Since we had the Benefit Dinner the night before, co-op and lunch with friends the day of, and a Miss Manners party to prepare for on Sunday, I knew I needed a fast and easy menu that I could pull off in a couple of hours Friday afternoon.
Around here, you get to choose your birthday meal. Jewell chose shrimp, so I ran with it.
Jewell's 13th Birthday Menu
Salmon Croquettes with Fresh Dill Sauce
Shrimp Boil with Corn and New Potatoes
Homemade Cocktail Sauce and Drawn Butter
Triple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake
We picked up three pounds of shrimp from the fish market on the way home Friday. We really love royal reds from the gulf, so I got two pounds of those and a little more than a pound of extra-large (16-20) shrimp. (16-20 indicates an average of how many shrimp you'll get per pound.) The shrimp were not cheap, but the rest of the menu was simple and inexpensive, so it was a trade-off!
As soon as I got home, I made my pound cake and put it in the oven. OK - not true. We got home at 3:30 and I actually laid down for 30 minutes. We didn't get in bed until about 12:30 Thursday night and I was up at 5:30. I was having trouble keeping my eyes open! After my power nap, I made the cake and set it out to cool. I also filled two large stock pots with water and put them on medium-low so they could warm and be turned up to boil later. If you watch cooking shows, you'll see that they always have a pot of water simmering and ready to go. Finally, I made my cocktail sauce and dill sauce. I went ahead and put them in their serving bowls and stuck them back in the fridge to chill.
While the cake cooked, I set my table. I iron my tablecloths as soon as I get them out of the dryer, so the most they ever need is to knock out a crease or fold from hanging. Napkins are stacked flat and then rolled into a tube shape as soon as they are done. They seldom need ironing either, so I was able to set my table quickly. What took the longest was gathering everything I needed. I have stuff stored all over the house and so some times, I have to first remember where I have stored something before I can retrieve it!
Jewell loves salmon and my MIL doesn't like shrimp, so I decided to make salmon croquettes to go along with the meal. I had found this recipe in Southern Living a few months ago for a lightened up version (pan seared, not deep fried). I'll be honest. I loved the dill sauce, but wasn't crazy about the salmon croquettes, which really were more like a crab cake (but not a really good one). They needed bread crumbs. And fat. Mainly fat. They were a little dry, but hey, when you don't road test a recipe first, you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit! I'll probably stick with more traditional crab cakes next time, but keep the dill sauce. So - I'm sharing the dill sauce recipe but not the salmon. This fresh sauce would also be great on crab or fish. it's yummy!
Fresh Dill Sauce
1 1/2 cups fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Mix and refrigerate.
Couple of notes here. I like Greek yogurt in dishes. Not crazy about it straight out of the tub or on a baked potato, but in recipes, I like it. I do find that I increase the salt a little to add flavor. Also - I buy Walmart's brand of Dijon mustard. I pay about $1.50 for a squeeze bottle and it's every bit as good as the expensive stuff. Don't let the "fresh" dill scare you. I found it at the Tallassee Super Walmart! You can usually find fresh herbs in most stores now in the produce department. I have tried to grow fresh dill before in a pot and it is the MOST temperamental herb ever. Forget about it. Just buy it when you need it!
My cocktail sauce recipe is super easy - 1 1/2 cups catsup to a half small bottle of prepared horseradish (about 2 tablespoons). I like it spicy!
My parents arrived at 6:30 pm and I dropped in the shrimp. I cooked the shrimp in one pot and the corn and potatoes in another since some people didn't eat shrimp. Usually, I would cook it all together. Once it was ready, I poured it all into the serving platter in the middle and we were ready to eat!
A big basket of warm, soft garlic bread rounded out our meal.
I didn't get so lucky with the salmon croquettes, but I took a chance on another recipe from the same Southern Living issue and hit a home run with the cake.
Triple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temp
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons instant espresso
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Beat butter in mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, espresso and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures, alternating, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition until just mixed. Fold in bittersweet chocolate. Grease bundt pan with shortening. Pour in cake batter and tap on counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool twenty minutes on wire rack before turning out on cake plate. Cool completely.
Just before serving, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips with butter and corn syrup in a micro-wave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Add vanilla and set aside.
Whisk together powdered sugar, buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. Adjust powdered sugar until consistency is right. Not too runny, but thin enough to drizzle.
Drizzle cooled cake with chocolate glaze and then buttermilk glaze. Enjoy!
I forgot to take a picture of the cut cake, but trust me - it was beautiful and good!
So there you have it! I did all that between 4:00-6:30 pm on Friday night. Sure, it was pretty harried at times, but it was worth it. Jewell loved having both sets of grandparents there to celebrate with her!
Jewell has been 13 for four days now, and the world is still spinning! I was worried about everything I've heard about the teenage years, but I guess I was worried for nothing! (I hope you all know I am being humorous here!)
I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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