Meyer Lemon Bars

Yep, Lemons for Easter. I just cannot help myself. It is citrus season, at least here (i.e. in Florida). My own little Meyer Lemon Tree, as I have said before, is a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree sort of lemon tree. This year it gave me my biggest crop ever – 3 Meyer Lemons. Sounds paltry, but I’ve raised this baby from barely a seedling to something that produces fruit and I feel a strong, but undeserved, sense of accomplishment. I think we (me and the tree) are about ten years in now.

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Meyer Lemon Shortbread Bar

Meyer lemons are just so lovely. I have waxed poetic about them before. It is blooming right now for the next season and I need to take photos as the year goes along. The deluge this past week, I hope, will help, but I’m not sure. We will see. The Meyer lemon blossoms smell like orange blossoms. So nice …. There is just nothing like that.

Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
Ice cold water

Filling:
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest – 1 Meyer lemon
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Topping:
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan, line with parchment to overlap all the edges and spray the parchment too.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, one tsp at a time until dough comes together. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan, pressing against the edges.

Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden. Golden on the edges seems to be the key.  Set pan on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

Whisk eggs and sugar for filling until well combined and lighter in color. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt. Pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until set at the edges but still a little bit wiggly in the center.

Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.  Remove by lifting parchment. Cut into squares. Dust with 3 Tbs of confectioners’ sugar.

25 March 2016 – Good Friday – For Easter with the family.

Source: Epicurious

Notes: This is the first time I have used this recipe.  So I’m using my treasured Meyer lemons on a total gamble. Probably not smart, but what the hell. You cannot keep them forever. No matter how much you would like to.

I pushed the crust into the bottom, but I really felt like I needed to push it up the side like you do with a graham cracker crust for pie. But I am glad I followed the recipe. Though I was worried that the lemon curd part would leak down and make a whole mess if it. But it did not. I think the key thing here is have the correct sized pan. Because it worked and was, thanks to my home-grown Meyer Lemons, just slightly stupidly amazing. Even if I do say so myself. And yes, yes, I do.

The End of Winter (for us anyway)

Well, we don’t really have a true winter here, but it does get cold for a few days at a time. Then it warms up – then it gets cold again – then it rains –  then there is an amazing amount of pollen (damn clover) – this is winter in North Florida. I only have a limited number of long sleeved shirts to deal with season – I think 6? And way more shorts than pants. Sartorial choices.

Last weekend, Sunday was going to be “cold” by our standards (cannot wear really cute open toed shoes), and I joked at Shaggy’s the rainy Saturday prior that if there would be a fire (yes for me) on Sunday, because I would be wearing socks and that is equal to winter where we live.D&D_0670

That Sunday, I was so pleased to be able to get to the beach – because it was too cold for the locals,  and sorry tourists – it is the randomness of travel and you got stuck with “cold”weather for a beach town – no, really I am sorry about that not that I could do anything to fix it. During spring break if it is sunny and warm we locals cannot get out to our beach at all – reference: 2 weeks ago. I do not like to get stuck on the 3 mile bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.  I can handle the Bob Sikes bridge traffic to the beach, but do not want to get stuck on the 3 mile. Ever.

But, last Sunday,  I felt like the happiest person when we got to Shaggy’s, There was a real wood fire. I was told it was for me. But I’m hoping all the other people who were not expecting that kind of “cold weather” appreciated it too because the place was totally packed. This is the only local restaurant that I know that has a real wood-burning fireplace and I do love it so. I am pretty sure I will not see a fire there again until November or December of this year.  We won’t talk about how the fire was started, but is was so very appreciated. I love my local. The place I am  very happy to be. Thanks you guys – you are the best!

 

Butter Usage – by month – (February 2016)

February 1 – 2 Tbs – Grilled Cheese Sandwich – yep boring, but I love a good grilled cheese. Of course with applesauce.

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Spiced Pecans

February 4 – 16 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Walnut Blondies

February 5 – 16 Tbs – Sugar Cookies

February 6 – 4 Tbs – Spiced Pecans Will be making these again even if they are a bit sticky – but we’ve had a rather damp winter  – hence, no taffy (total bummer.)

February 20 – 3 Tbs – Parmesan Rosemary Crackers

February 20 – 8 Tbs – Oatmeal Pecan Toffee Cookies

February 24 – 4 Tbs – Carrot Cake – frosting

February 27 – 16 Tbs – White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

January – March 2016 – Food “Holidays” Recap

Super Bowl – February 7

Spiced Pecans * Roast Beef Horseradish Sandwich * Bacon-wrapped Fruit Bites * Buffalo Rolls * Proscuitto Fontina Pinwheels * Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Mardi Gras Pot Luck – February 9

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies *  Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Margarita Day – February 22

Leap Day – February 29

Apple Carrot Cupcakes *

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Apple Carrot Muffins – slightly amazing. And, no. I’m not bragging.

Pi Day – March 14

Apple Walnut Pie *

Butter Pie Crust *

St Patrick’s Day – March 17

Guinness Brownies *

Easter – March 27

Not sure yet, but I have a few days to sort it out. Yikes.


Easter Planning

Holy cow. Easter will be here before you know it. Sorry – this year the early food holidays have just stacked up way too much. Super Bowl Sunday smashed into Mardi Gras – literally. I’m not kidding. Two days apart.

I understand that Pi Day will always fall right in line with St. Patrick’s Day.  There is no denying the calendar on that one, but they are fixed points – unlike Mardi Gras and Easter – thank you Hebrew calendar for keeping us on our toes.

I am thinking something with lemon. But that seems to be something I do a lot.  Or Asparagus. Or fresh herbs. I won’t go all crazy and say I’ll make lamb, because I won’t. I at least know myself well enough to know that will not happen. Ham, also, will not be in my future. We’re just not big fans.

What is really strange to me is I do not remember any big food traditions for my family for Easter. I’ll have to ask my dad, but no, I’ve really got nothing.

We always dyed eggs (Paas and vinegar are always linked together in my brain), had great Easter baskets, went to church, did the egg hunt thing. But that is all I remember.

Either way, I am going to have to come up with something for Easter dinner this year

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Carrot Cake is just so tempting for Easter.

. Carrot Cake seems to be a repeating element. But, I think I am going back to my original idea –  lemons. Yep. That is what I’ll do. No surprise really.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, so I best decide.

Pecan (or Walnut) Pie Muffins

This is a recipe that I cannot help but to make over and over.  It is a combination of a great friend’s recipe and a recipe from Trisha Yearwood. Not surprising since they both grew up in small Southern towns.  I, unfortunately, grew up in a amazing large “southern” town. Nope – Jacksonville, is not really Southern, in the big picture. There are so many people from all over the world. Although, I do love the Persian influence. You have to live there to get that.D&D_0149

So … Pecan Pie Muffins – here we go.

1 cup chopped pecans 0r walnuts (either is good)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla or a little more
2 large eggs, room temperature
13.5 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin cups and spray them with non-stick spray.  In  a bowl, whisk together nuts, sugar, and flour. Make a well. In another bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Add cooled butter to eggs. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.

Fill muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Yep – awesome. I really think they are breakfast, but they probably should not be. Just saying.

National Puppy Day

I had no idea that this was National Puppy Day. But I think that is a great idea, because I don’t think anything can make you feel better than a dog – no matter what the MotH says. I’ve loved all my pups (or puppers which how I usually refer to them.)

So today, I remember all my pupper friends. Two how I miss beyond words, and my little idiot (I’m the only one who can call him that) that I am so grateful for. Hate ending a sentence that way.

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Bering – My Siberian Husky – Duke the best GSD ever

Hoodie Boy

Hood – my Border Collie / Labrador Mix – My little idiot

Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

Or should the title be Oatmeal, Raisin, Walnut Cookies? – not sure. This is an Ina Garten recipe – but I did modify it a bit. I do kind of love her, but I have never tried this recipe.  It has been one of those recipes that has been my cookie binder for donkey’s years and I figured, what the hell – I am a huge fan of oatmeal cookies (read: cookies you can eat for breakfast and not feel the least bit guilty about it). I really do not think I ever feel guilty about eating cookies for breakfast, but that’s just me. Yes, everyone should be so progressive or something. Whatever. These are really good.

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
16 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (light or dark – whatever – theme perhaps?)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 raisins
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped (roughly or not – personal preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture, and mix to combine. Add the oats, raisins, and walnuts until just combined.

Using my cookie scoop*, I parsed these out about 2 inches apart and baked about 14 – 15 minutes. Although I did kind of smash them a bit after the first batch. That might be an issue if you leave the dough in the fridge over night which I tend to do but I did let it sit out at room temperature for a while (a couple of hours). Make dough one night, cookies the next night -it is a thing for me. But baking 15 minutes seemed to work pretty well.

Notes: I was a little disappointed that the tops of these cookies didn’t get kinda sorta brown on top, but in the taste department it so made up for that. They were crunchy even if the top wasn’t more than beige. Again, though, I like style points. I think cookies should look good (but that does not keep me from eating them again for a midnight snack).

*How does one determine the size of a cookie scoop? Please someone enlighten me. This one works, but I just kind of guess with it.

Made 43 cookies with the cookie scoop that has no determined size. Honestly. Do  have to figure this out. D&D_1254

 

 

Guinness Brownies

As I have mentioned about a million times, I am not a big chocolate person, but I am a huge fan of Guinness. It was the first beer I really drank (huge story here) and I love it still. It is like having a meal, so I don’t drink it too often. The MotH likes Guinness too and the Boy love brownies, so this just makes sense. I use a Guinness stout, and maybe drink one, the MotH gets the rest, and the Boy gets brownies, and now at his age, a Guinness for himself too. It is a win all the way around.D&D_1246

4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, superfine*
8 ozs bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ozs white chocolate, chopped
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup Guinness Stout**
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, an  8 x 8 baking pan, line with a parchment sling and spray that as well. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together the flour, salt, cocoa

In a stand mixer, combine sugar and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

In a microwave bowl,  melt chocolates and butter in 30 second bursts, and stir until smooth. Cool slightly, and mix into egg mixture.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk Guinness into batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Might be longer than you think – it was for me).

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan using sling, cut into very tiny squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Source: Grace Neill’s A New Irish Table

*Take granulated sugar and whir it in a food processor and then measure out 3/4 cup. Or just use regular granulated sugar, I have.  It does not seem to matter.

**Pour the stout and let the foam settle before measuring.

These brownies are pretty much like fudge. Please cut them in little tiny pieces.

1 March 2003 – SR/ER loved them, so very chocolate w/out being too sweet.

16 March 2003 – for the office

5 November 2006 Guy Fawkes

26 March 2011

 

Butter Pie Crust

So I had been trying to think of what kind of pie to make for Pi Day. I do love this idea of Pi Day. It makes me smile. It also pushes me to make pie in the early spring instead of my usually fall pie baking season.

First thing, I want to make sure to make my own crust, which I don’t always do – sad, I know, but I’m going to find a good and kind of foolproof pie crust because this little fool needs some help in that department.

Wait for it – I found a great pie crust recipe – woo hoo! Yes, I am a total dork.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp table salt
16 Tbs unsalted butter, very cold*

In a measuring cup, add ice cubes, and fill with cold tap water. Put flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Dice butter into small pieces and sprinkle on the flour mixture. Pulse mixture until the butter is kind of like small peas.

Add the cold water, but no ice cubes, to the mixture a tablespoon at a time and pulse a few times. Add more water as needed until the dough come together in bigger clumps. Dump the dough out on a slightly floured work surface and kneed a couple time until it comes together.

Divide dough in half and press into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate overnight. Dough can be kept in the fridge for a week or freeze, once double wrapped, for about a month.

Notes: * I took my butter right out of the freezer. Which is where I store butter. It is a good place.

This dough was so easy to work with. I was slightly astonished by it  but very pleased at the same time.

I cannot wait to make another pie with this crust. It is so easy to work with. This is now my D&D_1269go-to pie crust.  I do love my food processor – yep – that is how a pie crust comes together.

I so wish I had a picture of this pie crust, but I think the apple walnut pie may show it. It really is kind of nice.