LUCY BURDETTE: I'm sure no one's going to feel too sorry for me, but sometimes the research for the food critic mysteries is hard work. And Hayley Snow tells me that those rich meals and decadent desserts can wreak havoc on your digestion and your shape. Here for example is the yellowtail snapper and shrimp dish from Pisces in Key West--you can't tell from the photo, but they are both swimming in butter.
And here's another rich shrimp dish from El Siboney, a well-know Cuban restaurant. And then blueberry bread pudding from the tapas restaurant, Santiago's Bodega, which is absolutely to die for.
So after a run of these kind of nights, I'm dying for something plain and hearty. One of my go-to meals (and something that Hayley Snow would make too) is split pea soup with cornbread and a big salad. Plain but utterly satisfying and delicious!
LUCY'S SPLIT PEA SOUP
1 bag dried split peas, washed and sorted
3-4 carrots, chopped by hand or in food processor
1 large onion, chopped as above
3 stalks celery, minced
cilantro, washed and chopped
1 32 oz box organic chicken broth
Saute the vegetables in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, until soft. Add the peas and the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the peas are soft and starting to lose their shape, adding water or more broth as needed. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving, and add a spritz of sesame oil to each bowl.
BUTTERMILK CRACKLING CORN BREAD (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
(The J of C calls for fatty salt pork, I substitute butter.)
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425. Put the butter in a square baking pan and place in the oven until the butter melts. Tilt the bottom so melted butter covers all.
Whisk dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs, add the buttermilk and whisk, then add wet ingredients to dry. Mix and pour in pan containing the hot butter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. Err on the side of undercooking, so the edges of the bread look crispy and buttery but the center isn't dry.
Oh boy, making my own mouth water looking at these!
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, including AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. You can follow her on facebook or twitter. She eats and writes in Connecticut and Key West.