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

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 Pumpkin Rum Flan


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! Read More

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… Read More

Contessa Banana Beignets


There were seven countries that have laid claim to the Virgin Islands, before it was acquired by the United States in 1917. France and Spain were two of those countries. I suspect it was through them that this treat was brought to the island, and transformed by the addition of local tropical ingredients.

Locally, it is spelled and pronounced “Benye”. However, it is obvious that it is intended to mirror its Southern European cousins. The French have the Beignet, the Portuguese have the Malasada, and the Crucians have the Benye! In belated honor of Fat Tuesday, and the heaven sent New Orleans Beignet and Cafe Au Lait, here is a mouth watering recipe for one of my favorite treats. Read More

Contessa Honey Coconut French Toast

There is a story in the Old Testament where God promised the Israelites a new homeland flowing with “Milk and Honey” after they crossed the dessert. Well, I can easily say without any intended irreverence, if God had promised me a land filled with rivers of COCONUT milk and CRUCIAN honey, I too would travel without complaints over the expansive hot desert sands (barefoot)!!! Read More

Contessa Porridge

Food can take on many different personalities. Everyday Food. Celebration Food. Breakfast food. And sadly but necessary “Sick Food”. Growing up in the Caribbean there is one food that seemed to capture almost all of the above qualities– a good, hot, steaming, bowl of Porridge. I remember a fellow Caribbean friend using the word “Porridge” instead of cereal, and an American friend of her’s laughed at the foreignness of the sound. She said, “Porridge? What are you in an orphanage!” I guess (hilariously) the word for her conjured images of gruel and desperation! Read More

Contessa Brown Butter & Coconut Granola…

There is something very seductive about darkness. Dark starry nights, dark roasted coffee, deep dark chocolate. For me, darkness in food translates to something touched by fire, scorched, flavor packed, and intensely rich. Some of my favorite desserts are what I call “Dark” desserts. Meaning it is made with either smoked, or darkened colored ingredients. Read More

The Cake Lady’s Mango Pound Cake

One of my favorite food crafters is Lisa “Cake Lady” Stevens. Born and raised on St. Croix, Lisa is an entrepreneur who runs a successful bakery in Tampa, Florida. Her cakes are the perfect blend of high flavor and exquisite design. For me, Lisa embodies the ideals of pure cake creativity– innovative, unapologetic-full-on-flavor, and downright delicious creations!

Given my total respect for her extraordinary cake skills, I was ecstatic when I asked her to contribute one of her favorite cake recipes to the Crucian Contessa and she said, “Yes!!” So, just in time for the mango summer season comes a recipe for the lightest, fluffiest, mango-iest, pound cake I have ever tasted. This cake’s delicate crumb is thoroughly perfumed with the season’s best mango flavors. Truly Ahhhhmazing!!

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