Friday, March 5, 2010

Referencing Friday REVIEW: The Florida Keys Cookbook: Recipes and Foodways of Paradise by Victoria Shearer

Think of the Florida Keys and think of a food paradise: fresh from the sea stone crabs, yellowtail snapper, and sweet shrimp; fresh from the dooryard garden key limes, mangoes, avocados, and papayas. Toss in the influence of a variety of ethnic food traditions - from Afro-Caribbean and Cuban to Spanish, Asian, British, German, and Italian - and the result is a diverse and vibrant culinary scene. The cooks of the Florida Keys have been transforming local ingredients into memorable meals for generations, and now so can you.
The Florida Keys Cookbook is a fascinating combination of food history, local lore, and mouthwatering recipes from restaurant chefs and home cooks. With more than 175 recipes, fun archival photographs, and lots of engaging anecdotes, this cookbook lets you capture a taste of the Keys and celebrate its flavors in your own kitchen.
Try these Florida Keys sensations at home:
Crab Claw Bisque
Rosemary Roasted Boniato Fries
Basil-Crusted Yellowtail with Herb-Tomato Sauce
Sautéed Snapper with Champagne-Tarragon Butter Sauce
Wasabi Grilled Grouper
Mama Louise's Jerked Pork Chops
Bourbon Barbecued Baby Backs
Classic Arroz con Pollo
Bahamian Bread Pudding
Calamondin Cake
Key Lime Cheesecake
Tres Leches Cake

My Thoughts

I have been trying to get into eating more locally grown food, which means eating seasonally. So I've been looking for a good "Gulf Coast Florida cooking" kind of cookbook. It's taken awhile for me to find one that really appealed to me, but I spotted this one at the Naples Zoo when I was visiting there with my father and nephew.

This book not only captures the flavors of south Florida, but the "flavor" of south Florida. There are stories about the history of different foods commonly found in this area, which is so much a part of this area. There is a conglomeration of cultures and gastric influences in south Florida: native Seminole, Spanish, English, Bahamian, Cuban, Puerto Rican and more recently Haitian. This book captures those influences beautifully (well, maybe not the Haitian). Mangoes, guavas, pineapple, pork, shrimp, spicy peppers, and black beans. This book is full of them, and they're the flavors that I love.

I'm a fan of chipotle, and this is a recipe I'd love to try. I already have a delicious chipotle-black bean recipe that I enjoy, but this would be a nice hot, cheesy version:

Black Bean-Chipotle Dip with Fresh Tortilla Chips

1 package (8) 8-inch flavored flour tortillas
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet onions, like Vidalia
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/3 cup bottled picante sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (15-0z) can black beans, drained
1 tbs fresh key lime juice
1/4 cup finely shredded Colby Monterey Jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Place tortilla wedges on ungreased baking sheet. Toast in oven for 8-10 minutes, turning several times, until browned and crispy. Cool chips and store in an airtight container until needed.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, picante sauce, chile powder, cumin and black beans. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove skillet from heat. Partially mash black bean mixture with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher.
  4. Stir in lime juice. Add cheese and stir until it melts. Serve warm or at room temperature with crispy tortilla chips.
The only drawback with this book is its lack of pictures. I love pictures in cookbooks, but the recipes and food history makes up for the missing pictures. I can't wait to dive into this book!

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Tales of Whimsy said...
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Tales of Whimsy said...

Oooo this sounds delish! I need this :0)