A Tale of two Easter’s: Part One

Again, I have moved the Year in Baking (Lemon Lust Bars) post to Tuesday because it would’ve made this post too long.

As I have shared on twitter, this past weekend was the first of two Easter’s I will be celebrating. Let me back explain, Nick is Greek Orthodox, and most of our holidays fall on the same days, Easter is a bit different. For the Orthodox calendar Easter is on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Spring equinox and must follow or occur during Passover. Some years it is the same as Catholic Easter, this year it is not, it is actually the first weekend of May.

I decided that this would be a good time to have both our families over for Easter dinner and to throw a good ol’ dinner party. Thanks to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for their very much needed help cooking! I didn’t take pictures of everything but I will share what I managed to get pics of.

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Table set-up

Using the nice china and everything!

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Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil bites courtesy of my sister & her boyfriend

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Meatballs also courtesy of my sister & her boyfriend

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Sister & boyfriend

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Deviled Eggs courtesy of my mom They took a spill coming in, they look beautiful before that :)

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Homemade Guacamole courtesy of my sister-in-law

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Homemade Tzatziki courtesy of my mother-in-law, yum

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Lasagna

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Roast leg of lamb

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Spring Risotto, recipe courtesy of Sabrina. This was definitely a labor intensive recipe and I wouldn’t do it again for such a large group, but definitely for a dinner party, this was a hit!

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Delicious salad

We also had broccoli, salmon, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and bread!

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Dessert: Lemon Bars, Cadbury Cream Egg Cupcakes, Fruit, and Greek Cookies

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Caty, Dad, and I

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Nick & I

and my favorite picture of the day

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Uncle Coco and B

How was your Easter? Do you celebrate? Are you a brunch out or a dinner in type of family?

Check out more delicious eats on Jenn’s blog for WIAW


Year of Baking: Flour’s Lemon Lust Bars

Maybe I should just make this a permanent move huh? Again, this weeks Year of Baking is being moved since I have an Easter post up for tomorrow’s WIAW. I was also featured on Katie’s blog on Friday, if you would like to check it out!

flourslemonlustbar

My sister’s boyfriend has a nut (all nuts) allergy, so I wanted to make sure he could eat at least one of the desserts I was going to make. I am a chocolate lover through and through, but there are two desserts that I love that have ZERO chocolate, the first is lemon bars, turns out he also loves lemon bars, score. Perfect shortbread and a tart layer of lemon curd, it really is one of my favorite desserts, but every time I have tried to make one from scratch they have ended up as a sloppy mess. But, Flour hasn’t let me down yet, so I decided to give them one last try.

Ingredients

Shortbread

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Super Lemon Curd

2 cups + 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (14-16 lemons)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Instructions

Shortbread
1. Cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy (will take 10 minutes if using a hand mixer or spoon)

2. Stop the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula

3. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined

4. Scrape the bowl and paddle again with a rubber spatula to make sure the egg yolk is thoroughly incorporated

5. In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt

6. On low speed (or with a wooden spoon) slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix for about 15 seconds, or until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed

7. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap pressing down to form a disk 6-7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick

8. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes, or until it has firmed up but is somewhat pliable

Super Lemon Curd

9. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, and cream. Place over medium-high heat and heat to just below a boil

10. While that is cooking, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended

11. SLowly which in the granulated sugar until combined

12. Remove the lemon mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a little of it into the sugar-egg mixture. Continue whisking the hot liquid into the eggs, until all of it has been incorporated

13. Once the lemon mixture has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium heat

14. Cook stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to keep the eggs from scrambling, stir for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly (To test, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; the curd should hold the trail for a second or two before it fills)

15. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl or pitcher

16. Whisk in the salt and vanilla

The Bars

17. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F

18. Lightly flour the dough disk and two large sheets of parchment paper. Place the dough between the sheets of parchment, and roll it into a rectangle 9×11 inches and about 1/4 inch thick

19. Carefully peel off the top sheet of parchment, transfer the bottom sheet of parchment with the dough to a 9×11 inch baking pan with at least 2 inch high sides.

20. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the shortbread is light brown, remove from the oven but leave it on, pour the lemon curd on top, and smooth the filling evenly over the shortbread with a rubber spatula

21. Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the curd has set and jiggles like firm jello

22. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight to allow the curd to set

23. Gently tug the parchment on all sides to loosen the shortbread from the pan, then slide it out onto a cutting board

24. Cut into 9 bars, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Notes

I didn’t have any parchment paper, I just floured the dough and put it in the pan, it was a bit of a pain but worked in a pinch.

For the lemon juice, I did half lemon squeeze and half fresh squeezed from Whole Foods. I needed the rest of the lemons for Easter dinner. Again, it wasn’t an issue an I don’t think it affected the flavor as it was not from concentrate.

I ended up cooking the shortbread for less than 20 minutes but the bars for more than 20, again it just depends on your oven.

These lemon bars were huge. It easily could make 16-18 portions. They were also a huge hit, we only had one left over the next day. They were very tart (the way I like lemon bars) but just as a warning. The shortbread was nice and soft and the lemon curd was the perfect consistency.

I will note that both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law helped, I think this recipe is definitely one that needs two people to work on it.

Do you like lemon bars? Have you ever had one?