Bless Your Spoon: Life aboard a Bermuda cruise

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

Don’t worry, be happy.

We might not remember who sings it, but we always recognize this little finger-snapping and happy-go-lucky whistling, music tune.

With September’s arrival, some might eagerly anticipate early doses of pumpkin and spice, but not me. If you’re a summer lover like I am, don’t worry — be happy. The season’s not over yet. You have yet to go on a late summer cruise and make your adventurous escape to that secluded island,  even if it is in the middle of hurricane season.

That’s how my last week began — aboard the legendary “Magic” dream ship. A revised sailing itinerary redirected our ship from Bermuda to several ports in the Bahamas over three, surprisingly clear and sunny days.

Cruise goers enjoyed massive, hot buffets in the dining room three times a day — complete with a full salad bar that included all the fixin’s, hot and cold vegetable side dishes, and a full array of different meats from which to choose.

My personal favorite foodie hot spots were the taco and cheeseburger bars — eaten in paradise and poolside — while listening to beach-themed music.

In addition, the ship had several restaurants on board where you could be served in a fine dining atmosphere. Not surprisingly, there were five executive chefs on board. The curated menus featured the finest ingredients available with many of those being indigenous to the places they travel and reflecting a coastal culture.

The food choices were overwhelming. They make the best use of foods with little waste, creatively preparing each dish. Many foods offered are regional dishes and cuisines. The chefs try to prepare each recipe in a simple manner to enhance the food’s natural tastes, rarely using heavy sauces or spices.

I don’t dare ask for a recipe, as it’s very difficult to take recipes that feed more than 3,000 people and convert them to home recipes. Just imagine what it’s like in a big ship’s kitchen — it can’t be an easy task to prepare for so many.

With a view of islands, ship guests enjoyed “watchin’ the sun bake” while they savored “nibblin’ on sponge cake” — just one kind of cake in a plethora of different flavored pies, cakes, sweet breads and other delectable confections that would make your body rock and head spin. Decisions, decisions.

Before long, it was time to return home. From the bow, I watched the ship part the churning seas as it hugged the eastern coastline, making its way back to the port in Norfolk. The ship continued to rock and roll, not only to music but to the remnants of a powerful tropical storm and hurricane.

Despite the breaking waves, our floating hotel maintained its latitudes, holding steady on course while ocean goers tried their best to sustain “don’t worry — be happy” attitudes. We kept the faith that come Monday, it’d be all right.

The ship eventually made its way back to port safely. But before the ship docked, we received the news. The word quickly spread that the legendary tropical rock and roller and Margaritaville icon Jimmy Buffett had peacefully called it a day.

Cruisers took seriously Buffett’s notion that it was 5 o’clock somewhere. Ship guests had certainly paid their due respects while on board the ship, partaking of refreshing, poolside margaritas and piña coladas from the ship’s tequila and rum bar. We could all relate to Buffett’s, “Make it a hurricane before I go insane.” The night had been a long one, and we’d been pushed past our limits.

Enjoy this week’s collection of great tropical cakes, pies, and dessert recipes that pay homage to Buffett’s folksy tales of paradise, the faces and places he shared with us, and the legacy he left us — as the son of a son of a sailor.

As the music man sang, “If the phone’s for me, you can just tell them I sailed away.”

Bon Voyage!

Piña Colada Chess Pie

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1 ½ cups sugar

• ¼ cup melted butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 3 Tbsp. cornmeal

• ½ tsp. salt

• 2 cups well-drained, crushed pineapple

• 1 cup flaked coconut

• 1 unbaked pie shell

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add melted butter and vanilla. Mix well. Beat in flour, cornmeal and salt. Mix well. Fold in well-drained, crushed pineapple and coconut. Mix well. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Cover in foil and continue to bake for additional 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Islanders Orange Rum Cake

• 1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

• ½ cup ground almonds

Rum Sauce

• 1 ½ cup apricot nectar

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch

• 2 Tbsp. cold water

• ½ cup light rum

• 16 ounces drained mandarin oranges

• 1 cup whipped cream

Follow directions on cake mix box to make a two-layer cake, adding ground almonds to the mix. Turn out on rack to cool. For the sauce, in a saucepan, combine nectar and sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. In a bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the water, and stir into the nectar/sugar mixture. Cook while constantly stirring until thick and clear. Cool slightly and add rum and orange sections. Drizzle a little over each cake layer. Whip the cream and spread between cake layers. Chill thoroughly and serve with the remaining sauce.

Key Lime Cake

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1 small lime Jello package

• ¾ cup fresh orange juice

• 1 Duncan Hines lemon cake mix

• 1 ½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

Drizzle

• 2 juiced limes

• 6 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Frosting

• 8 ounces cream cheese

• 1 stick softened butter

• 16 ounces box powdered sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add Jello and orange juice. Mix well. Add cake mix while alternating with vegetable oil. Mix well. Bake in 3 greased and floured cake pans in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until tests done. For the drizzle, in a bowl, combine powdered sugar with the lime juice until smooth. Set aside. For frosting, in a mixer bowl, cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well until very creamy. When ready to assemble cake, take first layer of cake, and spoon 1/3 lime/sugar drizzle over the top. Then frost with powdered sugar icing. Repeat twice until the cake is fully iced.

80-Proof Frozen Rum Pie

• 6 egg yolks

• 1 cup sugar

• ½ cup Jamaican rum

• ½ tsp. plain gelatin

• ½ cup cold water

• 1 pint whipped cream

• 2 small graham cracker crusts

In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar. Add the rum. In a small bowl, stir gelatin in cold water until it dissolves. Add the gelatin mixture to the egg mixture. In a mixer bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Pour into 1 large graham cracker pie crust or 2 small crusts. Freeze at least 5 hours.

Tropical Coconut Cream Pie

• 5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• ½ cup sugar

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• ¼ cup cold whole milk

• 1 ½ cup scalded whole milk

• 3 beaten egg yolks

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup shredded coconut

• 1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell

Meringue

• 3 beaten egg whites

• 6 Tbsp. sugar

In a saucepan, blend and stir flour, sugar and salt with cold milk. Gradually add scalded milk while constantly stirring, and cook over low heat until thickened. Stir in beaten egg yolks and continue to cook additional 3 minutes while thickening. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and coconut. Allow filling to completely cool and then pour into a prebaked pie shell. Top with meringue. For the meringue, in a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Very gradually add sugar. Cover pie with meringue. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes until browned. Sprinkle with a little remaining toasted coconut.

Freeport Pineapple Crunch

• 2 ½ cups crushed pineapple

• 1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

• ½ cup flour

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 2 sticks melted butter

• Whipped cream

• rum

Pour pineapple into a 3-quart butter-greased shallow baking dish. In a mixer bowl, combine the cake mix, flour and pecans. Evenly cover the top of the pineapple with the cake mixture. Evenly pour melted butter over the top. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream with rum added, to taste. You can also add 2-3 Tbsp. of rum to the pineapple or cake batter, to taste.

Paradise Pineapple Pie

• 1 stick softened, salted butter

• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

• 1 large egg

• ¼ tsp. salt

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup whipped cream

• 1 cup well-drained crushed pineapple

• ½ cup chopped nuts

• 1 prebaked 9-inch pie crusts

In a mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg, salt and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Evenly spoon mixture into two pie crusts. Completely chill for several hours. In a mixer bowl, whip cream until stiff. Blend in the pineapple and nuts. Evenly spoon cream mixture over top of filling. Chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours. Yield: 2 pies.

Limoncello Cake

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

• 3 Tbsp. Limoncello Liqueur

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 ½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• Pinch of salt

• 1/3 cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 zested lemon

Glaze

• 2 Tbsp. Limoncello Liqueur

• ½ cup powdered sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar. Mix well. Add yogurt and liqueur. Mix. Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt while alternating with vegetable oil. Mix. Fold in lemon zest. Mix but don’t overmix or the cake will be tough. Bake in a greased and floured, 8-inch deep cake pan or a tube pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean and cake is golden. Cool cake for 5 minutes and then turn out on a rack. For the glaze, in a bowl, combine powdered sugar with Limoncello and stir until smooth. While cake is still hot, spoon glaze over the warm cake and quickly spread with a spreader. Delicious served warm or room temperature.

Florida Keys Lime Pie

• 4 beaten egg yolks

• 1 can Eagle condensed milk

• ½ cup key lime juice

• 4 beaten egg whites

• 6 Tbsp. sugar

• ½ tsp. cream of tartar

• 1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add condensed milk and key lime juice. Beat just one egg white until stiff and fold into the egg mixture. For the meringue, beat the remaining three egg whites until stiff. Gradually add sugar and cream of tartar. Pour lime mixture into plain, graham cracker, or chocolate cookie pie shell and top with meringue. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until meringue is toasted.

Piña Colada Cake

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1 small Vanilla/coconut pudding

• ½ cup water

• 1/3 cup Bacardi dark rum

• 1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix

• ¼ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 cup flaked coconut

Frosting

• 8 ounces crushed pineapple in juice

• 1 small box vanilla/coconut instant pudding

• 1/3 cup Bacardi dark rum

• 9 ounces thawed, Frozen whipped topping

• Toasted coconut

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add regular pudding, water and rum. Mix well. Add cake mix while alternating with Wesson oil. Mix well. Bake in two greased and floured 9-inch cake pans in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until tests done. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and turn out on rack. Frost cake and sprinkle with coconut. For the frosting, combine the pineapple in juice, instant pudding and dark rum. Beat until well blended. Fold in the thawed whipped topping and mix well. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Come Monday Rum Pie

Crust

• ¼ cup sugar

• ½ stick salted butter

• Vanilla wafers

Filling

• 3 beaten egg yolks

• ½ cup sugar

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 cup scaled whole milk

• 1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin

• ¼ cup cold water

• 1/3 cup light/dark rum

• 3 beaten egg whites

• 1 cup heavy whipped cream

For a crust, add sugar, butter and enough crushed vanilla wafers to hold. Pat down crumbs in bottom and up sides of a pie plate. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks. Add sugar and salt. Slowly add milk and cook in double boiler until it thickens. In a bowl, soften gelatin in water. Add softened gelatin to the egg mixture and stir until dissolved. Cool completely. Add the rum. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until peaks form and add cream. Fold in egg white mixture to the egg mixture. Pour into crust and sprinkle lightly with vanilla wafer crumbs. Congeal in refrigerator for at least three hours.

Chiquita Daiquiri

• 2 Tbsp. sugar/water

• 2 ounces light rum

• 2 ounces crème de banana

• 2 ounces fresh lemon juice

• 2 bananas

• 14 ice cubes

In a bowl, add 2 Tbsp sugar with enough water to make 2 ounces. To a blender add the sugar/water combo, light rum, crème de banana, lemon juice, bananas, and ice cubes. Process until smooth. Serves 4.

Piña Colada

• 2 ounces cream of coconut

• 4 ounces light rum

• 4 ounces pineapple juice

• Crushed ice

In a blender, add cream of coconut, light rum, pineapple juice, and crushed ice. Process until smooth. Serves 3.