LULU'S WEST INDIES SALAD
by Lucy "LuLu" BuffettThis dish originated in Mobile, Alabama at Bayley's Steak and Seafood Restaurant and has nothing at all to do with the West Indies. In fact, it is a mystery as to how this luscious crab dish got its name but it remains the crown jewel of Gulf Coast cuisine. It is a Buffett family favorite. Every Christmas, I overnight-ship two pounds of this coastal delight to both my brother and sister at their Rocky Mountain retreats, which has resulted in some anxious and comical moments when blizzards have threatened to impede delivery. West Indies salad is present at all of my fancy dinner parties as well as on any given Saturday afternoon at our tiki bar, poolside. Pink champagne is my favorite beverage to drink with this irresistible crab delicacy but I've also been known to swig ice-cold beer and eat this dish with my fingers.
1 pound fresh jumbo lump blue crab meat
1/4 to 1/2 cup medium Vidalia (or sweet) onion, sliced paper thin, in half moon shape
3 ounces vegetable oil
3 ounces white vinegar
3 ounces ice water, with 4-5 ice cubes Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place half of the crabmeat gently on the bottom of a glass bowl or plastic container. Sprinkle just a smidgen of salt and pepper.
2. Cover crab with a layer of onion.
3. Repeat these steps with remaining crab and onion.
4. Pour oil, vinegar, ice water, and ice cubes over crab. I find it easiest to add a few ice cubes to a measuring cup
5. Cover and marinate for at least two hours.
6. When ready to serve, shake bowl gently or if using a seal-proof plastic container turn upside down and back upright to gently mix salad.
7. Serve with saltine crackers.
Makes 4-6 Servings
LuLu Clue 1: It really is this easy and the ice cubes are crucial. Don't ask me why, but when I haven’t included them, the dish just doesn't taste the same.
LuLu Clue 2: I use jumbo lump even though it is expensive because there are only two pieces of jumbo lump yielded from a single crab. You can use regular lump crab but you must carefully and delicately pick through it for shells.
L. A. (LOWER ALABAMA) CAVIAR
by Lucy "LuLu" BuffettThis is one of my favorite LuLu’s dishes and I make it at home all the time. During one memorable chapter of my life, I ran with a group of highly disreputable folks who lived in lavish historic homes on Washington Square in Mobile, Alabama. We had weekly soirees complete with costumed cabaret numbers around a white baby grand and copious amounts of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Right before I opened LuLu’s, we had a reunion celebrating my friend Suzanne Cleveland’s 60th birthday. One of our “partners in crime”, John Coleman, arrived with a great black-eyed pea dip. John is a barbecue aficionado, redneck lawyer and rogue gourmand; so, it gave me great pleasure to steal his recipe! I had just returned from living in Los Angeles so I gave it a little LuLu’s twist and the L.A. reference: a perfect fit for my high-class dive. It has been on the menu at LuLu’s since day one and is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Today, we make it in twenty gallon batches.
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped red onion
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
2. Rinse and drain peas well. Place in a large glass or aluminum bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients and dressing. Toss well. Transfer to plastic container, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
4. Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers.
Makes 20-25 Servings
by Lucy "LuLu" Buffett
My brother Jimmy’s recording of “The Bama Breeze” was his homage to coastal dives, particularly the famous Flora-Bama on the beach at the Alabama – Florida State line. He sent me a little love both when he changed the lyrics to call the bar owner “LuLu” and when he asked me if I wanted to play the bar owner in the video. I mused for just a second, thinking…hmmm… a woman who owns a bar, drinking a beer, jumps up on the stage and sings with the band. It wasn’t much of a stretch! I had crazy fun shooting the video but I’m glad I have my day job! Now I enjoy this drink at my own “Bama Breeze” bar on the beach at LuLu’s.
2 ounces Absolut® Citron vodka
1 ounce Coconut rum
Juice of ½ fresh lime
½ ounce simple syrup
2-3 ounces cranberry juice
1. Fill tall glass with crushed ice
2. Add vodka and rum
3. Squeeze lime juice into glass
4. Fill with cranberry juice
5. Add simple syrup to desired sweetness
7. Garnish with fresh lime slice