June 30, 2008

Lemon Bars

Robin, 27 June 08

2 c basic all purpose white flour

½ c confectioner’s/icing sugar

½ lb butter [sic]

Grated rind one lemon (do you have to be warned about ONLY grating the yellow part and NOT the white part?  You also want unwaxed lemons if you’re going to eat the peel, and if I were you I’d want organic unwaxed lemons)


Mix flour and sugar;  cut in butter and rind.  Press in 13 x 9 inch pan (or reasonable equivalent.  This is not a rocket-science, every 1/8th tsp counts, don’t slam the door while it’s baking, recipe).  Bake 350° F 20 minutes, till light brown.

3 eggs, beaten till thoroughly mixed, but they should still be fluffy and foamy

2 c granulated sugar [sic]

½ c lemon juice (FRESH lemon juice.  Anyone who uses Realemon or whatever ersatz rubbish they’re producing at the moment, is FOREVER BANNED from this blog)

1/3 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

Beat sugar, flour and baking powder into eggs, then lemon juice.  (The original recipe told you to beat in the lemon juice first, which is perverse, because the result is so thin the flour and baking powder will lump.  Maybe I’m missing some rockety-sciency chemical reaction doing it my way, but almost everybody I’ve fed these to has wanted the recipe so I guess I can live with my shortcomings as a chemist.)  Pour over baked crust.  Bake 350° 25 minutes.  It should be obviously set but only very faintly brown in the corners.  Sprinkle with icing sugar, let cool.  Let cool THOROUGHLY before you try to cut it into bars or you will be very sorry–in fact I recommend you let your refrigerator help you.  It cuts better if it’s been refrigerated but it tastes better if you let it warm back up to room temperature.

And by all means put a raspberry or a mint leaf on top.  Or both.  I know there are a lot of lemon-meringue-pie-without-the-meringue cookies/bars/tarts out there (and indeed there are lemon-meringue-with-the-meringue cookies, bars and tarts out there too) but this is the one I use.  A lot of them don’t have enough lemon juice in them.  This one didn’t either in its original incarnation.  Have I mentioned lately I’m an extremist?


I put cornmeal in when I want a rougher crust and cornstarch/cornflour when I want a meltier crust. For this recipe I use neither.


I always use ’slightly’ (as it says on the packet) salted butter because I find that’s as much salt as baking generally needs.


Cheat’s Dinner Party Dessert (or Pudding)

AJLR, 27 June 09, comment to ‘Tea at the Ritz’

Serves 6 – 8


Dairy Version
1 and a half pints (UK pint = 20 fl oz) cream. Anywhere from 38 – 45% fat is fine, so long as it will whip to a fairly stiff consistency
1/4 pt of either sweetish sherry (I use Amontillado), or dark rum, or perhaps a fruity brandy, in a small shallow bowl#
Either a packet of good quality cookies, or a to-hand batch of one’s own cookie baking. Choc chip is good, or with nuts, probably best to avoid any with dried fruit.
2 oz good dark choc chips or grated choc for decoration

NB Make this 24 hours BEFORE it is going to be served.
Whip the cream in a large bowl until it is just after the ‘leaving a trail’ stage – you need it reasonably stiff. Starting with a 1″ bottom layer of the whipped cream (in the bowl you will be serving from at the table), quickly dunk sufficient cookies, one at a time, in the sherry/rum/brandy/whatever and use to form a complete but not overlapping layer on top of the cream. Repeat to use all ingredients (I generally get three layers of cream and two of cookies, depending on the shape of the serving bowl), finishing with a cream layer. Cover top of the bowl with clingfilm (making sure not to let it touch the cream) and put in the top of the fridge until an hour or so before serving. Remove from fridge and decorate with choc shavings or chips.

The moisture from the cream + the alcohol makes everything meld together and appear more complicated to make than it is. :)

I have made this slightly less heavy on occasion by folding two stiffly whipped egg whites into the whipped cream, in which case one needs about 25% less cream. However that extra stage does make it a bit less of a ‘cheat’ dessert.

# any liquid left in the bowl after dipping all the cookies is cook’s perks!


However, for those whose digestions are not able to tolerate all that cream, this has also been very well-received:


Non-Dairy Version
Cookies as above (ginger ones are good for this, too)
Sherry/rum/whatever as above
Dark choc for decoration as above
3 large (14 oz each) tins pear halves (in juice, not syrup) + 2 tsp lemon juice
3 rounded tsps arrowroot, or cornflour if no arrowroot

Make around 4 – 6 hours ahead of serving

Purée/liquidise the pears together with about 1/4 pt of the juice. Pour results into a small saucepan, add arrowroot and heat, stirring gently, until thickened*. Allow to cool till no more than tepid. Then just follow the assembly instructions above, replacing the cream layers with thickened pear purée ones. Because this is a wetter mixture than the dairy version, it’s best not to make it the day before but it does need a few hours to join together.


* If using arrowroot, take off the heat as soon as thickened or it will start to get thinner again – as the Wikipedia entry says: “Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than does flour or cornstarch. It is recommended to mix arrowroot with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot’s thickening property. Substitute two teaspoons of arrowroot for one tablespoon of cornstarch”


Campari Orange Sorbet

Rebecca WinkleBeam, 23 Jun 08, comment to ‘Americans’

1 cup Orange juice
1/8 to 1/2 cup Campari topped off to one cup with orange juice
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup heated water (cooled)

throw in ice cream maker or put into bowl in freezer and stir it once in a while

Passionfruit Parfait Variation Rebecca Surprise (surprise because it worked)

100 g butter
125 – 175 g mashed banana (about four)
75 g sugar
2 eggs – separated
60 g bar chocolate

Melt the butter and the chocolate
Add banana and sugar
taste – if it isn’t chocolaty enough add unsweetened baking chocolate powder and sugar until it tastes rich and sweet enough
Add egg yolks and stir constantly until thickened, like loose pudding. COOL
Beat egg whites. Fold into cooled banana mixture.
Put into something that will fit into your freezer and freeze it until set.


WARNING: This does have a strong banana taste. If you don’t like banana use some other mashed strained fruit! (or add so much chocolate that you can’t taste anything else)

Curry and Cardamom Cookies

Angelia: comment in “AAAAAAAAAAAUGH*” on June 20, 2008

I’m not sure where this one came from–it always tastes a bit odd to me, but I can attest that some people really love it! My husband works for a spice/seasoning company, so I’m always looking for new recipes that contain lots of spice.


1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons curry powder (sweet, rather than hot)

½ teaspoon cardamom

1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture, a third at a time. Stir in nuts. Divide dough into four rolls and wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (may also be frozen). Slice into quarter-inch slices and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven until golden (12 to 14 minutes). Let cookies cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to racks and cool. Yields six dozen.

Salad Elona

AJLR: comment in “AAAAAAAAAAAUGH*” on June 20, 2008

“The Butterscotch Sauce. There Is No Other.”

You do realise that I’m going to have to throw caution to the wind and buy a new double-boiler saucepan now! I can’t not make this one. You have a lot to answer for, woman!

However, by way of a low-cal counter-balance, how about a Salad Elona?

One medium cucumber (preferably a fairly thin one, so the seeds aren’t developed too much)
1 1b good ripe-but-still-firm strawberries
1 T white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Wash, hull and thinly slice the strawberries (aiming for the same thickness slices as the cucumber). Arrange the slices of cucumber and strawberry in pretty alternate overlapping circles on a flat serving plate and sprinkle with the white wine vinegar. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Chill for an hour before serving.

When I first saw this in a book, many moons ago, I thought what a strange – but beautiful – mix it was. However, it is really delicious and goes very well with cold salmon or chicken in particular.

The Butterscotch Sauce

Robin in “AAAAAAAAAAAUGH*” on June 19, 2008

Speaking of comfort food, which I should be, and of sorbet, sherbet and ice cream, which we have been, and of posting old favourite recipes that I can no longer eat because of dairy or some other banned substance, which I said Playing with Your Food was going to give me the excuse to do, I give you:

The Butterscotch Sauce. There Is No Other.

½ c thin/single cream

1 c dark brown sugar††

1 tsp vanilla

three grains to a pinch of salt

2 T butter

Cook cream and butter gently in a bain marie/double boiler half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add other ingredients and stir well. Chill and then beat well. It gets all lovely and gudgy and thick. . . .

My addendum from thirty years ago reads: If this lasts long, you’re sick.

I have no idea where the recipe came from originally. It was given to me by the admirable woman who used to make it for me every time I fetched up on her threshold†††. For civilised behaviour’s sake you glop it over ice cream–or cake; it’s glorious over spice cake or gingerbread–I am/was quite capable of going after it naked with a spoon.‡ The week/fortnight I’m having I may do it again, and if my digestion kills me, then I won’t have to read proofs.‡‡

* * *

* The General All Purpose Cry of Anguish Header.  I’ve used it before.  I will use it again.  Life is like that.  Okay, my life is like that.

†† Wimps may prefer light brown. Feh.

††† Probably also with a thump.

‡ You can read that any way you like. This is a very intense and passionate butterscotch sauce.

‡‡ Oh–no–bother it, I have quite a few books to finish before anything kills me.

Why not butter?

Susan from Athens: comment in “More About Connie” on June 17, 2008

Well, no I haven’t tried it yet, but I would assume why not butter, if you can have cream? There is a whole array of parfaits, which is add an Italian-style meringue (Meringue beaten in a bain-marie to cook as you are making it) to the ice cream to make it richer and smoother. Adding butter, you get the fat content (for smooth rich mouth taste) without as many dairy proteins and sugars.

I promise to make it, but probably not with passionfruit.

Lardy Cake (without milk)

b_twin_1: comment in “More About Connie” on June 16, 2008

Found a lardy cake recipe without milk :)

And it answered my nagging doubt about which sort of flour to use. And maybe less lard?? Hmmmmm




* 1 lb strong white flour
* extra white flour, for dusting
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 ounce caster sugar
* 1 (1/4 ounce) packet fast-rising active dry yeast
* 1/2 ounce lard
* 10 fluid ounces tepid water
* oil, for greasing


* 3 ounces lard
* 2 ounces butter
* extra butter, for greasing
* 8 ounces mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, candied peel)
* 3 ounces light muscovado sugar


* 1 tablespoon caster sugar
* 1 tablespoon boiling water


1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowland rub in the lard.
2. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water, bit by bit- mix to a soft dough.
3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
4. Place in an oiled bowl& cover with oiled clingfilm; Leave to rise for about 1 hours or until doubled in size.
5. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle about 1/4 in thick.
6. Dot the surface with about 1/3 each of the lard, butter, dried fruit and sugar.
7. Fold into three, bringing one end up and the other end down (or to the left and right) Seal the edge to trap the air and then give the dough a quarter turn.
8. Repeat with the remaining fat, fruit and sugar.
9. Lightly butter a 9in by 12 in roasting tin, lightly roll out hte dough to fit and place the dough in the tin.
10. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size (about 30 mins).
11. Score the top of the dough in a criss-cross pattern and bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 6/200 degC/400degF for about 30 mins until well risen and golden brown.
12. Leave to cool in the roasting tin for about 10 mins- this is to let the cake soak up the sugar/fat mixture that will have run out.
13. Dissolve the caster sugar in the boiling water& brush on top of the loaf.
14. Eat when cool.

Champagne Sorbet

Katherine: comment in “What’s a Little Sugar Syrup Among Friends” on June 16, 2008

Your sorbet musings reminded me of this absolutely delightful champagne sorbet I had in Ireland a little over a year ago at Ballynahinch. It was so light with just the very teeniest hint of mint…a dainty sorbet, if you will.

I’ve never made any kind of sorbet myself, so I had to look for someone else’s recipe to share. I make no guarantees that it will taste as good as that one, but if anyone’s interested:

Then there’s this one (which includes a sort of meringueing process that I don’t understand): http://www.chefdecuisine.com/dessert/sorbet/CHAMPAGNE_SORBET.asp

Of course, it may just be a matter of sloshing champagne and sugar syrup around in a bowl and then freezing the heck out of it.


(Second Website)


serves: 15

1 quart water
1 pound sugar
2 ounces lemon juice

For meringue:
4 ounces sugar
1/4 cup water
4 egg whites
6 ounces champagne

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Cool in a mixing bowl. Freeze in an ice cream maker. When almost set, spoon in the meringue, (see recipe below) and 3 ounces of Champagne, and continue churning in the ice cream maker until creamy and set.

Boil water and sugar to a temperature of 230 F to 240 F.
Beat egg whites in an electric mixing bowl until medium firm. Slowly, add the hot sugar while continuing to beat the whites, and beat until cool. Serve in chilled champagne glasses. Pour remaining Champagne over sorbet.

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