Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meyer Lemon Bars

I just got back from a girls weekend in Napa and my friend's Meyer lemon tree was kickin' with fruit. Before I left, I asked if I could harvest some to take back to the city, promptly filled up a bag and headed home to make lemon bars. I'm not a sweets person as I have said a million times on here but, boy, I can always go for anything with citrus of any kind. Lemon bars are easy, tasty and tart. Making them with Meyer lemons makes them even better. Here is a recipe from the sunny, celebrity-clad Hamptons (aka Ina Garten)

Meyer Lemon Bars

For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Japanese Hamburgers

I have a friend that swears by this recipe. I had her over on Sunday night for Shrimp & Grits and she wouldn't stop talking about it so I asked for the recipe. She came across it on a fellow blog, Just Hungry. The two biggest differences? Adding pork to the meat and the sauce made with tonkatsu. Give it a try.

Japanese style hamburger (Hambaagu or hambaagaa)

This makes 4 small hamburgers, serving 2 to 4 people depending on what else you are serving.

  • 200g/ about 7 oz. ground beef (from a cut that has a fair amount of fat in it - very lean beef will not work because it will be too dry.)
  • 100g / about 3 1/2 oz. ground pork
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • About 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • About 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup soft white breadcrumbs (Make the breadcrumbs from regular white bread slices with the crusts off. The crumb of a baguette is really good for this.)
  • 2-3 Tbs. milk
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for cooking

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup Japanese tonkatsu sauce such as Bulldog brand

Chop the onion very finely. Sauté the onion in a little oil until translucent. Let cool.

Moisten the breadcrumbs with the milk. Combine the meat, cooled onions, moistened milk, egg, salt, ground pepper and nutmeg. Your hands are the best tools for this. Combine well until everything is amalgamated.

Divide into 4 portions. Form into patties, slapping each with your palms until the surface is smooth. Indent the middle with your thumb - this makes sure the middle gets cooked evenly.

Heat up a large frying pan with some oil over high heat. Place the hamburgers well apart in the hot pan, and fry until browned. Turn over and turn the heat down to low. Put a tight fitting lid on the pan and steam-cook the hamburgers for about 10 minutes until the middle bounces back if you press down on it. Take out and keep warm.

Pour out any excess oil from the pan and turn the heat up to high again. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan with it (scrape off the brown bits and blend). Add the ketchup and the Bulldog sauce and blend. Pour over the hamburgers.

They are best served piping hot, but they are also very popular for bento boxes.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Grilled Softshell Crabs with Jicama Salad and Tomato–Avocado Salsa

What caught my eye in this recipe was that the crabs are grilled. Usually soft shell crabs are fried! Chef Rick Bayless created this recipe and I can imagine sitting in one of his Chicago restaurants enjoying this dish. Don't be afraid of soft shell crabs. They are delicious and eaten whole. Call your local seafood store to check if they have any in stock. Bon appetit!

Grilled Softshell Crabs with Jicama Salad and Tomato–Avocado Salsa

1 medium jicama, peeled and julienned
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and julienned
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for
7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 serrano chiles, seeded, if desired, and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
8 softshell crabs, cleaned
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Combine jicama, cucumber, and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro in a medium bowl. Dress with 4 tbsp. olive oil and 4 tbsp. lime juice. Season to taste with salt, mix well, and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, combine tomatoes, chiles, garlic, onions, avocado, and remaining chopped cilantro. Dress with remaining lime juice, season with salt, and mix gently; set aside.

3. Lightly brush a hot grill or grill pan with 1 tbsp. oil. Brush crabs with remaining 2 tbsp. oil, then place on grill and cook until firm, about 2 minutes on each side. To serve, divide jicama salad and tomato-avocado salsa among four plates. Top each plate with 2 crabs and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.