Posts Tagged ‘Spring Break Foods’

Spring Break: Key Lime White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

You may have gathered that I LOVE key limes. I particularly adore these cookies, which are better than any commercial variety. I had to get the key-lime extract from a mail-order company, Silver Cloud Estates (1-410-484-4526), since the closest retail store was in Troy, New York. Fortunately, a small bottle of the stuff will last for quite a while! And the cookies are definitely worth the effort.


1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon key-lime extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups flour
2 cups (12 ounces) white chocolate chunks (purchased or cut off a bar of white chocolate; use chips instead of chunks if you must)


Beat the butter and sugars together until they are smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the extract, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the flour. Gently mix in the chocolate chunks.

Chill the dough, well covered and sealed, for at least 12 hours and preferably for 24 or 36. I got this trick from an article published last July in The New York Times in which experts weighed in on the perfect chocolate-chip cookie. The article argued that the best CCCs chill for an extended period of time so that the eggs can sink into the flour. The chilling really does improve texture and (somehow!) flavor.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drop the cookies in teaspoon-sized rounds onto parchment- or silicone-covered baking sheets. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are a golden brown. Let them cool briefly on the sheets; then remove them to a rack to cool.

Makes about 60 cookies. 

Hawley's Answer to Dorothy Lamour (I admit it! I Photoshopped my waist just a little)

Hawley's Answer to Dorothy Lamour (I admit it! I Photoshopped my waist just a little!)

Spring Break: Key Lime Chicken (Plus!)

Sunday, April 26th, 2009


The main course for my family’s tropical evening was actually something for which I’m not including a recipe because there really isn’t one. We ordered stone crab from the Islamorada Fish Company on the Florida Keys. This is a very expensive treat because the stone crab has to be shipped overnight (I haven’t yet had the heart to look at my credit-card bill) and does nothing to reduce one’s carbon footprint.


It does make life festive, however. The Fish Company catches one claw from many different crabs (returning the crabs themselves to the ocean to grow more claws!) and cooks them. When the claws arrive, the home cook’s responsibility is to refrigerate them until eating time, bang on the claws with the provided mallet to loosen the shells, and melt a lot of butter for dipping. 

Michael and David bang on crab claws on the newspaper-covered floor.
Michael and David bang on crab claws on the newspaper-covered floor.

Despite my love of stone crab I wanted to have a recipe for publication so the next evening I prepared a Cuban-inspired key-lime chicken. It’s not quite as devastatingly wonderful as the stone crab, but it’s a lot less expensive.


The key-lime juice gives the chicken a summery kick. And it’s hard to find an easier recipe. I adapted it from the web site of Island Grove, a company that makes a variety of key-lime products.


Of course, you may not have key lime juice in your pantry. I have found Nellie & Joe’s in a number of grocery stores. You have to buy a 2-cup bottle, but it’s useful for lots of things in addition to this chicken, including the key-lime pie recipe I’ll post shortly. A few drops make a lovely addition to a gin and tonic as well.


Don’t try to substitute regular lime juice. Key limes have a subtler, warmer flavor.




extra-virgin olive oil as needed
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, cut into rings
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup key-lime juice




In a large skillet with a cover heat the olive oil. Use it to brown the chicken breasts on both sides, salting and peppering as you cook them. Set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic until they begin to brown; then put them aside with the chicken.


Pour the key-lime juice and 1/4 cup water into the pan, and use them to scrape up (gently!) any goopy bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes; then uncover and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated—about 10 minutes more. Serve over rice.


Serves 4.



Spring Break: Tropical Fruit Salsa

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009


My family members needed something to nibble on with our tropical cocktails! I love the combination of flavors in this salsa, which looks gorgeous to boot. I have made it with only pineapple when I couldn’t find a mango, but the mango adds color as well as taste.


2 cups fresh, chopped pineapple

1 fresh mango, chopped into small pieces (you may omit the mango and use 3 cups of pineapple if you prefer)

1 handful cilantro, chopped as finely as you like (I tend to do it roughly)

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1 Serrano pepper (or the pepper of your choice), seeded and finely chopped

the juice of 1 lime (or 2 tablespoons key lime juice)

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt




Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for at least 1/2 hour before serving to let the flavors blend. Serve with tortilla chips. (Homemade chips are best, but store bought are easiest!)


Makes about 3 cups of salsa.


Spring Break: Caipirinhas

Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Mother Jan on "Spring Break."

Mother Jan on “Spring Break.”

“Aren’t we going to Florida this year?” asked my 90-year-old mother recently in what I can only describe as a tone of recrimination.


We had just heard from yet another family member who was either planning or returning from a vacation in a warm spot. We don’t actually go somewhere warm every year. We aim for a spring break every other year—and we were in Key Largo last year. I guess the extended mud season in western Massachusetts was simply getting to the normally stalwart Jan Weisblat.


Unfortunately, our spring was already pretty heavily scheduled. Instead of taking my mother to the tropics, therefore, our family decided to bring the tropics to her. For one fabulous evening we wore leis and dined on foods that are not native to the northeast.

OF COURSE, we started with a cocktail! I am so old fashioned that I thought the tropical drink of choice was a piña colada or a mango margarita. My more sophisticated brother David and his wife Leigh informed me that the chic crowd now sips a caipirinha. This Brazilian limeade packs a major punch, thanks to a sugarcane-based liquor known as cachaça. My brother actually found cachaça in a liquor store. You may substitute white rum or vodka if you like, however. Non-drinkers like my nephew Michael and me may simply use seltzer.


Feel free to vary the formula below depending on how sweet and/or strong you like your cocktails. My sister-in-law Leigh likes her caipirinha with three teaspoons of sugar instead of two. My mother likes it with three or FOUR teaspoons of sugar (make sure it dissolves if you try this), only a few drops of cachaça, and a lot of seltzer.





1 lime

2 teaspoons sugar

enough crushed ice to fill a cocktail glass

cachaça as needed (probably about 2 ounces for a non-seltzer-using drinker)



Roll your lime along a table- or quartz countertop several times to release the juices. Wash the lime. Cut it in half (saving the second half for another drink!), and cut away and discard the white center strip.

Cut the lime into pieces, and place the pieces (pulp side up) either in a glass or in a mortar bowl. Place the sugar on top. Use a pestle or clean wooden stick to crush the lime and sugar together for a short time.


If you have used a mortar bowl, put the sugar/lime mixture in a glass (otherwise just leave it in the glass!). Fill the glass with crushed ice, pour in cachaça to the top of the glass, and stir well. Pop in a straw or a festive umbrella, or just decorate the glass with a bit of lime.


Makes 1 potent caipirinha.

One of the advantages of having your tropical spring break at home is that your pets can come along! Truffle was happy to participate in ours.......

One of the advantages of having your tropical spring break at home is that your pets can come along! Truffle was happy to participate in ours…….