Johnny Cakes


Has it really been that long since my last post? I’ve been having TOO much fun enjoying all the fun and sun that is summer on this rock. To make up for lost times, 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! Continue reading

Contessa Island Spiced Iced Coffee


There is no mistaking it. It IS summertime on the island. The humidity has shown up, and the trade winds are working overtime to keep things one notch above comfortable. This is a great time to dust off this cold brew iced coffee recipe. Making coffee this way means there is nothing to heat up in an already warmed up Crucian kitchen. 

Sweet, flavorful, spiced up, and versatile are just a few words that describe this recipe. A true coffee lover’s confection with it’s mellow flavor. There is no bitterness as there is in the normal hot brewing process. On island, my hubby and I use whole beans roasted locally by a guy named “Don Tomas” ( His beans are  roasted to deep dark coffee perfection–ideal for an iced coffee!

If the flavor of this drink doesn’t capture you, there is a moment when making this coffee that you get to step back and take in the image of the cold white heavy cream wandering through the midnight canvass of the jet black coffee. For just a second there is a beautiful marbling before the separateness of the very black coffee and very pale cream becomes a beautiful mocha beige. Yes, feel free to savor that “Look What I Did” feeling! The kitchen offers the curious breathtaking moments like that! Sigh… Continue reading

Contessa Tomato and Onion Relish


Onion Relish

Sometimes its just too easy to make incredible food! Sometimes unfussy food is just the most rewarding. This relish is tropical summer food–cool, uncooked, and perfect on everything from fish to meat dishes. It may look like an uncomplicated tangle of red and purple, but it is so much more in terms of flavor!

The farmers have been showing off with the brightest, reddest, most flavor-packed tomatoes at our local markets–much Tomato Love! How could I not find something amazing to do with this summer season fruit. Yes, tomato is actually a fruit. Top it off with a dash of your favorite hot sauce (anything but Tabasco), or just savor as is. It really is just TOO good. Continue reading

Contessa Tip #15

The limes are bursting off the trees as summer is rolling in fast on the island. Food sharing is one of the best parts of island life. It’s the part I love the most. A friend messaged me and said, “I’m pruning my tree and have tons of limes. Do you want some?” After the smile spread across my face, and a couple of angels finished their Hallelujah song, I burst out with a true, but simple, “YES!” A box of limes…An entire box of limes.  What was I going to do with all those limes? I use lime in almost everything I make. Teas, Dressings, Conch Salad. But in our warm island kitchens, it is too easy for limes to go bad fairly quickly.

Then the thought came…just freeze it! So, I tossed the limes in a ziploc and threw them in the freezer. Whenever I need a lime, I take it out ahead, defrost it in warm water or leave it at room temperature until its thawed. I can use the intact peel for it’s flavorful zest? Or I could squeeze the juice to flavor any new kitchen creation. Viola! Instant limes on hand! Enjoy!

Contessa Sunshine Oatmeal

Nothing compares to the scent of cinnamon, orange zest, and almond extract in the morning. And oatmeal creates the perfect blank canvass to paint those warm sunshine flavor pictures. Substitute the most tropical flavored milks–coconut milk, and you have one of the best tasting versions of otherwise boring oatmeal you’ve ever tasted. This is my favorite way to prepare and share it with friends. The creamy cozy comfort of this breakfast treat is beyond beautifully balanced and flavored.

I make my own coconut milk, so, it doesn’t have all the thickeners found in canned milk. You can simply dilute the amount called for in this recipe with half coconut milk and half water, or use a lite coconut milk.

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Taste(s) of St. Croix


There are certain times of the year the energy on the island shifts. It goes from our usual laid back vibe to a more excited hum. One of those times is in the month of April for the Taste of St. Croix–the main event of the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. A culinary gathering of epic proportions, celebrity chefs, local chefs, restaurants, and people from all over the world come to the island to share some of the best in what we have to offer! This year I was asked to be a Judge in the Local Fare Category. I was blown away by the spirit of creativity and food genius I sampled. There is such amazing talent on this little Rock. This Rambling shares just a tip of a huge iceberg of sights and tastes I experienced both there and at the V.I. Department of Agriculture’s Taste of St. Croix, where some of our local farmers congregated to share their harvests.

It was an amazing time for food, an amazing time for the island, and an amazing time to witness what community looks like on such a grand scale. As a writer I always have something to say…some way to describe a moment that helps whoever is reading to be placed right in the center of the happenings. But for some reason I still have no words. It was beyond inspiring, beyond words…it just had to be experienced. If you ever have a chance to visit the island during “Taste Week”, I hope you do. Then feel free to share some words with those of us who still are trying to wrap our minds around what an incredible time it was. Are you packing yet?! Continue reading

Contessa Conch Salad


Sometimes the simplest foods are the BEST foods. One of my oldest and dearest friends Dorald made this salad for me many years ago on his first visit to the island. His Bahamian ancestry taught him the divine combination of these OH, SO SIMPLE flavors. And he passed this love on to me again on his most recent trip over the Christmas holidays. Maybe its the memories of our incessant laughter whenever we make time to see each other, or just the love and care that my friend shared in putting this recipe together, but this dish is an easy mix up of full-on oceanic flavor and bright citrus overtones. Deliciousness! Continue reading

Contessa Lobster Salad


There really is nothing more decadent than Caribbean Lobster. Unlike it’s Atlantic cousin, our lobsters have no claws, but they are extremely succulent, naturally garlicky, with a sweet oceanic flavor. I usually make this dish during the warmer months, when I don’t feel like cooking. But I just couldn’t resist when I saw this beauty from one of our local roadside fishermen. Serve this salad over a bed of locally grown baby leaves and savor the flavor of the ocean. Fantastic! Continue reading

Crucian Honey


HOney 2

Whenever I think of Local Raw Wild Honey, I swear I hear Marvin Gaye crooning in my ears, “How Sweet It Is”! This Rambling is dedicated to all the things we are doing locally to promote beekeeping and honey harvesting on the Rock! I keep saying it, “Food will show us the way.” Our creativity has been unleashed and we are reflecting some incredible products that defy the ordinary! Continue reading

Contessa Spicy White Hot Chocolate

The image of island life is that it is always sunny–nothing but coconut tree-lined beaches and hot tropical days! But the reality is that in the winter the temperature drops from the scorching 90′s and near 10o’s to the crisp cool 70′s. Stop rolling your eyes, that kind of temperature shift is COLD (for us)! We’ve also gone through a period on the island where it rains for days on end. Think we might have to invest in an ark if it continues. “Cold”, rainy, winter nights demand that the blankets come out.

This is our winter–spotted with island sea-blues, greens,  and bleach-white sand and our kind of “cold” weather. So, in “chilly” times like this a nice spicy hot drink to keep the tropical winter chill at bay are a MUST! My favorite cup of warmth is a spicy island-style white hot chocolate! Continue reading