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TCP Kitchen

Love from the Kitchen

Hungry for romance? Learn to cook that special go-to dish

The way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.

That old saying is, like many old sayings, based on a truth: Food is a primal need, and nothing’s more attractive than a person who fills a primal need.

So, lovelorn ladies and laddies, both young and old, I would advise you to learn to cook. You don’t need to have a repertoire as extensive as Julia Child’s. You can even limit it to one dish—but learn that one dish well. That way, if you ever get a chance to entertain that someone special, you can use your ace recipe to dazzle with culinary brilliance.

My go-to dish as a budding romantic chef was lasagna. My recipe evolved over the years until I got the balance of spicy sausage, creamy filling and cheese just right.

But lasagna hasn’t been part of the regular meal rotation for me and my wife, Lisa, for a long while. For one, lasagna, like many foods that taste wonderful, is not conducive to low-calorie eating. As I’ve gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I have avoided eating things packed with quite so much fat, sodium and carbohydrates.

And over the years, Lisa has developed an intolerance for dairy products: Cheese, milk and ice cream all are great treats but leave her feeling terrible later. She still misses being able to have some of her favorite luscious desserts.

One of those is key lime pie, with its rich combination of sweetened condensed milk and tart lime. I knew she missed it, so through some kitchen experimentation, I developed a recipe that duplicates the rich dairy texture and flavor with a nondairy substitute.

To my valentine Lisa: This recipe is for you, with love.

Lisa’s Key Lime Pie

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 can (14 ounces) cream of coconut, well shaken
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 prepared graham cracker crust or
9-inch pie shell

In small bowl, beat yolks and set aside. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in heavy saucepan. Add cream of coconut gradually, constantly stirring with whisk to avoid lumps. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, and cook about 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Temper yolks with about 1/2 cup of hot mixture, adding it to yolks and quickly combining (this prevents yolks from scrambling). Add yolk mixture back to cream of coconut mixture, add butter and lime juice and combine well. Return pan to heat and boil for about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Pour into pie shell. Make meringue (recipe follows) and put on top of hot filling, spreading to edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, until meringue is browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Servings: 8. Serving size: 1 slice. Per serving: 371 calories, 4.3 g protein, 20.2 g fat, 43.3 g carbohydrates, 0.6 g dietary fiber, 216 mg sodium, 29.1 g sugars, 77 mg cholesterol


3 egg whites
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine whites, salt and tartar in bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until mixture becomes foamy. Add sugar in a slow stream and beat until mixture becomes stiff and glossy (take care not to overbeat).

February 2011 Recipe Contest