Cookery Maven Blog

Charlie's Birthday Dinner

Charlie wanted grilled shrimp for his birthday. What a change from a couple of years ago when the request was corn dogs and potato chips. He is eleven now and has expanded his culinary horizons to include Thailand and Coney Island. I used a recipe from Fine Cooking and it has never failed me. I always cook the shrimp on separate skewers from the vegetables. The veggies take longer to cook and there is nothing worse than overdone shrimp— it's like chewing on an eraser. A little jasmine rice, grilled shrimp and vegetables and a chile lemongrass dipping sauce— an auspicious way to usher in Charlie's eleventh year.

Spicy Thai Shrimp Kebabs with Chile Lemongrass Dipping Sauce

Grilling Sauce

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

1 tbsp ginger, peeled  and chopped

1 tsp jalapeño, finely chopped

1 tbsp scallion greens, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup peanut oil

Dipping Sauce

3 stalks lemongrass, ends trimmed, tough outer leaves removed nd tender white core finely chopped

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tbsp scallion whites, finely sliced

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

1 tbsp basil, finely chopped

1.5 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp light brown sugar

2 tsp Sriracha chile sauce

3 tbsp water


1.5 pounds large shrimp

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced

2 red onions, sliced

1 package of mushrooms


Combine all the grilling sauce ingredients in a food processor and process until combined, mixture will still be chunky.

In a small serving bowl, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to use (can be made up to 6 hours in advance).

Toss the shrimp in the grilling sauce and let sit for 10 minutes. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (soaked in water) and reserve the dipping sauce. Toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper and thread onto skewers (soaked in water). Grill the vegetables over a medium hot charcoal fire and grill until done (8 - 10 minutes). About five minutes before the vegetables are done, place the shrimp on the grill, brush with the reserved grilling sauce and grill until done (about 2 minutes per side).

Serve with jasmine rice and dipping sauce.

Angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries is a Carlin tradition and since strawberries were in full swing, Charlie decided it was the cake for his eleventh birthday. Again, I forgot birthday candles but Jack found a couple of little tapers we could light up. We decided two candles look like the number eleven, Charlie agreed.

I picked a 'theme song' for each pregnancy and Charlie's was Sweet Thing by Van Morrison and it suits him to a T. He was the happiest baby and is a joyful young man. It sounds trite but I seriously can not believe how fast he is growing up. In eleven short years, he has mastered cribbage and jumping off cliffs at Devil's Island, learned a tremendous amount about Greek mythology, has a wicked dry sense of humor, knows how to sail an Opti and is an empathetic and brave soul— we couldn't ask for more.