Sunday, August 19, 2018

Easy and Elegant Summer Supper plus Birthday Wishes!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Sometime you have to entertain, even in hot weather. You want to impress your friends, but the last thing you need is to slave away for hours (or when it's really hot, minutes) in the kitchen. You could get take-away, but that's the culinary equivalent of giving someone a gift still in the bag from the store, with receipt attached.

Recently, my friends Celia and Victor Wakefield had me over for a pre-concert dinner - we were going to see the second performance of the Portland Chamber Music Festival. We had shrimp, a green salad with vinaigrette, bread, and a perfect dessert of marinated strawberries with whipped cream and shortbread cookies. It felt very posh, and when Celia - who comments here! - told me she the whole thing took about 20 minutes of oven-free preparation, I was sold. You will be, too.

Celia Wakefield's Simple Shrimp for 4

1 1/2 lb pre-cooked frozen shrimp (yes, this actually works better with the less-expensive shrimp!)

Marinade:
Large clove of garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice 
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp + Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning, or chili to taste 
Salt to taste 

Cover a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.
Four hours or so before serving, place the frozen shrimp on the cookie sheet and spread out as much as possible.
Pour the dressing over the shrimp and mix, then cover with plastic wrap.
The shrimp can sit out if the weather isn’t too hot, or place in fridge.
Before serving put shrimp briefly under a broiler to warm.
Celia served the shrimp with bottled tartar sauce she had thinned with a dribble of water and cream (she's English...) and to which she added a shake of the Trader Joe's chili-lime mix.



Celia's Easier-Than-Strawberry-Shortcake

Strawberries
Brown sugar
Grand Marnier
Whipped cream (let's face it, homemade is best, and doesn't take too long)
Shortbread fingers straight out of the box
This is also best if started about 3-4 hours before the meal.  Sprinkle enough brown sugar to make a fine layer on a rimmed plate, then add enough Grand Marnier to create a shallow pool. 


 Slice the strawberries lengthwise and lay them cut-side down in the liquid. Cover and let rest out of the way on the counter. (If you need to keep them in the fridge, bring them up to room temperature before serving.)

You can serve it in individual bowls, or bring out the plate, the whipped cream, and the shortbread and let guests assemble for themselves.








I know many readers have been following along as I write about my kids growing, heading off to college, joining the navy and otherwise getting their start in the world. Today is a big day, because Youngest - Virginia - turns 18 and will be off to university in two weeks. Please join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday, and remind her that even though she's technically an adult, she should probably still listen to her mom.

43 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday, Virginia . . . celebrate, have a wonderful day, enjoy your university days, and remember to listen to your Mom!

    Celia, your shrimp and strawberries are perfect for these still-sweltering days. Thanks for sharing the recipes . . . .

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  2. Happy birthday, Youngest, and have a splendid entry into the next big phase of your life. And don't forget to call home weekly.

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    1. When I went to boarding school we had weekly scheduled Skype sessions, so I hope my Mom hasn’t forgotten how to use her computer.

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  3. You should ALWAYS listen to your mom, Virginia. If only for the entertainment value. Since you've had enough crap stuff happen in your life these past few years, here's hoping the next few will be fun and flawless.

    And Celia's shrimp and strawberries sounds marvelous! There is a restaurant chain here in the Dallas area that serves strawberries with a sour cream/Grand Marnier/brown sugar topping. I think marinating the berries probably tastes just as yummy! I'll have to try it sometime.

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    1. Thank you, I think you’re correct, sour cream is wonderful with this type of dessert. I must have been channeling my younger grandson who lives to whip you cream for the dessert.

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    2. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Also in seventh grade my English teacher insisted on calling me GiGi and I loved the nickname but into never caught on.

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    3. Then you should keep the name as your secret identity. Whenever you're faced with a situation you don't know how to handle, figure out what smart, sassy, intrepid GiGi would do, and do that.

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  4. Happy birthday, Virginia! And that shortbread sounds delicious.

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  5. Happy Birthday, Virginia! All the very best as you head off to college, which I hope will be fun and challenging in equal and rewarding measure!! And definitely stay in touch with your mother — I call my 89-year-old mum every day. She’s still lively as ever, and also my biggest fan. So good for the ego! She also bailed me out of a few tough times during my university years. #motherlove

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  6. Happy Birthday, vote with your friends on Election Day, and try to beat my youngest's record: we put her on a plane to New Orleans and, other than a text that she had arrived, didn't hear from her for three weeks.

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    1. I was excited to turn 18solely because it meant I can now vote in every election! Democracy here I come!

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  7. Happy birthday Virginia! And yes, don't forget to call your mom once in a while (says another mom whose kid leaves for college tomorrow).

    That shrimp sounds delicious. Maybe for a night when my allergic-to-crustaceans son isn't home...

    Mary/Liz

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  8. The dinner sounds scrumptious!

    Happy birthday, and happy trails, Virginia. As everyone else said, you never get too old to listen to your mother. But being Ross and Julia's child, I suspect you are smart enough to understand this, along with a lot more. Best of luck to you as you start an exciting new chapter of your life.

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  9. My guys love shrimp and I love no heating up the house! Plus, dessert! Whoa!

    Youngest--happy birthday and best wishes for Virginia's Next Big Adventure! And at least listen to your mom before you go ahead and do whatever it is that you have your heart set on....

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    Replies
    1. I’ll take her opinion into consideration and then go with my own.

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  10. Thank you Julia, I may not be the rock star like Chrissy H. But you have made me feel like one. I will admit I do love to cook for friends. As to Virginia, I can only wish her all the Happies she can imagine, and then some. Of course ALWAYS listen to your awesome Mom, and your almost grandmom. You will have a great time in this next chapter of your life.

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  11. Happy birthday Virginia and congrats to all! Yes, listen to your mom. The further you get away, the smarter she'll seem. Hope you both have an easy transition... xoxo

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  12. Happy Birthday, Virginia! How exciting to be starting out on life's grand adventure. And the recipe looks fabulous, Julia, thank you!

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  13. Happy Birthday, Virginia! I know you will have many wonderful times in the year ahead. Listen to your Mom, of course -- and also trust your own instincts.

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  14. Happy birthday, Virginia! Yes, do remember to listen to your mom - if for no other reason than so you will recognize her words at a later date when you say them to your child (you laugh - trust me, it will happen).

    Celia - I've got all the fixings and I know what I'm making for supper tonight. The shrimp sound wonderful!

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    Replies
    1. That was for you. I did think about saying it in all caps...

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  15. He had my husband’s annual Office party at our house last night… Outside, in the sweltering sweltering sweltering weather! The tradition is to have hamburgers, which were fabulous. But I am longing for that shrimp!

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  16. Youngest ! We love you so much! Remember to be brave, and you never know what wonderful things about to happen. Remember that the world is full of wonderful possibilities, including that your mother is always right. Xxxxxx

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  17. Happy Birthday Virginia, and listen to your mother. No one in this world will ever love you as much as she does. This is not debatable.

    And she actually is very smart.

    Enjoy the next four years because they will be over before you blink. And then life will happen big time. With few exceptions, everything that will be important to you hasn't happened yet. Your priorities will change over and over and over, and this is all right. It's happened to us all.

    Trust me. I am a nurse.

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  18. Happy Birthday Virginia, and...what your mom said!
    Enjoy your college years!

    DebRo

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  19. Happy birthday, Virginia! What exciting times you have ahead. I hope your mom will share your adventures with us occasionally. And if you need advice, don't worry, we have plenty to spare!

    Celia, your recipes sound wonderful. Our summer has been so hot I haven't even thought about entertaining, but I bet I could manage your shrimp and strawberries!

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  20. Yum. Good recipes, no cooking. Virginia, Happy Birthday! Going off to college is such a fabulous adventure! Embrace it. And be sure to let your mom know what all you're up to.

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  21. Happy birthday and happy adulthood. And make the most of your mom's wisdom.
    Thanks Julia and Celia for this recipe.

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  22. Happy Birthday, Virginia! What an exciting point you're at in your life, with so many wonderful possibilities ahead of you. Of course, listening to your mother will forever be a great idea, and her listening to you when you need someone to be there for you will be the best sounding board you can have.

    The shrimp supper sounds delicious, Julia and Celia. I don't have a Trader Joe's near me, but I'm betting I can find an acceptable substitute.

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  23. so glad I stopped by this morning! Julia, I love the photos and the recipes!

    Happy birthday, Virginia!

    Happy Sunday,
    Diana

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  24. Happy birthday, Virginia! You should definitely still listen to your mom because she is funny and wise and kind!

    That dinner sounds delicious! Thanks, Celia and Julia!

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  25. Happy birthday, Virginia!

    The shrimp & strawberries sound yummy.

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  26. Happy Birthday, Virginia, and good wishes for college. Back in ancient of days, when direct conversation with Mother was by the collect telephone call and men and women went to separate colleges, my mother’s side of one such call was this line, repeated and repeated, “You went to Yale on a THURSDAY night!?” Always listen to Mother’s wisdom, just avoid answering some of her questions. Wishing you both well for this next adventure.

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  27. Well, dear Gigi H-V, most happy birthday! And a great time off to university! There's a whole load of us middle-aged and older (and I'm sure younger) blog readers looking out for your adventures. Enjoy! And explore--you can't possibly know at this point everything you'll be interested in. And, keep checking in on this blog--so much wisdom. And if you follow the advice of anyone, here I'd recommend Ann Mason- she's a nurse. Probably knows just about anything there is to know. And seems to still have faith in people. Which is comforting. And, GO GET EM!

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  28. Happy Birthday, Virginia! Congratulations on having the incredible good sense to turn 18 in an election year. Use your power.
    And now you're off to university, where you'll doubtless meet someone who'll be a friend for life, likely not the person you think is the most likely candidate for that role. Good luck discovering that person among all the new faces.

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