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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heading South

Years ago, my closest girlfriends and I started the tradition of hosting girls night dinner parties as often as we could. These dinners started off as a monthly event but as we get older and our lives started to change with houses, weddings, children, etc the dinners have become more and more sparse.  I think the last girls dinner I hosted my friend Ainsley was pregnant and her son is now 1! When I was able to gather my friends for one of the only quiet weekends of the summer I jumped at the opportunity to  host a dinner party. Inspired by a recent visit to Yardbird Southern Table in South Beach I developed a southern style menu and served everything family style for a casual feel.

On the Menu:
  • Blackberry-Ginger Lemonade
  • Creole Crab Dip with Crackers and Endive for Dipping
  • Southern Fried Chicken
  • Old Bay Blackened Shrimp
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Green Beans with Crispy Andouille Sausage
  • Sauteed Kale with Garlic
  • Biscuits with Honey Butter

The night was a success and hopefully we wont have to wait quite as long for another girls night dinner!

Here are a couple of the recipes from the evening as well as some pictures:

Creole Crab Dip
Serves 4-6
  • 1 can (120 g) lump crab meat, picked through for shells and cartilage
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the crab, shallot, mayo, cream cheese, Old Bay, Worcestershire and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer the mixture to an oven proof dish and place in the oven.
  4. Bake until the top is golden and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite crudite and crackers.
The Best Mac and Cheese
Serves 4 as a main
  • 1 lb. of elbow macaroni, or any other similar sized pasta (I used shells)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard 
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, toss with the olive oil and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cream and continue to whisk until no clumps are present. Cook until the mixture begins to boil and is thickened then whisk in the cheeses.
  4. Once the cheese is melted, stir in the paprika, dry mustard and hot sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
  6. Empty the pasta into a greased oven-proof casserole dish then sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs.
  7. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly and the crust is golden, about 20 minutes.

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