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Pistachio Lemon Bars #SundaySupper

 

This week’s Sunday Supper is brought by Anne from Simple and Savory. The theme is Easy Spring Recipes. There are so many spring vegetables that I would love to write about, but this is Maine. Spring doesn’t hit until June and we’re pretty lacking in local produce at the moment. I haven’t even begun to think about the garden yet! I am dreaming about it … but in the meantime …

There’s a little happy dance being done here – a very tentative happy dance, mind you. This is, after all, Maine. The snow has started to melt (hard to believe 2 1/2 weeks ago there was 4 FEET of snow out there), seems as though the grip of winter has started to ease. I realize, that merely typing these words can bring upon us another snowmageddon, but we’re hopeful.

We have a short growing season here, so vegetables that take a longer time to mature grow in our greenhouse, all else in the garden. I CAN NOT WAIT!

I’m not quite sure why lemons and pistachios remind me of spring, but they do. Perhaps it’s my Greek roots. Perhaps it was my Papoo’s love of pistachios and sneaking handfuls out of his night stand drawer – though, those were the red dyed ones. Not easy to be sneaky when your fingers and lips and tongue are dyed bright red!. Perhaps it was his idea that lemons were good for everything – softening your hands, flavoring things, making you feel better, taking away unpleasant smells.

So, Papoo, this one’s for you …

THE CRUST:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

THE FILLING:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  •  Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (if using foil, lightly butter it). Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add butter and process until well combined. Stir in chopped pistachios. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup (if it sticks, place a piece of parchment paper on the dough before pressing).

Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust is baked, pour the filling into the pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 2-inch squares.

Breakfast

Cakes, Pies, and Sweets

Cookies and Bars

Main Courses

Pastas

Seafood

Veggies and Sides

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Pistachio Dried Cherry Torrone ~ March Daring Bakers

Done 3

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been able to join in any cooking or baking events. I’ve missed it.  I am so pleased to be able to join in BOTH Daring Kitchen challenges this month.

I have had this Martha Stewart Torrone recipe on deck for a LONG time and made my own changes to it, but felt the base recipe was easy enough for me to handle!

Done 2

And you-know-who is screaming WHY? And in the same breath WHERE’S MINE??

This was a bit fiddley. I was a bit hampered by not being in my own kitchen. I used a hand mixer that’s affixed to a bowl that turns, so it was a semi-stand mixer type piece of equipment … but not really.

It needs to sit and ‘dry’ a bit more, but man oh man, this is tasty stuff!

  • 2 pieces edible rice paper, (9 by 13 inches each) wafer paper
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C shelled salted pistachios, (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 1/3 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut, (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 C dried cherries

Place 1 piece of rice paper in a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

NOTE: I lightly buttered the sides of the baking dish. You’re going to trim them off anyway so it just makes removing the Torrone easier.

Put sugar, honey, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

NOTE: Aside from the no stand mixer problem, I also suffered from a no CANDY THERMOMETER problem. 300 degrees is hard ball stage. Drop a tiny amount of the boiling sugar into a cup with cold water, when it becomes a hard, crunchy mass once in the water, you’re done.

Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Raise speed to high. Pour hot honey mixture into egg-white mixture in a slow, steady stream, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes.

Ingredients

Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in vanilla, pistachios, coconut, and cranberries.

Working quickly, spread mixture into prepared dish. Place another sheet of rice paper on top; press down to flatten and spread evenly. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Ready to cut

Cut around edges of Torrone to loosen. Remove from baking sheet; transfer to a cutting board. Trim edges to be straight. Using a long, sharp knife, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Strips

Done

More from our snow bound day of baking. I love chocolate chip cookies, really love them, and will try any new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but how many different ways are there to make a chocolate chip cookie? Especially drop chocolate chip cookies. It’s really just changing up the ‘goodies’ inside. I love playing with the sizes and shapes. Now, we’ve already seen the Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie, which was great and easy and a wee bit different. But, while flitting around some of the blogs I read I saw these chocolate chip cookies and they have toffee AND you don’t have to scoop them! They make great big Cookie Monster sized cookies … that you cut into strips. This recipe comes from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer:  All the Good Cookies recipe book.

Many thanks again to my friend Lisa for braving the snow to make cookie baking day so much fun and to Miss A for awakening from slumber with a zeal to get her bake on!

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/3 C (8 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C Heath toffee bits (add 2/3 cup if you’re a toffee lover!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Creaming

Place the butter and sugars in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

panoramic

With the mixer on low, add the flour, baking powder and salt; beat well and scrape again.

Stir in the chocolate chips and the toffee.

Rolling

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter of the dough between two floured sheets of waxed paper into an 8-inch or so square.

NOTE: Flouring wax paper? Nope, doesn’t work. Lightly flour the rolling pin and you’re just fine!

Ready to Bake

Transfer the cookie squares to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes.

While hot, cut each cookie square in half, then cut each half into eight 1-inch slices. Cool the slices on the cookie sheets completely.

Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies

Brownies

I am the eldest child (well, at least chronologically). Not an easy task. As the eldest, you are the experimental child. Your parents really have NO clue what to do with a baby, a toddler, a child, a tween, and (EEK!) a teenager.

When you get to the youngest child – especially if there is a gaggle of children – that youngest child can pretty much juggle knives and it’s okay.

Not convinced? Neither was Sandro. Our conversation sounded a bit like this:

Me: “when I was your age …”
Sandro: (eye rolling)
Me: “Yes, I know, I was never your age. But, when I was, I had a midnight curfew!”
Sandro: “What!?”
Me: “Not that I ever came home on time, and was grounded constantly, but yes, at 21 I had a midnight curfew.”

I couldn’t go away for a weekend with friends, just miles away, without a lot of guff. Sandro is going to CANCUN with friends. Le sigh.

On the other hand, I never had hand-me-downs. And while knife juggling and staying out late wasn’t allowed, my parents’ life fit around my schedule, as opposed to all those that follow whose every move has to really fit around everyone else’s schedules.  Also, my parents let me try any activity that tickled my fancy. After a bunch-o kids, you already know when certain activities will last about 45 seconds before they flit on to something else and you become more hesitant to sign that permission slip.

What does this have to do with brownies, you may ask. Absolutely NOTHING!

Sandro Pan

Oh, that ^ handsome fella is Sandro. And when I said I felt like baking something and then said brownies, his face lit up. So, really how could I refuse! What brownies to make? I had wanted to try these brownies since first seeing them in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours. This was the perfect opportunity.  As always happens, Sandro disappeared while I was getting ready to bake these brownies and he only re-emerged from his room once he smelled the just out of the oven brownies!

These are really chocolatey. Nice crisp top and a gooey inside. They’re made in one pot – another BIG plus. Just pay attention to the part about BUTTERING the baking pan (I didn’t) and letting them cool completely before cutting (Sandro didn’t). They get better and richer as they sit. These definitely go into the brownie rotation!

  • ½ C cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C roughly chopped walnuts or pecans

NOTE: Not having baker’s chocolate and being far TOO lazy to go out, I opted for the cocoa.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Ingredient Pan

Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium low, whisking constantly till blended. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well.

Ready to bake

Pour into a well buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NOTE: SEE THOSE WORDS … WELL BUTTERED!? I am just seeing them NOW! They were a bit difficult getting out of the baking pan.

Baked

Cool completely and cut into squares. These brownies are very fudgy and may be somewhat difficult to slice cleanly; use a sharp knife and a spatula to help them loosen from the baking dish.

NOTE: Ah, the other problem with getting them out was that other foreign word … COOL!

Inside Out S’mores

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was given the honor of choosing a recipe from Hoosier Homemade. There are so many wonderful recipes on Liz’s site that it was really difficult to choose just one. Then I saw her recipe for Peanut Butter S’mores.  The S’mores reminded me that I was itching to try Smashing S’mores from How Sweet It Is. What a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone!

Jessica at How Sweet It Is copied adapted these after Trader Joe’s Smashing S’mores and I stole adapted them from Jessica.

These are so simple and so yummy! You can make as many or as few as you want so they can be perfect for a quick snack or dessert in a pinch.

All you need are:

  • marshmallows
  • graham crackers
  • chocolate chips or bar chocolate, melted

I burnt roasted the marshmallows a little bit first. I like the toasty flavor marshmallows get when roasted a bit. Once roasted let cook completely.

Melt a small bowl of chocolate to use as the glue to hold everything together.

Break graham crackers into fours, then cut or snap each plank into squares. Use a small dab of chocolate to glue the squares together. Add one dab on top of the top graham cracker and press the marshmallow on top. Let the stacks sit for 30-60 minutes or until the graham crackers and marshmallows are stuck together.

Melt more chocolate in a deep glass bowl or mug to make it easy for dipping. Using a thin fork or long pointy tool press it into the top of the marshmallow gently. Dip it in the chocolate and cover as much as you can. I sat my stacks on a fork and drizzled the chocolate over the top. Remove and set on wax paper, leaving until the chocolate is hardened.

I stored mine in the fridge but they are fine at room temperature too! While the chocolate is still wet you can add sprinkles to the top, some crushed graham crackers or chopped nuts.



Sour Cherry Streusel Cake

This recipe was shared with me many, many moons ago by one of my pals at Nigella’s Kitchen Forum.

This cake also happens to be my son’s favorite sweet comfort food. It is one of two sweet things my son will request – the other being my kitchen sink oatmeal cookies. The cake is light and delicate with sour cherries and a crispy, buttery streusel topping.

It doesn’t ship well.

My making this can only mean one thing – VISITING WEEKEND AT CAMP! I cannot wait to put my arms around that skinny boy. I know. I know. He’s a man – HA. He’s 21. He’s my baby. I don’t care if he’s 51. He’s my baby.

Enough filler. Let’s get back to our regularly scheduled cake.

Although the recipe is originally called Platz (Mennonite Streusel Cake), it came to me as Sour Cherry Streusel Cake and that is how it shall forever be known. The recipe comes from Johanna Burkhard’s 400 best Comfort Foods.

And besides, if I had told my family that their now beloved Sour Cherry Streusel Cake was actually called Platz, I don’t think they would have been quite so quick to love it! And until I bought the book, I would never have thought to make this with other fruit! I think it was more of a sour cherries – yum – what could be better than that! The book recommends cherries or apricots. I’m thinking blueberries!

And I wait patiently every year until late spring/early summer for the sour cherry crop to be ready. And sometimes I miss it.

I was very lucky this year, and came across some at the Farmer’s Market in Union Square Park. I pitted all of them and put some in the freezer for use later in the season. Did I mention I love my cherry pitter? Well I do! Not as much splattering and the fruit doesn’t get too damaged in the process.

Cake:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/3 C butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract or grated lemon zest
  • 4 C pitted, drained sour cherries or other seasonal sliced fruits

Crumb Topping

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork to make coarse crumbs.

Beat egg in a bowl; stir in cream and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture to make a thick batter.

Drop small spoonfuls of batter into a generously greased 13 x 9-inch cake pan and spread evenly.

Top with cherries in a single layer.

Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork to make coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake on middle rack in oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is golden.

Place pan on a rack and let cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 12 squares

NOTE: In a dash of occasional madness, I have been known to add almond paste (1/2 a tube) to the cake batter and a little almond extract (1/2 teaspoon). And to incite further frivolity in my house I have made 1 1/2 times the streusel topping!

And just coz I know you want it – one me peek at the cake …

Sugar Cookie Bars

As many of you know, my darling son does not dorm at scollege. It was his choice. He has been heard saying – though of course not to me, lest he need to give up any of that ANGST – he likes his home, his parents and his mother’s cooking and care, so why would he sleep in a dorm 10 miles away.

He does, however, work at a performing arts camp from June 1st to August 31st as music staff (Tommy is a musician – bass trombone in case anyone out there needs a music teacher or musician for some reason!) and bunk counselor. Doesn’t pay exorbitantly well. The weather is spotty until mid-July. The work is hard. The food is terrible. My husband and I go up on visiting weekends and if that food is their best foot forward for the parents – MYOHMYOHMY what are they feeding my baby!?

That being said, he has a wonderful time. He loves his campers. He teaches music lessons. He plays some fantastic music. And, being it’s a performing arts camp, he has played in the pit orchestras of some amazing shows. The first amateur production of Hairspray anywhere. West Side Story using Leonard Bernstein’s original manuscript.

He always comes back from camp having lost at least 10 pounds and a list of dinners he wants as soon as humanly possible. Now, at 6’1″ and 130 pounds soaking wet, that’s a skinny boy every day, it is a scary skinny kid in August.

So, when he calls and says – PLEEEEEASE, Mommy (I am Mommy when he wants something), send cookies. I hear that voice asking me for cookies and I see this little boy to the left. I know, I know, he’s 21 and doesn’t look that way, but don’t we all see them as sweet little children? I picture him wasting away to nothing. To the right, that’s what he looks like now. Cute, ain’t he?

What is a mother to do? Bake! That’s what a mother does! Bake and mail. Bake and mail. Bake and mail. But these have to be cookies that travel well. These have to be cookies with no chocolate – with the exception of a few chips here and there. Did I mention MY son hates chocolate?  There can be no nuts whatsoever in the cookies – the camp has a strict no nut policy.

AND – AND – there are cookies for Tommy, and Tommy’s 2 best friends, and a little bribe for the mailroom folks. They are supposed to open every package and take out items that are verboten. It’s amazing what a bribe of sugar and flour will do!

I asked my Facebook buddies for suggestions and got some really good ones that will be making their way to camp this summer, but I suddenly started seeing these sugar cookie bars everywhere. They looked amazing and the recipe bakes on a half sheet pan so it makes a LOT of cookies. I traced the cookies back to Anissa’s Kitchen. Thank you!

Usually they are frosted, but frosting would not work for these. I thought it would be a terrible mess in the mail. I personally love sugar cookies with sanding sugar on top. Sanding sugar would be perfect for mailing. Sanding sugar it is!

You use a half sheet pan. Cookies/bars are as large or small as you choose to make them!  These are REALLY good and very easy to make.

  • 1 C butter; room temp.
  • 2 C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 5 C flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and mix. Add in flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Spread on a greased 13×8 baking sheet (a half sheet pan).

If you are using sanding sugar, sprinkle top of cookie

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely and cut.