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 Tip #14


Well, it is Turkey Season! The winter winds are blowing in cooler on the island, which tells me its time to get ready to “hot up” the kitchen and let the feasting season begin. Turkeys are definitely a part of most Crucian gatherings during this time. But nothing will get you talked about faster than being the person who brought the “dry turkey” to the family party. The year I made my first Thanksgiving Turkey  was filled with much anxiety, as in the past I was one of those voices who whispered about how dry the turkey for Cousin So-and-So was. My heart feared the culinary karma  I thought might come my way.  So, I read every cookbook I could get my hands on, and every article on how to make the PERFECT turkey. And I kept bumping into the word “Brine”. Brining is a way of introducing moisture by using a high ratio of salt and other seasonings to the Turkey. Read More

Contessa Tip #13


There are times when impatience holds my hand in the kitchen. Especially, when I am in the mood to make a cake, but I don’t feel like waiting for the ingredients to come to room temperature in order to begin. This is a key step since it helps to increase the volume of the cake. So, my quick shortcut is to put the eggs in a bowl of lukewarm tap water and leave them there for about five minutes. The water should not be so hot that it starts to cook the eggs. And for the butter, I whip out the box grater and shave it. This also helps if I am in a hurry. Waiting to let the eggs warm naturally is always best, but this is a good in a hurry time saver. Time is your best friend in the kitchen, but sometimes a good short cut is even better!


Contessa Tip #12

Be sure to read every recipe thoroughly before beginning. There is nothing worse than believing you can wing it. Especially when you realize that the 3 cups of sugar was supposed to be divided between the cake and the glaze. Or that the egg you added to the dough was to be used for the final egg wash in a croissant! Trust me, I have had that experience of one too many eggs in a cheesecake.

Part of the fun of cooking is learning how things come together. How time, individual ingredients, and perfect technique can help create unforgettable food and family memories! Rediscover your kitchen and enjoy!!

Contessa Kitchen Tip #11

Simple Syrups are a great way to infuse sweetness into a drink without the grittiness of undissolved sugar interrupting the experience. I use it mostly in ice-teas and other cold drinks.

Infusing the syrups with various flavors is very simple to do. It gives a real twist to any drink your making. My favorites are those combinations bursting with island tinged flavors –Lime, Lemon grass, and ginger are my go-to-flavors!

Simply mix and boil equal parts sugar with water and until dissolved. While the mixture is cooling add the flavoring of your choice and let steep. Enjoy!

Contessa Tip #10

Whenever I make a sweet dessert, I always add just a pinch of salt, whether or not the recipe calls for it. The salt offers a slight flavor contrast to the dessert that without it can leave the dessert tasting flat.

As it is in life, it is in the kitchen. Opposition creates compliments– good and bad, black and white, sweet and sour, salt and sweet!

So add a bit of salt to the sweetness in your kitchen and in your life!! It makes for more interesting living and eating!

Contessa Tip #8

Become curious about food! Not just the ones you know and love, but the full spectrum of flavor. One of the things I enjoy doing is going down an isle in the grocery store that I would usually not browse. The other day, I found myself in the “Middle Eastern” isle at our local grocery store. Flavors like rosewater, pomegranate molasses, shwama, and zatar, all jumped off the shelf competing for my attention. I have never worked with some of those flavors, but decided to buy a bottle of zatar. It is a type of thyme. Try something new! The kitchen will reward your effort and your curiosity!

Contessa Kitchen Tip #7

Never miss an opportunity to add flavor to a dish! For example, if you juice a citrus fruit and then simply toss the fruit, you are missing a great opportunity to add flavor to your creations. Whenever, I have  a recipe that calls for citrus, I always zest it before I juice the fruit. Whether or not the recipe calls for the zest, I add it anyway. It is virtually an invisible mouth-feel, yet it heightens the overall citrus taste factor. Try it!

Contessa Kitchen Tip #6

Organic evaporated cane sugar is my go-to sweetener. It has all the sugar cane flavor notes of brown sugar but it behaves exactly like white sugar in most recipes. It is a gently refined sugar made from fresh sugar cane juice. The juice is evaporated to expose the straw-colored, delicate sugar crystals, complete with trace minerals from the fresh cane juice. If you can’t find this sugar, simply make sure that the sugar you choose is made from sugar cane. Avoid sugar made from beets, as it tends to toughen pastries and cakes slightly.