Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Shrimp Cocktail in the Empty Kitchen


If you like old school dishes, this one’s for you.  No matter how old you are, shrimp cocktail might still sound like something your parents had before their dinner at the steakhouse or maybe mom even made them for starters for Thanksgiving one year. (Is there anything easier or more fun?)  I loved making this.  It was simple, fast, fun, and I made it just for me; the recipe — if you can call it that — is perfect to cut down for one or two.  I had to choose a dish that was so simple it screamed as I nearly have no kitchen.  My utensils consist of a table fork, knives, and a skinny spatula.  I have a bowl and a plate. And a rimmed baking sheet. My cutting board.  Nearly everything else is in the basement or packed away in the garage as we await demolition of our kitchen, which was scheduled next week. And now is put off at least a week or two while we do an asbestos abatement.  Hmph.  Our timeline said we’ll be done by the last week in September.  You heard it here; put it on your calendars and Nah-Nah-Nah me later.

This is the main part of my one-butt kitchen, a good old galley I love.  Great working triangle.  I had the same cabinets in a townhouse in Germany and have always loved plastic cabinets (melamine.)  Just wipe them off.  Very ’80s Euro.  I’m going to shed a few tears when it starts to disappear.  Cabinets are going to Habitat for Humanity.

IMG_6413 Here’s my mudroom below (with an extra-deep sink for clean ups, etc) , which is through an open door way at the end the kitchen.  The  open door on the left goes to the deck and the other door goes to the garage. Yes, I have an attached garage from which to bring in groceries and a huge coat, boot, etc. closet. Next to it, I’ll soon have a stacking washer/dryer so that we can live on one floor should we ever need to.  (When we need to, I mean.)IMG_6414 Next is the east wall of the sunroom, down a step from the kitchen.  The wall these cabinets are up against is coming down so that I have one big room.  The floor from the kitchen will extend several feet into this area.IMG_6415 Is there anything sadder than a fridge that looks like this? (See the shrimp cocktail sauce ingredients at top?)

IMG_6417 Or cabinets like this?IMG_6408 I never saw the front of my fridge before yesterday.  I had to wrap and store my magnets and photos. A sad moment.IMG_6411

Back to the shrimp, right?


  If you wonder from whence one of America’s favorite forever appetizers came, here is just a bit of info you’ll enjoy:

Although people have been combining fish with spicy sauces since ancient times, the “shrimp cocktail,” as we Americans know it today, belongs to the late 19th/early 20th century. A survey of American cookbooks confirms the combination of shellfish (most typically oysters) and a spicy tomato-based sauce (usually ketchup spiced with horseradish, tabasco, and cayenne) served in tiny cups as appetizers was extremely popular in the early part of the 20th century. There are several variations on this recipe.

Oysters were original the “cocktail” shellfish of choice. Shrimp variations were popular in Cajun/Creole cooking before they begin to show up in “mainstream” cookbooks. Presumably this is because oysters were “wildly” popular with Americans during the late 19th century. Shrimp, less so. Tabasco, a common ingredient, is also a product of Louisiana. Avery Island, to be exact.

Incidentally, “cocktail” appetizers (think fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail) were extremly popular during the 1920s, the decade of Prohibition. In the 1920s, these appetizers were actually served in “cocktail glasses” originally meant to hold alcoholic beverages. It was a creative way to use the stemware!

What was the popular brand we used to buy in supermarkets?
Sau Sea brand shrimp cocktail was the brand we all remember. Individual portions packed in thick, reusable glasses. Some of us still have them!

According to the records of the US Patent & Trademark Office, Sau Sea shrimp products were introduced to the American public December 12, 1948. The inventors of this product were Abraham Kaplan and Ernest Schoenbrun, based in New York City. Company & product history here. Product photo.

The company & brand (individual seafood cocktails packed in glass) remain viable. Our local food store in northern NJ sells the product next to the imitation crab and lobster products. online.

courtesy Food Timeline


One thing I really like about shrimp is that if you haven’t fried those sweet little suckers, you can eat quite a few.  They’re low in calories, light on the tummy, and they’re not too terribly expensive.  Livestrong says:

Four ounces of boiled or steamed shrimp contains just 112 calories. This serving provides nearly 24 g of protein and 1.2 g of fat–only 0.3 g of which is saturated. Shrimp contain no carbohydrates. Like all seafood, shrimp contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends all adults consume 8 ounces of seafood, like shrimp, a week. A serving of shrimp provides about 15 percent of your daily needs for omega-3 fatty acids


OK, so let’s be frank.  I LOVE SHRIMP COCKTAIL.  It says PARTY PARTY PARTY to me. BUT…  Shrimp cocktail does not take a rocket scientist to figure out.  STILL:  #1:  If you didn’t cook much and maybe you had never cooked seafood, but you’d seen one or tasted one at a party, you might actually need a recipe.  You’d probably be wondering how long you cooked the shrimp and what in the world was in that sauce anyway. #2 Most people boil shrimp — or these days grill it — this shrimp is roasted.  There’s no waiting forever for the big pot to boil and wondering if it’s done.  You throw this shrimp in a 400 degree oven et voila SHRIMP COCKTAIL. I’m in a great state of happiness with anything that “just goes in the oven.” In fact, do extra and have enough for shrimp salad, pasta, etc tomorrow.  As long as you’re turning the oven on.  #3  Shrimp Cocktail really is so old school that I’m glad it’s in one of Ina’s books as a reminder.    And, after all, the book really is called BACK TO BASICS.  There are also things like chicken stock, coq au vin, and roasted pears with blue cheese (don’t forget the port.)

I liked the sauce with the addition of a just a dab of hot mustard, by the way.  Living in Colorado, I do sometimes buy fresh shrimp, but I’m more likely to eat my fill of fresh seafood when we’re closer to water. This shrimp was frozen, though it took the same amount of time to roast.  I buy big bags of frozen shrimp at Costco and always have some I can just pull out of the freezer.  I occasionally just sauté five or six for a quick salad.  I buy very little frozen meat or prepared foods, but I am fond of fish that is frozen quickly, well and shipped frozen.  It’s also economical and accessible.

GET THE RECIPE FOR ROASTED SHRIMP COCKTAIL HERE. I simply divided the recipe by 4 for a solo dinner.  It’s also in Ina Garten’s sixth book, BAREFOOT CONTESSA: BACK TO BASICS;  FABULOUS FLAVOR FROM SIMPLE INGREDIENTS. If by chance you don’t own this book, you can get a used copy these days for about six bucks.  Of course it’s available on kindle, too.


♥♥♥  Ina’s coming on tour…check out the schedule here!


This month we have appetizers but next month — on Friday, September 5, 2014 –we have super sides, salads, and soups.  Mark your calendar and plan on visiting and cooking up lots of fall goodies.

Stop in this Friday or beyond  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.  If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email me at   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.  Use those books you’ve got sitting around!


If you liked this, you might also like my Spicy Shrimp Caprese with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette on Dinner Place.

Hey, my new book is out!  You can get it HERE!

Soup Book-Cover final

Sing a new song, and make an old school appetizer.  It might be enough for dinner.


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14 thoughts on “Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Shrimp Cocktail in the Empty Kitchen

  1. Alyce, how impressive that you did this without a kitchen. I made these the last time we did appetizers and they are delicious. A new kitchen! As Ina would say, “How fun is that?”

  2. I always love your posts! Have fun on your journey. Allergy to shellfish prevents this one for me unfortunately. I used to love shrimp! Looks delicious.

  3. Even though it’s a basic dish, not everyone roasts the shrimp and it makes all the difference. Shrimp are always the first to go at a party. (and deviled eggs)
    I wish you luck with your kitchen…I’ve been there too. Seemed to take forever and there were some errors, but all in all, it turned out happily.

  4. Pingback: Friday Fish: Favorite Easy Shrimp Meals | More Time at the Table

  5. Pingback: THANKSGIVING–Starters, Soups, and Sides | More Time at the Table

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