Key Lime Bars

I have a few bar desserts to share. Great for a crowd, party or pot luck event. I have made all of these desserts on more than one occasion! Quite an endorsement. 🙂

These tart, tangy, and sweet bars were fabulous- the crust was absolute perfection. I made them off-season and used bottled Key lime juice. They are a must try with fresh Key lime juice! Fresh Key lime slices would also be a lovely garnish.

This recipe was adapted from the Key lime pie from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, via Martha Stewart Living.

Yield: 16 bars

  • 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs (8 full cracker sheets)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2/3 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice (about 23 Key limes total)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, for garnish, optional
  • 2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons, for garnish, optional
  • confectioner’s sugar, for garnish, optional
  1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a 8-inch square, or equivalent, baking dish with parchment paper, letting it hang over 2 sides.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs.
  3. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of the prepared baking dish. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Leave oven on.)
  5. Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.
  8. Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula.
  9. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes.
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  11. Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars.
  12. Put cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars with confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream, and/or a slice of lime, as desired.
Note: The bars will keep, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I made this dessert for my Valentine this year. ❤ He added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

In part, I chose rice pudding because I wanted to make a dessert in ramekins that I had just found at an estate sale. 🙂 Thankfully, my husband is a fan. This recipe was slightly adapted from Food 52 Genius Desserts, contributed by Molly Wizenberg.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (I filled 6 ramekins)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 g) water
  • 3/4 cup (135 g) white Basmati rice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups (735 g) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 g) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • cinnamon, for serving, optional
  1. Bring the water, rice, and salt to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour in the milk, cream, and sugar.
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a paring knife and then add the seeds and vanilla pod to the pot. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens to a soft, loose pudding texture, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside the vanilla bean.
  6. Spoon the pudding into 6 to 8 small bowls or ramekins.
  7. The pudding can be served warm or chilled. To chill, press plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding to keep a skin from forming and refrigerate thoroughly until cold. (I prepared the pudding in the morning to serve that evening.)
  8. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon, as desired.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Hazelnuts & Bacon

Yes- more soup! It may be sunny outside but it is still freezing. The positive spin I’ve taken on this gloomy situation is that I can still make delicious soup for dinner. 🙂

This recipe is from one of my favorite magazine columns, the RSVP section of Bon Appétit. It was adapted from chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Wines in Kelowna, British Columbia. It was fabulous!

  • ½ cup raw hazelnuts
  • 2 T baking soda
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 small onion or ½ of a large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine or water
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Blanch and Peel the Hazelnuts: Boil 1 ½ cups water in a small saucepan. Add 2 T baking soda and the nuts. Boil for 3 minutes, or until the skin is easily removed. Drain, rinse with cold water, and peel the skin off of the nuts.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection roast.
  3. Toast the blanched hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
  4. While the nuts are cooling, increase oven to 400°, preferably on convection roast.
  5. Toss cauliflower and 2 T oil on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until florets are browned all over and tender, 30–35 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cut bacon crosswise into ½” pieces.
  7. Heat a heavy pot over medium and cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
  8. Cook fennel, onion, and garlic (I chopped them using a food processor) in drippings in pot, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are very soft, 5–10 minutes.
  9. Add wine and cook until mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add roasted cauliflower, broth, cream, and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper.
  11. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20–25 minutes.
  12. Pluck out bay leaves; discard. Let mixture cool slightly.
  13. Working in batches, purée cauliflower mixture until very smooth. (I puréed the soup using an immersion blender in the pot.)
  14. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  15. Just before serving, ladle soup into bowls; top with bacon and nuts and drizzle with oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)

Do Ahead: Soup can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill soup and bacon separately.

One Year Ago: Breakfast Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Muffins

Two Years Ago: Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Wild Mushrooms

Three Years Ago: Gemelli with Mushrooms & Ricotta

Four Years Ago: Saffron Pappardelle with Moroccan Spiced Shallot-Butter Sauce

Five Years Ago: Minestrone and Macaroni Baked in Yogurt (Arshda Madznov)

Fresh Strawberry Gelato

I am always a little apprehensive to make strawberry ice cream. In the past, I’ve tried various strategies to keep the berries from becoming icy and hard in the finished product. Pureeing the berries in this gelato was the perfect solution. My beautiful freshly picked berries may have helped too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Katrina and Carmelo Turillo, owners of La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans, via Bon Appetit. I didn’t strain the puree, chilled the base overnight in the refrigerator, and churned the gelato for 25 minutes in my ice cream maker. I may add some vanilla extract next time. It was excellent!

Yield: Makes about 4 cups
  • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream.
  3. Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl.
  4. Immerse bowl in prepared ice water to cool, stirring occasionally.
  5. Puree strawberries in processor. Stir into gelato base.
  6. Mix in pomegranate juice and vanilla, if using.
  7. Chill 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Transfer to container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and the container lid; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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Swedish Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage (Kalpudding)

I planned to make this Swedish dish after spending the afternoon at IKEA. 🙂 I knew that we could buy the lingonberry preserves for the topping during our shopping spree too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey instead of ground beef. Next time I would double the sauce- loved it. Sifton recommended serving it with boiled potatoes. We ate it with mashed new potatoes (my husband’s request) and roasted asparagus. It was such wonderful comfort food. Great.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head green cabbage, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or golden syrup
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable stock, ideally homemade or low-sodium store-bought (or water)

For the Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  1. Shred the cabbage in a food processor.
  2. Heat oven to 350, preferably on convection.
  3. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix again to combine.
  5. When the cabbage is done, add about a third of it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine.
  6. Grease an 8-inch-square or 8 x 10-inch baking pan, and transfer the meat mixture to it, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly.
  7. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges.
  8. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  9. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the kalpudding.

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Crème Brûlée

My son wanted a dessert that he could “light on fire” to celebrate his 12th birthday. I hope that this is age appropriate. 😉

After rejecting my suggestion of Bananas Foster, he chose a classic crème brûlée. andyes, with close supervision, he torched his dessert!

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, via Food Network.com. I used large eggs, Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier, slightly adapted the method and increased the baking time. Special and delicious.

Yield: Makes 6 ramekins/servings

  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low-speed until just combined.
  3. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. (I transferred the hot cream to a liquid measuring cup to ease adding it into the mixer bowl.)
  5. Add the vanilla and liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
  6. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pyrex baking pan (I placed a square silicone pot holder underneath the ramekins so that they didn’t shift in the pan.)
  7. Glide the oven rack out of the oven cavity and place the pan on the rack. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I used a tea kettle.)
  8. Slowly glide rack into the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken.
  9. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm. (I refrigerated them overnight.)
  10. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly.
  11. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

and…

Of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday in our house without also having Number Cookies. 🙂 I had to make a couple of numeric “12’s” to go along with my son’s Roman Numeral “XII’s”. 🙂 They were swimming pool blue for my swimmer this year. ❤

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Fresh Ricotta

My husband and I have a favorite local restaurant where we like to go and have a special lunch together. Even though it is quite indulgent, we cannot go without ordering the fresh ricotta cheese appetizer. It is seasoned with lemon and served with warm bread. Irresistible.

I knew that making homemade ricotta was an easy task but had never tried to make it. I’m a little bit worried that now that I’ve finally done it because I’ll be making it all of the time! 🙂 I brought it to serve as an appetizer at a party to spread on slices of sourdough baguette… but- wow- it would also be amazing over pasta with a little drizzle of olive oil.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by J.J. Goode. I added lemon zest (like at my restaurant!) and coarse salt, to taste. I found the consistency was perfect after straining for just twenty minutes. It was beyond creamy, rich, and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 cup

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon, or more, to taste
  1. Bring milk, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice; stir gently until mixture starts to curdle. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture into a fine-mesh sieve lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth set over a medium bowl.
  4. Chill until cheese is spreadable, at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer it strains, the thicker it will be). (I recommend the consistency after about 20 minutes.)
  5. Cover and chill cheese up to 3 days. (If it lasts that long!)

Note/Update: This ricotta was absolutely delicious in Spinach & Ricotta Pappardelle. Wonderful!!

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