Sunday, February 13, 2011

Limelight


Now, not only do I want the car, I want a piece of key lime pie.

Next time you are at the grocers, look in the aisle that has lemon juice and try and spot a bottle of Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice . If they have it, grab a bottle. It's a great addition to the kitchen. I use it for all sorts of things, marinades, stir fry, and a HOTR favorite, lime jalapeno chip dip . If you didn't manage to shoot cupid out of the sky, it makes a nice appetizer. :-)

3 cups ranch dressing
¼ cup green chilies, roasted
¼ cup jalapeño, pickled, marinated, (or my preference) roasted
a pinch of Penzey's ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
1 Roma tomato, diced

Place all ingredients except cilantro and tomato in blender and blend until smooth. Add tomatoes and cilantro and just pulse until chopped fine but not pureed.

Serve as a salad dressing or as a dip for chips.

But the real classic when it comes to key limes is key lime pie. The recipe is on the back of the bottle, and in the comments here. I just make a simple graham cracker, butter and sugar crust and there you have it.

Prior to the 30's when the Overseas Highway opened, the Keys had no fresh milk, no refrigeration, and no ice. Because of this lack of milk, local cooks used canned sweetened condensed milk which had been around since 1856. Good cooks still use it as it's the secret to a creamy Key Lime Pie. There are differing opinions on the making. Some use whipped cream, some meringue. Some use a pastry shell, some graham crackers. I prefer Graham Cracker, but a homemade one, not the pre-made ones which are made out of ground presto logs. The consistency should be more custard than pudding and have a light yellow color. You do not put green food coloring in a Key Lime Pie though I've seen some that look like Marvin the Martian made them.


The original key limes themselves looked like little confused lemons, and were native to Malaysia, likely arriving in the 1500's with the Spanish. When a hurricane in 1926 wiped out the large key lime plantations in South Florida, growers replanted with Persian limes which are easier to pick and ship. The key lime, however is is smaller, seedier, has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind than the Persian lime. Today, the original key lime is almost a ghost, and any remaining trees are found with small growers and in backyards, their fruit seldom leaving the Keys. Their unique taste is what makes a true key lime pie a rare treat. Forget the big Persian limes, heaven forbid you use that stuff that comes out of a bright green plastic lime, for an authentic taste use the real thing.

Some things are classic and should not be messed with.