Showing posts with label Key West food critic mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Key West food critic mysteries. Show all posts

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pecan Pie Bars #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: We were attending a holiday potluck party and my responsibility was some kind of cookies. I decided this was an opportunity to try pecan pie bars, which would be festive but also easier than making dozens of cookies. I looked at a number of recipes and decided to try one from Life Tastes GoodI made a few tweaks, cutting the salt and subbing some brown sugar for white.

The recipe is not very difficult and it makes a lot. But warning, it’s very very sweet! So cut your bars small. 


3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter

For the topping:

Four eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
One and a half cups sugar (I decided to use a half cup brown sugar and a cup of white)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
One and a half teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups pecans, broken into pieces

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in your food processor. Cut the cold butter into small chunks and with the machine running, feed them into the dry ingredients. This should all begin to hold together a little like pie crust.

Cover a 11 by 15 inch sheet pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs out the sides. (The paper will stick better if you grease the pan, then lay the parchment on top.) Dump the shortbread mixture into the pan and spread it evenly. Bake this for 20 minutes at 350.

Crust baked and ready for action!

While the crust bakes, whip the eggs in your food processor and then add the other ingredients up to pecans. Fold in the lightly broken pecans. When the shortbread crust has baked, remove the pan from the oven and pour in the filling. Spread the pecans evenly over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until nothing jiggles.

ready to bake

Let the pan of bars cool completely before lifting the bars out of the pan with the parchment overhang. Place them on a large cutting board and divide them into individual squares. Store in the refrigerator or freeze them for your party!

Finished bars

Merry Christmas and happy all holidays to our readers and friends!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lucy Burdette's Holiday Pumpkin Pie #recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: Christmas is different in Key West than it is in New England. Of course, I miss the snow (a little) and ice (not really) and a trip to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center (a lot!) But on the other hand, we have palm trees and lights! 

When thinking over holiday recipes, I wondered why pumpkin pie had to be confined to Thanksgiving. And I decided it didn't!

You would think pumpkin pie should be a slam-dunk recipe. But there are many questions out there. Pre-bake the crust? Don’t bake the crust? Evaporated milk? Sweetened condensed milk? Whipped cream? I studied four or five of them and chose what looked like the best options. I wanted a little maple flavor and also to jazz the pie up with my beloved chai spice.

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
Scant tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chilled cream cheese
3 tablespoons water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse until you have small crumbles. Don’t overdo this. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the crust barely holds together. (You will think you haven’t added enough, but you will!)

Dump the dough onto a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and gather it together, then press into a disk. Refrigerate for an hour or more. (This is a good time to make the filling.) 

Roll the crust out between two sheets of waxed paper, trying not to overwork it. Peel off the top piece of paper and lower the crust into your 9 inch pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until the crust seems done, just browning around the edges and golden all over.

in the food processor

gather into a ball

roll and pinch the edges

bake with pie weights

ready for filling!

For the Pie filling:

One can organic pumpkin
1/2 cup good maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chai spice or plain cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
Three eggs
1 1/4 cup evaporated milk

Whip the pumpkin with the two sweeteners, the milk, and the spice, and taste to see if it’s sweet enough for your crowd. Add a little more if needed. Then beat in the flour and the three eggs until the filling is smooth.

Carefully pour this mixture into the hot pie crust. (This is the hardest part of the recipe.) You should have the pie pan on a sheet pan in case of spills or drips. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then check to see if the crust is too brown. If it is, fold some thin strips of aluminum foil to cover the crust. Bake until set, that is, barely jiggly, probably 50-60 minutes.

Cool to room temperature and either serve as is or refrigerate overnight. Serve with freshly made whipped cream, I like a teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of whipped cream maple syrup in mine!

so pretty out of the oven

but of course it sinks a bit later

Merry Christmas and happy all holidays to our readers and friends!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Super Coleslaw #recipe @LucyBurdette #giveaway @levelbestbooks

Tennessee Steve and his better half, Dorothy Rahn

LUCY BURDETTE: During the high season in Key West, our fabulous kitchen store and bakery (The Restaurant Store) sponsors an artisan market. I'm there sometimes in the Key West Writers Guild booth, and there are lots of local artists, craft beers, music, and delicious food. But our must-stop is Tennessee Steve's BBQ rib booth. Oh my the ribs are tasty! And I would not even attempt to make them. But I can and do make the healthy and delicious cole slaw that we serve along with the ribs.

I have started buying Fresh Express packages of super kale salad in the supermarket. It comes with packets of pumpkin seeds and cranberries, along with a poppyseed dressing that I don’t use because of sodium content. 

Since I always like to try to have extra vegetables on hand, especially during the holiday treat indulgence period, I decided to make a big pile of this coleslaw that I could eat for lunches and dinners all week, in addition to a rib side dish. The "recipe" is very flexible, so you could add carrots or peppers or onions or various herbs as you choose. The secret is to prepare the vegetables ahead of time, and then take them out and dress them as needed. I suppose you could even add them to soups and stews if the whim hits you.


1/2 cabbage
8 to 10 Brussel sprouts
Two broccoli stalks
Large handful of kale
1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or cherries

For the dressing

2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1/8 cup or more cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Fresh black pepper

Either chop, or even better, put the vegetables through your Cuisinart so they are all shredded. Mix.

Stir the mayonnaise with the vinegar, celery seed, salt and sugar, and then whip in the olive oil. Taste to be sure it’s seasoned to your liking.

An hour or two before serving, mix the dressing with the vegetables, then fold in the pepitas and cherries. You could even add a sprinkle of goat cheese if the mood struck you!

We served this with Tennessee Steve’s ribs and baked beans Yum! (Recipe for beans to come...)

Because my purchased copies of SNOWBOUND, this year's anthology of best New England Crime Stories from Level Best Books arrived yesterday, and because it's holiday season, and because my short story "Dorothea and the Case of the Noxious Nanny" got the lead position (wow and yay!), I'd love to give a copy away. Leave a comment telling us who on your list would enjoy the short stories (of course, it can be you.) I'll post a winner on Monday, December 11!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

And the next Artisan Market at the Restaurant Store is December 17, 10-2. I'll be there from 12-2! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hybrid Beef Stew #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Are you ready to move on from turkey? I know I am, and this recipe fit the bill nicely. I’ve made plenty of beef stews in my years of cooking, but not in the crockpot. This time I decided I would start the stew a day ahead in the crockpot, and finish it off the next day on the stovetop. I suppose you could do it one way or the other and it would turn out just as well. But making it a day before you plan to eat lets the flavors come together. We thought this was delicious – next time I would add a little more flour to thicken the sauce.


1 and 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds beef tips
Three carrots
Three stalks of celery
One and a half onions
Three garlic cloves
One sweet potato
Two russet potatoes
2 bay leaves
4 cups good quality lower sodium beef broth (Daily Pantry for me)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

large handful fresh spinach

For thickening the stew: 

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 
tablespoons flour, 
1 teaspoon brown sugar, 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed,
1/2 to 1 teaspoon onion powder, 

1/2 to 1 teaspoon white pepper

Chop the vegetables:

In a large pot or in the crockpot if you have the browning feature, brown the beef tips in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. 

When all sides are brown, add chunked carrots, celery, and onion along with chopped garlic cloves, and let those cook a minute. 

Then add the potatoes, cut in 1 inch chunks, the bay leaves and the beef broth.

Cook that on high for 3 hours, then remove and refrigerate. The next day, about an hour before you want to eat, bring the stew to simmer. Mix the flour, brown sugar, celery seed, onion powder and pepper, and stir in the vinegar until smooth. Add a bit of hot broth so it all dissolves and then mix into the stew. Simmer for an hour, adding the spinach in the last fifteen minutes.

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts #recipe #Thanksgiving @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: What to make to add to your Thanksgiving bounty if you need a side dish but don't have a lot of time to come up with something fussy? I can highly recommend roasted Brussels sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese to finish. This dish can go with just about any meal--say meatloaf, or Thanksgiving turkey, or roast chicken. I can even imagine it with pasta! Maybe these vegetables deserve a little doggerel...

You can eat them in spring, 
You can eat them in the fall,  
We think roasted Brussels sprouts 
Are good any time at all!

Ingredients to serve 3

1 pound fresh Brussel sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450. Wash, trim, and halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts depending on their size. Mix the sprouts with the olive oil and vinegar. Roast 15 minutes on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, turning from time to time, until the vegetables are slightly crisp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Since the cheese is salty, we didn't find we needed to add salt, but you be the judge on that!

cut sprouts in oil and vinegar

after roasting

grate some cheese over top

And that's it! Time left to write or play or make dessert!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: With a ton of company coming this summer, it was time to try a new recipe in my crockpot, something that would pop with flavor even if it was lower in sodium. I opted for chicken cacciatore. Though there are many different versions of this dish, all include chicken, onions, peppers, seasonings, and some kind of tomato product. You can mix and match according to your family's preferences. I had fresh basil and sage, so I used those, along with dried oregano and a bay leaf. I also opted for a jar of the excellent heirloom tomato marinara sauce made by one of our local markets. You could replace that with crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and tomato paste if you prefer. I also added half a cup of red wine, plus mushrooms and baby kale at the end.


Four boneless skinless chicken breasts (add more for more people--there's plenty of sauce!)
One large onion, chopped
One large pepper, chopped
One large clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
One scant teaspoon dried oregano
Four fresh basil leaves, chopped 

Two fresh sage leaves, chopped
One bay leaf 
24 ounce jar marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes
10 ounces mushrooms (I used Baby Bella)
Handful of baby kale or spinach
Spaghetti of your choosing

Brown the chicken breast, either in a frying pan or in your slow cooker if it has that setting. I am lucky to have a browning setting on mine, which saves in clean-up. 

Scrape in the onions and peppers and cook another couple of minutes. Add the red wine and spices, along with the garlic. 

Let that cook down a few minutes, then add the marinara or crushed tomatoes.

Change the setting to low, and cook six hours. Add the chopped mushrooms and kale or spinach, turn the setting to high and cook another half hour. You might also add a handful of olives or several teaspoons capers if you like them and can handle the salt. 

Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan cheese grated over the top.

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Magnificent (and Healthy!) Stuffed Peppers #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Before I talk about food, I wanted to acknowledge what a difficult week it's been for those in the path of Hurricane Irma. This included my beloved Florida Keys, though Key West itself sustained less damage than the islands further north. (And also in the Caribbean islands further south.) My heart is down there with the workers who are trying to restore phone, electric, water, and sewer service--and with all those anxiously awaiting news of their homes and businesses. I'm hoping and praying that life can return to something like normal soon on that magical spray of islands...

Now back to food...Two things happened this week that led me to this particular post. First, our green peppers began to ripen in the garden. Aren't they gorgeous? And second, in my quest to slowly clean stuff out of my closet and drawers, I found an old cast iron frying pan that came from my dad. He worked for International Nickel Company his whole career, and he was very proud of the nickel plating on this pan. I did not take care of it the way my sister does with her cast-iron pans, which is to say, don't wash them with soap. Instead, clean them with water and then oil them. You can see the logo on the back of the pan testifying that it came from the Griswold company in Erie Pennsylvania. Apparently they stopped making these in 1957, and it seems as though I have a collectors' item. So I thought I better start using it! (Even if I've possibly ruined the finish.)

I have a recipe for stuffed peppers which both John and I have loved. Unfortunately it's fairly high in sodium because of the sausage and the spaghetti sauce that I used to choose. And don't forget the cheddar cheese! If you're not concerned about sodium, you can find that recipe here. It was also a favorite of my mother-in-law. 

Meanwhile here are the instructions for this updated version, which was also delicious. 


5 to 6 large green peppers
One large or two smaller onions, chopped
One hot pepper, diced
Handful of fresh basil, shredded
24 oz spaghetti sauce (Mine came from a local store, Bishops, and has only 140 mg sodium 
per quarter cup)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Half cup rice (I use brown)
Half cup water
1 to 1 1/4 pounds ground beef

Brown the beef and set it aside to drain. Add a dollop of olive oil to the pan and sauté the chopped onions, Hot pepper, and rice for a few minutes. Add the sauce, the water, the beef, and the Worcestershire sauce, and sliced basil, and simmer this until the rice is soft, half hour to 45 minutes depending on the brand you use.

Slice the peppers lengthwise, and take out the seeds and webbing. 

Place them in a greased 9 x 13 hand. When the beef mixture is ready, fill the pepper shells with the sauce and top with a little grated Parmesan if you desire.Bake at 350 for half an hour or until the peppers are soft and the stuffing bubbly. Here's the whole photo review:

chopped peppers, onions and basil

Everything is browning
simmering in my father's pan
Stuffed and ready to bake
Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...