By popular request, I am passing out my "secret" recipe, "Reckless Sailor's Key Lime Dip" referenced in connection to the recently released Killer Recipes , published by L & L Dreamspell. This compilation of recipes by writers of mystery, murder and mayhem is a fun, tongue in cheek, favorite recipe book where the titles reflect the genre preferred by this group of authors; but the favorite recipes are fantabulous to eat. All profits from book sales go to The American Cancer Society. It makes a great gift book for the upcoming "spooky holidays" or any fun occasion.
Now, on to the recipe! First, here's a little history. I lived aboard Lady Ace, a ketch-rigged sailing yacht in the Caribbean for three years, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Venezuela and return, through all the islands along the way. On that journey, there were many other sailboats, large and small, with whom I enjoyed a dive, a meal, or an evening of stories and tall tales of sailing adventures far and near. We knew each other by our boat names such as Lady Ace, Erika, Celebration, and one favorite little sailboat, Once in a Blue Moon.
Lady Ace was 67 feet when bragging, stern to bowsprit, 55 feet actual below-decks living space. With a 6'6" keel and five sails, she was a bit challenging to sail in the Bahamas, often aground on the banks, but still a beautiful and comfortable yacht. Teak throughout and brightwork relecting the sun across a harbor, she had all the comforts of a motorhome and was often one of the largest yachts in a Bahamian harbor or anchorage. The banks were really too shallow for most large vessels. She was also outfitted with the best navigation and communication equipment for the time. That's another story.
Once in a Blue Moon was a 30' sloop built in the Netherlands with zero comforts. It was a die hard's sailing vessel, built for the high seas. Next to Lady Ace, Blue Moon looked like a sailing dinghy. The captain and mate were two of the most inventive people I came to meet on my sailing sojourne, and two of my best friends of the time. We were like the three musketeers. Lady Ace was a gathering place because it just plain had room. Yet, every boat participated in festivities with song, books, expertise, navigation information, stunning meals, each according to their own largess and talents. Lady Ace was the location, the blue water community brought the substance.
Once in a Blue Moon sailed from the Chesapeake Bay to Venezuela and back without an engine. They also had no refrigeration and only an off the sides barbecue for cooking. When they arrived with their contributions to dinner, it was always a lesson in chemistry. The fact that they were chemists probably contributed to that fact. I learned what foods survived without refrigeration and how to cook without heat. I also learned how to fix anything that broke without traditional parts. Their energy and creativity made our friendship unique and special. They had the talent; I had a yacht with too many moveable parts and modern conveniences that broke.
My favorite non-cooking recipe for some of our dinner parties, however, was Key Lime Pie. When Once in a Blue Moon said they were bringing Key Lime Pie to the party, I was in awe. I figured they must have found a bakery I missed! Instead, they arrived with this lovely pie, decorated with thinly sliced pieces of fresh limes and dollops of whipped cream from their own galley. It was delicious. I waited until another time when they brought cookies and a bowl of Key Lime Dip before I asked for the secret.
Here are the secret, non-perishable ingredients: one can of condensed, sweetened milk (regular or non-fat);six fresh key limes (the juice to equal 1/2 cup that can also come from a bottle of key lime juice); a box of graham crackers, vanilla wafers or any English tea biscuits (often in a tin for longer shelf life). Those are the basic ingredients.
Prepare an 8 inch pie tin with a "crust" lining of the graham crackers (pieces, not crushed), cookies or tea biscuits. Set aside. Using a whip, stir the juice into the condensed milk until it is thoroughly absorbed. It should thicken. Pour mixture into the prepared pie tin. If you have refrigeration, it will thicken to a stiff, pudding texture. Sitting in a bed of ice cubes will also help it thicken. Garnish with thin slices of key limes. For extra "bite", a little key lime zest may be grated on top.
Since that experience, I keep on hand vanilla wafers, a bottle of key lime juice and cans of non-fat condensed milk in the refrigerator. If I have "drop-in" company, I can prepare the key lime mixture, pour it in a pretty glass bowl in the middle of a glass tray of cookies. A variety of cookies makes a prettier tray. Decorate the tray with slices of key limes if available. Make sure the cookies are just the right size to dip once in the Key Lime mixture to eliminate those "double dippers!" I learned from my chemist friends that the acid in the citrus congeals the milk, thickening the texture even without refrigeration. However, the cold does give it an even thicker texture when available.
Another elegant serving is to have glass custard cups and serve the key lime mixture with pretty English tea biscuits for each individual at your event. Again, garnish with a thin key lime slice and a small dollop of whipped cream (or not!)
If you've lived in Key West, you understand the hype over their version of Key Lime Pie. Perhaps it's the memories of special friendships and evenings of camaraderie on Lady Ace; but no Key Lime pie is any better tasting by my estimation than the Reckless Sailor's Key Lime Dip. Dress it up with a few dollops of whipped cream and you have a winner!
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