Professional chefs draw on their favorite family recipes, just like everybody else.

The family connection is something Charleston attorney and avid cook Carolyn Blue remembered about a key lime tart that she had enjoyed several times at Slightly North of Broad before it eventually went off the menu.

Carolyn recently called, asking if I might be able to get the recipe from the well-known downtown restaurant.

I contacted Suzannah Runkle at Maverick Southern Kitchens, the group that owns SNOB, and she promptly sent the recipe, noting that "the crust is chef Frank Lee's aunt's recipe."

With warmer weather finally here and a long hot summer ahead, this is a dessert in its season.

You will need a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom to make it.

Key Lime Tart With Passion Fruit Sauce

Serves 8 to 10

For the crust:

11/2 sticks of softened margarine

5 tablespoons 10X powdered sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

2 teaspoons ice water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

For the filling:

24 ounces of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk

2/3 cup Nellie & Joe's brand key lime juice

Zest of 2 limes

5 egg yolks, beaten together

For serving:

Passion Fruit Sauce (recipe follows)

Whipped cream

Thin slices of lime

Mint sprigs

Seasonal berries (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, combine margarine and powdered sugar and blend well. Sift together flour and salt. Combine ice water with vanilla. Alternating, add first 1/3 of the flour to the butter and sugar; then add 1/3 of the water and vanilla mixture. Continue adding alternately until all flour and water mixture is used. Stir in chopped pecans. Dough will be crumbly. Chill for 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll between two sheets of wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Lay crust into a 10-inch removable bottom tart pan. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, mix the condensed milk with the lime juice and zest. Stir in egg yolks. Set aside until crust is ready.

When crust is light brown, remove from the oven and pour filling into crust. Continue baking at 350 degrees for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack to cool. Chill before serving (see directions below).

For Passion Fruit Sauce:

1 cup water, divided use

1/4 cup pineapple juice

2 cups sugar

1 cup passion fruit juice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch


Bring 3/4 cup water, pineapple juice and sugar to a rolling boil. Add passion fruit juice, ginger, and a pinch of salt and return to boil. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/4 cup water and add to boiling juice mixture. Cook until thickened. Strain, chill, and serve.

To serve:

Ladle 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce onto plate. Place slice of key lime tart on sauce. Garnish tart with small dollop of whipped cream, thinly sliced lime, sprig of mint and a few seasonal berries if desired.

Taste of Italy

Attention, Italian food lovers: An event is coming up this month you may be interested in.

From 6:30-10 p.m. April 25, there's a fundraiser planned at St. John Catholic School in North Charleston. "A Taste of Italy" will be an evening of Italian food and wine, and the food is being prepared by Celia's of Charleston.

Longtime locals fondly recall the days of Celia's Porta Via, a popular neighborhood bistro on Archdale Street in downtown Charleston that pleased palates for 15 years before shutting its doors in 1999. Former owner Celia Cerasoli now runs a boutique culinary company specializing in prepared foods.

Celia is a strong supporter of the school, which she considers one of the area's best-kept secrets. At any rate, she's pulling out all the stops for this event by doing foods from 10 regions in Italy. The dishes can be tasted along with wines from those areas. Additionally, the event is offering four prize packages.

Advance tickets for A Taste of Italy are $65 or $75 at the door. Visit the St. John website, to purchase them online (and for additional information), or call 744-3901.

This is a recipe for one of the dishes Celia plans to serve. "This was one of my Dad's favorite dishes," she says.

"It can be eaten as a hot antipasto, or can be poured over linguini or spaghetti instead of the toast as a meal. Remember, Italians never put cheese on pasta with seafood. This dish can be served with your favorite red or white wine."

Cozze Marinara

Serves 2


2 dozen fresh mussels

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced

1/2 cup white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)

2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce

2 thick slices crusty bread, toasted or grilled

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish


Scrub mussels clean, removing any beard. All mussels should be closed tight. Discard any that are open.

In a large frying pan, saute sliced garlic in olive oil just until it starts to take on color. Do not brown.

Add mussels, wine and tomato sauce. Mix well and cover. Mussels should start opening quickly.

Place toast at the bottom of each of 2 bowls

When all mussels are open (discard any that refuse to open), place 12 mussels over toast in each bowl. Pour juices over, and garnish with parsley.