Blood Orange Bars with Browned Butter Crust

The West Side Market…which for the first few years of residing in Cleveland, I referred to it as the West End Market, but with Cleveland not having a West and East end, but West and East sides…it confused most folks,  in that midwestern way, where those with whom you are chatting know exactly what/where you are talking about/of but fein ignorance when you (the newbie) slightly get the name wrong of a prized lankmark.  When I spoke of the West End Market, you would have thought I was talking about a place in Egypt.  It drove the boyfriend at that time…mad.  Down right crazy.  And Egypt, well … people really do reference that country when I talk of my home town of Cairo – –Ohio that is and pronounced like the syrup and not the Egyptian city, which would (and does) get me awkward glances because, unbeknownst to me, not everyone is familiar with such brand of corn syrup.  To which, I would (will) just throw up my hands, ask if they live under a rock, and explain that Cairo has an elevator, a place where grain is stored – not a human mover.

Cleveland’s West Side Market is a total gem.  I have spoke of it here before.  How could I not?  Food lover or not – it is hard not to fall in love with the place for one small reason or another.  I find charm in the whole kitten caboodle.  There is a method when you go.  First, you check out the veggies/fruit section…but you will return and retrace your steps later because the deals only improve as the day progresses.  And who wants to carry around a melon all afternoon?  But as you walk and scan and dodge oncoming traffic, you will be called to/hustled by those manning the produce sections.  ’Blueberries, 2 for $3.  A slice of orange for the pretty lady.  Pineapple? ‘  It will be crowded, loud, and one too many strollers ( if it be a weekend), but I believe that is what makes it great.  The energy that is contained in those stalls makes grocery shopping at a supermarket seem unbearable… minus the strollers – those I could live the rest of my days without (sorry moms, while I see their practicality, they are not meant for crowded markets where merely walking can be difficult, one does not like to encounter a stroller in the shin when going for some kielbasa…I think you can understand).

Once you have adequately surveyed the produce and made a mental note of the stand with the ripest tomatoes or the cheapest lemons – you head on over to the market house, which houses over 100 vendors – ranging from those selling homemade pasta to pigs feet and everything in-between.  But before you notice any of this…anything at all, you will be confronted with an array of smells that work only to entice and seduce you to venture further into the mass of fellow market goers.

Your eyes catch up with your olfactory senses and what lies before you is an interior concourse, laid out in a maze of squares…vendors lining each square side, optimizing surface area.  The floor is worn red brick, smooth, slick, and full of character.  The ceiling, however, is my favorite aspect of the market itself.  It is arched, which isn’t quite as noticeable from the outside as it is on the inside, and is a Gustivano ‘tile arch system‘ creation.  The building itself is more rectangular(think football field) than square (however all squares are rectangles, just not all rectangles are squares) and at the bookends of the building, there are large blue tinted opaque windows, letting diffused natural light in…and on the far end of the main hall, overlooking the lovely chaos, is a large ornate clock, teal in color,  and an American flag.

My first stop is and will forever be a stop for coffee… bit of caffeinated fuel and then I am off.  I do best when I venture to the market alone because if there is one thing I do well, it is navigate a crowd.  I am like a running back – find the holes and never stop moving your legs.  This being said, The Market is one of my must-go favorite places to take family and friends who are visiting for a weekend or  a great place to meet friends and gather ingredients for a dinner to be fixed at home, together over a bottle of wine.  Young toddlers to aging grandparents to grumpy teenagers, it is a fast favorite for all.

This past excursion was made on a rainy cold Saturday afternoon – coffee was drank, the best peppered beef jerky was snacked upon, fresh kielbasa and homemade peiroges were bought with dinner in mind, brandy filled cordials were hidden away, a lemon curd and strawberry preserve crepe was swooned over and devoured while walking in the rain (the crepe man needs his own post – he was making lives better one crepe at a time), and blood oranges were coveted.

I have a problem finding  blood oranges.  I don’t live near a Whole Foods and the grocery near me does not find blood oranges to be a necessity when they have an ample amount of perfectly decent naval oranges piled high down aisle 3.  So, when I came across blood oranges at the West Side Market, I may have squealed in delight and bought six from the very first stand.

 

 

Blood Orange Bars
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Cup of Blood Orange Juice
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 12 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Zest
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • Powdered Sugar – for dusting
Instructions
  1. Begin by browning the butter for the crust. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. The butter will begin to pop and sizzle and then foam and then eventually turn clear and golden, with a wooden spoon or spatula or by swirling the pan, stir the butter until the milk solids on the bottom of the pan start to turn brown. Once they have reached a deep amber color, remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl. DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE – it will burn in a moments notice. From start to finish, this should take about 10 minutes. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes to harden.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8x11inch baking dish (or an 8×8 – the crust will just be a tad thicker, or you can make the edges higher) with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Once the butter has become a solid again, use a pastry blender, fork, two knives, or fingers, blend butter and egg yolk into dry ingredients until butter is smaller than pea sized and mixture resembles coarse sand. The dough will be extremely crumbly.
  4. Dump dough into parchment lined baking dish and press into the bottom of the pan and about half way up the sides if using an 8×11 inch pan or further up the sides if using an 8x8inch pan.
  5. Place in preheated oven for about 20 to 22 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you make filling. Keep oven on.
  6. Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Have a metal strainer at the ready.
  7. In a medium pan (about 3 qts), combine blood orange juice, sugar, butter, and zest. Place over medium – low heat and stir until butter melts.
  8. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of warm orange mixture into the whisked eggs, stirring constantly, tempering them. Whisk the warm orange and egg mixture back into sauce pan containing the rest of the orange mixture.
  9. Cook over medium – low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon with very little dripping off.
  10. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pushing it through using a spatula (catching any small pieces of cooked egg and zest) into pre-baked crust. Place in oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until filling is set and the edges are golden in color.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Prior to serving, dust with powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator in air tight container upto 3 days or so.
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