Contessa Pumpkin Rum Flan

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As a food blogger, there are times where I don’t want to write about something I made. I just want to make it and email a slice to every person reading the blog, because talking about it just CAN NOT do it justice! There literally are recipes that defy words, that shrug off adjectives, that laugh at sentences. This is one of those. Rum, pumpkin, and flan all had a conversation and said, “Hey, you know, we TASTE GOOOOOD together!” Yeah, that’s this recipe. Just in time for the Thanksgiving season. It would make a fine dessert addition to any Turkey Day dinner! Continue reading

Contessa Shrimp and Avocado Salad

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There are times when the kitchen and I break up. Complete with side-eye and cold shoulders. I don’t feel like spending too much time with it whatsoever. My kitchen creations feel hum-drum, and I answer the call of carry-out more than I should. Lately, I’ve had a serious case of the kitchen-blues! But ever so slowly we’ve been spending more time together. Checking each other out and starting to do the dance of reconnection. Continue reading

Contessa Guacamole

 

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One of my favorite parts of island living is the food sharing culture that is so very much alive on our little rock! From co-workers, friends, or family, someone is always offering the blessings of their back yard bounty. This late summer’s offering is the alligator pear avocado. A friend of ours gave us two mammoth sized avocados and my first and only thought was Spicy GUACAMOLE!! Guacamole is the easiest thing to make–a perfect testament to the idea that it takes just a few well sourced ingredients to make ahhhmazing food! Continue reading

Johnny Cakes

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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

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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” (Dontomascoffee@mac.com). 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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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