Saturday, August 27, 2011

Low Country Boil

In the Southeast they know a thing or two about hot summers and entertaining friends. Folks in the Carolinas (South to be exact) make a delicious combination of potatoes, corn, smoked sausage, and shrimp once called Frogmore Stew or, more commonly these days, Low Country Boil. It's a one pot feast, the best kind of summer BBQ, great for a crowd and easy on the cook. I start by bringing a big pot of water (enough to cover all the ingredients) and a bottle of beer to a boil with a good sized scoop of Old Bay seasoning (you could use a Carolina crab boil but I love Old Bay). Then I add in small red potatoes and a peeled onion cut into quarters and let them bubble away for about 10 minutes. Next I add in links of smoked sausage cut n to 2 inch lengths (even though it's not traditional I use a Cajun style andouille for a bit of spicy flavor) and let the covered pot bubble on for 10 minutes more. Ears of corn broken in 3 or 4 rounds go into the pot for another 10 minutes and finally big handfuls of shrimp in the shell steam right on top for just 3 minutes until they are pink and tender.
We bring our boil to the table covered in newspaper alongside a pan of cornbread, melted butter, and -- because we like it not because it's traditional -- cocktail sauce. Part of the fun is reaching in with your hands and sharing the mess with friends like K & D.
I'm not sure what to call this cake. I made up this recipe from the memory of what my grandmother's chocolate cake tasted like. It's almost Devil's Food, it's almost chocolate but has a hint of coffee. One thing I know my grandmother didn't do was use brown sugar in her cake but I love that molasses flavor and combine 1 cup of white and 1 cup of brown sugar when I cream the stick of butter. When the butter is creamed I add in 2 eggs (one at a time), 2 tsp vanilla (tonight I ran out and used scotch instead and really liked the results) 3 TB and 1 tsp vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of hot coffee and beat well.
In a separate bowl I mixed together 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp baking soda ( I usually use 2 tsp of cinnamon but I forgot and didn't even miss it). I beat in half the flour mixture followed by 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Then the rest of the flour followed again by 1/2 cup of buttermilk. The batter is smooth and a rich brown color. I baked two 9" layers for 25 minutes at 350ยบ.
I usually top this cake with a coffee buttercream frosting but since I started out tonight to make a red velvet (generally a house specialty) and failed twice with a recipe I have used for at least 10 years ( yes I am embarrassed to admit it) I had a batch of smooth, tangy, delicious, cream cheese frosting at the ready. It turned out to be the perfect foil for the deeply flavored cake.
A Southern style dinner with friends. Lots of leftovers (we missed you Denny) and a great summer night's fun.

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