Friday night was an evening I have been anticipating for weeks. For the past couple of months, every few weeks, some of my girlfriends and I have been hosting Sex and the City nights to prepare for the upcoming release of the movie. We've gathered at each of our apartments, popped in a season of the show and chomped down on some delicious food and topped it all off with a drink of the evening, starting with a Back Bay Cosmo the first week. This week was my week to host.
Being the ridiculous foodie that I am, I was envisioning my menu since I picked the date. I wanted to do a summery menu, lighter food, especially since a couple of the girls are off to a tropical location in just a few days. I settled on making mussels, my first attempt, baked chicken fingers, and cup cakes- no not healthy but I wanted to test out my hand at baking.
For the mussels I combined a small amount of olive oil and butter in the botton of a large fry pan and turned the heat to medium. after they had melted together I added chopped garlic, basil, parsely and a small amount of salt and pepper and allowed them to sautee together. Then I added some coarsley chopped tomatoes, and then finally about three quarters of a bottle of chardonnay. I covered the pan and allowed it to simmer for a while to cook off the alcohol from the wine. While it was simmering I sorted through the mussels. Mussels need to be kept cold as you end up cooking them while they are still alive. Of course, some will die during transit (ocean to the grocery store, store to your house) so those must be removed before cooking. You can tell which havent made the full journey if the shells are broken or if the mussel has opened its shell. So I weeded out all of the dead ones, and then added all of the mussels that still had their shells tightly closed to the ban which had made a nice broth for them. I covered the pan again and within about 5 minutes, the mussels had all opened their shells and were ready to serve. I decided to serve the mussels with chunks of bread that I grilled in my grill pan and then lightly painted with a butter, garlic and parsley mixture just to give them some flavor. I have to say, mussels were the easiest to make, and incredibly affordable- I think I have found my summer meal!! Yum!!
The chicken fingers I decided to make were rather simple as well. I bought chicken tenders, basically small pieces of chicken breast, skin free, from the grocery store, and soaked them for about a half hour in a mixture of buttermilk, pepper, and tobasco (obviously I add tobasco to everything). Then I dipped the pieces into crushed whole wheat Chex (well the Whole Foods version of Chex) and placed them on a baking sheet. About 25 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees...out came nicely crispy, well flavored chicken fingers that I served with sides of fat free ranch dressing and salsa.
Finally, it was time for the cupcakes. In season 5 of Sex and the City, Carrie has her book release party- pink cupcakes are served. I thought it would be a fun throw back to them to make some fun pink frosted cup cakes. So I made vanilla box cupcakes (I didnt have THAT much time :-) ), and then decided that I wanted to stuff them. So I made a batch of instant vanilla pudding, and then added defrosted frozen raspberries to it. Unfortunately, I hadnt allowed the pudding to gel properly and I ended up making raspberry vanilla pudding soup....not quite the best consistency for stuffing cupcakes. So I decided to thicken that up a bit with some reduced fat ricotta cheese that I had in the fridge. This made a nice thick creamy mixture, perfect for piping into cupcakes. So I pulled out my handy dandy cake decorating set and used the smallest piping attachment to shoot some of the raspberry pudding cheese into the bottom of each cupcake. I found out later- great idea- but I didnt get the mixture as far into the cake as I would have liked- I think either I should shoot it into three separate places next time, or use smaller cup cakes. Then I made a nice icing out of fresh whipped cream, flavored with some raspberry extract as opposed to vanilla, and folded in some of the remaining raspberries. The whipped cream took on a nice light pink color, and was a wonderful topping to my cute little stuffed cupcakes. The girls loved them and luckily I only had a couple left over for my weekend indulgences.
The drink I decided to make was suggested by D, as a throw back to the cocktail parties of the 50's and 60's- a good sherbet punch. D is also WELL aware of my affinity for champagne :-). So I mixed together just a couple of shots of vodka, black cherry juice, and champagne in a large pitcher, and then topped it all of with a Hyacinth sorbet. It was delicious. Sometimes I find that punch can be a bit too sweet, but this had a nice tartness to it, was good and bubbly, and the sorbet added the cold and a good amount of sugar. Overall-it was a successful cocktail addition- and one that I think Ill be making again soon....Birthday cocktail perhaps??? I think so.
With food in hand and cocktails abounding it was a perfect evening to sit back with some girl friends and season 5. Just a little over a week now til the movie comes out!
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