Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lemon and Sugar

For me, this combination of sweetness and tangy citrus is particularly irresistible in summer. And it carries infinite possibilities too, perking up everything from baked treats to beverages.

This month's Sugar High Friday is edition #67, hosted at The Well-Seasoned Cook, where the theme is Bar None, a celebration of bar cookies. I love to bake but cookies are my least favorite thing to make- they just seem fussy and laborious somehow. Bar cookies are a different story because they straddle the line between cookie and cake and you can make 'em all in one big pan and cut them up, which fits my baking personality much better.

And my favorite bar cookies, bar none ;) are lemon bars. I make the condensed milk version every now and then, but spotted this luscious version on Alpineberry. Read the original post for the detailed recipe; what follows is the short-hand version. I deliberately made it slightly saltier than the original to bring out the lemon tang even more.

Lemon Bar Cookies from Alpineberry
  • Oven: 350 F, 8x8 prepared pan
  • Crust in food processor: 1 cup flour, 12 cup sugar, 14 tsp. salt, 1 stick cold butter. Pat down, bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  • Filling: 2 eggs, 1 cup icing sugar, 2 tbsp. flour, 14 tsp. salt, 14 cup lemon juice, lemon zest. Pour into crust, bake until just firm- about 20 minutes.
These cookies are like tiny bites of pie or cheesecake- such a treat for lemon lovers. Only my die-hard chocoholic  Neighbor Girl didn't love them, for the sole reason that they don't contain chocolate. Bah humbug. They taste great right out of the fridge.

Next up, a simple lemonade concentrate to store in the fridge so that a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade is only seconds away.
  • Use as many lemons as you like (I used 7; this magic number merely represents the number of lemons I found in the crisper). Zest 2 of them, then juice all of them. I use a couple of well-known tricks to extract the most juice from lemons. One is to warm up the lemons, either by zapping them for 15-20 seconds in the microwave or by placing them in warm water for 10 minutes. Another is to firmly roll the lemons on the countertop to break open cell walls and release the juice.  
  • Measure the lemon juice. I had 1 13 cup lemon juice.
  • Grate some fresh ginger- about 2 tbsp. or so. Of course, you could use any additional flavors here (or none) like lemongrass, cardamom, saffron, vanilla, mint.
  • In a saucepan, measure out a little less sugar than the volume of lemon juice. I used 1 cup sugar. Add an equal volume of water. Heat the sugar-water mixture until the sugar dissolves completely to make a simple syrup. Turn off the heat.
  • Add lemon juice, lemon zest and grated ginger to the simple syrup. Cover and let the mixture cool down, then strain it into clean glass jars and refrigerate for 3-4 days (this might last longer in the fridge; I just don't know).
  • To make lemonade, mix 1 or 2 tbsp. concentrate with a cup of chilled water.

When I am out walking Dale, people in the neighborhood often stop to chat with the dog. Today, we're out in the 3 PM full-on sunshine, and this lady says to Dale, "Is your mommy making you walk in this hot weather? It is too warm to be outside, isn't it, sweetie pie". Please note that there's no sympathy for the poor girl whose dog whined and nagged until she braved the heat and took him out. Sigh. I comforted myself with a tall glass of lemonade!

31 comments:

  1. Lemon bars are lovely. Cookie baking scares me too, have never done it. Still trying to perfect brownies from a mix which never seem to come out right.

    Babies, dogs are all the same - the mommy gets ignored :(

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  2. Love the lemon bars. Agree with you that cookie bars are easier to make than cookies. The buttery taste and melt in the mouth texture is pure heaven :-)

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  3. Lovely lemon bars Nupur! Being a mother is always a thankless job!

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  4. Bar cookies look great! I love lemonade. Mom always made this concentrate during summer and we kids used to have lots of lemonade when she was off to work. Miss those days!

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  5. The lemonade and the cookies looks delicious...

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  6. haha..cute writeup....lemon bars....scruptious...it came out so so perfect...

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  7. Nice. Your lemon bars somehow remind me of key lime pie. Looks great! :)

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  8. Mmmmmm...the lemon bars look heavenly, have never tried my hands at making them, but am thinking of trying them now. And summer is synonymous with limbu sarbat. I liked your suggestion of adding flavorings to the drink. And Dale's story, as always, makes me smile :)

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  9. The cookies look great .. but it is the lemonade conc that has got me. What a wonderful recipe ... love the addition of zest and ginger to it. Must try. :-)

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  10. I have missed a few of ur previous posts.will go and catch up now ( am in India for a visit)
    Loved the lemonade, JUST what I need in this Mumbai weather.

    Puppies or Babies, it's the same story, Mommy is history!

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  11. Nupur, We loved those lemon bars :) thanks again for the wonderful treat! Now I am glad to have the recipe too.

    Cheers!
    Bala.

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  12. bar nones seem so delicious. love the lemony tang and who can resist the ice cold lemonade on these summer days.

    think of it this way, the sympathy always goes to the one giving the perception of being dragged ;)

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  13. Aawww ------ '')

    Lemon Bar Cookies surely are tempting.

    Wish I was your neighbor Nupur - I LOVE almost everything you make ... and Yes... I could have taken Dale out for a walk sometimes too ! hee hee hee.... :) :) :)

    Leena

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  14. lemon bars looks scrumptioius!!! Love to have them any time

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  15. Lemon bars with lemonade - just the idea cheers me on an already sunny pre-summer morning.

    Lovely, Nupur. Thanks for joining SHF!

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  16. Hey,
    A new reader to your space..I am coming over here from PJ's spot. Looks like you have been blogging for quite some time. Compared to you, I am relatively new..But I am very glad I landed here. Will visit often. I love the knitted plantain leaf header picture..Its fabulous and so are the bar cookies

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  17. I always make my lemonade with 2-3 strings of saffron in it... gives the lemonade a nice sunset orange tint!
    -TJ

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  18. thnks for the lemonade thing,.it was much needed

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  19. oh yum! these are my favorite, i don't make them often, 'cause i want to eat the whole batch!

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  20. ..love the lemoniness of the post! :D :D. both the bars and lemonade looks so refreshing and yummy. Have you every tried lemon cupcakes. they are yum too. Hope everything is fine at your end.

    Best,
    Siri

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  21. Lemon Bars - Ummm by Fav! - will try this weekend. The lemondae recipe reminds me of "Usa cha raas" (Marathi for Sugar cane juice) recipe. The local vendor in my town back home, used ginger to spice up the raas and little sugar. Makes me homesick thinking of a tall glass of ice cold Usa cha raas.
    Story of Dale too funny! Seems whining and nagging is a Lab trend! Works every time in our house- seems it works in yours as well.

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  22. Hi Nupur,

    The lemonade looks so refreshing.Would the concentrate with a pinch of salt work for the traditional "Limbu Sarbat"?

    -Shilpa

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  23. Lemon bars look so lovely Nupur. May I ask what the texture is like - chewy, crumbly or hard (chikki-type)?

    And yes, I love lemonade with some cardamom and saffron. Your lemo concentrate is my thing to do this weekend :)

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  24. I don't know what to make of people who talk to my dog and ignore me. This is my first dog so I'm new to the culture and learn new things all the time.

    But dogs do have a way of putting people at ease and making them friendly. I've had lovely conversations with people while out walking with my dog. We learn the names of each others dogs but rarely share the human names. Funny.

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  25. indosungod- Oh come on, you are a wonderful baker, your blog is proof enough!

    Rajee- Yes, this was pretty heavenly with all that sugar, butter and lemon :)

    Preeti Kashyap- Hmm...I can see that :)

    Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal- Thank you!

    Amruta- Oh yes, I remember loving sarbat of all types as a kid too. Even Rasna!

    Nitha- Thanks.

    Sanyukta Gour(Bayes)- Thank you.

    M- They taste pretty much like key lime pie too; you could use lime juice or key lime juice here instead of lemons.

    Namita- It is a very easy recipe that is fun to make, completely worth trying. Dale says hello :)

    Sharmila- Yes, the zest and ginger give it as taste kick!

    Manasi- Hope you are enjoying your trip to Mumbai. Have the rains started yet?

    Bala- I hope they tasted OK after being out in the relentless heat for 2-3 hours!

    PJ- But Dale definitely does not give the perception of being dragged, he is tugging me down the street at all times :D

    Leena- Oh I love to have neighbors who offer to walk Dale ;)

    Niloufer Riyaz- Thanks!

    Susan- Thanks for hosting SHF, one of my favorite events!

    Cool Lassi(e)- Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy your visit.

    TJ- I agree, saffron adds a beautiful color.

    notyet100- Yes, it is much needed here too, it is really hot.

    cinderelly- LOL, I tried to share them!

    Siri- Oh, lemon cupcakes are fantastic, I love everything with lemon. Yes, things are great at my end, thanks so much for stopping by!

    Reva- Oh, usa cha ras makes me weak with longing, it is incredible stuff. Dale has made a career out of whining and nagging. Sigh :D

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  26. Shilpa- Absolutely, you can spike this with some salt or even some kala namak to make salty lemonade, Indian style.

    Preeti- The texture was crumbly and soft, very melt-in-the-mouth. Totally delicious :)

    Angela- Oh yes, you'll find that you make so many new friends because of your dog. And yes, tons of people know me around here but not by my first name, simply as "Dale's mommy". But they are super friendly. Dogs do bring out the best in people, at least that has been my experience.

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  27. Hey Nupur,
    The lemon bars look great!
    Wish your die-hard chocoholic Neighbor Girl was my neighbour...I would have shared my Dark Chocolate Walnut Bars with her :-)

    http://sizzlenspice.blogspot.com/2010/06/dark-chocolate-walnut-bars.html

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  28. Haha.. that Dale anecdote is funny.

    Lemon bars was one of the first "online" baking-recipes I had followed. They turned out pretty decent. But I got so tired of hand-whisking the eggs to some fluffy consistency they desired that I never made them again. Time to re-think that resolution now.

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  29. i love all lemon based desserts and this one looks great! and the lemon concentrate is awesome...bookmarked and will be made asap..

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