Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Recipe Card: Lemon Squares

Every busy cook/baker/chef has a collection of favorite recipes. Back in the day, we wimmenfolk had boxes or books in which we tucked cards and cut-out pages from trusted sources, as well as, occasionally, from the pages of newspapers or magazines. These days, with so many of us living in limited spaces, or living a transient existence, it's hard to keep amassing those recipe cards, so we turn to the new media – to blogs, for example. 

Still, there are some of us who live the life of transition. The Bat and I, even having divested ourselves of several hundred lovely cookbooks (donated to the local Friends of the Library, for loan or sale as they saw fit), still have several hundred hard-copy volumes in our collection. And, even with all that, the treasure is not actually any particular book, but the stuff we wrote down for our own regular (mostly seasonal) use. I filled three cheap blank books with my tightest scrawls, so as to avoid losing family recipes.

The Bat had a little spiral notebook of cards for her most popular cookies. Somehow, it spent three years in purgatory, beyond our reach, beyond our ability to find it.

Then, in trying to fiddle with an electrical plug behind a six-foot bookcase, I happened upon that old spiral notecard book. Before I handed her treasure over to her, though, I took a few snapshots, so we'd have the recipes on record the next time disaster strikes...and it will. It always does.

I reckon I shouldn't publish all of them in one blog post, though, because then, I will have lost only a single small element when I screw something up online...and I will. I always do.

It's how I learn.

Since the cards are in Battish kitchen English (aka Mom's shorthand), as I post each one, I'll try to make sure to fill in any communication gaps there might be. Any explanatory stuff [in brackets] is my own, not from the Bat, so keep any negative comments about that directed at the snarky editor, not her long-suffering kitchen instructor.

So, without any further fuss, I present (wait. Play a fanfare in your head. This is worthy of a fuss)....

Lemon Squares

In case the picture isn't all that clear for you, the recipe goes like this:

Ingredients for cookie base:*

3 c. flour [that would be all-purpose flour]
1 1/2 c. shortening [I like using butter, but you can use your favorite solid shortening, if you lean that way]
3/4 c. conf. sugar [confectioner's, or powdered sugar]

Directions for cookie base:

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.
Blend well, and press into jelly roll pan [cookie sheet with sides, approx. 13"x18"]
Bake 20 minutes. 

[While that is baking – about halfway through this baking process – assemble the filling.]

Ingredients for filling:

6 eggs [large or extra large]
3 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. lemon juice

Directions for filling:

Beat together well [until slightly frothy. If you're energetic, this can be done by hand. If you're me, a regular hand-held mixer will take only a very short time]
Pour over crust & bake 20-25 [minutes] more. DO NOT overbake. Filling puffs while baking but flattens upon cooling. 

[Many other recipes recommend lightly dusting the top with powdered sugar. The Bat & I like our lemon bars with a tad less sweetness, a little more zip.]

*I like to add finely grated zest of one lemon to the dough for the base. But if you're not inclined to do so, it's still not a bad idea to zest the lemons before juicing them, then store that zest in an airtight container in your freezer, for some future recipe. It always seems, to me, to be a pity to waste something as lovely and aromatic as citrus peels.

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