Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Girls Night In with Mark Bittman for I Heart Cooking Clubs

When I think of a Girls Night Out, I think of ditching the men, getting Barbie’d out and dancing our butts off in some too-loud bar that I am too old to be seen in.

On the other hand, a Girls Night In is just as fun, without all the sweat, stress, and body contouring foundation garments.

So, when I saw the I Heart Cooking Clubs theme for this week, I knew just the ticket. Cocktails and finger food. And since Ginny was about to come for a visit (yes, I did this recipe weeks ago, knowing about the theme, and just waited to post about it), it was the perfect setting for a Girls Night at the house. I even managed to get the hubs to locate himself elsewhere for the evening, so as not to disrupt our girliness.

So what was on the menu? Well, God bless Mark Bittman, cuz he knows his shrimp. We fired up the grill and skewered some of his Spicy Grilled Shrimp, which we served with grilled tequila pineapple skewers and Mofongo. Mofongo is not a Bittman recipe, but a carryover from Ginny’s recent trip to Puerto Rico that she was itching to try back here in the landlocked Midwest. It is a dish that takes roasted, mashed plantains to a new level.

And since I did say “cocktails” I looked to our buddy Mark again. We sampled a variety of libations, including his Tequila Sunrise (from How to Cook Everything), an old standby from my bartending days.We also had Cherry Margaritas and Lemon Basil Mojitos (a recipe Ginny brought with her that is a lovely blend of Bacardi Limon, our fresh sour mix, club soda, fresh mint, basil and lime).TEQUILA SUNRISE
From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

1 cup tequila
Orange juice as needed

Divide the tequila evenly between 4 glasses.
Add orange juice and a few drops of grenadine, as desired.
Mark Bittman's Spicy Grilled Shrimp
From Fish, The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking, by Mark Bittman
Makes 4 servingsTime: 20 minutes

2 pounds large shrimp
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges
Peel the shrimp (you can butterfly them if you like; just cut along the line of the vein, a little deeper than usual). Mince the garlic with the salt; mix it with the cayenne and paprika, then make it into a paste with the olive oil and lemon juice. Smear the paste all over the shrimp. Start a charcoal or gas grill or preheat the broiler; the fire can be as hot as you like. Grill or broil the shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes per side.Serve immediately or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.Now, clearly, as a former bartender, I didn’t need a recipe for the tequila sunrise, but since there was a rendition of it in Bittman’s HTCE, I thought I’d go ahead and include it here for your reference. What we REALLY did was pour a shot (or so) of good tequila in each glass, then topped that with a orange-pineapple juice blend (since we had a “pineapple” theme going already). Just as a rule of thumb, the proportions should be about 2 to 1. Two parts juice to one part alcohol. Then, very carefully, drizzle a little bit of grenadine around the edges of the drink. As the syrup falls into the glass, it makes the famous “sunrise” effect, as you can see in the picture.

For the shrimp, we actually followed Bittman’s recipe. Although I usually find that I have to supplement the seasonings in his dishes, I was pleasantly surprised to find that these little babies had plenty of oomph just as they were. I couldn’t keep myself from nibbling on the last of these at the end of the evening, even though I was much too full to be eating any more. This would be a fabulous appetizer for any cocktail party!

I have to say, the traditional mojito is not my favorite drink. Apparently, even though I like mint, I don’t care for it in my beverages. However, the Lemon Basil Mojito was a revelation that I look forward to having again and again! Tart and sweet at the same time, it had just the right amount of bite with an herby undertone.

All in all, we had a fabulous Girls Night In! A few cocktails, some tasty treats and a movie or two rounded out the evening perfectly.


girlichef said...

That's my kinda girls night!! Droolin' and wishin' over here ;)

Kim said...

Sounds like a fun time! Everything looks delicious, but the shrimp look magnificent. Save me a skewer!!

Joanna said...

Mmm, I good go for one of those skewers and a Tequila Sunrise right about now! It's 5:00 somewhere, right?

Debinhawaii said...

Looks like the perfect girls night--loving that shrimp and pineapple. I used to travel to Puerto Rico for work and miss the mofongos--yum!

David said...

It all sounds great! You listed the ingredients for Ginny's mojitos but not the quantities. I am always on the lookout for a better "fresca" ... please share :-)

Ty'sMommy said...

Thanks everyone!

David - we didn't actually have amounts, Ginny made the mojitos and just kinda winged it based on proportion and what tasted good. Sorry!

Jenny said...

Sounds like a great evening. I don't usually like most drinks but your Sunrise looks so pretty I'd be tempted to try one.