How to Make Johnny Cakes, Fried Heaven on a Plate

Back, by popular demand – here is my world famous (OK, only in my house famous) Johnny Cake recipe! Johnny Cakes are fried heaven on a plate, or a napkin, or just balanced hot on your fingertips, because you couldn’t wait to find either a plate or a napkin before you tore into it. It is one of our MOST traditional island favorites.

There are some foods that are strictly breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods. Johnny Cakes are that rare breed of food that defies those rigid boxes. You can enjoy them any time of day! Quick and easy, they fry up fast and are gone just as quickly! Tooooooo good!

This recipe requires you to bring something a little extra to the kitchen in addition to the ingredients. You will have to walk with an extra little bit of patience and intuition. You’re going to have to let the dough tell you what it needs. Sounds weird but that is what the kitchen does…it gives you opportunities to test your skills through the best teacher of all–trial and error. It took me some time to perfect my Johnny Cake skills, and I only got better with each new try. That’s my wish for us all in the kitchen and in life–TRY!! As they say, you never fail from trying, either you win or you learn!

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Hurricane Maria

I wrote this soon after the devastating Hurricane Maria ravaged our home and posted it on FB. I had little to no access to the internet at that time, so I wanted to share it with you now. We are still in the rebuilding phase of our island life. And much help is still needed to bring us back to where we need to be. Thank you for hanging in there with me. This has been a difficult year for me personally as well as for my island. But I have hope. Always. Always. Hope. 


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Lime in De Coconut Seafood Soup

“I won’t make this soup again!” was what I declared after making this soup. It was a labor of love built from imagination, love, and time. It is based on a thai recipe for Tom Kha Ghai, which is made with chicken. But I wanted to keep the base but add only local seafood. Today is Good Friday so most folks on our Rock are eating only seafood. This would have made a fine addition to any holiday lunch table. I’m sharing a few pics from this decadent concoction. This is just a “Kitchen Rambling.” I wish there were a recipe to share, except I won’t be making it soon enough to reproduce one! I did say it was a LOT of work right?!? But, man, was it FULL of uncompromising flavor!  Read More

The Honest Woman


“The Honest Woman!” he called out as I stood near his fruit stand. His name is Willo! And he is one of the local farmers who sells his products in Frederiksted. “The Honest Woman” was a name born from the day I was on my way back from the Frederiksted Community Garden. I saw some of the FRESHEST, fattest, seasoning peppers, along with some dried coconuts that were heavy with water just begging me to make coconut milk, perched on his stall! I had forgotten my wallet so I didn’t have any money with me. When he saw the sheer joy on my face for his harvest, he said, “Go ahead and take them. Pay me when you see me.”

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Carambola Salad

Carambola 1

It’s been a while since my last post–six months to be exact! So many changes have swept into my life since then, including beginning a new job. As with all of life’s changes, I have learned to navigate it by giving it my all and full attention. This has also meant that I don’t have as much time to share my kitchen passions. Food has taken a literal back burner in my longer work days, increased commute time, leaving  less time to cook, much less quantify a recipe.

I have fallen in love with faster prepared foods to accommodate my new demands. But in addition to the changes in my professional life, life has been extremely demanding in my personal life as well. And some days I have to make my own sunshine! This salad is the perfect emblem of all what this time means and feels like to me. It was created with nothing but pure love. I almost want to call it, “Contessa Love Salad”!!!!  Read More

Basil Sugar


“I tell you life is sweet, in spite of the misery. There’s so much more. Be grateful.” One of my favorite songs from Natalie Merchant poured through the speakers while I was working on this post. It was just too fitting not to find a way to fit it into this post. Life has been grueling with high demands and a breathtaking pace. And still in all the busyness, I found time to spend a few hours baking and cooking and feasting with friends and family over the holidays. Read More

St. Johnian Sea Salt




We Crucians have a saying, “There is more to the mortar than the pestle.” It usually means there is something else going on. Well, there is much in my mortar and it is just beautiful! It must be something incredibly special to send me flying to my keyboard to share a foodie thought. The picture above is what I consider the Holy Grail of salt. It is rare and you can’t buy it. It can only be “friended”–given from the heart. Read More

Contessa Banana Fritters


If I had to pinpoint a go to comfort food it would be this simple fritter. What makes it extra special is using the local bananas we grow on island. They are the banana-iest bananas I’ve ever tasted! Our farmer friends gave us the tiny variety we call Bacoba they grew in the rainforest on their organic farm–Ridge to Reef. I swore I could taste the rain and the earth and the care that went into growing them. Delicious!! It’s that moment when you take a bite and your eyes close, and you sigh, and a smile stretches lazily across your face, before you say, “Wow. These tastes incredible!” I know you don’t have access to those specific bananas, if you’re off the Rock, but try to substitute regular ones and this recipe still tastes wonderful! Full of cinnamon and other warm Caribbean spices to make you have that same warm smile reaction!

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Contessa Mango Margarita


Well, it is definitely mango season on the island! They are bursting and ripe with sweetness and an ahhhhmazing flavor that you just can’t find from Mangoes with a bar code on the side. If you want to understand the true power of a mango, you have to get one fresh-picked off the tree. And the Universe is kind enough to negotiate the summer heat with the appearance of mangoes on the island. This mango flavored margarita is the perfect blend of lime and mangoes balanced with the citrus flavors of Grand Marnier and a splash of beer. Huh?! Yes, trust me, beer…it makes a subtle difference!  Read More