Monday, May 2, 2016

LuLu's Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life

by Lucy Buffett
Grand Central     2016
264 pages     Cookbook

My husband and I were first introduced to the Alabama Gulf Coast and Orange Beach, Alabama in the winter of 2014 when we rented a condo on the beach for two weeks. Five of us (my husband and I, my sisters and a spouse) will be going back in February 2017. We have all fallen in love with Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the food of the Gulf Coast. 

Recently, a publicist sent me Lucy Buffett's recently revised and updated cookbook, LuLu's Kitchen. I was so excited to get it. The book is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It also tells the story of Lucy Buffett, her family, her famous brother Jimmy Buffett, her restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the wonderful Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Mobile.

For some reason, in two winters of restaurant exploration, we didn't happen upon LuLu's restaurant in Gulf Shores. If truth be told, we got ensnared in the onion rings at Doc's Seafood Shack in Orange Beach, and we never made it to Gulf Shores. Believe me, LuLu's will be the first place we will descend upon next February. 

In a very Southern style, every recipe in LuLu's Kitchen has a story behind it. Most of the recipes are seafood based, which is why we all love the Gulf Coast, but most of the recipes are difficult to cook in seafood-deprived West Michigan. However, I was able to try two of the recipes, which went over really well with grilled steak for a birthday party. We will try the seafood recipes when we are in Orange Beach in February.

Lucy Buffett's delightful personality shines through in every story and every recipe. I would highly recommend that you add LuLu's Kitchen to your cookbook collection.

L.A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. 1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
  2. 2. Rinse and drain peas well. Place in a large glass or aluminum bowl.
  3. 3. Add remaining ingredients and dressing. Toss well. Transfer to plastic container, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
  4. 4. Serve with LuLu’s Cha, Cha, Cha® chips or saltines crackers.
Sweet Tomato Pie
1 refrigerated pie crust baked at 450ᵒ for 9 or 10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
2 T unsalted butter.
1 T olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
1 T sugar
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. heavy cream
1 T. sour cream
1 T. honey mustard
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
4 green onions, cut into 2 in. pieces
 4 large red tomatoes sliced into 1/2 in. slices
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 c. fresh basil cut into ribbons
2 c. shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese.

·  In a cast iron, or heavy skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until it begins to sizzle. Add onions and sugar. Saute until onions are very brown and caramelized.
·  Add garlic and stir constantly for another 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is cooked through and tender. Remove onions and garlic from skillet and set aside to cool.
·  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, heavy cream, sour cream, honey mustard, Parmesan cheese and green onions. Process until well mixed. transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
·  In the cooled pie crust, layer half of the following ingredients: sauteed onions, cream cheese mixture, sliced tomatoes, salt, black pepper, basil and Gruyere cheese. Repeat layering using all ingredients.
·  Bake 35 minutes or until pie is bubbling and top is browned.

Excerpted from LuLu’s Kitchen: A Taste of The Gulf Coast Good Life (Grand Central Life & Style; April 2016) by Lucy Buffett.  Photos by Sara Essex.

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