Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunny Summer Lemon Bars

I don't know what it is, maybe the color, maybe the refreshing taste of citrus, but lemons always equal summer to me. I use a ton of them, from slices in my water or iced tea, to squeezing over salad for a refreshing alternative to dressing, I buy them by the bagful when the weather starts to heat up.

One of my favorite summer treats are lemon bars. The creamy, tart filling with the rich, buttery crust is irresistible! So when I saw a recipe posted on the New York Times website, I had to give it a try. This particular recipe is a little different from the one I normally make, in that it uses egg yolks in addition to regular eggs and olive oil as the surprise ingredient. They were also sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. The technique was also different, because it called for cooking the filling, essentially making a curd, before you poured it over the crust and baked for a little bit longer.

As you might be able to tell from the photo, this version has a much deeper yellow color, thanks to the egg yolks. It also called for adding lemon zest to the crust as well as the filling. I found, however, that you really couldn't taste the lemon in the crust, since the filling had such a strong lemon flavor. If my family's reaction was any indication, you can save your olive oil for salad dressing (or maybe these little cakes), because only one out of three preferred this kind of bar. It was good, but overly rich -- too rich for something lemony, in my opinion.

Just for comparison, I made the version from my Cook's Illustrated cookbook (an excellent book, by the way - it's a great, basic cookbook). The sacrifices I make for you people! LOL! This recipe was more traditional (at least for the lemon bars I've been exposed to) in that you whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour directly onto the hot crust, then bake (be careful transferring the pan back into the oven!) until the filling is set. Martha Stewart has a recipe that's very similar (just cut the sugar back a little and add lemon zest from one lemon to the filling). I preferred this version. I thought it was a cleaner citrus taste and the crust was lighter (flakier?).

If you love lemon bars as much as I do, maybe you would like to try these, too. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Of Soccer Losses and Seafood

So this weekend, we had to drive a gazillion miles away to my son's soccer game (thank you , travel soccer schedulers), to the western shore of Chesapeake Bay.  Not to complain or anything, but neither team was even from that area (the other team had to drive an hour to get there as well). How does that make sense? To top it off, the boys lost their game, although they did rally in the second half and ended strong. The bright side is that they lost less badly this time than they did the last time they played this same team, so there's that. I'm a "glass-half-full" kind of gal. ;-)

The upside of the game's location was that it was near some of the best seafood ever, so all was not lost. Wanting to make lemonade out of lemons, we asked if anyone knew of a good seafood place we could hit for lunch on the way home. One of the parents knew of a place in Deale, Maryland and gave us directions. Luckily, we had GPS, because the directions he gave us were less than accurate. Skipper's Pier was kind of out of the way (about 8 miles off of the route we needed to take home), but it was worth it! Right on the water, it was a beautiful day to enjoy fresh seafood and watch boats coming in and out of the docks.

The staff was friendly, and they were able to seat us right away, even if it was inside (there was a 30 minute wait for an outdoor table and we were too hungry for that). We started out with an order of fried pickles that came out piping hot (of course I burned my tongue!) and I had a lovely, if strong, cocktail called a Cape Cod Crush (basically a Cape Cod in a mason jar with lots of ice).

For entrees, my husband and older son went with crab cakes, my youngest ordered a huge seafood platter (enough for two, really) and I got the fish tacos.

It was all delicious. The crab cakes were packed with a ton of crab meat and very little filler, cooked perfectly. I loved my fish tacos, even if they were made with tilapia, rather than a local fish. And Elliot's seafood platter was amazing!! Fried oysters, shrimp, mini-crab cakes and tilapia with french fries, coleslaw, cocktail sauce and remoulade. Like I said, it was enough for two. Had I known, I totally would have shared it with him!

All-in-all, it was a nice afternoon, with gorgeous weather and tasty food, so we'll still put the day in the "win" column. Tell me what your favorite seafood place is!