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You Asked For It: Sea grape jelly can top breakfast toast

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 27, 2002

We are fortunate to have unusual tropical fruits in our back yard or along the shoreline.

Sea grapes are an example, and they make tasty jelly. Renee Van Den Hoek found this recipe in Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Marie Mendelson and Marguerite Sawyer.

When the sea grapes ripen, give it a try.

The tuna casserole is a great example of comfort food. Barbara Hollander asked for the recipe for the casserole made with peas and mayonnaise and covered with a lattice crust made with Pillsbury crescent rolls.

Dolores Piska sends just the one.

Chocolate pound cake prepared with buttermilk is on Pat Harris' wish list.

Two readers share their recipes, one made from scratch and one that begins with a packaged devil's food cake mix.

Dahleen Bache notes that her recipe makes a "very rich, moist cake that is the best chocolate pound cake" she has ever tried.

Lisa McKellar's recipe comes from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn, the cake-mix recipe guru.

* * *

For: Mary Ann McMurtrey of Clearwater.

From: Renee Van Den Hoek, also of Clearwater.

Recipe: Sea Grape Jelly from Gourmet Bahamaian Cooking.

Sea Grape Jelly

  • 1 quart sea grape juice
  • 5 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 5 cups sugar

To prepare juice: Wash sea grapes and measure. Put in fairly large, wide pot with half as much water (1 cup water to 2 cups sea grapes). Bring to a boil. Mash often with a potato masher and continue boiling until fruit is reduced to a soft pulp (about 25 to 30 minutes). Drain through a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Do not squeeze.

Place one quart juice in a wide kettle. Turn heat high and add lemon or lime juice and pectin. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Pour hot into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath.

* * *

For: Barbara Hollander of New Port Richey.

From: Dolores Piska of Hudson and Scotia, N.Y.

Recipe: Hot Tuna Casserole.

Hot Tuna Casserole

  • 2 6-1/2-ounce cans tuna, drained
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tube Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls

Combine all ingredients except crescent rolls. Spoon into a 10- by 6-inch baking dish.

Open tube of crescent rolls and separate into two rectangles; press perforations. Cut dough into 4 long and 8 short strips. Place over tuna mixture in a lattice design.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

* * *

For: Pat Harris of Brooksville.

From: Dahleen Bache of St. Pete Beach.

Recipe: Chocolate Pound Cake.

Chocolate Pound Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) (no substitute)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • 6-1/8 ounces Hershey chocolate bar (most of a large bar), melted in microwave
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon vinegar added to 1 cup evaporated milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream sugar and butter well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Avoid overbeating. Add chocolate syrup and melted chocolate bar. Combine flour and salt. Mix together buttermilk, vanilla and baking soda. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture to chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Do not preheat oven too long or cake will brown too much or spill over. Dahleen usually turns oven on when she is half way through mixing the cake batter.

Pour batter into greased and floured large tube cake pan or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes. Test at the end of 1 hour 10 minutes. Dahleen finds that 1 hour and 20 minutes is about right. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out.

* * *

From: Lisa McKellar of Tarpon Springs.

Recipe: Devilishly Good Chocolate Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.

Devilishly Good Chocolate Cake

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • Flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 18.25-ounce package plain devil's food cake mix
  • 1 3.9-ounce package chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate frosting or sifted confectioners' sugar

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 12-cup bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

Place the chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the melted chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.

Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed by your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack to complete cooling for 20 minutes more.

Frost with chocolate frosting or dust with confectioners' sugar. Store cake, covered with foil or plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days. Or freeze, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw cake overnight on the counter before serving.

Recipe requests

Cheesecake made with apples on the bottom and green pepper Tabasco sauce as one of the ingredients is the recipe LaVerne Mobley of St. Petersburg hopes you have.

When Phaedra Dee Beall of Seffner was in Maui, Hawaii, she enjoyed a delicious soup in the town of Paia. The house soup at the little local restaurant called Jacques was a mix of coconut, scallops and pumpkin (she thinks). It may have had a Thai influence.

Phaedra Dee writes that her mouth has been craving this outstanding soup ever since, and she is eager to make it at home.

- You Asked for It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked for It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.

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