Contessa Kitchen Tip #5

I love baking fresh pies and croissants and other butter-based pastries for my friends and family. But if there is any element that can ruin pastry dough it is heat. I remember speaking with a fellow “kitchen-sister” friend of mine once who declared, it is impossible to make croissants on the island without having an air-conditioned kitchen! She said, “You can do it, but the texture will not be as light as you can find in the colder States or from a cool kitchen.” Read More

Contessa Kitchen Tip #4

Living on a beautiful tropical island, surrounded by warm, blue-green, ocean waters and constant cooling trade winds pretty much guarantees that our baking ingredients, will be affected by the humidity or moisture in the air. To test the effects that humidity has on some ingredients, I made my favorite pound cake at home on St. Croix, and then made the exact same recipe when I went to visit my sister in Florida in her air-conditioned home. The difference was a much improved textured cake in Florida! The Reason? Less humidity. Read More

Contessa Kitchen Tip #3

Caribbean cooking is as imprecise an art  as you can find. Asking for a recipe from a friend or family member is better shown than read, because hardly anyone writes down recipes with exact measurements. You can ask a question like, “How do you make this”? And you will get a response of, “Oh, I will show you!” or “You put in some of this, and some of that!” The oral tradition remains an active part of our cultural landscape.

Recipes are guarded, and handed down from generation to generation with each person adding their own contributions. On this blog you will sometimes see words like add “a bit of” ingredient X, or “some of” ingredient Y, or other unquantified terms as a substitute for the word “Pinch”.

Just following tradition, and encouraging you to add your own creative flair!

Contessa Kitchen Tip #2

Whenever a recipe says, “Bring to room temperature” by leaving the ingredient out for an hour, bear in mind that in the Tropics “Room Temperature” can be between 80-85 degrees. That is about a ten degree difference from the “Room Temperature” on the Mainland. So the consistency of your creation, and its ultimate outcome, could be really altered by the amount of time you leave out an ingredient.

I find this to be especially so with butter or for rising yeast doughs. Instead look for descriptions about the consistency of the ingredient or the volume of the dough. Look for clue words like “softened” or “soft” (there is a difference) for butter, or “doubled” or “tripled” in size for breads.

Benefit: Breads take less time to rise in a naturally warm Crucian kitchen than a colder State-side one! Yet another reason to relocate to our little rock!