Butter Usage – by month – May 2016

11 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – Did not work – need to use a thermometer for the temp of toffee. Damnation

12 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Shortbread with mini chocolate chips & Heath pieces – just saying damn skippy – And my birthday – the 50th. So where do we go from here? Being old that’s where I go anyway. Just something I have to do. I have always said it is better than the alternative.

21 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – again. This time I got it right. It is stupidly good. Yep. Stupid. D&D_1465

This was not the best month for me. My Fred died and I miss him so. But I also miss my Mom and my little Bering and my big dog Duke. I am kind of tired of people and dogs I love dying.  Yep tired of all this.

Will do better next month – really need to get back into the kitchen and do something useful.

The kitchen always makes me feel better.

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.

Egg Usage – by month (January 2016)

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Best Sugar Cookies – um, ever

8 January – 3 – Chicken Salad
8 January – 1 – Sun-dried Tomato Palmiers – egg wash
9 January – 1 – Shortbread Chocolate Squares
16 January – 2 – The Browniest Cookies
16 January – 2 – Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
18 January – 2 – Sugar Cookies
26 January – 1 – Sour Cream Pecan Sandies
31 January – 2 – Lemon Crisps

14 eggs.  Meh. Need to try harder.

With eggs going at about $4 a dozen, that’s $4.66. Manageable but I do wish the egg prices would come down but I don’t see that happening this year.

Butter Usage – by month (January 2016)

6 January – 12 Tbs – Butter Cookies

7 January – 1 Tbs – Grilled Cheese Sandwich

9 January – 16 Tbs – Shortbread Squares

13 January – 4 Tbs  – Pear Cheddar Crisp

16 January – 8 Tbs – Browniest Cookies

16 January – 12 Tbs – Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

18 January – 16 Tbs – Sugar Cookies

26 January – 8 Tbs – Sour Cream Pecan Sandies

27 January – 3 Tbs – Mac n Cheese – Wednesday Night Cooking School

31 January – 8 Tbs – Lemon Crisps

88 Tbs = 11 sticks = 2.25 pounds

Not great, but not horrible. I’m sure I can do better.

Shortbread Chocolate Squares

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Spiffy Shortbread bars with chocolate and pecans

You know I have to do a chocolate thing now and again. And this sort of sounded like a bit of riff on a blondie with some toppings. It is obvious, at least to me to try it, but I’m not sure about its original name. But what the hell is in a name after all?

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ozs semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) Ghirardelli is always preferred.
1 cups chopped pecans, toasted – Local Renfroe’s pecans are always best.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan in parchment and spray with cooking spray – just in case. Thank you William-Sonoma.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Gradually mix in flour until just mixed. The dough will be stiff. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through – this is required – I do it whether it is called for or not – kind of OCD that way. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the crust. Return pan to the oven for a minute or two. Remove and using an offset spatula spread the chocolate over the surface. Sprinkle the nuts across evenly.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into small squares – very small because they are rich. And excellent.

Source: Epicurious, but adapted.

Notes: these were called toffee squares, but to my mind really don’t taste much like toffee. Even though there is a cup of brown sugar in the crust. They are kind of a shortbread crust with chocolate and nuts on top. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way.

Lime Meltaways

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Lime Meltaways

When I was a kid it was a huge thing for us me in the summer when my mom made limeade. I don’t do that enough and need to remedy that. Limeade went along, typically, with boiled peanuts and watermelons on a summer Saturday.

I love the nuanced flavor of a lime. I also think that the best way to eat an avocado is with lime and some sea salt – just heaven, but not on toast. Too trendy, and, to my mind, a bit insipid. Lime also features in my mushroom and watercress pate, because it is citrus but just a bit sweet too. Lime is a lovely complex flavor.

I am always making lemon cookies, I know, you are all astonished, right? but lime, not so much. I think it is because when you see something lime, it is typically pie. Which I have nothing against, but you don’t see much in the way of lime cookies. So I am making a concerted effort to change that – single handedly.

3/4 cup butter (12 Tbs) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
Finely grated zest of two limes
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 Tbs vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbs
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of wax paper – I do love to do it this way. It’s simple and easy to clean up – Set aside.

Put butter and 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla and mix until combined.

And here is where things became interesting … Really should have used the paddle attachment. The whisk was a pain, esp. to get it cleaned out to get everything mixed together.

Then, because the whisking didn’t go well, it took some time to hand mix the dough to get it come together. We will no return to our show, already in progress….

Divide dough in half. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs and slice into 1/4 inch thick coins. Space coins about an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until barely golden, 12 minutes or so, turning the pan halfway through. Cool on a wire rack 8 – 10 minutes. Place the other 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in a zip top bag, and toss the still warm cookies to coat. Store airtight at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Source: Martha Stewart

These were really good, if you like citrus. Went over well with my friends. It’s shortbread after all.

Pecan Sandies

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Pecan Sandies

When you have really great local pecans, as we do, well there is no excuse for not making pecan sandies. They are basically a shortbread – lots of butter and no eggs. The sweetness of the pecans really comes through and the crunch topping of sugar just seals the deal. I made these at the request of a friend that I was going to see for about a day in Tallahassee. She’s a huge chocolate fan, and I, am not. But she mentioned liking pecans and I just knew what I had to make. I had this recipe for years and sort of misplaced it, but thanks to the wonder that is google, I found it again a couple of years ago. It is truly amazing and really simple. Make it one day, let it refrigerate over night and bake the next day. Mine are never round.  None of my refrigerator cookies/crackers are. They are odd rectangular-ish things, but who cares? They taste great!

16 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and 1/3 cup sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, and in low speed, scraping down the bowl until the dough just comes together. Add the pecans and beat just until the are incorporated and lightly broken up. Divide dough in half and form into 2 inch thick logs and wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices, arrange on baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown, turning half way through. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Source: Food & Wine via Angie Mosier with modifications.