Tag Archives: summer recipes

Strawberry Lemon Bars

Strawberry Lemon Bars

I feel like I’ve been throwing freeze-dried strawberries in everything lately, but who can blame me? They’re pretty readily available at your local Target or Trader Joe’s, are consistently tasty, and can be eaten as a snack or pulverized into powder and tossed into anything that you wish to look and taste like summer. You know, like these Strawberry Lemon Bars.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

These are simply Lemon Bars with two tablespoons of pulverized strawberry powder in the filling and a tiny bit more in the confectioner’s sugar topping. Seriously, that’s it—no other changes. Easy peasy.

The primary flavor here is lemon, but there’s just a *little* hint of strawberry—think something akin to pink lemonade. It’s a subtle thing, to be sure, but it’s there and it’s delicious.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

The color, as you can see is anything but subtle. It’s bright as can be, in fact, and I totally dig it. I mean, why make another batch of regular old lemon bars when you can add one ingredient and get to show up to the party/picnic/cookout/your couch with these gems? I think we can call agree that pink, summery desserts just taste better.

Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars
makes 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Strawberry Lemon Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, from about 1/2 cup pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 3 medium lemons
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 drop red food coloring (optional)

Topping:
3-4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with parchment or aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very crumbly and dry. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use your fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest and pulverized strawberry powder. Use your fingertips to rub zest and powder into sugar until combined. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt. Whisk in lemon juice, followed by eggs and egg yolk, and melted butter. Add food coloring, if using. Mixture will be thin.

Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until center is set. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.

Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel parchment (or foil) from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef's knife to slice bars.

In a small bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and pulverized strawberry powder. Sift confectioner's sugar over the tops of the bars before serving.

Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days. Confectioner’s sugar will degrade over time—this can be remedied by sifting more over the tops.
Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

If you’ve never had pavlova, your life summer dessert game might be about to change. This naturally gluten-free meringue cake has a crisp, glossy exterior and marshmallow-soft interior, and is a vehicle for all sorts of good things, including but not limited to whipped cream, lemon curd and fresh summer berries. It’s a perfect rustic-but-classy dessert to have in your warm weather recipe arsenal. I don’t have a roof deck or a backyard, but one day when I do, I’m going to have friends over for mocktails and pavlova all summer long, just because I can. In fact, my maternal grandparents’ backyard is the first place I ever remember eating pavlova.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

You might be wondering “Is pavlova popular in North Texas?” The answer is a hard “no.” To tell you the truth, I don’t know how my grandma learned about it, aside from the part where she just *knew* how to throw together simple dinner party foods. If she ever told me, I’ve forgotten…probably because I was trying to get a whole bunch of fruit, whipped cream and meringue in my face as efficiently as possible. My best guess is our friends-who-are-family from Australia taught her about it during one of their visits.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

So how did I go from eating pavlova exactly once during my Texan childhood to making it thirty-odd years later? Well, the answer is simple. I had leftover egg whites, a fresh jar of Lazy Lemon Curd, got a little over-ambitious with my berry purchasing, and I always have heavy cream. When life gives you those things, make Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries.

Like most things that rely whipped egg whites and sugar for structure, pavlova is incredibly simple to make. The most important step in the whole process is ensuring that your mixing bowl and mixer attachment are super clean and dry so that you end up with airy results and not sad egg white soup.

The actual work of making meringue is just gradually combining egg whites, salt, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and vinegar while your mixer works overtime to create stiff peaks. After that, form your meringue into a cake on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake it very low and slow before letting it cool completely in the oven.

Now, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that baked, cooled pavlova meringue can be made up to three days before you serve it. The bad news is that once you start piling toppings on it, your pavlova isn’t long for this world. Glossy, crisp, marshmallowy meringue is fleeting, so don’t assemble your pavlova until right before you want to serve it. But then, do it up!

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

Obviously, I went the lemon curd/whipped cream/fresh berries route here, but feel free to go wild with your pavlova toppings. Change the fruit to mango, pineapple, cherries or peaches! Grate on chocolate! Scatter toasted coconut over the top! Use key lime curd in place of lemon and sprinkle crushed graham crackers on there. Key Lime Pie-vlova, anyone?!

But back to the point, which is, as always, to take my recipe and make it yours. Like I said, your life summer dessert game might be about to change.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries
Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries
makes one pavlova, about 8 servings

Pavlova:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

For Assembly:
1 cup Lazy Lemon Curd or other lemon curd
2-3 cups fresh berries of choice (I used strawberries, raspberries & blueberries)

Preheat oven to 250F. Draw an 8-inch circle on a sheet of parchment big enough for a rimmed sheet pan. Turn the parchment over (so the drawn circle side is facing down) and place on the pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a separate very small bowl, combine vanilla and vinegar. Set aside.

Add egg whites and salt to a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Starting at the lowest setting and gradually ramping up to medium-high, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until foamy (about 2-3 minutes). With the mixer running, add sugar-cornstarch mixture a tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Then add the vanilla-vinegar mixture. Turn the speed up to high and whip until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes).

Turn the mixture (now a meringue) out onto the prepared baking sheet, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it to the edges of the circle. Make it taller at the edges than the center so you have a logical place for the toppings.

Place pavlova in the oven and bake for 75 minutes (1:15) until puffed, glossy, and slightly cream-colored. Turn off the oven and wedge a wooden spoon in the door to keep it slightly ajar. Let the pavlova cool completely in the oven (a couple of hours or overnight).

If not using immediately, carefully remove the pavlova from the parchment and double wrap with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature for up to three days.

Assemble the pavlova immediately before serving. If wrapped, gently remove and discard plastic wrap. Place pavlova on a serving plate.

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Spread the top of the pavlova with lemon curd. Spoon/spread whipped cream over the top. Finish with berries of choice. Serve immediately.
Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries
Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries
Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis post really couldn’t come at a better time: New York weather has officially crossed over into the “totally disgusting” zone. Blazing hot, humid AF—you get the picture. There will be no baking in my Brooklyn kitchen until Monday, at the very least.

I love my apartment—love it!—but its one major drawback is that the kitchen is both windowless and un-air-conditioned. There is no amount or configuration of tiny Costco tower fans that can counteract the all-consuming heat of a 350F oven on a sticky 99F NYC day. Believe me, I’ve tried them all.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesSo, let’s skip the oven this weekend and make milkshakes instead. Caramelized Banana Milkshakes, to be specific.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesSure, they require five minutes of stove time to caramelize the bananas, but that small amount of cooking will be totally worth it when you’re blitzing up frosty, brown sugar & banana milkshakes.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesWe’re talking pure banana flavor here, unencumbered by cinnamon or anything else. You may, of course, add a pinch of whatever you like, but don’t go too crazy. Simplicity is the name of the game.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis recipe is a breeze: three steps, four ingredients (six, if you count the recommended whipped cream and drizzle of caramel or butterscotch). The hardest part is waiting for the bananas to cool so that they don’t melt your ice cream. After that, it’s just a blitz in the blender and deciding which of your dwindling stash of paper straws you’re going to use today.

Oh, and parking yourself directly in front of your air conditioner until the heatwave is over, but you already knew that.Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes
makes about 2-3 small milkshakes

3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream

For Garnish (optional):
caramel or butterscotch sauce
whipped cream

Peel bananas and slice into 1-inch chunks.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and pan is hot. Carefully add banana slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Combine bananas and ice cream in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with caramel/butterscotch sauce and/or whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana Milkshakes