My girlfriends and I have been talking lately about what to do on our birthday. It’s a very perplexing thought; having fun on your next birthday without delving into the wrinkles, rolls, highs and lows of getting older.
To keep us young, last year we put together an incredible cooking class in the evening at Sweet Basil Gourmet. I picked out some lively cooking music and invited the attendees to bring along any or all of their entourage as well. We put together a relatively easy gourmet menu for everyone to partake in, have fun and let loose. And of course the best part about my cooking class is that we cook together, eat together and NEVER do any dishes or cleanup! To have our cake and eat it too, so to speak.
Here are my fav recipes for a Ladies Night Out Party – and PLEASE feel free to share your recipes and ideas!
Green Gazpacho Shots
20 hors d’oeuvres
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small zucchini, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium-ripe green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and trimmed
1. Blend the lime juice, vinegar, oil, cilantro leaves, and cumin in the small bowl with a wooden spoon.
2. Place the zucchini, tomatillos, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, and green tomatoes in batches in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process, adding the lime juice mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, to prevent the blade from being clogged with the vegetables. The soup should have a crunchy texture; do not puree the vegetables. Pour the soup into the large bowl as each batch is processed.
3. When all the vegetables have been processed, add just enough vegetable broth to give the gazpacho a smoother consistency. Season the soup with the Tabasco sauce and salt to taste.
4. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours before serving.
Fill the shot glasses three-quarters full with the gazpacho. Top each glass with a dollop of sour cream. Arrange the glasses on a large tray, with the bunch of cilantro in the center. Guests can help themselves.
DO-AHEAD: Prepare the shots in the morning and store them, covered, in the refrigerator.
COOK’S TIP: Pour the soup into a thermos and enjoy it during an afternoon of tailgating, at a picnic, or for a beach party.
Grilled Crab and Shrimp Mini Sandwiches
Yield: Makes 16
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup chopped fresh crabmeat
1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
8 slices firm white sandwich bread
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Whisk mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Gently mix in crabmeat, shrimp, celery, and onion. Season filling with salt and pepper.
Arrange 4 bread slices on work surface. Spread 1/4 of filling on each slice (about 1/2 cup). Top filling with bread slice; press to adhere. Brush top bread slice of each sandwich with melted butter.
Place large griddle over 2 burners. Heat griddle over medium heat. Place sandwiches, buttered side down, on griddle. Cook until bottom is golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Brush top of each sandwich with melted butter. Using metal spatula, turn sandwiches over. Cook until bottom is golden, about 5 minutes.
Cut each sandwich into quarters. Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with parsley.
Duck Pizza with Hoisin and Scallions
Get your fix of two favorites (Chinese and pizza) in one crusty canapé—for fewer than 150 calories.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
1 duck (or chicken) breast, fat trimmed
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound whole-wheat pizza dough
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Heat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle duck with five-spice powder, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Cook duck until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven; bake duck until outside is cooked but inside is rare, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 4 to 5 minutes. Thinly slice on the diagonal into 8 pieces, then cut each in half. Set aside. Form dough into 8 even balls, then flatten to form 3-inch disks and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread hoisin sauce on crusts with a pastry brush. Top with spinach, cheese, bell pepper and duck. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds
Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt
These tender, potent little orbs make a splendid Bloody Mary—esque addition to a beach-blanket picnic or a fancy cocktail party, and they tend to disappear in no time flat. Blanching them makes quick work of slipping off their skins.
Yield: Makes about 60 hors d’oeuvres
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 3/4 hr
3 pints firm small mixed cherry and grape tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Cut a small X in bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes, 5 at a time, in a saucepan of boiling water 3 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking.
Drain and peel, transferring to a large shallow dish.
Stir together vodka, vinegar, sugar, and zest until sugar has dissolved, then pour over tomatoes, gently tossing to coat. Marinate, chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Stir together salt and pepper and serve with tomatoes for dipping.
Tomatoes can be peeled and vodka marinade prepared 1 day ahead and kept separately chilled.
(photo credit to winnond http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1970)