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, August 17, 2017

Strawberry Sorbet with a Hint of Mint

LUCY BURDETTE: We had the most incredible crop of strawberries this year. We couldn't keep put up with eating them, so we froze quite a few, mixing in a little sugar. I wanted to use some before they became afflicted with freezer burn and ended up in the compost heap. Since we were about to celebrate John's birthday with his favorite chocolate cake, I found a recipe for strawberry sorbet on the website, which I tweaked with less vanilla and some mint. I thought it would be a treat for the people who don't eat chocolate, and a nice touch added to a slab of cake!


6 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
I squeeze of lemon
A sprig of mint

The strawberries you use for this recipe can be fresh or frozen. If frozen, let them thaw enough to separate. But make sure they are delicious, not the cardboard kind you get out of season. Grind the strawberries in a food processor until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a pan, combine the water, sugar, vanilla, lemon, and mint. Heat the mixture and simmer until the sugar melts. Discard the mint.

Stir the sugar mixture into the strawberry mixture and refrigerate for several hours until very cold.

Prepare in your ice cream maker as the manufacture directs. We loved the hint of mint!

I found with using frozen strawberries that I probably could have done without the ice cream maker step by freezing the mixture briefly. I don't think this would work with fresh strawberries, but let me know if you try it. If you freeze this overnight after making, it will come out hard as a rock, so let it thaw for a bit before serving.

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Spring Rolls #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: My sister and I were talking about the problem of lunch a couple weeks ago.  What can you fix day after day that is healthy and delicious? Do you have this problem too? We happened to order some spring rolls as a snack while at a wedding, and I thought they would be fun to try--especially since we have so many good vegetables available right now. I tried two sauces, one bottled sweet and spicy sauce from the Ginger People, and the other a homemade peanut butter ginger sauce. We really loved the peanut butter version most.

Ingredients for the sauce

Three scallions chopped
1 inch fresh ginger peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons good quality peanut butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons Siracha or other hot sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons water, to thin

Sauté the scallions and ginger in a little olive oil. You could also chop up a garlic clove if you wish. Add the peanut butter, the vinegar, the syrup, the hot sauce, the soy sauce and stir to combine. Add water to thin it to your desired consistency. Set this aside.

Ingredients for the rolls (this is very flexible!)

Rice paper wrappers (found in Asian section of the grocery store)
Shrimp (or tofu, though my hub says ick to that)
Mango or avocado or even peaches
Chopped mint, cilantro, or basil
Sprouts or lettuce or arugula or spinach

Clean and cook your shrimp and set aside. Cut the soft vegetables into lengthwise strips. Shred the carrots. Chop the herbs.

To prepare the rolls, soften the wrappers one at a time in water for 20 to 30 seconds until limp. Spread the first one out on a damp paper towel. Layer the ingredients in as the spirit moves you. You could add a drizzle of the peanut butter sauce to these ingredients, or you can serve the sauce on the side as I chose to. Wrap the ingredients together by folding in the top of the wrapper, then the sides, and then roll it up. Serve them right then and there or refrigerate under a damp paper towel until ready.

laying out the ingredients

Starting the sauce

Everything ready to go

layering it all on

aren't they cute??

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Roasted Tomato #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: you may be scratching your head and saying why, why Lucy, do we need to roast tomatoes? We have been waiting all year for fresh tomatoes and we want to eat them exactly as they are. My answer? If you have a garden, or a neighbor who has a garden, or you haunt the local farmers market, you may find yourself with a tumult of tomatoes--way more then you can possibly eat before they start to go bad. And at that moment, you will thank me for this recipe! (Which is really more of a suggestion or a reminder than it is an actual recipe.) Once the tomatoes are roasted, you can freeze them in batches for soups and sauces, where they add a rich deliciousness to the flavor...


A tumult of tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt or garlic as you wish

Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size. Toss them with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt or fresh garlic, as you wish. On a large sheet pan, prepared with oiled parchment paper, lay the tomatoes out.

Roast at 350 until collapsed and beginning to brown. This could take 2 plus hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes. You could add herbs such as thyme or basil, but I would do that later in the cooking process so they don't burn.

That's it! Stir into pasta, or add into soup instead of canned tomatoes, or serve on their own as a delicious side...

Now, did you post an entry to our 7th anniversary contest? It's so easy and the prizes are amazing. Here's the dope...

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Swiss Cheese and Mushroom Quiche @LucyBurdette #recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: At our local farmers market in Connecticut, one vendor sells all kinds of mushrooms. I confess that I am a white mushroom consumer, though I have started using baby Bellas to branch out a bit. But this man's mushrooms look so good that I decided to try a recipe that could use one of his more adventurous varieties. He recommended shiitakes. I found a recipe in the Moosewood cookbook for a mushroom Swiss cheese quiche, and then set about tweaking to taste.


One large onion
1/4 pound mushrooms of your choice
Herbs of your choice (I used dill and thyme from our garden)
Four eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
 A couple shakes of Tabasco or cayenne
One crust 

Make the crust and set it aside. My father's recipe is pretty darn foolproof, but I tried the Moosewood version this time--cut 6 tablespoons of butter into a cup and a half of flour. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together in a mass. Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper and plop into the 9-inch pie plate. (Delicious, by the way--and not a grain of salt in it!)

Next up: Grate the cheese. Chop the onions and put these to sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil. Wipe the mushrooms down, slice them, and add them to the sauté pan. Cook until soft and slightly brown. Sprinkle in the herbs of your choice. 

Whisk together the milk, flour, and eggs and mustard – I used the food processor and it couldn't have been easier. Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce.

Layer the ingredients into the crust: Cheese, followed by vegetables and herbs, milk and egg mixture.

Bake at 375 until golden and the center is set.

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

Now a question, do you post reviews and photos of books you've read on Instagram? I hear it's quite a thing these days....

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chocolate Pudding Family Style #recipe @LucyBurdette

I know, it looks like a rooster:)

LUCY BURDETTE: I've been thinking about a recipe that I clipped out of a local paper six months ago for homemade butterscotch pudding . With my sister visiting, a special dessert that wasn't too fussy seemed in order. However, the 6 tablespoons of butter and three eggs in the recipe dampened my enthusiasm. 

So I went on a search for other puddings, and ended up using one adapted from the Joy of Cooking. And it's chocolate, because I rediscovered my King Arthur cocoa powder! 

First note before you start out, the pudding has to be refrigerated for two hours or up to two days. Although as John and I can attest, warm pudding is delicious too!


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup +1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch
One and a half teaspoons vanilla
Whipped cream if you like it (what else was I going to do with that left over cup of whipping cream?)

Mix the sugar cocoa and salt in a heavy sauce pan. Stir until combined. Gradually stir in the water until a smooth paste is formed. Meanwhile, mix the whipping cream and whole milk, and set aside 1/4 cup. In a small bowl, mix this 1/4 cup milk with the cornstarch, adding it gradually so the mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, back to the chocolate. Over medium heat, heat the chocolate paste until smooth and beginning to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat.Gradually stir in the cream/milk mixture.

Stir your prepared corn starch into the chocolate mixture and again cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for another minute. Make sure you continue stirring through all these steps.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into four small bowls or one larger. Cover the surfaces with waxed paper to avoid the formation of a Dreaded Skin.

Refrigerate for two hours, up to two days, and serve with whipped cream if you like, and maybe a strawberry. OMG, was this good!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Broiled Yellowtail Snapper, a la Melissa Clark #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Coming from the "fish stick generation," fish is something I don't have complete confidence in cooking. Shrimp I can do. Crab cakes sure. But fish? Not so much. Especially when Key West restaurants do it so well. 

But when our neighbor gave us fresh yellowtail  snapper (caught by his son that very morning,) and when Melissa Clark offered a tasty sounding recipe in the New York Times that also looked easy, how could I resist? This is a flexible recipe so ingredients can be adjusted according to your taste.


 1 pound or so white fish
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
2 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 to 1 inch fresh ginger, grated 
 Grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the curry powder, fresh garlic, and ginger, and heat for a minute or two until the flavors are combined. Stir in the zest. 

Place the fish fillets on a small, rimmed baking sheet. (I covered mine with foil first.) Heat the oven to broil. 

Spread the sauce and its butter over the fish, and broil until done, or just flaky. Probably not much more than five minutes. 

Serve with lemon wedges, rice, and a vegetable or salad. I still say Seven Fish restaurant in Key West does fish better than I could imagine cooking myself, but this was pretty darn tasty. 

And  just for fun, here's a snippet from AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, when Hayley is writing her first-ever review, of Seven Fish restaurant. Funnily enough, she doesn't even mention the dish I order almost every time (yellowtail snapper in a light Thai curry sauce):

“The best starter isn’t on the regular menu, though it’s almost always offered: Sautéed grouper roll. (Or mahi mahi if the ban on fishing grouper holds.) Prepare your taste buds for a mélange of sweet, fresh fish, buttery avocado, and sauce-absorbing rice, all wrapped in a crispy tissue of seaweed. Incredible! The fish tacos are almost as good—under no circumstances neglect the spicy cole slaw that comes on the side. If you need to eliminate some choices, the crab cake has a larger ratio of cake to crab than this reviewer prefers, and salads are above average but skippable if you’re saving room for dessert.
Above all, do save room for dessert! Like the strawberry whipped cream pie, a tangle of sweet berries sunken into a bed of rich whipped cream complemented by the exquisite surprise of a chocolate graham cracker crust. If bananas flambé isn’t a choice you’d usually make, make an exception. The key lime cheesecake is rich and creamy, but a little short on lime.
As for main courses—“

Then I went on to describe Seven Fish’s main dishes in the twenty-five words I had left. I recommended the sea scallops over mashed potatoes, issued a richness alert on the gnocchi dressed with mellow blue cheese and sautéed fish, and began to tackle my mixed feelings about ordering meatloaf or chicken in a restaurant featuring “fish” in the name.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Banana Cake with Maple Frosting #recipe @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Last week, we ended up with three bunches of bananas on the counter—John bought two before he noticed that I’d come home with another. Naturally they all began to ripen at the same time. We like bananas, but not that well! Then visions of banana cake with frosting containing maple syrup came bounding into my mind. Not a bad outcome! So I went on the hunt...

The bones of the cake I borrowed from The Gunny Sack, though their icing sounded too sweet and I wanted to use real syrup, not maple flavoring. So I cut the butter and the sugar in the frosting in half.

Baking soda is a challenge for bakers and eaters who need to watch their sodium—over 1200 mg in one teaspoon. I used the no sodium kind, which simply doesn’t work as well, even when doubled. However flat the cake turned out, the taste was still delicious! Next time I might bake it in a smaller pan…or even walk on the wild side and try low sodium baking powder, which is much more successful.

Banana Cake

4 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (2 and ½ in my case)

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda, 2 if using low sodium

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar


With your mixer (handheld or Kitchenaid) beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat the sugars in, followed by the eggs and mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) and beat briefly.

Pour the batter into a greased pan (9 by 13 is what I used) and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the icing, beat together cream cheese and butter for 1 minute.

Add maple syrup and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Taste for maple intensity.

Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each cup. Frost the cake when cool. Hey, this could work for mother's day!

oh yummy!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Dip #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I love salty chips and dips--good old Ruffles and Lipton onion soup dip to me are heaven! But they do not love me. So when it was my turn to bring a nibble to a party, I started thinking about whipping up something slightly sweet instead of savory. I wanted a dip that would go with Stacy's sugar cinnamon chips (my new addiction.) This couldn't be easier and better and yet, everyone liked it!


8 ounces whipped cream cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain yogurt
5 to 6 ripe strawberries, finally chopped
Honey, about one tsp or to taste

Chips and fruit for dippingMix the cream cheese with the yogurt and stir in the chopped strawberries. Taste, and add honey according to your sweet tooth. My strawberries were not completely ripe and sweet so, I added a teaspoon. 

Serve the dip with cinnamon sugar chips or plain crackers or fruit such as strawberries halves and chunks of pineapple.

And it's so easy, you have time left over to read--or write. And I am writing a brand new Key West food critic mystery...hooray!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!