Like Florida itself, Floridian cuisine is one of the most vibrant and varied in the nation. It combines the flavors of its Cuban and other Latino immigrants, with the traditions of the cuisine of the American south, and brings together the fruits of the sea and the land - literally in the case of the latter. Florida citrus are known all over the world, even here in California where we produce lots of our own.
For my quick sojourn into Floridian cuisine, I made perhaps its most famous dish:
Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is an extremely simple and delicious dessert which at its most basic is a pudding made of condensed milk, egg yolks and key lime juice. It's usually served on a graham cracker crust, but some versions have it on a pie crust or even no crust. Originally, it apparently was not baked, and if you are using pasteurized eggs there is no great need to, but doing so helps thicken the filling. It can be served with a whipped cream or meringue, which I'd recommend as the pie flavor can be too intense otherwise.
There is no agreement as to where key lime pie originated. Some stories have it date to the late 19th century, but there are no references of it in print until the 1930's. Key limes themselves are native to Southeast Asia from where they made their way to the Mediterranean region and then the Americas. After a freeze destroyed the lemon groves in the Florida keys in the late 1890's, farmers replaced them with what they then called "Mexican limes" and would thereafter be known as "key limes". They are no longer actually grown on the keys, beyond people's backyards, and they're mostly imported from Mexico. While the recipe I used warned me against these Mexican limes - saying they're picked up too early and they are too acidic and not very juicy -, the ones I bought were perfectly fine. A pound gave me 3/4th of a cup of juice.
The pie was easy to make and quite good, but it does have a very sweet and intense flavor so plan on only eating a little bit.
Key Lime Pie
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (~10 crackers)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
For the filling
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
Prepare the crust
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a pie pan.
In a bowl, mix crumbs and sugar and melted butter. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the greased pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
For the pie
Reduce heat in the oven to 350°F
In a clean bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, condensed milk and key lime juice. Pour onto the cooled crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the pie sets. Cool and then transfer to the fridge for at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.
Adapted from Lynne's recipe at My Gourmet Connection
Cuisines from other states: American, Alabamian, Arizonan,Californian, Connecticuter, Delawarean, Floridian, Hawaiian, Idahoan, Illinoisan, Kansan
Cuban American cuisine
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