Birthday dinners are the best

Published 12:03 am Saturday, July 25, 2015

I spent my birthday this year in New Orleans (which I tend to do every year) and ate at the same restaurant, Peche, and had the same main course, a roasted redfish with salsa Verdi. We had sides of okra and tomatoes with chilies, lamb skewers with eggplant, and fried Brussels sprouts.

The dessert was a salted caramel cake (which I also had last year).

I did come home this year and find a recipe for this cake and will share it with you. So I guess I am a creature of habit, but when it is good, do it again!

I did do something different on this birthday weekend. I went in search of a sandwich. I was reading the July issue of ‘Food and Wine’ magazine and an interview with Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks’ son) caught my attention. He was in New Orleans filming and while doing his laundry someone there told him to eat a sandwich called All That Jazz at the Verti Marte. Well I have been going to the Verti Marte for almost 20 years and had never eaten that sandwich. I like their oyster po-boy, dressed, or jambalaya, and I often have a BLT for breakfast. I went down and told the cooks that they were in a magazine, but no one there knew about the article.

I ordered the sandwich and here is how it is described: All That Jazz: a medley of grilled ham, turkey, and shrimp with Swiss and American cheese with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes on grilled French bread with our original “wow” sauce.

This is quite a mouth full and the sandwich is huge and should be shared by two.

The “wow” sauce is like a comeback sauce, but the cook told me it was more of a tartar sauce. I don’t think so.

I was greatly surprised when they presented me this very heavy sandwich and said it was on the house.

So go to the Verti Marte located on Governor Nichols and Royal Street in New Orleans.

The sandwich is delicious and will keep you full all day. Or try it at home.

This cake recipe is close to a Southern Caramel Cake, but the buttercream makes it out of this world.

Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Serves 12

Butter Cake recipe

3 cups flour, all purpose

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

Salted Buttercream Frosting Recipe

First Stage

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup Crisco vegetable shortening

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

Second stage

½ cup butter

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Butter Cake Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening and flour

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 more minutes.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream together after each.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Combine each addition of flour and then turn mixer on high to add air into the batter.

Add vanilla and beat well. Turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10 seconds to lighten batter.

Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe Instructions

Add all ingredients form the first stage of the frosting recipe in a 3-4 quart pot. Stir ingredients with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat.

Cook to softball stage (235-245 degrees on a candy thermometer as well as using the cold water test).

Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a whip attachment, whip the caramel until it has cooked enough to touch lightly.

Add the butter and salt from the second stage of the frosting recipe to the mixing bowl and whip.

Add confectioner’s sugar in ½ cup increments, stopping after each to scrape sides of mixing bowl. Turn mixer onto high for about 10 seconds after each addition to incorporate air into the frosting.

Adjust the amount of confectioner’s sugar to result in a frosting that will hold its shape.

Frost cake and store on a cake plate covered with a dome or an airtight container.

Best served within one to three days.