Chowder and Cheddar Biscuits with Carrot Cake for Dessert

It suddenly turned cold.  The wind swung to the north and a fine snow sifted down.  The Indian Summer was gone.

Once the gardens freeze, it feels like soup weather.  You can still dig carrots and grate the largest for carrot cake.  And since I love Red Lobster’s® biscuits and Red Lobster is over 60 miles away, this seemed like a good choice for dinner, a hot chowder and warm homemade cheddar biscuits.  I like shrimp better than clams so we made a shrimp chowder and loaded it up with two pounds of shrimp.   To sweeten it just a bit, we added coconut milk.  The combination was perfect.

Coconut Shrimp Chowder

This is an excellent chowder, one that will impress your friends.  While we used two pounds of shrimp, you could get by with 1 1/2 pounds.  It didn’t start out that way but with the coconut and spices, it’s reminiscent of a great Thai dish.


2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups bottled clam juice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup heavy cream


  1. Chop the shrimp into 1/2 inch pieces.  Set aside.
  2. Mix the clam juice and coconut milk together in a heavy stockpot.  Add the pepper, salt, garlic, cumin, curry, and ginger.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch to a cup and then add a small amount of the soup dissolving it and stirring it with a spoon to make a paste. Add more liquid and stir until it is thinned to a sauce.  Whisk the sauce back into the soup.  Add the shrimp.  Continue cooking until it starts to bubble and is smooth and thickened.  The shrimp should have turned red.  Add the cream.
  4. Make any final adjustments to the soup adding more seasoning or more thickening if needed.  Garnish with cilantro.

The Cheddar Biscuits

It’s always hard to get enough cheddar in our baking.  Even when you add a sharp cheddar, it’s not quite as sharp as those at Red Lobsters.  Add a little extra salt and a touch of garlic powder to your favorite biscuit mix and you’ll get pretty close.  There is a way to get it as sharp as you want; add dry cheese powder and maybe a cheese booster.

Read about baking with cheddar in an earlier post.

We used our just-add-water white cheddar biscuit mix and then for good measure, added a sprinkle of Roasted Garlic Sea Salt.  The biscuits were divine.

The Carrot Cake

We could have made a carrot cake by adding carrots and cinnamon to our Vanilla Bean Baby Cakes Mix but we opted to make one from scratch.  This is an excellent recipe developed in our test kitchen.  I like pineapple in a carrot cake which what this one has.

1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon good cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line with parchment paper a 10 x 15-inch baking pan.

  1. With the paddle and your stand-type mixer, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until it is light and bubbly.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, leavenings, and salt.
  3. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
  4. Fold in the carrots and pineapple.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 33 to 38 minutes or until it is done.  Cool before frosting.

Light and Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Regardless of the cake you use, try this frosting.

Most cream cheese frostings are dense and intense.  This is much less so, very delightful.  We have served this frosting on zucchini bars and carrot cake in the store.  People like this much better than standard cream cheese frostings and usually ask for the recipe.

Four ounces of cream cheese (1/2 of an eight-ounce block), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Cream the granulated sugar with the cream cheese.  Add the other ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.


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