Early last month, we celebrated the Little Mister’s 1st birthday at his grandparents house. It was crowded, loud, and fun–everything a children’s party should be–as family came from far and wide to celebrate with us. The party had a Where the Wild Things Are theme, which I picked out an embarrassingly long time […]
What happens when my love of simple pasta dishes meets my love of Greek food? Greek pasta with shrimp, feta, and olives! If you are like me, and are looking for a simple and healthy one-bowl meal, this pasta dish has everything you want. Flavor, veggies, lean proteins, and yummy pasta bringing it all together.
Hello from the topsy-turvy winter here at BitofBacon HQ! After a brutally cold January, February has been downright mild. Just chilling down enough to give us the occasional dusting of snow before warming right up to the point that I’ve been outside talking to my crocuses and telling them it’s not time yet.
Crocuses are terrible listeners.
However, whether winter is being its usual self or not, we still need to make dinner! Which is why I have for you today one of my favorite simple pasta dishes – Greek pasta with shrimp, feta, olives, and bell peppers! It’s not quite a one pot meal (since I prefer to cook the pasta separately), but it is definitely a one bowl meal.
How do you make Greek pasta with shrimp?
It’s quite simple!
First, you quickly saute the shrimp, and then – for the extra flavor and the fun of playing with your food – you FLAMBE it. Yum! The caramelization from the flames and the esters from the brandy give the shrimp that extra oomph.
Move the shrimp to a bowl, get your pasta cooking, and start on the onions, peppers, and garlic. Once they are soft it’s time to add in the cooked pasta, some pasta water (of course!!), and your seasonings. A few minutes of tossing will give you a lovely, thick sauce and then it’s time to stir the shrimp back in and top with feta and parsley.
A true 30 minute meal.
Why flambe the shrimp?
First of all, if flambeing freaks you out or you just don’t want to do it: DON’T. Only flambe if you’re into it and are in possession of a heat proof pan (no non stick!) and a long match or lighter. Be safe.
That said, there are a few good reasons to flambe:
- It’s fun. Seriously. Dim the lights, get your brandy and pan warm, and watch the flames lick their way around the pan.
- The intense heat of the fire sears, caramelizes, and creates a complex flavor profile. All in just a few minutes!
- Flambeing quickly cooks off much of alcohol, giving your dish a well rounded flavor.
- Flambeing also reduces the brandy quickly, allowing you to reduce the brandy without overcooking the shrimp.
Here is a good article on how to flambe safely.
There you have it!
A simple 30 minute meal, full of flavor, and with the added fun of being able to light it on fire.
– Happy Flambeing, Annemarie
Greek Pasta with Shrimp, Feta, and Olives
Greek pasta with shrimp, feta, olives is a great and easy skillet dinner full of tender shrimp, salty feta and olives, a good glug of olive oil, and plenty of garlic. And you get to flambe! What could be better?
- 12 oz thin spaghetti
- 3 tbsp olive oil, (divided, one with the shrimp, two with the onions)
- 1 lb large or extra-large shrimp, (shelled and tails removed)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 medium white onion, (chopped)
- 2 bell peppers, (sliced)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, (minced)
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 oz feta cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat a large pot of water for the spaghetti. Salt it well and cook the pasta to package directions, minus 1 minute. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high. (DO NOT use nonstick.) Dry the shrimp well and add them to the pan. Saute, turning frequently, for about 1-2 minutes. Your shrimp should be starting to cook, but not be cooked through.
Dim the lights. This will help you see the flames. Add the brandy to the pan and give a few seconds to warm through, then take the pan off the heat. (And away from any flames if you have a gas cooktop!)
Using a long match or lighter, carefully light the brandy. Swirl the pan to allow the flames to reach all the brandy. When it goes out, try again and see if you can get the brandy lit. If you can, swirl, and wait. If you can’t, you’re done and move the shrimp and juices to a bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat until it’s shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and salt. Saute for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the cooked pasta, pasta water, olives, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and the juices from the reserved shrimp to the saute pan. Cook, tossing the pasta often, until the sauce comes together, thickens, and coats the pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and let it heat through.
Add the feta and parsley and toss. Serve.
- I start the pasta water heating, and when it’s just about to a boil I flambe the shrimp. Once the shrimp is done, then that’s a good time to start cooking the pasta so it’s not sitting about for long once the sauce is done.
- Using different colors of bell peppers makes this pasta dish especially pretty. While you want the equivalent of two medium peppers, you can use three or more smaller ones in various shades.
Rereading old favorites is one of the many joys of being a bookworm. It’s hard to make time for it when there are always so many shiny new books being added to my TBR, but there are times when you just want the cozy familiarity of a book you KNOW you’ll love, especially when […]
What’s moist and rich and full of cinnamon and chocolate? My churro inspired chocolate cinnamon bundt cake of course! Add a thick, brown butter glaze on top, and it’s time to make a cup of coffee and dig in.
I was thinking about churros. As you do. Specifically thinking about the churro donuts I made a while back (sooo good!), and I was struck with the desire to make a churro cake.
However, let’s be honest here, what I ended up with is a churro inspired cake. I was inspired by the idea and the flavors of churros to make a cinnamon bundt cake. And, both because I don’t like miss the chance to add chocolate to a dessert and because I love dipping churros in chocolate sauce, I stretched the idea a little more to make a chocolate marbled cinnamon bundt cake.
With a brown butter cinnamon icing. Because why not go over the top a little?
Whether this cake reminds you of churros or not, what I can say is that I have made a seriously yummy, tender, moist cake which is an excellent reason to pull out and dust off your bundt pan.
Okay, let’s get into this! I have some step-by-step photos and a little information on what you need to do here.
What are the basics of making a cinnamon bundt cake?
It’s pretty simple and comes down to making a yellow cake and adding some cinnamon. Then taking some of that batter and mixing it with chocolate. For the swirl! (I did say simple! Though let’s note that the whole cake is more of an intermediate baking project.)
Let’s start with the yellow cake batter.
First up, you will need cake flour. Cake flour is going to give this cake its light and airy texture. Will you produce an edible cake with all-purpose? Sure. Will you be as happy as if you had used cake flour? No. Just go pick some up at the store. *shoo* I’ll wait.
Second, you will be using a mix of whole eggs and egg yolks. Whole eggs give the cake structure while the egg yolks give it a little more richness and tenderness. I tried this cake with 6 whole eggs and with 4 whole eggs. 6 eggs was too much, while 4 eggs was not enough. Once I tried 4 eggs + 2 yolks I had a tender and rich cake with just enough structure.
Third, I added a trifecta of texture and moisture enhancing ingredients. Brown sugar, sour cream, and vegetable oil. Each of these add moisture to the final cake, and the brown sugar and sour cream also add flavor to the party. All good!
Once you have the yellow cake batter done, making the chocolate cake batter couldn’t be easier.
Just melt some chocolate and take a couple of cups of the yellow batter and mix it together. Done! You’ll have a thick and chocolatey cake batter full of yummy bittersweet chocolate.
Oh, and definitely use the bittersweet chocolate. The cake is sweet enough – you don’t need more sugar in the swirl.
How do you make chocolate swirl cake?
Now that you have the two batters and you’ve oiled and floured your bundt pan, it’s time to make the marbled cake.
Okay here it is – dollop some of one in the pan, then add some of the other, back and forth until you are out of batter. Easier than you thought, huh?
And, though this isn’t strictly necessary, I like to give everything a quick swirl with a long skewer. I think the cake comes out prettier this way. Just a quick swirl though! You don’t want to mix the batters together.
How do you get the bundt cake out of the pan?
Like most people who have made bundt cakes, they don’t always want to release. And it’s so frustrating! Luckily, there are a couple of tips I’ve picked up over the years.
First, oil the pan and coat it. Oil not melted butter! Oil will stay nice and liquid and not attach your cake to the pan before you get it out. Butter can work, but I find it more iffy. As for coating, there are a number of options. I generally use baking Pam, which is oil and flour and hasn’t failed me yet. But you can dust it yourself with flour, or use cocoa powder, or use finely ground nuts. Basically you want something to come between the batter and the side of the pan.
Second, oil the pan just before using it. This keeps the coating from sliding down and collecting in the crevices.
Third, be patient. I know you want to get that cake out of the pan ASAP and get it cooling. This is a bad idea. The cake needs some time to firm up so it doesn’t crumble as you slip it out of the pan. And, the cake is going to shrink a little! As the cake cools it shrinks just enough to loosen it from the sides. This may not be a big deal in your average round cake pan, but in a bundt every bit helps. So wait 20 minutes before you even think of turning that cake out.
That’s is for the cake!
As for the icing, I found a great recipe for brown butter glaze from Martha Stewart which I used. With two differences: First, I poured those brown butter specks right into my icing (flavor!), and second I added some cinnamon to echo my cake flavors.
Once you know how to make brown butter this is very simple icing and has lots of great flavor. Just make sure you use it quickly. Once it cools it will separate if you are still working with it.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Churro Inspired Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake
In this churro inspired dessert, sour cream cinnamon bundt cake is swirled with chocolate for a moist and tender marble cake. Wonderful as is, but even better when topped with a brown butter cinnamon icing!
- 3 cups (12 oz) cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) unsalted butter, (cool room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, (packed)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, (room temperature)
- 2 egg yolks, (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup sour cream, (room temperature)
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, (finely chopped, or bittersweet chocolate chips)
Brown Butter Icing
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1-2 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Pull out your 10-12 cup bundt pan.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In a standing mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and add the vegetable oil. Mix on medium until well combined.
Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds in between each. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix in.
Turn the mixer to low so that you can begin adding the flour and sour cream. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until just incorporated. Then 1/2 of the sour cream, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the sour cream, and finish with the remaining 1/3 of flour. Each time mix until the addition is mostly mixed in. When you are done, take the bowl off of the mixer and finish mixing in the flour with your spatula in a few swift strokes.
Fill a medium saucepan with 1-2 inches of water. Heat the water until it’s steaming but not quite simmering. Fill a heat proof bowl which fits snugly over the saucepan with the bittersweet chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, being careful not to let the water boil.
Scoop out about 2 cups of the cake batter into a bowl. Mix the batter with the melted chocolate.
Spray your bundt pan with a flour and oil baking spray, or grease the pan with oil and then dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
Dollop spoonfuls of both the yellow batter and chocolate batter into the the bundt pan so that you have layers of yellow and chocolate filling the pan. Then take a long skewer and give the batter a stir, doing a few gentle curly-cues around the pan.
Bake the cake for 60-75 minutes, or until a long skewer comes out clean with only a few crumbs attached.
Rest the cake for about 20 minutes in the pan. Then gently loosen the cake around the edges and carefully invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely.
Brown Butter Icing
Mix together confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and has stopped bubbling up and splattering but has begun to foam, watch it carefully. Once the flecks of milk solids on the bottom turn brown and the butter smells nutty, take it off the heat. Immediately pour the butter into the bowl with the sugar.
Whisk to combine, adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk to the icing. IMPORTANT – USE ICING WHILE IT’S HOT. As soon as your icing comes together, drizzle it over the cake.
- If you don’t have a kitchen scale (and you totally should!), spoon the cake flour into the cup and then sweep off the excess with the flat side of a knife.
- To get the ingredients to room temperature quickly: Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and wait about 10 minutes. Fill a bowl with hot tap water (hot but you can easily put your hand in it), add the eggs, and wait about 10 minutes. Put the sour cream in a metal container and then into a bowl of hot tap water so that it comes part way up the sides.
- The 20 minute rest period is very important. This allows the cake to firm up and to shrink a little so that it isn’t attached to the sides anymore.
- The cake fits perfectly into a 12 cup bundt. If you are using a 10 cup, you will either need to stop filling when your batter is about 1 1/2 inches below the top, or be ready to trim off the bottom of the cake. Only trim off the bottom of the cake if you have a VERY sharp serrated blade and feel brave.
- I’ve found that it’s best to the oil the pan just before you are going to use it. This way the oil and flour don’t have time to settle in the crevices of the pan.
- It’s very important to use the icing while it is hot. Once the icing starts to cool, it will begin to break and the butter will separate if you are still working with it. Step away and call it done if you see the icing breaking in the bowl. Once the icing is completely cool, it will set and be fine for serving. (If this seems too stressful, switch to a basic confectioners’ icing – 2 cups sugar + 2-3 tbsp milk + 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Whisk and add more sugar or milk as needed to make a thick glaze.)
- Note that the icing is not going to work its way down the side the cake the way a standard confectioners’ sugar icing will. Where you put this icing is where it will be so be ready to give it a drizzled look by looping it over the sides of the cake.
- My icing recipe come from Martha Stewart’s Brown Butter Glaze (with a few changes).
I made a gingerbread house last month for my Grimm’s Fairy Tales menu, so at first it felt weird making another gingerbread house so soon. But how could I not when the house of Wuthering Heights is so iconic AND gingerbread is the most prominent dessert in the book? 🙂 Plus, I loved the […]
At the end of January, I posted this year’s plan for my annual Lenten sacrifice: cutting down on food waste. One of my goals in this challenge is to always find uses for leftover ingredients. I had an extra container of Greek yogurt after making orange poppy seed cake, so I decided to use […]
The post Chocolate Mocha Frosting: An Update on My No Food Waste Challenge appeared first on Alison’s Wonderland Recipes.
The lowly, modest turnip. I’ll admit I rarely (if ever) give it a second glance in the produce section. I’m guilty of passing it up hundreds of times in favor of more attractive veggies like a bunch of fresh carrots or a head of bright green broccoli. Yet when I saw that turnips […]