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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Please, leave out dye in your Key lime pie

The first time that I ever ate Key lime pie was at a restaurant in Annapolis where I worked in 1984-5, a beautiful spot replete with wood-stoked fireboxes and a smoker large enough to cook 500 pounds of product with the single flip of a switch.
I learned a great deal while working here. Although I already knew how to build a fire, I learned how to keep it stoked for 12 hours, how to find the hot spots on the grill, and how to prep huge sides of marlin for the smoker.
Countless pounds of baby back ribs and brisket also went through that beast, and then of course there were the buffalo burgers (a marvel in 1984) and conch fritters. The menu was exciting and I enjoyed it to no end.
It was a great job, but there was one problem, and that was a questionable lack of management. I was only 16 years old, and there were days on which I was the opening cook. In fact, there were days when my buddy Joe and I were the only cooks, a bold move that I never repeated as a scheduling manager later in life.
We were like gorillas in a china shop, pulling pranks on the servers, drinking things we perhaps in hindsight should not have been drinking at that age, and playing with the food in a 16-year-old manner to try to improve the menu. Of course, our ideas never made it to print; we simply needed more time to develop our skills.
During commissioning week at the Naval Academy, the Blue Angels run their show over the Severn River, the Academy and Downtown Annapolis. On this particular occasion, every one of the managers (actual adults) went out to the middle of the river on a boat to watch the spectacle. They left me in charge.
I was 16.
Even though there were older servers, everyone was looking at me for what to do. As there wasn’t a single table for lunch (everyone wanted to watch the fly-overs) I made a command decision; I locked up the front door and handed out some directives.
Roger, a server in his late 20’s, hauled some beer and wine to the roof. Other servers and cooks hauled up food through the vertical ladder that led to the tar-laden rooftop. Then we daisy-chained a bunch of chairs upward and outward and sat, lounged, drank, ate and reveled in the prowess and speed of the magnificent planes as they flew over.
It wasn’t long before the ill-conceived nature of my plan made itself plain to me, so my next set of directives blurted out of my mouth; “Hurry up! Let’s get this crap cleaned up!”
We were only about five minutes past the time at which the mess was cleaned up, the front doors unlocked and a handful of tables were seated that the management team rolled back in. Luckily, they were drunk.
Asking how lunch was, we told them that it was dead because of the air show and that these tables were the first all day. They said they figured as much, sat at the bar and split a Key lime pie.
Key lime pie was our best-selling dessert, and please, I beg of you; do not use green food coloring when you make this or any Key lime dessert. Leave that to the trashy diners and roadside pie stops. Traditional Key lime Pie does not have food coloring, and neither should this (despite the fact that it’s not terribly traditional).
This pie holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my old stomping grounds in Annapolis, and makes me realize how much more work we would have gotten done had we had a little more adult supervision. Oh, the lessons we learn.
Key Lime Cheesecake
makes one round 9-inch cake
For the Crust
2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6-8 Tbsp. Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 300F
Combine all ingredients until you have a wet sand-like consistency
Press into spring form pan so that the crust goes up at least an inch
Bake for fifteen minutes, and remove to cool while you prepare the filling
For the Filling
24 ounces Cream cheese
1 cup Granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 cup (or to taste) of Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice
3 large eggs

With the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch until it is light and fluffy
Turn speed down and add lime juice slowly
When juice is fully incorporated, add eggs one at a time until incorporated as well
When filling is done, pour it in the shell and place in the middle rack of the oven
In lieu of a water bath, simply place a pie pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the edges are set and just a little jiggle in the middle
Remove and cool on the counter for about thirty minutes
Once the main heat is off of the cake, move to the refrigerator and keep overnight. Cover very loosely with aluminum foil to make sure that it can vent
When you wake up, have key lime cheesecake for breakfast. Serve with whipped cream