Monday, March 2, 2009

Italian Night with CSG

Oh my gosh I have so much to tell you all about! Where do I even start?

Okay, let's begin with Friday. Our small group met again (from here on out I will refer to the group as CSG "Collier Small Group"...just easier).

We met at Kathy and Don's house, which by the way is looking awesomely incredible! Preparations for the big wedding in May (daughter Andrea...Kathy & Don are already married ;-)

So let's begin with the appetizers. I had ordered some "Gourmet Original Antipasto" from "Something Special Deli-Foods Ltd." . The ingredients are: tomato, cauliflower, carrots, sweet pickled onions, green beans, dill pickles, black olives, green olives, mushrooms, green peppers, distilled vinegar, red peppers, tuna, canola oil, sugar, salt, olive oil and spices. Wow! I cut little rounds out of Chi Chi's corn flour tortillas and Bob fried them up for me.

Then with that I served veggie chips that I got from that include sweet potato, squash, carrot, green bean, taro, canola oil & salt. These things rock! They are absolutley addiciting! (btw, can you tell Bob's been out of town?...I've been "internet" shopping). Everyone seemed to really enjoy both the antipasto and the chips. I took home empty bowls!

But then the star of the evening was born. Kathy made this incredible dish from Giada de Laurentiis' new cookbook, "Giada's Kitchen". This dish is so easy yet so elegant and the taste is absolutely out of this world! It's definitely going to become one of my go-to recipes. And it just looks gorgeous! At least it did when Kathy made it!

Giada’s Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and set aside.

Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley, and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine, clam juice, and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the cooked shrimp, the cooked pasta, and the remaining herbs. Toss together until all ingredients are coated. Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve immediately.

We served it with Mary's garlic bread, and a totally divine salad that Jules brought. It was so fresh! And she had bowls of kalamata olives and chopped fresh avocado to add in. Perfecto!

To bring the feast to an end, Jill who is quickly becoming our resident cake expert made delightful individual chocolate mocha cakes with fresh raspberries (maybe we can get her to share the recipe with us).We forced ourselves to eat them! What an evening.

Now after writing this post I want to do it all over again! Yes, it really was that good!!!

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