and cook until chutney is thickened. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.

Chickadillo Casserole

1 lb. boneless, skinned chicken breast, cubed

1 medium sweet red pepper, seeded & cut into 1- inch wide stripes

1 medium sweet green pepper, seeded & cut into 1- inch wide stripes

1 medium yellow onion chopped

4 ripe tomatoes chopped

1 cup green olives with pimentos

1 (16 oz) can garbanzo beans

3/4 cup golden raisins

2 tbsp capers

1 tbsp oregano

2 garlic gloves, minced

3 tbsp corn oil

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp rice vinegar

Saute cumin in butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add chicken and saute 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Clean pan and return to stove over medium heat. Add oil and oregano. Saute 1 minute. Add peppers, onion and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, olives, raisins, capers and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and add chicken and the drained garbanzo beans, and simmer for 15 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Serve with fresh corn bread.

More About Chef Hans Lentz

An insatiable hunger for travel and a deep curiosity about other cultures and cuisines has nurtured and sustained Executive Chef Hans Lentz's culinary career, which spans nearly two decades and ten countries. Born into a family of journalists - both his father and grandfather worked in the German Welle, the country's international news radio organization - he credits an inborn sense of curiosity for starting him on a career path that has led him to work all over the world and inspired the world-influenced contemporary cuisine that is his trademark.

Chef Lentz began his formal gastronomic education in his hometown of Cologne, Germany at the Handelsschule Perlengraben culinary school, where he laughingly admits that at he was far from a natural in the kitchen. "It was definitely more a case of nurture than nature with me," he chuckles. "I had to be taught everything!" However, his dedicated study paid off, and after graduation he accepted a position at the largest "mussel house" in Cologne, where his kitchen career began to take off. Under the firm tutelage of Executive Chef Michael Floss, whom he considers his mentor, he mastered classical German cuisine and rose quickly through the kitchen ranks. After working there six months, Chef Floss gave Hans his chef's jacket from a previous job at the InterContinental Cologne; Chef Lentz recalls that that symbolic gesture, and the deep admiration he felt for his mentor, instilled in him a desire to someday work for the company himself, and propelled him on his 20-year career with international luxury hotels. Thirteen of those years have been with InterContinental.

After three years apprenticing in the Altenberger Hof, a small hotel and restaurant in Altenberg, Germany, Chef Lentz accepted his first position within a large hotel chain, working at the Hyatt Cologne before moving on to his first position with InterContinental Hotels, at the Dusseldorf property. While working in the hotel's fine dining restaurant, Les Continents, Lentz received his first offer to cook in a foreign kitchen. The General Manager of the InterContinental-managed Al Bustan Palace in Oman, home to the Sultan Qaboos bin Said and his family, sought him out to run the kitchen and serve the royal family and visiting dignitaries. Relishing the new adventure, Hans accepted the position, and recalls those three years as a transformative time. The kitchen, he remembers, felt like a miniature United Nations, with staff meals prepared by cooks from Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Lebanon and Zaire. "It was so exciting having some of the leading chefs of every cuisine bringing something to the table each night," Lentz recalls. The international influence on Chef Lentz's culinary style began to take shape.

From there, his continent-hopping took him far and wide, including stints at InterContinental hotels in Dubai, Cairo, Hurghada on the Red Sea and Istanbul, as well as assignments with Hilton Hotels in Puerto Rico and Guam, before making his way stateside as the Executive Sous Chef at the InterContinental Miami.

In early 2005, Chef Lentz found his home in Chicago, accepting the top culinary post with the InterContinental Chicago, where he has since managed a staff of almost 50 at one of Chicago's most storied historic hotels. Overseeing the day-to-day culinary activities for the hotel's large-scale banquet and catering operations, as well as Zest, the property's world-accented, contemporary American restaurant, he continues to meld ethnic flavors with modern preparations, creating original adaptations of regional favorites. He hopes guests will taste the authentic ethnic flavors in his food, down to details such as hand-grinding spices, but explains that that his goal is not to mimic the classical cuisines of other cultures, preferring rather to put his own spin on them. An admirer of raucous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey - for his passion for food, rather than his kitchen antics - Lentz acknowledges that his own style is equally passionate, though far more easy-going.

Chef Lentz resides in Chicago's vibrant Wicker Park neighborhood with his wife Joy, where in his free time he enjoys dining out in the neighborhood's many eclectic restaurants, reading cookbooks and, when he can get away, playing an occasional round of golf.

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