Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

26 February 2011

Whole Lemon Bars

These are perhaps the best lemon bars I have ever eaten... ever. The recipe is adapted from the ever inspiring David Lebovitz's blog. I was attracted to the recipe right off, once reading that it used a whole lemon. I happen to adore lemon bars and grew up eating them all the time. My Mom was not really a baker, but she made a darn good lemon bar, which I always asked for at every special occasion. Needless to say, I've eaten a lot of them over the years. The older I got though, the more I found them increasingly too sweet for my taste. I find that now too, with nearly every lemon bar I have met in recent past. I think that's just what most people have come to expect from a lemon bar, a cloyingly sweet jelly-centered bar, with a doughy cookie 'crust'. So unfortunate.

I was thrilled to taste these and after practically inhaling the entire first batch on my own, I had to make a second batch just to make sure I really did like them as much as I thought I did. That it wasn't some fluke or something the first time.

Anyhow, they're fantastic. They have a bitter edge from using the whole lemon, pith and all, which I quite enjoy. The center is more of a lemon cream and not that jello-looking translucent center we've come to expect. The crust is golden and crispy. I used ground lavender blossoms in mine as well as grated lemon zest, for another layer of flavor.

Such a simple and pleasing treat these are. I hope they will become a staple in your bake-sale, tea party, summer luncheon, Sunday couch snacking while drinking tea.... repertoire.


Whole Lemon Bars:
Yields 1, 9"9 pan (about 9 large squares)

For the crust:
1 cup flour ( I used organic brown rice flour)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 TB grated lemon zest
2 tsp ground lavender blossoms

For the filling:
1 1/2 lemons ( I used 1 large Meyer lemon and 1/2 Bearss lime)
3/4 cup sugar
3 TB freshly squeezed orange juice ( I used blood orange)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 TB unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9"x9" brownie pan with cooking spray, then press in parchment to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients for the crust. Mix until the dough comes together. It will be quite soft. Press evenly into the parchment lined baking pan, using your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is evenly golden brown.

3) While the crust is cooking, make the filling. Cut the lemon in half and remove the seeds. Cut the lemon/ lime into chunks. Place the chunks into a blender, along with the sugar and orange juice. Let the blender run until the lemon is very well pureed. Add in the eggs, cornstarch, salt, and melted butter. Process until well combined and almost smooth.

4) Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Pour the lemon filling into the hot crust and return to the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center.

5) Let the bars cool for 15-20 minutes at room temperature, then finish cooling completely in the fridge. Using the sides of the parchment, lift the square out of the pan. Slice off the edges and discard. Then slice the bars into 9 equal pieces, about 2.5" x 2.5". Serve chilled. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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