Lydia's Austrian Strawberry Shortbread Bar Cookies

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lydia's Austrian Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
Lydia's Austrian Strawberry Shortbread Bar Cookies

These are lovely little bites of heaven. Light and delicate, these are perfect for a potluck, dessert bar, or with a cup of coffee or tea. You can exchange the jams for different flavor profiles. Or, you can add some chocolate to the dough too.

Lydia's Austrian Strawberry Shortbread collage
These photos write their own jokes.

Okay, so you make the dough and split it into two. The instructions say to form into balls and freeze. Then, you grate the balls. Yes, grate the balls.

After making this recipe a few times, I came up with, I believe, is a better plan. First, grating balls of dough by hand is a pain in the neck. Pull out your food processor for this one - it's worth the washing. Second, when I tried to grate the balls in the food processor, I had to cut frozen balls to make them fit into the processor - annoying. Finally, it dawned on me to form the dough into logs so they fit into the food processor! Now, I can easily grate the frozen dough with one easy push of the machine.

Lydia's Shortbread collage 3
The recipe calls for Raspberry Jam. For this one, I substituted Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves.

Lydia's Shortbread collage 2
You grate one frozen log and place the pieces in the bottom of the pan (for this one, I used a 9 x 9 pan...the full recipe is for a 9 x 13 pan).

The instructions say to use a spoon or flexible spatula to spread the jam. However, I ended up carrying shreds of dough all over and it was kinda messy. So, I now put the jam into a bag and kinda pipe it into the pan. Easy peasy! Top with the second log of shredded dough.

Lydia's Austrian Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand
Recipe on Epicurious too

Note: Above, I made 1/2 the recipe and used a 9 x 9 pan. 

Lydia's Austrian Raspberry Shortbread Bars

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup raspberry jam, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time.

With the mixer on low, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until just incorporated. Don't overmix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form into two logs that will fit in your food processor. (You can form into two balls if you want to grate them by hand). Wrap each in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours or overnight (I let it freeze at least overnight - this is a good one you can make ahead).

When you are ready to assemble the bars, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grate one of the frozen balls or logs. Place the shreds of dough the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan or a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Spread out evenly and do not press down.

Spread jam over the surface, leaving a 1/2 inch border. You can use a spoon or spatula, but I put the jam in a plastic bag and pipe it onto the shreds. I found the the spoon/spatula method was difficult because you picked up a bunch of shreds along the way.

Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. As soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, dust liberally with confectioners' sugar.

Cool on a wire rack, then cut in the pan with a serrated knife. You may want to dust a bit more powdered sugar on top when serving.

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Spitz & Cafe Dulce, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spitz - The Home of the Doner Kebab

As I mentioned in my last post (My Thoughts Over Time), I met friends for lunch in downtown LA. We stopped by Spitz on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo. I've never been (I always seem to stop at T.O.T.) and it was yummy! It's a bar/restaurant, good prices, fresh food, lots of options, and delicious sweet potato fries. Menu here.

Spitz, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
The combo comes with a sandwich or wrap, beverage and fries or a salad. I got the super blurry Mediterranean Garden plate (lower left) (Hey, cell phone photos. And total tangent here: I'm excited to get the new Samsung 4 next month when my contract is up!)

Cafe Dulce, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
Top photo (L-R): Spirulina churro, Sweet potato Roti, Green Tea donut
Bottom (L-R): Green Tea (donut filled with yummy light cream), Roti (super light and delicious, filled with a little sweet potato), Churro (it's chewy and fried...yum!)

Yes, I realize that I should have made the collage to correspond to the photo above it...but I wanted your mind to work. And I've gotten pretty good at cutting food into thirds with a plastic knife #lifeskills

After Spitz, we hit up Cafe Dulce in the Japanese Village Plaza (between 1st and 2nd Streets in Little Tokyo). OMG. This place is great. I come here a lot (check my instagram for proof).

Okay. My review for both places: Go.

Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
Spitz: Website | Yelp
Cafe Dulce: Website | Yelp
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St. Patrick's Day Food Ideas

This coming Sunday is pretty crazy. It's St. Patrick's Day. It's the day thousands of people run the LA Marathon (not me). It's Selection Sunday for the NCAA March Madness BB Tourney. Here are some ideas  if you want to make something green to eat on Sunday!

St Patrick Jello Cream Cake

St. Patrick's Day Ice Cream Jello

Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

Happy St. Patty's Day!
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Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bars - Williams Sonoma

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bars
Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bars

My folks have a great Meyer lemon tree. They are lovely lemons...very fragrant, thin skinned, less tart than regular lemons.

Sometimes, you have a few lemons on the counter and some leftover buttermilk. Solution? These bars!

Lemon Buttermilk Bars collage
This was originally created for regular lemons, but I substituted meyer lemons. It has a simple crust that is pressed into the bottom of a pan.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bars
Topped with some powdered sugar, these are a nice treat. Lemon bars are always a delight 24/7, no?

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bars
Daylight savings is back! Although I'm jetlagged for a week (even though I try to get up and go to bed earlier the week before the time change), I love daylight savings. Cidney the Girl Dog loves it too...longer walks, more to see and smell, and a happier Auntie Mary.

Lemon Buttermilk Bars - Williams Sonoma
Found in Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Baking, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2006) and Weeknight Cook (Oxmoor House, 2009)

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar
2/3 cup (3 ounces) flour
1/8 tsp. salt

2 eggs
2/3 cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Confectioners/Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a mixer with paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low, add 2/3 cup flour and the salt and beat until blended. Spoon the dough into the prepared pan and press evenly into the pan bottom. Bake until the crust is golden, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. While the crust is baking, make the filling. Beat the eggs and 2/3 cup granulated sugar on medium speed until blended. Add 2 Tbs. flour, the lemon zest, lemon juice and buttermilk and beat until smooth. Pour the filling over the baked crust.
4. Bake until the top of the filling is set and barely browned at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars, dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar.
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Girl Scout Thin Mint Muffins

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thin Mint Muffins
Thin Mint Muffins

Chocolate Muffins.
Girl Scouts Thin Mints.
Morning happiness.

Thin Mint Muffins
These muffins are based on my favorite chocolate muffins - from King Arthur Flour. Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up a sleeve of Thin Mints and added a few Andes Mint Chips too.

Girl Scouts 2013My UCLA college roommate, Agnes has two beautiful daughters, Lucia & Julia. They are in the Girl Scouts and each year I put out the cookie order form at work. To be honest, I don't know why anyone orders anything but Thin Mints... especially those Samoas covered with coconut (yuck!)

Over the years, I've tried to incorporate Thin Mints into favorite baked goods. You know, baking with seasonal ingredients and all. This year, I ordered six boxes of Thin Mints for myself. I'm not sure how long they'll last though. There have been incidents that require Thin Mint assistance: a bad week, nothing in the fridge to eat, and actors leaving Downton Abbey which translates into sad, sad endings (total thin mint worthy).

Thin Mint Muffins
So, what have you been up to lately? Obviously, I haven't been blogging too much... I've been watching some TV. What's on your DVR? I have:

The Following with Kevin Bacon on Fox. Holy smokes. This show is fantastic but scares the beeejesuzzz out of me. I can't watch it on Monday night because then I can't sleep. I have to watch it on the weekend during the day. With the doors locked.

The Good Wife. CBS. Still a good show. Liked Julianna Margulies since her Nurse Carol Hathaway days on ER.

Elementary. CBS. Took some episodes to warm up to this one, but it's a good one to keep me in the Holmes world until the BBC releases more Sherlock.

Southland. TNT. Great cop show...and I like seeing Los Angeles landmarks throughout. :)

House of Cards. Netflix streaming. Damn, this is sooo good. Kevin Spacey is amazing.

Comedies:  The Mindy Project, New Girl, The New Normal

Waiting for more episodes from: White Collar (season just ended), Mad Men (coming back in April), Downton Abbey (if they don't kill off everyone...)

I don't have premium channels on cable so I have to wait and buy Amazon instant videos of Homeland (don't tell me what happens in Season 2 please! :)

Thin Mint Muffins
Fun way to start the morning. Or to enjoy while catching up on your DVR. ;)

Here are some other Thin Mint creations:
Thin Mint Scones
Thin Mint Scones

Girl Scout Thin Mint Brownies
Thin Mint Brownies

Thin Mint Pancakes
Thin Mint Pancakes

Girl Scout Thin Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Thin Mint Cupcakes

Thin Mint Muffins

Adapted from King Arthur Flour's website's: Chocolate Breakfast Muffins with added Thin Mint cookies and Andes Mint Chips.

2/3 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, chopped (in 2013, that was about 15-16 cookies and equaled about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup Andes Mint Chips
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk (I used whole milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted

Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F. Prep muffin tin (I sprayed mine with Pam with Flour spray).
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chopped Thin Mint cookies and Andes mint chips.
2. In a large measuring cup or medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar.
3. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend, just until combined. Do not mix.
4. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin. King Arthur makes 12 muffins with big tops, but I made them smaller and made 16-18 muffins.
5. Bake the muffins for 18-25 minutes (depending on size), or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, to cool on a rack.
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