Key West Kitchen Recipes
Key Lime Mousse
Let’s admit it. It’s hard not to love Key Lime pie. For all its touristy, clichéd connotations and its ubiquitous presence on Duval Street menus, this pie really can be amazingly good! We can argue until sunup about the right way to make it (that’s a discussion for another day), but almost all variations are pretty darn good in their own way if properly prepared with fresh ingredients. Rather than re-engage in debates about merengue, color, crusts and all that, how about we go a different way all together?
Boxing Day Sausage Rolls
The New York Times is an essential part of my day. I buy a printed copy every morning (yes, I’m still attached to paper) except Sunday, when I have it delivered directly to my steps so that I can read it in bed with a steaming cup of coffee. I particularly look forward to grabbing the Wednesday edition with its weekly Food section. The contributors to Food have become like familiar friends to me. It is indeed rare that I don’t learn something about cooking, restaurants, ingredients or books every week.
Fried Grouper Cheeks with Tartar Sauce
Key West has some of the richest fishing waters in the world. You couldn’t dream up a more perfect situation than ours – 130 miles out to sea, the warm, shallow Gulf of Mexico to our north, the surging gulfstream to our southeast and balmy tropical breezes blowing all year long. Something tasty is swimming nearby all year long! Sleek tuna and king mackerel are abundant in winter, while neon dolphin fish liven up the summer. The reef is teeming all year long with snapper, grouper, cobia and jacks. Our only problem is choosing how to cook this bonanza.
Beef and Guinness Pie
It seems that quite a lot of Guinness Extra Stout, that unrivaled Irish brew, has been showing up in (and disappearing from) my refrigerator lately. I got the bug on a recent trip to Dublin where, thanks to some good friends, I was treated to the deluxe tour of the Guinness facilities, including a private tasting and pouring lesson
Key West Shrimp with Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
When you eat Key West pink shrimp as often as I do, you need to mix things up a bit. I am always on the lookout for creative ways to prepare shrimp without obscuring their sweet, natural flavor. Not long ago, I was staring blankly at the jumbled shelves of cookbooks in my kitchen when my focus landed on a faded, dilapidated volume called “Adventures in the Kitchen” by one Wolfgang Puck.
Homemade Caprese Pizza
Often we fall under the spell of believing that some foods are only available from cheap take-out vendors. Chinese food, pizza, fried chicken and pulled pork come to mind. Ordering out is fine when you’re exhausted or in a rush, but when you have the time, all these things are exponentially better, and better for you, when you make them yourself.
Cornbread is as essential to life in the South as air and water. Always cooked in a hot cast iron skillet, it is wonderfully crisp on the outside and soft and moist inside. It is key ingredient in Thanksgiving dressing and is delicious smeared with butter or, as my father and I often did, crumbled into a cold glass of milk while the bread is still piping hot! (Seriously, try it sometime).
Basic Chicken Stock
Homemade chicken stock is an absolutely essential ingredient to have on hand at all times. Period. The difference between this simple stock and the store-bought stuff is astronomical. Here you control the amount of salt, the subtle background flavors and the amount of chicken essence you inbue into the stock.
Octopus: A Taste of the Mediterranean
Octopus may not be one of your go-to ingredients, but once you figure it out, it’s fun, a little exotic and very tasty. I like to keep it simple so the briny creature itself really shines, such as in a grilled octopus salad with pickled shallots, some warm flatbread and a light vinaigrette.