Lemon Bars Dessert Recipe

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars are a favorite at parties, teas, bake sales, or just as family treats. This is an easy to make recipe that turns out tasting like you spent hours in the kitchen. People will beg you to share you secret with them so they can get compliments, too.

Ingredients:

  • 200g (7 oz) of all purpose flour
  • 80g (2.8 oz) confectioners’ sugar
  • 170g (6 oz) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g (10.5oz) white sugar
  • 25g (8.8 oz) all purpose flour
  • 60ml (2 fl oz) of lemon juice – fresh squeezed works best
  • 40g (1.4 oz) confectioners’ sugar – used for decoration

Limun kocke - Vaša kuharica

Procedure:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.
  2. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 80gs Confectioners’ sugar, and the butter.
  3. Press the dough into the greased pan. Bake this for 20 minutes or until slightly golden in color.
  4. While the crust is baking, combine the eggs, white sugar, flour, and lemon juice and whisk together until the mixture is frothy.
  5. Remove baked crust from the oven and pour lemon mixture over the hot crust.
  6. Put all back into the oven and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until it’s a light golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the top of the lemon bars.
  8. Cut into squares and serve.

French lemon tart recipe

Today’s your birthday. I call you, you’re playing with the kids. You’re

picking lemons, to make a tarte. You love making that lemon tarte, and we laugh because it’s the fifth week in a row you’ve made it. We’re excited about tonight’s meal, a new
restaurant, it will be fun. You wonder what dessert will be. You do have a seriously sweet tooth. Do you remember how you ate all 12 madeleines I brought you at the maternity hospital? 

Later, we meet for our weekly hike.  We talk about our children, their hair, their
mischiefs, their tantrums, their giggles. About our families. About Barbara and
the opera. About the children’s book you want to write. We talk about food, about last week’s meal, last year’s meal. We talk
about morning light over LA. We talk about being tired. About how hard marriage
can be. About past struggles and future travels. Not very much about future
struggles.  

I tell you about my blog. You
love the idea, you’re so supportive. You’re excited about it for me. I love
that about you, you take on other people’s joys and make them your own.

We talk about tonight’s plan. Our children spending an evening together,
growing up together. We laugh at the thought of being two old ladies, having
the same conversation.

Denial.

That day is a figment of my imagination. It’s unfair. I fume. Why
couldn’t I get that day? Why did this happen? How in the hell is it possible? I
want to scream. I don’t know to whom, so I don’t. I hate that you’re gone. Should have been me. I hate that good
things have happened since. I hate that good things come out of tragedy. It wasn”t supposed to turn out this way. You bailed on me. I’m pissed.


Anger.

What if it had been me? Less people would have gotten hurt. What if
circumstances had been different? If I try to be as good a friend as you were,
as open and giving as you were, as good a mother, sister, daughter as you were…
If I learn to share other people’s joys as genuinely as you did… maybe then you
won’t be gone, somehow.


Bargaining.

You are gone. We will not grow old together. I listen to songs that make
me think of you, with a lump in my throat. You meant more to me than I meant to
you. Terrible things happen. They will happen again and again. Nothing will ever be the same.
Time passes, fades things away. Details we desperately hang on to, to keep our head above water and not drown in sorrow. There’s that lump in my throat again. Sometimes it’s so heavy it goes right
down to my heart, pulling me down to darker depths.


Depression.

You are gone, and you are with me, every day. I go through the motions of beating
sugar and eggs, pouring butter, squeezing a lemon. Putting the tarte in the
oven. It’s strange. You went through the same motions in your kitchen, while kids were playing nearby, a long time ago.

Wonderful connections and friendships have occurred since you left us. Amazing
generosities and moments of true joy. It does seem terribly unfair it had to
happen that way. But I am grateful for them. You’ve taught me a lot of things.
Mostly unknowingly. But your final lesson is the most important of them all. Never
take life for granted, and cherish those you love. Nothing else truly matters.

With a heavy heart, I think of you today. I shall have a slice of my ever
imperfect tarte au citron. Perfection doesn’t exist. If it did, you wouldn’t be
gone.  With every bite, I am thankful for all you have brought into my
life.

Acceptance.

Tarte au citron – French lemon pie

Serves about 6

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 25 mn

Age for babies: 12 months above, because it is very sweet.

1 1/2 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup butter + a bit to butter the pie pan
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg
The juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven at 375°F.

Place 1/3 cup butter in a hot water bath to melt it (a ramekin in a pan with water will do – or in a pinch, melt in the microwave).

Meanwhile, make the dough (pâte sablée) mixing the flour with about 1/2 cup of soft butter. You can do this by hand or with a food processor (with dough blade). Add 1 or 2 tbsp of water to get it moist enough to form a workable dough.

Butter the pie pan (I used three smaller ones, you can use a larger one, 7 inch diameter for example).

Spread the dough in the pie pan(s) using your finger to even its thickness throughout. (Use some flour on your hands if the dough is a bit sticky).

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg, until it’s white and foamy.  Whisk in the 1/3 cup melted butter, and the lemon juice.

Pour the lemon mixture into the pie pan(s) with the dough. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is crumbly. Put another 5 minutes in the broiler to brown the top. (Note: the lemon filling will remain very soft and almost liquidy. It firms up some when it cools down).

Let cool, and enjoy with some mint tea and good company.

A personal tale of two mothers, & a stuffed lemon appetizer

As mother’s day is upon us, I wanted to share a personal story, go down memory lane with you here.

Before I do, I would like to wish all moms out there a wonderful, joyful Mother’s Day, where all that you do and all that you are is acknowledged and celebrated. Starting with my own mother, whose influence, support, love and help are still invaluable and precious today as they always were, and who is as giving and loving a grandmother to Pablo as she was a mother to me.  Bonne fête des mères, maman.

From about the age of 4 until 22 (at which time I came to live in the United States), my mother and I celebrated Mother’s Day the same way: I would cook a meal for her.

But not just any meal. A six course lunch with a cold and hot appetizer, a fish dish, a meat dish, cheese and dessert, including the most complicated recipes I could get my hands on, on which I worked for several days to plan and pull off.

I was raised alone by a single mom, who worked very hard, out of town most of the week, for most of my childhood. So the times we did have together were very precious, and my principal motivation throughout my childhood was to do whatever I could to make my mother happy.

Thinking back on this tradition we had for so many years, perhaps because of being a mother myself now, I have come to think of my young self almost as a different person. As the child that I was. With more understanding, and more empathy than before. Children do what they need to do to fulfill their needs, and they are incredibly resourceful in doing so. And as it turns out, this need to make my mother happy and proud, was in part how I learned how to cook. I have no formal training, I never took cooking classes, what I know about cooking comes from my mother cooking for and with me whenever she could, taking me to fine dining restaurants and giving me a love of gastronomy, and from those 18 meals I cooked for her on Mother’s Day.

For a number of years, I had enlisted two other children, who also had a single mom, to embark on this adventure with me, and I am so thankful to them for putting up with me then, as it makes me laugh today how pushy and bossy I was! This was cooking bootcamp! I had sheets of planning, cooking durations, shopping lists, task lists, to-do lists etc. We would barely eat all day (we would not sit down to eat with the moms, but served them restaurant-style).

Very fortunately, the cookbook I used the most for those meals somehow followed me through the continents and years, and flipping through it now, what astounds me is the complexity of the recipes I chose, especially given the fact that we had no Cuisinarts or blenders or even hand mixers at the time. It was three kids, a tiny kitchen with basic equipment, and a very tall order.

I found post-its with definitions of things like a sieve, caramelizing and flambeing… The book was divided into recipes for family meals, casual get-togethers, healthy meals, “reception meals”, with the level of complexity. I would of course exclusively pick recipes from “reception meals”, preferably with 3 or 4 complexity marks. So what are some of things I made? Here’s a sample, just for fun, because I am astounded today at how ambitious I was… Fish soup with lumpfish roe, stuffed leg of lamb en croute, Cornish game hens in a champagne sauce, pike quenelles… you get the idea.

The stuffed lemon recipe I am sharing here is the only recurring recipe I made for my mother as an apéritif to the Mother’s Day lunch.

I recall one year in particular, I was on my own, probably about 7, when the recipe called for homemade fish broth. Per the instructions on the recipe, I had asked the fishmonger to give me fish bones to make the broth. But as fate would have it, the fish bones were way too big for the pan I had. And very hard. Being unsuccessful even after going at them with a hammer (!), in desperation, I had to ask my mother for help. (I can imagine her in the living room, being forbidden entry in the kitchen, wondering what I was doing in there with a hammer!)

Writing this, I suddenly fear the post might come though as bragging. Actually, this is a post of healing for me, a way of treating myself on Mother’s Day; and one of gratitude for my mother.

First, it is an homage to the amazing trust and freedom my mother left me, to do this on my own for her, not trying to control, letting me learn, problem-solve… I remember she would give me really supportive, constructive criticism and praise. She would be honest about what dish she preferred and why. This benevolent trust and support ultimately taught me to be resilient (in the face of large fish bones and other life trials:-)), it gave me confidence. She let me do my thing, let me be myself, and this was such an enormous gift.

And then, I am suddenly overcome with emotion, as I think of myself trying so very hard. Because the other part of this post, is being able to tell the little girl that I was, the lonely, but resourceful little girl that I was: you did good. You are enough. You are worthy of love and connection. With or without the six course meal.

We learn from hardships and wounds. That’s just evolution, I suppose. And children shouldn’t feel their parents’ happiness depends wholly on them. But even though much sadness and loss goes with that burden, it taught me a lot. It made me who I am today. It gave me the love of nurturing, an ability to be attuned to others’ needs. It made me a better parent.

And it gave me cooking. It always gets back to that these days, it seems. Cooking was my resource, a quiet friend always standing by me, an old companion in my childhood quest to bring joy, to give myself, to be loved and valued.

In the past year, I have explored cooking in many new ways I had never seen before. I have loved sharing with you here the invaluable life lessons to be learned and taught in the kitchen and at the table. Yet still today, these many years later, an ocean away, cooking remains my dear old companion.

To bring joy. To give myself. To be loved and valued.

Interestingly, I’ve just read an article on the value of learning how to cook very young, and I am certainly very lucky and grateful that I did acquire a love of cooking at such a young age. And I’m thrilled to pass on this gift to Pablo, who is already excited about cooking (unsurprisingly, as so much of our daily life revolves around cooking!)  He’s already told me today he wants to make “Pacho!” again, i.e. Gazpacho. We made this one together a couple of weeks ago, and this is a perfect dish to make with a toddler. He washed the tomatoes, broke down the watermelon, poured the oil in the blender, watched it whirl. He had a blast.

I wanted to leave you with a recipe and a menu…  This recipe for tuna-stuffed lemons is very easy, and a great recipe for a child to make. Remaking it for the first time in years for this post, I found myself filled with sense memories. Emptying the lemons, I remembered feeling the same sting on the picked skin around my fingers. Mashing the butter, tuna, lemon pulp together, I remembered the feeling of that texture.

It is a very simple, tasty refreshing appetizer, with a fun festive presentation.

As you probably have gathered, I will be cooking a Mother’s Day lunch on Sunday, side by side with my mother and my son. Except this time, I will be sitting down to enjoy it too. Because cooking (and eating) makes me happy and brings me great joy. As does celebrating with the people I love.

As our family is a mix (among other things) of Spanish, Greek and French roots, I wanted to honor that in our menu, with some added fun little things too…

Mother’s Day Lunch

Chickpea feta cilantro salad

Seafood paella

Cheese (you know, being French and all…)

Chocolate soufflé, homemade raspberry rhubarb mint ice cream

~~~

Stuffed lemons

Serves 4 people

Prep time : 15 min
No cook time.

Age for babies: 10 months and up

4 lemons
1 can of wild albacore tuna, in water (drained) (Sardines are also an option)
3 tbsp butter, room temperature (or in microwave for 12 seconds)
1 dozen pitted green olives, chopped
1 pinch of piment d’Espelette (optional, or Cayenne pepper)
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp of minced chives
Microgreens for garnish

Cut off the lemons’ hats, and cut a little bit of the lemon at the foot, so it can stand on its own.

With a spoon, empty the lemons out, placing the pulp and juice in a bowl. Make sure to keep the lemon shell intact. Use your hands to peel off the skins inside the lemon. Doesn’t have to be perfect.

Pour the lemon contents through a fine strainer, reserving the lemon juice. Remove all the seeds, and thick skins, until you are left with just the lemon pulp.

With a fork, mash down the tuna, add the softened butter, then the lemon pulp. You can use your finger to mix it thoroughly. Add the chives, the olives, salt, pepper and piment d’Espelette. Taste, add a few drops of lemon juice if needed. (If not, keep the lemon juice for other use, vinaigrette for example.)

Spoon the mixture inside the lemons. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Serve on a plate or bowl with some microgreens for garnish, maybe a few extra olives or cherry tomatoes.

Lemon pork loin recipe

This is one dish my mom often cooks in summer and it is awesome because you can prepare it in advance and enjoy it cold as a cold roast or thinly sliced in a sandwich with a bit of lemony mayo. Also, the lemony taste makes it light and perfect for the summer.

Ingredients

  • 2lb pork loin
  • 4-5 lemons
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. All you need is pork loin (about 2 pounds), the juice of 4 or 5 lemons, a bit of olive oil (better if extra virgin), salt and pepper. This dish is best made in a pressure cooker, but you might use a regular pot.
  2. First season your pork loin with salt and pepper, just rub a bit of salt and pepper on both sides of the loin, then put the loin in the pressure cooker or the pot, add the juice of the lemons and a spoon or so of oil. Put the lid on and turn on the stove. If you are using a pressure cooker you should cook it 30-40 minutes from the whistle, for the regular pot it probably needs a hour to a hour an a half. When it’s done cooking, let the steam out and let the meat rest in its juices until is lukewarm or even cold.
  3. Serve lukewarm or cold, slice as thin as you can (use a slicer if you have one) and put on a plate with the juice from cooking.
  4. If you think it might be too sour for you or some of your guest, place juice in a separate bowl. The meat itself is going to be only slightly lemony, the real punch is in the sauce.
  5. This dish keeps well for a day or two in the fridge, so can be prepared in advance and is perfect for potlucks, pic nicks and the like, or simply to make ahead for a busy day.

No bake lemon cake recipe

Yesterday my BF turned 35 so a cake was needed. I thought about doing chocolate cake or some other classic cake, but it is so hot that I wasn’t really convinced.

Then it hit me: what about a no bake lemon cake? In Italy Dr Oekter has this line of no bake dessert that include the no bake yogurt cake I made a couple of weeks ago and a lemon cake. I thought I could look up the recipe for the lemon cake: if there is a way of making the yogurt cake without using the mix there must be a way of doing the lemon cake as well! I started looking around and I found this recipe. It’s in Italian of course, but it seemed perfect. So I got all the ingredients and I prepared the cake.

Turned out quite well, didn’t it?

No bake lemon cake

Ingredients

  • 20 graham crackers
  • 2 spoons melted butter
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Prepare the base of the cake by blending the cookies with the butter. The crumbs should be wet with butter. Place the crumbs in the pan and press them down with a spoon into a uniform layer. Place the pan in the fridge so that the base can solidify.
  2. Soak the jelly in 1/4 cup cold water. Start a syrup by cooking the remaining water (1/4 cup) with the sugar for about 10-15 minutes. Finally warm up the gelatin with the juice of 1 lemon until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  3. Meanwhile beat your egg whites to stiff peaks. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg whites and keep mixing with an hand blender. Add half the lemon juice with the gelatin to the mixture and keep beating. Finally add the juice of the remaining lemon. Keep beating the mixture until it cools down.
  4. Now whip up the cream in a separate bowl and then slowly add it to the mixture with a spoon. Pour this cream over the base layer and put in the fridge to rest for about 4 hours.
  5. You can decorate the cake with your favorite fruit or with a layer of yellow gelatin. This time I choose to use strawberries.