Lemon Custard Bars

Lemon season is right now; they are very fresh and I have a whole box of them my wonderful brother in Texas sent me.  The incredible lemon scent when I opened the box about knocked me over! Besides the venerable lemon meringue pie, lemon marmalade, lemoncello liqueur, lemon velvet pie, lemon chiffon pie and lemonade; what else can be made with them? I use them when I oven bake chicken with small potatoes. I make preserved lemons for use in Moroccan cooking and in sauces. I put the zest in shortbread cookie dough and I love lemon bars.  Recently, I found a new lemon bar recipe that is more of a lemon custard bar you cut into squares. This recipe is so simple. I followed it exactly down to the parchment paper lined baking pan; makes for easy removal of the squares after cooling.  This is a 8×8 square pan; makes 9 big squares or 12 smaller rectanges.

The custard is eggs, gf flour blend, baking powder and a whole lot of lemon juice.  Beat them up and pour on top of a lemon scented shortbread (it has lemon zest in it!) and bake a while.  Then comes the waiting; they have to chill two hours before you can cut into the pan of delicate lemony goodness.  The squares get sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar for a pretty picture of a lemon treat.  They are from Nicole Hunn’s gluten free website.  Since she doesn’t allow bloggers to share her recipes; here’s the link to her amazing lemon bars: http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/

lemon-custard-square

They are thicker and more custardy than typical lemon bars and a delicate delight when made using Meyer lemons.  But the recipe is for regular lemons and they make a great dessert using whatever lemons you like.  If you are a lemon lover they can’t be passed by!

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Lemon Meringue Pie for Mom

This pie is old school delicious.  Yes, more pie…per my promise of a recipe a week for the whole year. This is my mom’s bastardized version of a Betty Crocker recipe and made gluten free with my favorite crust.  It has no gelatin for you gel haters! I make it with the lesser amount of sugar in the filling but you can more than double it if you are a sweet freak.  I have never met a man who didn’t love it, well…maybe one. My friend Russel doesn’t care for anything with lemons. But his wife Claire adores lemon so this pie is for her and my mom…(It’s Mother’s Day after all!) and my brother Christopher who often requests this pie when he is in town.

If I have them, I always use Meyer lemons for this recipe.  Your pie will have a really delicate flavor – so light I sometimes call it lemon cloud pie!  Don’t worry; regular lemons work just fine. It can be difficult to find Meyer lemons and pricey too.

I have never gotten my mom to admit it but I am positive she added extra egg whites to her meringue.  Her pie was towering with the white fluffy stuff unlike my nearly level pie made with just three whites.  It is up to you how impressive you want your dessert to look. But if you have company you might want to go for the big bang of a four- five egg white meringue topping for maximum wow power

My mom added the touch of corn syrup to replace some of the reduced out sugar and because it makes the texture of this pie creamier and more delicate.  Don’t make this pie on a very humid day or the meringue will weep and bead on the top.  It will taste fine but the look will suffer from the humidity. My slice picture shows some of that beading; it started to get humid that day and my pie still tasted fantastic even with the slight beading issue.

Store any leftover pie in the fridge. It doesn’t keep more than two days but frankly none of it ever lasts more than two days.

 

Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe) [King Arthur plain mix]

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes. Then roll it out and line a 9 inch pie pan with it.  Make sure you get the middle nice and thin; this crust can be tough to get the center as thin as the edges. Prick it all over with a fork to keep it from bubbling out and bake the empty crust at 375 for 10-12 minutes until light brown.  Let cool.

Lemon Filling:

Ingredients:

1/3 to ¾ cup sugar

1/3 plus 1 tbsp. corn starch

1 ½ cup water

3 eggs, separated; yolks for filling, save whites for meringue

1-2 tsp. lemon zest

½ cup fresh lemon juice

2-3 tbsp. clear corn syrup

3 tbsp. butter cut in small chunks

Directions:

Start oven heating to 400 degrees for browning the topped pie.

Mix the sugar and corn starch in a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan.  Add the water, stirring.  Heat until it boils, stirring constantly, boil one minute, take off heat.  Beat yolks briefly in a small mixing bowl, then add the hot stuff slowly to it; half the hot mixture, stirring constantly.  Then dump it all back into the saucepan, bring to a boil, stir like a crazy person so it doesn’t scorch. Boil 1 minute at medium heat.  Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and zest and then stir in the butter.  Let it melt as you stir.  Glug in some corn syrup. Pour the hot lemon filling into the pie crust.  Top while still hot with the meringue you just beat up. Make sure you get the meringue all the way across the top and along every single edge. No cracks, no gaps. Bake it 10-11 minutes until light brown. Cool to room temperature and then chill for 2-6 hours.  Slice and serve.

Meringue topping

The three egg whites (or 4-5)

¼ tsp. cream of tarter

6 tbsp. granulated sugar (or 8-10 tbsp.)

Beat the whites and the cream of tarter until it is past the foamy stage, add the sugar half a tbsp. at a time beating on high until the whites are stiff and glossy.  This will take several minutes.

If you add one or two extra egg whites add another ¼ tsp. cream of tarter and add 2 tbsp. sugar for each extra white.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Originally posted March 2015, slightly revised for this posting.

Meyer Lemon Tart: Tarts are Pies with No Lid

My brother Robert sends me a big box of, just picked, fat and juicy Meyer lemons from his trees late every fall.   This year he sent me a second box this past weekend; 24 big fat lemons! Homegrown, juicy: they are a cooks dream.  Their flavor is sweet; not that usual tart of lemons, with a gorgeous floral scent.  They are perfect in cookies like the lemon squares every one loves, which I make gf now a days. I also make lemon meringue pie, lemon marmalade, lemonade, a classic French lemon tart and this delicate buttermilk tart with a baked filling which I am sharing with you today. Yes, another in my year of pies.  Did I mention that tarts are just shallow pies with no lids? Yeap. They count as pies….in my world anyway!

This tart is very simple to construct; far and away the easiest lemon item I bake. I use a shortbread cookie style gf press and pre bake it and the filling is just whisked together and poured into the partially baked crust.  So easy to make and it goes great with a big spoonful of fresh real whipped cream.  Although I actually prefer a dollop of plain organic low fat yogurt, just about as tasty and hugely more healthy. Sometimes I lay slices of Meyer lemon down the length of it when I use my special rectangular tart pan.  Sensational looking and as yummy as it looks.  A round tart pan works great too. I have used a regular gf pie crust which is a tasty alternative to the cookie crust.

Simple, tasty,  and impressive looking – you could make it with regular lemons but I suspect it would need more sugar to make it sweet enough as Meyer lemons are far sweeter than the grocery store lemons. Maybe 2/3 cup of sugar instead of a half cup. Don’t be scared off by the buttermilk.  You will never know it is even in the filling; totally blends in.

If you want to use all purpose flour in your crust and in the filling – go right ahead.  I have been making this tart long before I went gluten free.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Tart

Cookie Tart Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mixture (recipe below)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold butter cut up into 6 or 7 chunks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. water

Directions:

Mix the dry ingredients in your stand mixer, add the butter, blend with the paddle blade until the butter is small pebbles.  Add the vanilla and water.  Press into a tart pan with a removable bottom, be sure to first spray the pan with cooking spray.  Par-bake 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool 10-20 minutes before filling and baking.

Filling

¾ cup low fat buttermilk: let it warm up for 15 minutes before mixing

½ cup granulated sugar

2 lg eggs, warm them to room temperature

6 tbsp. Meyer lemon juice

2 tbsp flour (I use sweet rice, white rice flour or a blend)

1-2 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Mix all filling ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Pour into crust and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 min; until just barely set.  Cool completely and refrigerate until chilled.  Can decorate tart with thin slices of Meyer lemon leaves. Serve slices topped with a dollop of this lightly sweetened cream.  Or a spoonful of organic low fat yogurt; very healthy but surprisingly satisfying.  Pairs well with the tangy sweet of the tart.

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Topping:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp powdered sugar

Beat cream, add powdered sugar.  Serve a dollop with each slice of tart. Or top with a healthy spoonful of Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, 2 percent or whole milk yogurt.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

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Filling recipe modified slightly from one found on food network.com, flour mix and crust from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook: Gluten – Free Baking Classics.

Reposted from mt original post in December 2014.

Luscious Lemon Tart…A True Classic

 

Who doesn’t love a luscious fruit tart? But it’s the middle of winter.  What can you make that is fresh…seasonal?  2016 is my big pie year after all.  Gotta come up with something good.

How about a classic lemon tart? Lemons are in season, in fact, I have some fresh homegrown Meyer lemons my brother sent me from Texas.  And a couple off my man’s little lemon bush he grows in a pot, it is in his kitchen keeping warm for the winter.  Sweet!

Can’t think why it took me this long to make this wonderful yet very traditional lemon tart.  The recipe is fairly simple although you can’t step away from the stove while you cook the filling.  You must hang there and keep stirring or you are gonna have scrambled lemon eggs!  The crust is easy as they come; mix in mixer bowl and press into the pan, bake.  Done. Bam!

I am sure it would be just as tasty with the lemons from the grocery store but I loved being able to make a treat out of homegrown lemons.  This can’t be made with canned or bottled lemon juice; got to be fresh real lemons. I used the lesser amount of sugar and found it plenty sweet. And it is a great choice for anyone; use the crust you prefer, gluten free or not. Sure you could buy one similar to it at a bakery but this would surely wow your family when you say, “I made it myself!”

Some photos of the tart making process. I forgot to take one of the finished whole filled tart and there isn’t much left of it…so that ship has sailed… lemon tart 001

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Classic Lemon Tart

1 pre-baked cookie crust tart shell (recipe at bottom of post) baked in removable bottom round pan.

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3-3/4 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

½ tsp. lemon extract

½ cup butter cut into 4 chunks.

Directions; combine lemon juice, sugar, eggs, yolks in a medium saucepan and cook over medium low heat until thickened.  Stir constantly, don’t step away for even a moment.  When it thickly coats a spoon it should be done, do not let it boil.  The stirring process takes about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the butter chunks, stir them a few moments and add the lemon rind and extract.  Stir the filling until butter melts.  Pour into a small mixing bowl and cover the surface of the filling with plastic wrap pressed right onto it.  Refrigerate until room temperature; 10-15 minutes.

Pour filling into cooled tart shell.  Refrigerate several hours until well chilled. Remove from tart pan and slice.  Recipe is from my new favorite source: Annalise Roberts latest cookbook, GF Baking Classics, The Heirloom Collection. If you love home baking and are gluten free it is a must purchase.

I like to serve it with a healthy dollop of Stonybrook Farm’s low fat organic yogurt.  The tangy fresh flavor of this topnotch yogurt makes a perfect contrast with the sweet lemon filling.  I served it like that to my mom and she thought it was some kind of special whipped cream.  It is that rich tasting even though it is low fat.  I can’t say enough about this yogurt.  I love it on other dessert treats: guilt free and surprisingly yummy. Great to cook with and to enjoy for a snack.

Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mix

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, in 5 chunks

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

½-1 tsp. water

Mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer, cut in the butter by mixing it at a med low speed until crumbly.  Add vanilla and mix well.  If it is really dry looking add the tsp. of water.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of your tart shell as evenly as you can make it. I suggest you spray the pan first with cooking spray and sprinkle it with rice flour. Do not press the dough in too hard or you will have a tough time digging out slices….

For this recipe I use a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.   I think any low pie pan or tart pan will work.  Bake it at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Brown Rice Flour Mix  Identical to King Arthur’s gf blend.
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

 

Yummy Lemon Sauced Turkey Meatballs

lentil stew, turkey meatballs 006

Okay, it is still winter and pretty cold but spring looms with daylight savings time beginning plus I am a tiny bit weary of posting soups.  I do enjoy other sorts of food you know! There is this recipe I’ve been making for years. The other day I was chowing down my lunch and someone said, “What is that lovely roasty smell?” and I was able to say with a smile that it was my turkey meatballs with lemon gravy.

They are not fancy; the recipe, which I tore out of a woman’s magazine a decade ago, said they are supposed to replace regular meatballs as healthier but I just like them for their homey taste and the excellent sauce!  You can also make them with ground chicken; very good as well. I never seem to have enough sauce so you could make even more of that and be happy with the amount.  I used to have them over noodles all the time but now that I am gf I occasionally use white or brown rice, both work very well with this sauce.  I am guessing quinoa would be nice as well.

It is the lemon that makes them taste so good but I also like the carrot and scallions in the sauce.  Home flavors and pretty healthy, this is a satisfying meal with a starch and a veggie added on.  And you can put it together in 30 minutes. Perfect for a week night supper.

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Lemon Sauced Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey

1 medium onion, minced

1 large egg

¼-1/3 cup gf bread or cracker crumbs

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce.

½-3/4 tsp. lemon zest

½ tsp sea salt and same of pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup plain low fat or full fat yogurt

2 tbsp. gf flour of your choice

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 carrot grated fine

2 scallions chopped into small rounds

1/3 cup celery leaves chopped fine, optional

Directions:

Mix the meatballs up in a large mixing bowl; dump in the ground turkey, add the onion, crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper to taste and egg.  Mix until fairly well distributed. Form into 12-16 meatballs.

Heat the oil in a wide Teflon or cast iron pan.  Add the meatballs.  Brown them on all sides, turning carefully with a spatula and a fork. When browned add the broth and cover.  Cook 12-15 minutes, add up to ½ cup more broth if needed; there should be at least ½ cup left when they are cooked.  Add the flour to the yogurt, stir and add to the pan.  Add the lemon juice and stir in the carrot, celery if using it, and the white parts of the scallions.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add the rest of the scallions and stir.  If it seems too thick add some more chicken broth.  I like this new concentrate I found; by Kitchen Accomplice, makes 28 cups, it is a small squeeze bottle of liquid. Very handy and GF.  Perfect when you need less than 15 ounces of broth.

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Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice or noodles. I have been experimenting lately and served a topping of pickled red onions; really nice zingy addition…up to you.  For that I cut up part of a red onion and top with cider vinegar to cover, let stand at least 30 minutes. Will keep overnight in fridge.  It is a fun topper on salads too.

French Apple Tart….Ooh La La!

Tasty, crisp, ripe apples are pouring into the farmer’s markets and orchard stores right now.  This French apple tart is an old favorite of mine, been making it for years.  I once worked at an office where they would request it whenever we had an office function or party!  I have no idea where I got the original recipe from so I can’t give credit for it, I lost my copy and had to replicate the measurements a number of years ago. Plus, I had to change it a bit in the last time or two to make it gluten free but it tastes just as good as before.  The cinnamon and lemon topping are what makes it so delish.

french apple tart

It should be made with an apple variety that keeps its shape; Granny Smith is the best choice in that regard.  Don’t use one that goes all squishy like Empire or Macintosh.  You only need 3 large apples.

I use my GF tart shell crust which is from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  It is very easy; hand pressed into your tart pan.  I would say that this is a cookie crust; sweet and short; very yummy.

It should give you about 6-8 slices of tart. Lesser amount of slices if your family is piggy, the full eight slices if they are not big dessert eaters. I rarely have any of this tart left over for more than 24 hours.  It is very popular with everyone.  I like it for how easy it is to make, how handsome it looks and that I can throw it together quickly with only 3 apples and a lemon.

Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mix; recipe below

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, in 5 chunks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer, cut in the butter by mixing it at a med low speed until crumbly.  Add vanilla and mix well.  If it is really dry looking add a tbsp. of water.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of your tart shell as evenly as you can make it.

For this recipe I use a large 10 inch tart pan.  Mine is ceramic so it doesn’t have a removable bottom.   Bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Filling

3 large Granny Smith apples; peeled and sliced – not thick or too thin

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. GF flour

Lay the apple slices in concentric circles in the tart pan over the crust.  Put them really close to each other so there isn’t a lot of space without apples on it.  Mix the sugar and flour and sprinkle over the apples.  Cover loosely with foil and bake 25-30 minutes until the apples are soft if pricked with a fork.  Do not bake until they collapse; the slices should still hold their shape.

While the tart is finishing up its baking time make the topping.

Topping

In a small heavy sauce pan place:

2 tbsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. cornstarch and mix them.

Add all the other ingredients:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest (grate the zest and then juice the lemon)

½ cup water

½ tsp. cinnamon

Cook over medium heat, stirring it constantly with a small whisk or a spoon, until it boils and seems thickened and is no longer opaque.  This should take less then five minutes.  Remove from heat and pour the hot gloppy topping carefully over the hot apple tart taking your time so you cover the entire surface of the apples.  If you like lots of cinnamon you could increase that up to a tsp. of cinnamon in the filling.

Let cool to at least lukewarm before serving.

This tart is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Don’t put it on top or it will not look so nice because of the French cinnamon topping won’t like to share its space with the chilly ice cream!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (for the crust)

2 c brown rice flour; be sure it is finely ground

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour