Jomo’s Key Lime Pie

Also known as three easy steps to Key lime bliss:

graham crust

Make

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

 2 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp all purpose flour

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Combine first three ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout.

mini key lime piesFill crust with

KEY LIME PIE CUSTARD,

bake and chill

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

5 egg yolks

4 oz Key lime juice

If juicing your own limes, zest them first for Key Lime Whipped Cream and set aside for later. Mix milk, egg yolks, and lime juice. Pour key lime custard mixture in shell until it reaches the top of the sides. Bake at 200° F, until custard is set or approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours.

 

whipped creamTop with

KEY LIME WHIPPED CREAM

2 ½  cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

Zest of  5 Key limes or 2 regular-size limes, finely grated

Place all ingredients in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.

IMG_1488

When Life Sours and Tears Taste Like Limes

When life sours and tears taste like limes… CRY. Or decide that today is the day to eat pie.

I’ve been feeling like a sour lime of late. Normally, I’m an optimist who can find something positive in any situation. But somehow, my sunny outlook has gone dark, leaving seeds of uncertainty and melancholy. I will not let them germinate.

IMG_1376

Hope springs eternal in the kitchen… Make a graham cracker crust and pat it down firmly in a pan or pie mold to keep melancholy away.

Graham Cracker Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp all purpose flour

 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 stick unsalted butter (melted)

Combine first three ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout.

IMG_1378

My life savings paid the first year of my college tuition; the next year sort of took care of itself. Instead of believing those who cast shadows of doubt in my path, I persevered. At night while my classmates slept, I worked; and with each paycheck came the means to pursue my passion. Passion created Photochefs.com, a blog that allows me share my love of writing and cooking – a passion is as thick as Key Lime Pie Custard – with you.

IMG_1387

Key Lime Pie Custard

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

5 egg yolks

4 oz Key lime juice

If juicing your own limes, zest them first for Key Lime Whipped Cream and set aside for later. Mix milk, egg yolks, and lime juice. Pour key lime custard mixture in shell until it reaches the top of the sides. Bake at 200° F, until custard is set or approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with Key Lime Whipped Cream, below.

IMG_1437

Complacency is to grow up in a small town and never leave. Like limes in a basket: sameness, roundness, green-ness… safety in being just like everyone else. But there was this pinprick in the back of my mind. Something was not right…. Like the feeling of an oncoming headache, building slowly, tiny stabs of pain, immune to aspirin and water.

Many lack the courage to dream of being more, and fall to the ground and hide under leaves and grass. Away from the warmth of the sun, growing hard, bitter, resentful… But some limes are meant for greatness. They grow from seed to sapling to tree and bear fruit; hoping that one day –  somewhere, somehow – someone will notice their efforts. A lime hopes that someone will see beyond its green skin and say, “Imagine if…”

IMG_1462

By itself, a lime is tart and its essence sharp and forceful to taste; but condensed milk, yolks, and graham cracker crust are good company. Baked in a hot oven, a lime gives its juices to balance sweet with tart, and custard adds creaminess to crispy. Left to our own selfish ways, we too become harsh and tart; but with the gift of love and warmth, a smile will emerge. The day will brighten and the mind will clear, as surely as the lime ripens.

IMG_1415

… But one lime heard the whispering in the wind. And listened to the buzzing of the bees. And it knew within its pith and seeds: that the day would come when it would become sublime, covered with Key Lime Whipped Cream.

Key Lime Whipped Cream

 2 ½  cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

zest of  5 Key limes or 2 regular-size limes, finely grated

Place all ingredients in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside in refrigerator.

IMG_1454

… Until finally we are rejuvenated, for how sweet it is to be truly alive.

Could You Please Remove the Head!

“Yesterday, they were swimming their little hearts out on a fish farm in Northern Georgia, oblivious to their fateful end – a gourmand’s delight – well seasoned, crisp and seared, elegant and composed on a plate of bone white china.”

We have trout on the menu. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Andy “The Trout guy”, delivers twenty to thirty pounds of fresh, local, rainbow trout to the restaurant. The quality is exceptional; out of the water from the  trout farm to restaurant, in less than thirty hours. Rainbow trout, cleaned, gutted and dressed for the dinner table. 

 Under the blinding glare of fluorescent lights, we fuss over minute details

 Tweezers in hand, back bent low over the cutting board, removing pin bones thin as threads and trimming the fillets. This task is done quickly by cooks (from long practice), a forefinger along the flesh for bones, then-  pluck,

 pluck,

 pluck,

And finally with surgeon like precision and a sharp French knife, two swishes on each side of the fillet –    next trout.

  It’s a dirty job, best handled in latex gloves and a zombies’ mindset. In automatic mode, your hand reaches over to grab the next fish and it slips back into the pile. Rainbow trout are covered in slime, as if the fish has been coated in aspic and their own juices. When cleaning twenty pounds of trout, the repetitive, sccrrpp, sccrrpp, sound of the French knife, scraping this oozing jelly from the cutting board, is as necessary as sharpening the blade.

 Several species of trout are indigenous to the rivers and streams of North Georgia and the fish has become a staple on restaurant menus in metro Atlanta.

For the itinerant foodie, exploring the food pathways of the United States, it is easy to identify specific cuisines by the proliferation of unique ingredients, dishes, flavor profiles or style of cooking in that region (jambalaya in Louisiana, crab cakes in Maryland, clam chowder in New England, deep dish pizza in Chicago, key lime pie in The Florida Keys and pulled pork in North Carolina).

On our menu, rainbow trout is a constant, but the sides change with the seasons and the whim of the chef. These five preparations in particular, stand out in my mind as a line cook:

Trout, Apple Walnut Chutney, Frisee salad, beurre blanc sauce, because the dish was delicious, simple and easy to plate and serve.

Trout, quenelle of chanterelle puree, tempura cauliflower, frisee salad, port reduction, the flavor profile was off and the combination of ingredients over powered the delicate flavor of the fish.

Trout, preserved Meyer lemon chow chow, oyster mushroom fricassee, the prep was tedious and time consuming, I was happy when this was taken off the menu.

Trout, tomato fennel fondue, ancho chili clam jus, very bold, rich and assertive in flavor.

 Trout wrapped in prosciutto, mushroom strudel, creamed corn

This has been our first trout preparation served with the head and tail on. On several occasions, servers have returned to the kitchen, dish in hand and sheepishly asked for the head and sometimes the tail, to be removed. Generally dumb requests from guests are met with laughter, followed by derisive comments like “it’s a fish; this is what they look like, @@##$$%^^&&!!!! Where do these people come from?” At which point whoever is closest to the offending dish, grabs the plate, rips the head off and sends the server on their way. The straw that broke the camels’ back was the guest who complained “that the trout looked too much like fish” and asked if we could remove the head and tail. We did, violently tugging at the head until it came off like a discarded rag doll, then the head was tossed triumphantly, basketball style into the garbage and the dish went back out.

What’s the problem? Its fish and these are parts of the fish, and yes, there’s lots of gooey goodness to be sucked out of the head, or just push it to the side of the plate and let it be.  Have we become so estranged from our food sources that seeing them cooked and served without embellishment or camouflage makes us queasy? What is even worse, it happens in the kitchen. One of the pastry cooks shared the same sentiment about fish, in exactly the same words.  Cooks should be the most adventurous gourmands of all.  I’m disappointed.  If passion brought you into cooking, then eat, taste, and ask questions about EVERYTHING. Not everything will appeal to your taste buds, you may spit it out, but for gods’ sake at least try it. Cooks may one day grow to become chefs in their own kitchen. But that growth, takes years of learning about our craft, ingredients, technique and food lore. Also, just as important, sharing knowledge as well as augmenting our intuitive taste and flavor profiles through eating and actively engaging our palettes. That immersion in all things culinary sustains us and keeps us progressing from restaurant to restaurant, until we are chefs in our own kitchens.

We have a new chef de cuisine; good thing is, despite the occasional outcry, we still serve trout with the head and tail on. Let them complain. At least, he has boldly decided to continue featuring rainbow trout. Respect the fish. Subliminally, he’s saying “this is your education on a plate; this is what your food looks like. Now shut up and eat it!”

When Life Sours and Tears Taste Like Limes

When life sours and tears taste like limes… CRY. Or decide that today is the day to eat pie.

I’ve been feeling like a sour lime of late. Normally, I’m an optimist who can find something positive in any situation. But somehow, my sunny outlook has gone dark, leaving seeds of uncertainty and melancholy to take root. I will not let them germinate.

IMG_1376

Hope springs eternal in the kitchen. Make a graham cracker crust and pat it down firmly in a pan or pie mold to keep melancholy away.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 ½ tbsp all purpose flour

 1 tbsp granulated sugar

½ stick unsalted butter (melted)

Combine first 3 ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout.

IMG_1378

My life savings paid the first year of my college tuition; the next year sort of took care of itself. Instead of believing those who cast shadows of doubt in my path, I persevered. At night while my classmates slept, I worked; and with each paycheck came the means to pursue my passion. Passion created Photochefs.com, a blog that allows me share my love of writing and cooking with you. My passion is as thick as Key Lime Pie Custard:

IMG_1387

Key Lime Pie Custard

3 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk

13 egg yolks

8 oz Key lime juice

Mix all three ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment; set aside and refrigerate. Pour key lime custard mixture in shell until it reaches the top of the sides. Bake at 200° F, until custard is set or approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with Key Lime Whipped Cream, below.

IMG_1437

Complacency is to grow up in a small town and never leave. Like limes in a basket: sameness, roundness, green-ness, safety in being just like everyone else. But there was this pinprick in the back of my mind. Something was not right. Like the feeling of an oncoming headache, building slowly, tiny stabs of pain, immune to aspirin and water.

Many lack the courage to dream of being more, and fall to the ground and hide under leaves and grass. Away from the warmth of the sun, growing hard, bitter, resentful. But some limes are meant for greatness. They grow from seed to sapling to tree and bear fruit; hoping that one day –  somewhere, somehow –someone will notice their efforts. A lime hopes that someone will see beyond its green skin and say imagine if….

IMG_1462

By itself, a lime is tart and its essence is sharp and forceful to taste; but condensed milk, egg yolks, and graham cracker crust are good company. Baked in a hot oven, a lime gives its juices to balance sweet with tart, and custard adds creaminess to crispy. Left to our own selfish ways, we too become harsh and tart; but with the gift of love and warmth, a smile will emerge. The day will brighten and the mind will clear, as surely as the lime ripens.

IMG_1415

… But one lime heard the whispering in the wind. And listened to the buzzing of the bees. And it knew within its pith and seeds: that the day would come when it would become sublime when covered with Key Lime Whipped Cream.

Key Lime Whipped Cream

 2 ½   cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

zest of  5 Key limes, finely grated

Place all ingredients in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside in refrigerator.

IMG_1454

… Until finally we are rejuvenated, for how sweet it is to be truly alive.