Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: We’re Almost Doctors! Celebratory Dinner

I decorated the table with our school colors, cream and crimson.  Go IU!

I decorated the table with our school colors, cream and crimson. Go IU!


Last week on March 19, senior medical students all around the country learned where we would be going for our residency training.  It was an exciting day for myself as well as my friends!  Amazingly, in my group of close friends, every single one of us ended up matching here in Indianapolis.  We have a wide range of specialties represented within our group – psychiatry, OB/GYN, pathology, ENT, anesthesia, family medicine and neurosurgery!  I am so proud of us all for making it through medical school and getting our first jobs as M.D.s, so a celebration was clearly in order.  

For a formal yet fun touch, I made Doctor place cards for each person.

For a formal yet fun touch, I made "Doctor" place cards for each person.

Since reaching this milestone is a huge accomplishment for us, I decided to make the event accordingly fancy.  And, since champagne is the signature drink of celebratory affairs, I created a menu with lots of delicious food including a few items incorporating the bubbly beverage.  

The menu was as follows:
Blackberry Champagne Cocktails
Chicken-Stuffed Mushrooms
Caprese Tarts
Spinach Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette
Lobster Ravioli in a Champagne Cream Sauce
Chocolate Raspberry Tarlettes

It is safe to say, everyone thoroughly enjoyed this meal.  From the champagne cocktails to the last bite of dessert, everything turned out very well and went together nicely.  This dinner felt like a real achievement for me because I came up with several of the recipes on my own with no real recipe to go by.  A lack of recipe used to terrify me to the core, but now I am a much more confident cook and it turns out I do pretty well coming up with things myself.  I did take careful notes while I cooked though, so that I could share the recipes with you!   It wasn’t easy to get good photos before the food was gobbled up, but I did my best.

Blackberry Champagne Cocktails

These champagne cocktails were a perfect specialty drink for the evening.  Some sugar cubes, a touch of blackberry puree and a few fresh berries made for a delicious and pretty beverage.

Blackberry Champagne Cocktails
Sugar cubes
Blackberries (fresh or frozen), for puree
Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
Fresh blackberries, for garnish

Place 1-2 sugar cubes in the bottom of each champagne flute.  Puree fresh or frozen blackberries in a blender or food processor.  Strain through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Fill flutes with chilled champagne.  Top each glass with a tablespoon or so of the blackberry puree and garnish with two fresh blackberries. 

Source: inspired by Williams Sonoma

Chicken-Stuffed Mushrooms

A few weeks ago Ben and I had dinner at a local winery and had chicken-stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer.  They were fantastic and so I decided to try to recreate them at home.  My regular stuffed mushrooms are a favorite among my friends, and these are now a favorite as well.   (I apologize for the poor photo, but these were almost completely gone before I could even get a shot of them!)

Chicken-Stuffed Mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts, cooked (I poached them)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Black pepper
Stuffing mushrooms (I used about 30)

Place garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely minced.  Cut chicken breasts into large cubes and add to the food processor.  Add cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the bowl as well.  Process in pulses until the chicken is cut to very small pieces.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Clean the mushrooms gently.  Remove the stems from the caps, and chop the stems finely.  Add some of the chopped stems to the chicken mixture, if desired.  Fill each mushroom cap with the chicken mixture and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm.

Source: me! (Annie’s Eats) 

Caprese Tarts

I am of the mind that basically anything with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil can’t be bad.  So I took some squares of puff pastry and added the three magical ingredients for a quick, easy and delicious appetizer.  These went quickly as well, so quickly that I didn’t even get to taste one myself.  I heard they were very good though! 

Caprese Tarts
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
Fresh mozzarella cheese, diced 
Fresh basil, minced 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Using a round biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry.  Transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush the puff pastry rounds lightly with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top each round with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.

Source: me! (Annie’s Eats) 

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette

I love spinach salads, but traditionally I am not a huge fan of sweet salad dressing.  I have had strawberry spinach salads in the past and enjoyed them, but this salad was in a class of its own.  I LOVED it!  I think that the strawberry puree as the dressing rather than strawberry slices really makes it perfect because there is strawberry in every bite.  The dried cranberries and apple slices on top were excellent as well.  I will be making this again and again!

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette:
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. Champagne
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt

For the salad:
Baby spinach leaves

For topping:
Chopped walnuts, toasted
Dried cranberries
Green apples, thinly sliced 

To make the vinaigrette, combine the strawberries, apple cider vinegar, champagne, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Store in an airtight container.

To make the salad, place some baby spinach in a bowl.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Add more dressing if needed.  

Transfer individual serving portions of the spinach to salad plates.  Top each portion with a few chopped toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and a few slices of green apple.

Source: inspired by Epicurious 

Lobster Ravioli in Champagne Cream Sauce

Lobster Ravioli in Champagne Cream Sauce

Since this was such a special occasion, I wanted an entree that was worthy.  Lobster immediately came to mind, but I’m not made of money so serving whole lobster to 10 guests was just not an option.  This lobster ravioli with champagne cream sauce seemed the perfect solution.  I used four lobster tails and wanted to make sure that the filling would go far enough to make ravioli for 10 people, yet I also wanted to be sure that the lobster flavor was prominent and not overshadowed by the other filling components.  I think I really achieved the right balance with these and will definitely make them again.

I made the ravioli a couple days in advance of the party and froze them.  Then just before dinner all I had to do was toss them in the boiling water and cook for a few minutes.  This really helped free up the day of the party so I could focus on other tasks.  The sauce was excellent as well.  Unfortunately my recipe for the sauce is not very exact because dinner was stalled by a couple late arrivals, and I kept having to make alterations and additions to ensure that the sauce came out okay.  I will give the best description I can, hopefully it will do! 

Lobster Ravioli in a Champagne Cream Sauce
Yield: about 70 ravioli

4 lobster tails
4 tbsp. butter
3-4 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 oz. cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
2 1/2-3 batches homemade pasta

For the sauce:
6 tbsp. butter, divided
2 shallots, finely minced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. tomato puree
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup Champagne
3 tbsp. flour
Heavy cream

Remove the meat from the lobster tails.  Roughly chop and set aside.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute for a few minutes.   Add the chopped mushrooms and saute a few minutes more.  Once the shallots are tender, add the lobster meat to the skillet and cook, stirring, just until cooked through (this only takes a few minutes).  When the lobster is cooked, transfer the mixture to a cutting board and chop fine with a large knife.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add the ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Roll out pasta into long sheets.   Scoop a couple teaspoons of the lobster filling and roll into a ball.  Place on one sheet of the pasta.  Continue topping with filling balls every few inches.  Once the sheet is covered with filling balls, lay another long sheet of pasta over the top.  Press the top sheet down and mold around the filling balls (if the sheets don’t stick together easily, wet your finger with water or egg and brush lightly between the two sheets).  Cut the ravioli into desired shapes with a pastry or ravioli cutter.  Repeat this process until the remaining filling and/or pasta is used up.  

(At this point, you can cook the ravioli in boiling water or freeze them.)

If freezing, transfer finished ravioli to a lightly floured surface and allow to dry for 30-60 minutes.  Place in a plastic freezer bag and freeze until ready to cook.  To cook, drop frozen ravioli into boiling water and boil until cooked to your liking (about 7-9 minutes).  

To make the sauce, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.  Add the shallots and carrots and saute until the shallots are tender.  Add the tomato puree to the skillet, stir, and cook until the tomato has begun to caramelize a bit, 2-3 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and champagne and stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to reduce to about 1/3.  Once the sauce has reduced, in small saucepan melt the 3 tablespoons of remaining butter.  Add the flour and whisk, cooking 2-3 minutes to form a roux.  Add the roux to the skillet and mix well.  Whisk in heavy cream until sauce has reached the desired consistency (I also added in more champagne at this point).  Pass the sauce through a strainer to remove the carrots and shallots.  Serve warm atop the ravioli. 

Source: inspired by Fotocuisine 

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlettes

I originally had a completely different dessert planned for this party, but after I started making it I quickly realized it wasn’t going to work out.  I decided to cut my losses and make something else.  These little cuties have been on my list to try forever, and they fit all the requirements of what I was looking for – something chocolate, personalized, and something I already had all the ingredients for.  Honestly, I am kind of glad that my original plan did not work out because these were phenomenal.  The crust was light and buttery, the chocolate filling was smooth and perfectly accompanied by the raspberries.  I considered skipping the raspberry jam underneath the chocolate filling but it was a delicious addition so I would recommend using it.  What a great way to finish off a great meal!

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlettes
Yield: 10 (3 1/2 to 4 inch) tartlettes

1 1/2 recipes basic tart dough
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries, for topping

Roll out the tart dough and use it to line 10 mini-tart pans (yield may vary depending on the size of pans you use – mine were 4 inches).  Trim off any excess dough.  Refrigerate the shells until firm, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Place the mini tart pans on a baking sheet for easy transfer.  Line each shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with baking weights.  Bake until the shells are pale gold, about 15 minutes.  Remove the weights and the foil and continue to bake until the shells are golden, about 5 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

In the top pan of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the butter, chocolate, and corn syrup.  Melt and stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat. 

Spread a few teaspoons of raspberry jam in the bottom of each shell.  Fill as full as possible with the chocolate mixture.  Let the filled tartlettes stand at room temperature until set, 1 to 2 hours.  Before serving, top each tarlette with fresh raspberries.  

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma

64 Responses

  1. LOOOOOOOVELY table setting and fare!!

  2. Annie, this looks AMAZING. What a great feast – and congratulations to you and your friends, and lots of luck in the future!!

  3. Yay! I was so excited to see this pop up in my reader! You did a fantastic job, Annie! Everything looks lovely!!!

  4. Congratulations! The food looks amazing and i love the table setting.

  5. Congrats!!

    I had no idea you were from Indy…I am too! I live in Cleveland now…but I lived in Speedway for about 22 years! Weird!

  6. ooh, what a great way to celebrate!! congrats 😉 it sure is a long road! love the strawberry puree on that salad!

  7. Everything looks great. That dessert is calling my name.. 🙂

  8. Sounds like a lovely menu for a celebratory dinner! Everything looks great!

  9. Congrats on your first MD job and preparing this delicious feast – you’ve got talent!

  10. Congratulations on finishing. It all looks incredible.

  11. Everything looks amazing! Congratulations Dr. Annie!

  12. An achievement like that deserves a celebration like this. Congrats again!

  13. Two major accomplishments: becoming a doctor AND pulling off such an amazing meal. You even made your own pasta. Bravo!

  14. Congratulations — what an enormous accomplishment! The food looks amazing, as usual. Yay, you!!!

  15. Annie this looks incredible! Everything looks so tasty and the table looks awesome! Congrats to you all!

  16. Congratulations– I mean finishing med school is one thing, but preparing all of that- you are a genius! Glad you got IU!

  17. What a feast, from your table to your dessert. Congratulations on such a major accomplishment ( the feast you hosted and your residency).


  18. looks like a fabulous celebratory dinner! congrats Dr. Annie! 🙂

  19. Congrats!! Everything looks amazing, especially your chicken-stuffed mushrooms and caprese tarts! I love experimenting in the kitchen – t’s so fun coming up with your own recipes!

  20. My gosh! The flowers are beautiful and the food looks amazing. You are incredible!

  21. Congratulations!! What a great acomplishment! What’s your placement??

  22. Um, most amazing menu EVER? Congratulations! That’s so exciting!!!

  23. Wow! Congratulations Dr. Annie! So impressive – what an accomplishment. And the dinner looked pretty awesome too. After all the studying, blogging, and being a new mom to boot, you deserve the good time!

  24. Fabulous dinner party!

    I thought your photos looked good. Congrats on getting out of med school & the dinner party!

  25. How fabulous! Congrats!

  26. congrats on such an accomplishment!

  27. Congratulations on matching!

  28. Hey, Annie! What beautiful pics — I especially like the first for some reason.

    The sweet strawberry/champagne salad dressing was just what I like: something that wets lightly but is subtle enough to allow the greens to taste full in themselves, not like mere holders for the dressing.

    The hint of raspberry between the cust and chocolate was one key to the success of the tarteletts — though the perfectly smooth, even blend of that chocolate didn’t hurt, either 🙂

    Great job on everything, Annie.

  29. Hey Annie, Google Reader just suggested your blog to me as a recommended feed. Glad I found you, I’m always looking for more foodie inspiration! A big congrats to you on your match, and your party looked lovely. Looking forward to following along.

  30. Congratulations! Such a wonderful reason to celebrate, and such an extraordinary spread. I am sure everyone had a great time!

  31. Browsing through Food Gawker, I realized I have most of your entries in my favorites file. Surprised a Med student, who I imagined barely had time to sleep, could be such an extraordinary cook & photographer as well. I also like it that you give credit for recipe inspirations as well. Well done!!

    Thank you for sharing your recipes & photos. :o}

  32. Congratulations!!! What a huge accomplishment! Everything looks like it was wonderful! How exciting that your friends matched in Indianapolis too. My in laws live just outside Indianapolis and have had top notch healthcare there, so you’re in good company!

  33. What a gorgeous and delicious way to celebrate your accomplishment! Congratulations!!

  34. This is such a beautiful dinner. I love that you came up with many of the recipes on your own. Congratulations on your academic accomplishment and in treating your fellow students to an amazing feast! Your tablesetting is gorgeous (tulips are my favorite flower!) and your menu looks delicious!!

  35. Everything looks absolutely beautiful. What a wonderful evening that must have been.

  36. I’ve never left a comment, though I follow your blog religiously. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it, but thank goodness – you are hands down, my favorite food blog! I have tried countless of your recipes and have loved them all.

    So my comment…HOW ON EARTH DO YOU DO IT ALL?!?!?! The dinner looks amazing. Congrats to you and your pals on an amazing accomplishment so far!

  37. Wow – Everything looks absolutely gorgeous & decadent!

  38. Congrats-that is a major accomplishment! Your dinner looks simply elegant-but I must admit that the dessert looks the best to me. Chocolate and raspberries-yum!

  39. Hi fellow “24’er”

    Congratulations on being chosen to do a 24, 24, 24 event! You certainly made a lot of delicious looking food. I especially like the caprese tart and the lobster ravioli. Very impressive.

    Love your site!


    House of Annie

  40. Congratulations!! Looks like a great meal!! You are my inspiration for keeping up in the kitchen and home and still going to school/working full time. I am getting my second bachelor’s in dietetics currently and have loved your blog! Thanks!

  41. Congratulations!! Now that I’m in the ‘real world’ I realize how much I loved being a Hoosier and now I totally miss life as a grad student. Go Hoosiers!

    PS – your recipes look fantastic too!

  42. Congratulations, Doctor! Looks like another successful dinner party!

  43. ¡FELICIDADES! CONGRATULATIONS! I cannot wait until my day arrives!!

    The dishes look perfect!!

  44. Unbelievable!! This just looks so great. And congrats to you!!

  45. Awesome job, Annie! Congratulations to you and your friends. The dinner looks fab.

  46. Big congratulations and what a spread! And cooking is a great way to decompress, so after a day of thoracotomies (sp) and 10 blades, you can whip up a little snack! Yes, I’m addicted to Grey’s and ER.

    That is an incredible meal you created-I could have never come up with that.

  47. Could you be any more amazing? Congratulations on the great news and the great meal!

  48. WOW… what an amazing dinner party! what lucky friends you have… and as an IU girl myself, I especially love the table decor!

  49. congratulations on the match! and your dinner looks amazing!

  50. Everything is WONDERFUL!!! What a fabulous menu… everything just goes so perfectly together. I might have to steal your menu for one of our Gourmet Club parties 🙂


  51. Congrats! That dinner looks amazing. I am definitely going to try some of those recipes.

  52. wonderful meal, settings, and photography, and congratulations!

  53. Your pictures are incredible! That cocktail looks amazing too – yum!!

  54. What a great event! Very tastefully done. Congratulations to the almost doctors! I’m on too (though not the kind that helps people :)).

  55. Congratulations! I remember match day like it was yesterday, and yet it was 10 years ago! Your lobster ravioli look fabulous. I’m going to have to make that. I love lobster!

  56. Are you for real? This is all amazing, and you are a med student to boot! I love the IU themed decorations, particularly the bubbly.

    Your family is very lucky to have such a smart and talented wife and mom. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  57. looks absolutely delish!!!

  58. great spread!!

    congrats!!! what specialty did you choose? my hubby is doing peds at UT Southwestern 🙂

  59. First off, Congrats about being matched.

    I love your website. I found your spread to be wonderful.. Question..when you serve the you move all those flowers out..or not? I’ve never really decorated my tables for entertaining but that picture looks beautiful.

    My daughters 2nd birthday is May 1st… do you have any easy cake ideas I can make for her?

    • Hi Arshiya!
      Glad you enjoyed the post about my dinner party. As for the flowers on the table, I definitely leave them as I think they are important in the decor. I plated the food at this particular meals, so there were no serving dishes taking up room on the table (we were already pressed for space as it was). When I have flowers on the table for a dinner party, I try to keep the arrangements short so that they won’t be in the way of eye level, making it difficult for guests to see each other. That is why I prefer many short vases as opposed to one larger one.

      As for your daughter’s birthday, I’m sure I could recommend a cake – I have many that I love! However, “easy” is a very relative term. What is your definition of “easy”? Single layer? Homemade frosting? Give me more info and I’m sure I’ll have a recommendation for you.
      🙂 Annie

  60. I know this post is a little late, but I just wanted to say wow! This dinner party you hosted looks like it was amazing! March 19 was indeed a very anxiety-provoking day. I’m glad you and all of your friends matched. 🙂 I just matched this past March also, but it was bittersweet because many of my close friends and I will be spread out across the country. 😦 Oh, and just a sidenote, your blog is amazing! I’m just starting up my own (though I can’t say I have too much time to devote to it because of intern year), and your blog has really inspired me to keep working on it. Good luck with residency and I look forward to your new posts! 🙂

  61. Congratulations on getting your residency!!!! I am a medicine student also. I started ophthalmology residency, quit after 3 months and right now I’m living a happy life with my husband!! How do you get the time to prepare all of this in such a perfect way and also doing PGY-1??!?!?!?! Definitively you must be wonder women!!! hehehehe…
    Thanks for all the amazing recipes and marvelous pictures that illustrates them.

  62. I made your Champagne Cream Sauce and it was absolutely wonderful. The instructions were easy to follow and it turned out perfectly. This was actually the first time I have made a roux (which I have always been fearful of…not sure why) and it was a breeze. Thank you for this great blog.

  63. Wow you are seriously amazing!

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