Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key

Nestled away in a lush tropical setting is Euphemia Haye, regarded as one of Florida's most romantic restaurants. Located on Longboat Key, Euphemia Haye has won numerous awards for culinary excellence, with Chef Raymond Arpke, co-owner and cookbook author and his wife, D'Arcy, the culinary inspiration of the acclaimed restaurant.

Euphemia Haye Chef Ray Arpke

Euphemia Haye was actually the grandmother of the restaurant's founder, Leslie Buntin, who named the restaurant after her in affectionate memory, having raised Buntin and his two brothers from childhood. Raymond and D'Arcy Arpke chose to keep the restaurant’s name after they purchased Euphemia Haye in 1980, and since then they have become known for combining a warm friendly ambiance, outstanding service and an imaginative menu using only the finest produce available. Classically trained, Chef Arpke's innovative flair and love for fresh slow cooked foods has assured Euphemia Haye consistently excellent reviews and a dedicated following of gourmands, with all the breads, stocks, sauces, soups, dressings and desserts homemade on the premises. 

Euphemia Haye's lush botanical garden outside the main dining room

The formal dining room on the main floor overlooks a verdant outdoor botanical garden with The Haye Loft located upstairs. Originally Buntin's private apartment The Haye Loft was redesigned to accommodate a cosy bar with live jazz most nights, a more casual bistro style dining option, plus Euphemia's famous Dessert Room, offering more than 15 homemade pies and cakes on display each evening.

Euphemia Haye also offers cooking classes with Chef Arpke once a month, with culinary themes such as A New Orleans Jazz Brunch and Terrific Tapas and Spanish Flavours with recipes including Temperanillo Braised Baby Lamb Shanks and Empanada de Horno with Jalapeno Salsa Fresca, which is a South American style stuffed pastry with beef, egg, olives, raisins and fresh salsa. Classes fill up quickly, so it's imperative to book early to guarantee a spot. 

An accomplished chef and published author, Chef Arpke's cookbook, 'You Don't Have To Be Crazy, But It Helps, Recipes and Rantings of a Madman' is an anecdote filled autobiography featuring many of his favourite recipes from Euphemia Haye, one of the more popular being his signature dessert — Apple Walnut Crumble Pie, rich and delicious with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Other desserts include Classic Pecan Pie, Peanut Butter Mousse Pie and of course, Florida Key Lime Pie, in addition to Euphemia's famous flambéed Bananas Foster, with caramelized sugar and liquors flamed with bananas and rum. All the desserts are fabulous — the only conundrum is which one to choose.

Apple Walnut Crumble Pie
Makes one helluva big pie!

Pie shell:
2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water

Put cake flour, butter and salt into a stainless steel bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into flour until it all has a mealy consistency. Add ice water and mix with your fingers to form a dough. Form into a ball, flatten with your hands and place on a well-floured flat surface. Flour the top of the dough well and roll out into about a 13-14-inch round. Place the dough into a floured 10-inch pie pan and flute the edges.

Crumble topping:
1 1/2 lb soft butter
1/2 lb sugar
1 lb cake flour
vanilla to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mixer with the paddle in place, and mix at low speed until it "crumbles". Cool and set aside.

Apple walnut filling:
12 cups (3 pounds) of 1-inch apple slices
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash each ground nutmeg, clove, ginger and allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp flour

Place prepared apples in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle walnuts, spices and sugar over the top. Toss the apple mixture and mix well. Add flour and toss well. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes. Toss well again. Mound the apple mixture in the pie shell. Top with crumble so they are completely covered. Bake at 350°F for 70-80 minutes until the pie is baked through and browned evenly. If crumble topping is browning too fast, cover with foil until almost done. Serve with a dollop of good quality ice cream.