Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon Bars, Perfected.

 I love lemon bars, but I don't love the sticky topping that is messy to cut through and doesn't always hold it's shape. So I've been on a quest to bake the perfect lemon bar. Soft but still crisp shortbread like crust and a lemony, firmly set glossy lemon topping that can be cleanly cut through.
Instead of pouring a wet batter on top of a par-baked crust, I make a lemon curd on the stove top and then pour it over the partially baked crust. Then it bakes for a short time to set the top and finish cooking the crust.
I know it's an extra step, but trust me, its worth it.

2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. Butter, cut into cubes and semi-soft

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 C. + 2 T. sugar
2/3 C. lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons), strained
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 T. unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 T. heavy cream

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. 

  Bake the crust until the edges start to brown, about 23 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the filling
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar until combined. Add the lemon juice and salt and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the curd thickens, about 6 minutes.
  Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes.  Let the bars cool. Cut into 2 inch squares, wiping the knife blade clean between each cut. Sieve powdered sugar over the bars, if you prefer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Eggs Benedict with Blender Hollindaise

I can't tell you how many times I've seen a traditional Hollindaise replaced with a mix. And it makes me so very sad. Mixes, while easy, are filled with all sorts of additives and the results are often a far cry from what they claim to be in the title.
Hollindaise can be a tricky sauce, though. And a bit time consuming and sensitive.
Enter: the Blender Hollindaise. I came across this recipe on Epicurious and have modified it to suit my taste. I like mine lemony!
I have made this several times and I would have to think its pretty fail proof!
And takes only a few minutes to whip up.
Real Hollindaise uses clarified butter, and you can do that here if you like, but I've left the milk solids in because it is easier and still comes together perfectly.
Though not completely traditional, this recipe leaves no excuse for using a mix. it's just too easy!
Blender Hollindaise


1 1/4 C. (2 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
2 large Egg Yolks
2 T. fresh Lemon juice, more if you like it lemony!
Kosher salt, to taste
A pinch or two of White Pepper

Fill a blender with hot water and set aside. Melt butter in a bowl in the microwave, or in a saucepan on the stove. Set aside.

Drain the blender and dry well. Put egg yolks and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in blender; cover and blend to combine. Working quickly and with blender running, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and with more lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Eggs Benedict

I feel silly even posting a recipe for this. So I'll make it simple:
Toast an English Muffin.
Top with a slice of hot ham.
Top ham with a poached egg.
Top egg with a spoonful or two of Hollindaise.
Repeat. Well, unless you're full now. In which case you should just anticipate your next breakfast of Eggs Benedict.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

If your looking for a variation on traditional scalloped potatoes, consider this dish. Blue cheese and caramelized onions meld together in a creamy Bechamel sauce for a side dish that is hearty and comforting, yet elegant.
These potatoes go great with this Turkey Meatloaf. Assemble it in the morning to save time at dinner. Then pop it in the oven 45 minutes before you eat and you're set!


2 Lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1 Sweet Onion
2 T. Butter
2 T. Flour
1/2 T. Brown Sugar
1/2 t. White Pepper
1/4 t. Grated Nutmeg
2 T. Butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 C. Milk(I use Almond)
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
Salt, to taste
1/3 C. Blue Cheese, crumbled
2 T. Freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in upper third of the oven.

Place the cleaned potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just barely tender. Drain the potatoes and let cool.
Meanwhile, add 2 T. Of butter to a sauté pan and melt on medium heat. Thinly slice the onion and add to the pan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes and then add the brown sugar to the pan. Continue to sauté the onion until it develops a deep brown caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Melt 2 T. of butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and stir until combined. let cook for 1 minute and then pour in the heavy cream. Turn the heat up to medium and stir continuously until the cream has thickened. Whisk in the milk and let simmer until thickened and smooth. Add in the nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat.

Thinly slice the cooled potatoes and spread one layer of potatoes in an 8-9" baking dish. Top the potatoes with 1/3 of the caramelized onions. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the onion and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the blue cheese. Arrange another layer of potatoes in the dish and top with another 3rd of the onions, sauce, and blue cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes, sauce, onions and blue cheese. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly over the top of the dish.

Place dish on a shallow baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Honey Greek Yogurt Biscuits

 I hope you all had a good Irish meal yesterday. As for us, we had Irish Stew and these really yummy yogurt biscuits that my Mother in law made. Usually we have soda bread on St. Patrick's day, but these biscuits were a really nice alternative to the dense Irish quick bread. I've been wanting more biscuits since yesterday so I whipped up a batch today, but I didn't have any plain yogurt. I did, however, have honey Greek yogurt and let me tell you what: It worked great.
If you have plain yogurt on hand , that works great. If not, try it with the honey yogurt.
Eat it with jam and butter. We had ours with boysenberry jam and it was loverly.
2 C. Flour
1/4 t. Baking Soda
1 T. Baking Powder
3/4 t. Salt
1/4 C.(4 T.) Butter, chilled
1 C. Honey Greek Yogurt
2 T. Milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in until it is completely blended.
Add the yogurt and the milk to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Place the dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and shape into a mound.
Pat the dough into a 1" high rectangle. Score the top of the dough once lengthwise and 3 times width wise to make 8 large sections that can be broken off when baked.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.
Remove and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peanut Dipping Sauce

I figure as long as I'm posting Asian style recipes, whats one more? And this is one recipe you really need. I promise. Peanut Sauce. Dip your chicken Satay in it. Eat it over rice. Me? I like to toss it with some Lo Mein noodles and crushed peanuts.
This recipe is so simple and quick to throw together, which you'll appreciate on those busy weeknights where your kids are demanding that you feed them(the nerve, right?)and you havent planned anything for dinner. Not that that ever happens here.
You don't belive me?
Fine. It happens.
But at least I have Peanut Noodles to turn to when it does.

1 Can Coconut Milk
1-2 T. Red Curry Paste(depending on your spicy tolerance level)
3/4 C. Peanut Butter
1/2 T. Salt
2/3 C. Sugar
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 C. Water
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and whisk together. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to medium. Whisk constantly for 4-5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and is smooth.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chicken Wanton Spinach Salad

The Chicken Wanton Spinach Salad. My Husband's new favorite. And mine too, for that matter.
You could use any lettuce you wanted, really. We just prefer spinach here. But a crunchy Romaine would be great too. This is also a salad that is easy to customize, depending on what you have on hand. Mandarin Oranges would be a good addition. Or maybe some toasted almonds too.
Make sure to toss the wantons and dressing in at the last minute so it stays crunchy!

6 C. Baby Spinach, washed and dried
1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1 Carrot, grated
1 C. Cilantro, roughly chopped
2 C. Shredded Chicken(use a rotisserie chicken and save the carcass for stock!)
4 sliced Bacon, cooked and crumbled
12 sheets Pre-made Egg Roll Wrappers
In a large bowl, combine the Spinach, Bell Peppers, Carrot, Cilantro, Chicken, and Bacon. Set aside.

Pour 1/2 C. Canola or vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Bring to medium/high heat.
Stack your egg roll wrappers together and cut them in half. Stack the cut halves together to make a rectangle. Slice the wrappers horizontally into 1/2"-3/4" slices.
When your oil is hot, place about 10 strips at a time in the oil. Turn the strips over as they turn lightly brown. You may need to adjust the heat depending on how quickly they cook. When they are lightly browned on both sides, remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining strips.

Top the salad with the fried wanton strips and drizzle with the toasted sesame dressing. Toss to coat.
Eat right away!

Toasted Sesame Ginger Dressing

I needed a break from my usualdressing. Something different. Something delicious. Like this Sesame Dressing. It's sweet, salty and full of flavor. And, suprisingly, is not oil based. It goes amazingly with my Chicken Wonton Spinach Salad. Try it and be happy.
1/2 C. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 T. Sesame Oil
1 drop doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil
1 T. Peanut or Almond butter(natural is best)
1 C. Brown Sugar
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 T. Rice Vingerar
1 T. Toasted Sesame Seeds
3 T. Honey
Place all ingredients except for the sesame seeds in a blender. Blend on medium speed for about 20 seconds, or until emulsified. Pour in the sesame seeds and blend for 5 seconds, just to mix in the seeds. Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins...are amazing! Who knew, right? I've never even been that big of a fan of the store bought version, to be honest. But who wants to pay $4 for 6 tough peices of bread?
Enter: The homemade english muffin. Easy to make, and even easier to eat a whole batch of in under a day. I was practically squealing in delight as I took each perfectly round, soft muffin off the pan.
I promise, once you try these little beauties, you will never go back to the store bought version.
1 C. Milk(I used Almond with much sucsess)
3 T. Butter
3 T. Honey
1 C. Warm Water
1 packet(1/4 oz.) Dry Yeast
2 T. Cornmeal
5 C. All Purpose Flour
1 t. Salt
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir lightly. Set aside for ten minutes or until it has lightly foamed.

Heat the milk, butter, and honey in a small saucepan until butter has melted. Let cool slightly. Gently combine the yeast mixture and milk mixture.

Sift 3 cups of flour into a large bowl. Stir in the milk and yeast. Sift the remaining 2 c. of flour and the salt into the bowl. Mix  until combined.

Flour your counter well and knead the dough for 3 minutes or until lightly elastic. Let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cover two cookie sheet with parchment and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal.
Lightly flour the counter and roll the dough out until it's 1 inch thick. Cut circles out of the dough and very gently place on the cookie sheets. Sprinkle the tops with cornmeal and cover with a dry, light cloth. Set the cookie sheets in a warm place for 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size. I like to put my dough in the laundry room while the dryer runs because it lets out just enough heat.
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or skillet on medium low(no need to grease it).
Very carefuly place a muffin in your hand and lightly dust off some of the corn meal. Gentle handeling is the most important thing. Place the muffin into the pan and repeat until the pan is full but the muffins are not touching.  Keep the heat on low. Cook for 8 minutes per side or until browned well. Carefully flip and cook again.
Cool on a wire rack or dry towel.

I love these toasted with butter, but the would also be amazing as a base for eggs benedict.