Guess what? I won a trip to the Florida Keys in the Philadelphia Florida Keys Cook-Off a few weeks ago! Pinch me! The competitors had to cook in 2 challenges and I won! I wanted to share my Prize Winning Key Lime Pie Recipe today and tell you a little bit about what went down!
24 Philadelphia-Area Influencers were invited to The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College on Walnut Street in downtown Philadelphia for the 2nd Florida Key’s Cook-Off. The first was held in 2015 in Montreal.
I was thrilled to be invited to cook! As a food blogger, when I make what I share here on Souffle Bombay, it’s just me (me and my mountain of dishes) alone, at home doing what I do. So imagine just how fun it was to get out with other foodies and have some fun in the kitchen. Even if I wasn’t the winner, I would have loved the whole experience!
This was my first trip to a culinary school. I was super-impressed with The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia. From the many kitchens for the students to learn and work into the themed rooms for dinner service and the overall look and feel of the place. it is something special!
Chef Bobby Stokey was our host and one of the three judges. Chef Bobby did a couple of culinary demonstrations before we all got down to it. He showed us a couple of delicious Key West Style seafood dishes. So fresh and simple!
Chef Bobby owns a number of restaurants in the Florida Keys (Marker 88, Sundowner, Ballyhoos and Senor Frijoles) so he sure knows his way around a kitchen as well as the flavors of the Keys! I found it interesting that traditional Key Lime Pies down in the Keys are topped with meringue, like a lemon meringue pie. My husband loves Key Lime Pie and orders it out when he comes across it yet I never saw one in-person with meringue in the Philadelphia Area, it’s always whipped cream.
Going into the challenge we all knew we had to make a Key Lime Pie. Of alllll the things I have made in my life, a Key Lime Pie wasn’t one of them. So, a few days before I made two…just to see how it was. We each were allowed to bring a secret ingredient to make our Key Lime Pie. My first thought was tequila, so I made one in my test run with that. My second thought (because I know what my husband likes in a dessert) was sour cream.
I let my family and a couple friends blind test both pies and the result was down the middle! SO…the night of the competition, I brought both thinking, I would decide which to use in the moment. As luck would have it, the contestant right next to me in the kitchen I was assigned (Iris McCarthy) also brought tequila…aaah! So that made my choice easy…sour cream it was!
Marissa from the Preston & Steve Morning show brought chocolate, Alex Holley from Fox News brought grits (yes grits for her crust…it’s a thing down South), my food blogger bestie, Linda, brought Key Lime Liquor, another food blogger friend, Lisa brought Candied Pecans and on and on it went.
It was just like an episode of Masterchef or Top Chef, we all had to stand in our places…Ingredients were set up and Chef Bobby yelled Ready…Set…GO!!! And we were off! It was a little bit crazy! My Prize Winning Key Lime Pie Recipe came together quickly, so I decided to use leftover limes and make some candied lime peel…which I had actually thought about making at home as my secret ingredient but then thought…Nope, limes, sugar, and water will be there…if I have time I will make that there so I can bring something that won’t be.
While our pies chilled, we got down to our second challenge…the mystery ingredient from the Florida Keys which turned out to be beautiful Yellow Tail Snapper fillets. I had never worked with or eaten it before, however, I am pretty familiar with halibut, so I figured it was similar to cook with.
Ingredients were set out for us to choose from. Things like flour, Panko, mango, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, eggs, spices, herbs and much more. I saw coconut milk…and I saw many going for breading or flour as well as mango so I quickly decided to do something I thought no one would do. A curry sauce, similar to one of my favorite ways to prepare halibut…Take a look at my recipe for Pan Seared Halibut in Thai Curry Sauce. I am not talking about using curry powder, instead, a curry defined as cooking down vegetables and herbs. So I grabbed tomatoes, ginger, onion, etc. I cooked them down and finished the sauce with coconut milk and seasonings. Whatever I could find in that kitchen to give it the flavors I was thinking of in my head, I grabbed. As far as the fish, I simply pan fried it with seasonings, then sat it atop the sauce I made.
Judges came around and tried each of our dishes as we raised our hands once complete (we had 45 minutes for the pie and 45 for the protein). I was finished rather quickly. I just kept hearing Gordon Ramsay in my head. “Stick to one thing…do it well, taste, taste, taste” so that’s what I did. Each judge independently tasted and scored our entree as well as our pie.
We went down to the gorgeous entertaining area of the culinary school, had cocktails and ah-mazing pastries prepared by the students of the school (which are for sale to the public daily…pretty cool)! I had brought my mom and my sister to watch the festivities and enjoy the night although I barely saw them since ya know…I was cooking away, lol! I am a sweaty wreck in the video. Those kitchens were HOT!
Imagine my surprise when the called out the top pie….then the top entree (who each won a nice gift basket). Then suddenly they called out the overall winner…The winner of the title “Honorary Florida Key’s Chef”…The winner of the week-long trip to the Florida Keys …And …it… was… MEEEEE!!!
I was like OMGosh and walked up to the balcony where Chef Bobby, Pat Croce, and others were waiting to congratulate me.
And I gave Chef Bobby a BIG kiss!!! These pics were all shot on my phone or my sister’s phone in the moment, so they are a bit rough…Love how my sister got me through the glass in the kitchen with my game face on!!
I can’t wait to visit the Florida Keys and share my adventure there with you all!
In the meantime…Make my Prize Winning Key Lime Pie Recipe…You will NOT be disappointed!! It is light, crisp, cold and delicious. PLUS you really don’t have to use eggs if you don’t want to…all the eggs does is give the pie a richer color. I have made it both with and without eggs and honestly can’t tell the difference. So if someone has an allergy, skip that.
You are going to love this Prize Winning Key Lime Pie Recipe!! Bring it to BBQ’s and graduations (keep it in the fridge until serving). Make it for Mother’s Day, a new neighbor, someone who needs a smile put on their face…or make it just for you and eat the whole thing!! Report back and tell me what you think!!
The key to making this Key Lime Pie is to allow it to cool down, then place it in your fridge and allow it to chill at least 3 hours (bottom shelf is best if you are rushing it…cold air falls). Don’t put whipped cream on until shortly before serving for best/prettiest results. Either don’t cover the pie or have it in a domed container…wrap will stick to it and mess it up.
If you do make this…Tag me on social and let me see it 🙂 Simply tag @SouffleBombay on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
- 1½ - 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs*
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 TBS butter. melted
- 3 cups (24 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup key lime juice (I use always Nellie and Joes Key Lime Juicesince I rarely see key limes)
- 2 egg yolks
- Zest from 1 lime (or key lime)
- Whipped Cream
- 8 oz heavy cream (very cold)
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 3-4 TBS powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Pulse graham crackers in your food processor until they become crumbs (or buy crumbs).
- Add in sugar butter and pulse until combined.
- Press crumbs onto your pie plate, across the bottom and up the sides.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow crust to cool completely.
- For Filling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients in your mixing bowl and allow them to beat on med-high for 2 minutes.
- Scrape filling into your prepared (and cooled) pie crust)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until filling only wiggles a bit in the center when you gently shake the pan back & forth a bit.
- Don't allow pie to brown.
- Cool on your counter for at least 30 minutes, then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
- Whipped Cream
- In your mixing bowl, whip the cream on high until stiff peaks begin to form.
- Add in vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until firm whipped cream happens.
- Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and when ready (an hour before serving or so, decorate your pie.
- Sprinkle a little fresh lime zest over-top.
- Keep pie chilled until serving.
I like a little bit of a crumbly crust for this. If you want it held together more firmly, add in an additional TBS of melted butter or two.
If you want a thicker crust, use 2 cups of crumbs (or if using a larger pie dish).
When pulling the pie from the oven...don't put your thumb in the pie...Trust me, I have done this more than once with pies! You may want to bake it on a baking sheet...Just in case.
Keep your whipped cream chilled until ready to use.