Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekend Cooking...A Happy Birthday Two-Fer

Step right up folks!
Two Recipes for the Price of One!

The Niece had a birthday this week, and since I was off work for the big day, I volunteered to make dinner for the Sil and Bro and Niece and Niece's Fiancee.
Am I not the nicest Aunt ever??
This and a present! Wow!

On the birthday, the Birthday Boy or Girl gets to choose the menu and the Niece picked Shrimp Scampi. So Shrimp Scampi it was, with a nice salad of red leaf lettuce and arugula, with pecans and chopped dried cherries and a nice vinaigrette and some Italian bread.
Off to the cookbooks I went, taking an idea here, an idea there.

Actually, they are all pretty similar, but each..and I think I looked at a dozen online..had a little something different.
My beloved American Test kitchen had no wine in theirs..what is with that?! They think it adds too much acid, so I used a slightly sweeter Riesling. But the idea they have of cooking at a lower heat, sort of poaching rather than browning, seemed like a good idea, creating more shrimpy liquid for the sauce.
Pioneer Woman adds onion..I don't see the need really, but you could. And I like red pepper flakes better than the hot sauce she uses, if just for looks. A little red, a little green. And speaking of green, I do like her addition of both basil and parsley. And lemon zest. Don't waste that zest!
I would suggest getting all the ingredients measured and prepped before you start, because once you start cooking, it goes fast. No time to stop and chop.
Have everyone ready to eat, waiting with forks in hand, because once that water boils it is 10 minutes until dinner.
If I do say so myself, it was delicious. Easy, quick and delicious.

 Shrimp Scampi
  • 3 tbs butter 
  • 3 tbs olive oil 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 2 pound  peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp 
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 
  • 2 tbs finely chopped parsley 
  • 2 tbs shredded basil 
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 pound of a long pasta 
Boil the water for the pasta.
As the pasta cooks, start cooking the shrimp.

Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over high heat until butter foams. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic starts to color. Be careful not to burn.
Add the shrimp, zest and the white wine, tossing everything and spread shrimp into one layer, reducing heat to medium, stirring to cook all evenly, until pink and opaque, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, toss in parsley, basil, lemon juice, pepper and salt to taste.

Put cooked, drained pasta into pot with shrimp and toss, adding a little of the pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce.
Top with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

So, it was a birthday, right, so there must be a cake!
A Happy Birthday Cake!

The Birthday Girl requested Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing, so Chocolate it would be!
Off to find a recipe, again. Consulted America Test Kitchen...consulted King Arthur Flour...took something from one and something from the other and came up with...

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Raspberry Cream and Chocolate Cream Icing 

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or expresso powder
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour 3 8" cake pans (can also use one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round pans or the wells of two muffin tins.)
    Mix cocoa and coffee in a small bowl and add the boiling water, mixing well. When cool, add vanilla and milk and mix well and set aside.

    Beat butter with electric mixer about 30 seconds, until smooth and shiny. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Then add eggs, one at a time, and beat 1 minute.

    Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift/shake the dry ingredients through the strainer into a mixing bowl, to eliminate any lumps. 

    Add 1/3 of the dry mix to butter mixture, followed by 1/3 of the chocolate. Continue until done. Stop mixer, scrape down bowl and mix another 30 seconds, until batter looks satiny. 

    Divide between the three pans and bake for 23-25 minutes, until cake springs back to touch, cake is pulling back from pans and skewer comes out clean. Cool pans on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove from pans and COOL TOTALLY before you frost. 

    Chocolate Cream Frosting 

    1 cup heavy cream
    12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine (Do not use chips, use bar chocolate)
    1/3 cup corn syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Bring cream to boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until chocolate melts. Add corn syrup and whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate 1- 1 1/2 hours, stirring several times until reaches spreading consistency.

    Chocolate Raspberry Cream Filling 

    Whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks. 
    Add in 1/2 cup of the chocolate cream frosting. 

    To assemble cake, spread 1/4 cup raspberry jam on one layer cake, topping with half of the cream filling. Top with another layer, spread on the rest of the jam and the rest of the filling and top with last layer.
    Ice sides and top with remaining frosting.

    OK, this was delicious too! I am on a roll!
    I put sliced almonds on the side of the makes it look pretty and is so easy. Then I used a fork to make some swirls on top. Very nice. Personally, I loved the filling, a nice contrast to the frosting and a great raspberry taste.

    Winner, Winner, Birthday Dinner!

    This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
    "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
    Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


    1. Chocolate and raspberry is an awesome combo! And I too love the look of pressing almonds in the sides of the cake.

      And I love ATK, but what's with no wine for their scampi? The Riesling sounds like a good choice.

      1. the almonds are an easy and attractive finish for a cake I think..

    2. LOL - I totally agree with Candace! And the shrimp looks devine! (note the on-purpose mispelling)

    3. You're definitely on a roll -- what a delicious combo. I also LOVE combining raspberry with chocolate, and I've always been a big shrimp fan. Yum all around!

    4. Lovely photos, I am drooling over that cake and it's only 7:30 am!
      Scampi is good anytime in my book. Thanks for sharing those events!

    5. OMG it all looks good! I'm not sure about the scampi for the family though, at least for my son. I can get away with the shrimp cakes, but whole shrimp causes issues since a particularly bad flu bug a couple of years ago. But I'd eat it!

    6. YUM! Going to have to save the cake recipe for sure. Have never tried scampi before but it looks great!

    7. You ARE one fabulous auntie! Your cake looks totally fantastic and the shrimp scampi is making my mouth water. I see you've been a busy little poster this week so off to catch up.

    8. Happy birthday to your niece! The shrimps were a really good choice ;-)

    9. Ooh, nice cake and love the shrimp too. I am doing a cake round up in a couple of weeks. If you see it maybe you could link this in. Cheers

      1. i will keep an eye open because, if I do say so myself, this cake was darn good!

    10. Yes, you have my vote for the Best Aunt award!

    11. Oh, I wish I had been eating at your house!

      1. We had should have stopped by! ;-)

    12. Wow. My birthday is August 3rd and I will take the exact same menu! It all looks delicious and you must be the best aunt ever.

    13. I used to make a chocolate and raspberry filled cake as well. It is a great combination. It seems like you do some of what I do, take a bit from one recipe and a bit from another to get what you want. :)

      1. I think that can be dangerous with baking, but this time it worked!

    14. The shrim scampi are a must try. They sound delicious!

    15. what a delicious dinner from my aunt caite. i'm glad to see that my selections, which deviated from the predictable chicken parm and yellow cake with chocolate frosting, could be used as a weekend cooking post. i especially liked the raspberry surprise! btw, that's a nice picture, i know i didn't cut that slice of cake ;)

      1. no, you did not.
        which is why it does not look like a chainsaw was used.
        and I mean thst in the nicest possible way. :-)

    16. Oh wow, this dinner and dessert look fabulous. What a lovely aunt you are! I'm pinning these for sure.


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