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.

Brown Butter Peach Raspberry Bars

It is September  (oy!) and I have already pumped out a few pumpkin desserts.  It doesn’t seem right.  A pumpkin freakazoid, I am not.  I am not one of those chicks just waiting for Starbucks to roll out their limited edition Pumpkin Spice latte (it is like Disney releasing Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King out of ‘the Disney vault’ every year around Christmas, real limited there Walt) – it is pumpkin flavored syrup, and I am a bit leery of flavored syrups, plus I prefer my coffee black.  But I am one of those chicks waiting for pumpkin doughnuts (or donuts, I am never quite sure how to spell something so delicious) at Dunkin’.  Because, seriously, they may not have an ounce of real pumpkin in them, however they are freaking amazeballs.  Especially if you are eating them along with a hot cup of joe.

That past paragraph just proves I prefer to eat my calories versus drinking them…

But does flipping the calendar from August to September truly mean it is pumpkin season?  Perhaps, in some corners of this world it does, or corners of our brains.  Brains that are a tad bit fried from summer.  Brains that have been deprived of cinnamon and sugar and bodies craving sweatshirts and chunky sweaters.  However, I never crave pumpkin until about November.

Which means…It is still summer fruit season in this house – and I just got peaches in my CSA this week and it isn’t officially fall (and therefore time to break out all things pumpkin) until next week sometime.  So, peaches it is.  But don’t count these out as a summer only dessert…the browned butter adds a hint of fall, but doesn’t shout it from the roof tops.  It is like the smell of the crisp morning air this week that made it feel almost like fall, but then you have the warm (seriously, downright hot) sunshine of the afternoon that makes you dream of sweet juicy peaches.

Oh, September, how you mess with my brain …

Who cares if you have fully swung into fall or grasping to the last rays of warm summer sunshine…find peaches, brown butter, and bake these bars…They are all sorts of loveliness.

 

Brown Butter Peach Raspberry Bars

Makes a 9x13in pan (12-16 bars)

  • 1 cup White sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Raspberry Jam

Brown your butter: Over medium heat, place butter into a small/medium saucepan.  Melt.  Once melted, the butter will foam and then it will turn clear/golden, and finally begin to brown and smell nutty.  Stir frequently, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.   Keep a close eye on the pan, it will go from browned to burnt in a blink of an eye.  Once brown, remove from heat and place in a small bowl.  Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan (or line it with parchment paper).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together  sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or a mixer with paddle attachment, cut chilled browned butter and egg into mixture.  It will be crumbly, but will come together when pressed between thumb and pointer finger.

Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9x13inch pan.  Evenly spread raspberry jam over crust, leaving about a 1/2 inch border without jam. In a single layer, tile peach slices over raspberry jam.

Scatter remaining crumbs over top of the peaches.  Place bars in preheated oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the jam is bubbly around the edges and the crumb becomes golden brown.   Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.

 

Raspberry Jam Bars

 

I love Ina Garten.

This post might as well be called ‘ an ode to Ina”.

I adore everything about her….even her button down shirts – that are tailored made just for her (why do I know this?) – with the popped collar – which makes me think of spring break and the cruise we took and the dancing we did, which brings be around to Grillz by Nelly…ad a whole top diamonds and da bottom row’s gold.  Can we go back to those days?  Days where spring break existed and you lived with your friends and weekends started on Thursdays?   Did we know how good we had it?  I don’t think we did…we were always wanting to get to the next stage.  Little did we know the next stage was full of work and serious responsibility – mortgages are no one’s friend.

Yes, I some how just connected Ina to Nelly.  That takes mad skills, people.

Did you know… she was a White House nuclear policy analyst.  I don’t know what that entails.  It seems pretty major.  Therefore, she is not a classically trained chef.  She is like us, a home cook with a bit of passion, a love for great ingredients, and a desire to make those around us happy and full.  That she took a leap of faith on a gourmet food store and it became crazy successful.  That she has since, hosted the famed Food Network Show – Barefoot Contessa, that she has written some 6+ cookbooks, and has been the inspiration for millions when it comes to hosting dinner parties, whipping up simple family dinners, or setting a table fit for a king or your best friends.  This all from a whim.  And major guts.  For reals.

 

I am also, slightly in love with the fact that she lives in New England (and has an apartment in Paris…but who doesn’t love that?).  I am a sucker for New England…the ocean, the homes, the food, the scenery, the accents…you name it – I love it.  I sometimes get mad at the entire state of Pennsylvania.  Downright angry. For if it wasn’t for the 311 mile wide state of Pennsylvania, lobster rolls and I would be so much closer.  Sigh.

I have made many of Ina’s recipes…and not once have I been disappointed.  And today is no different.  These are a simple dessert, whipped up in a moments notice, and sure to please a crowd.  I took these into work as a random Tuesday treat and they were gone before lunch.  Well before lunch.  Second shift only got crumbs.  Not a raspberry fan?   Use strawberry jam.  Or blueberry.

Dear Ina.  Thanks.

Raspberry Jam Bars
 
makes one 9 inch square pan (about 9 bars)
Ingredients
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Room temperature
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2+ ⅓ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 12 Ounces Jam, Raspberry – use high quality
  • ⅔ Cup Granola, I used Bear Naked Granola (maple pecan) – make sure it is free of dried fruit
  • ¼ Cup (a good handful) Sliced Almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper (easy removal).
  2. Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add flour and salt mixture to butter mixture. Mix until the dough starts to form into a ball. It will be crumbly at first, just keep mixing.
  4. Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan.
  5. Spread the jam over the crust, leaving about a ¼ inch border.
  6. Mix the granola with the remaining dough. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the jam. Scatter slivered almonds over crumb topping.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until the top begins to turn golden brown.
  8. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

slightly adapted from Ina Garten.

Post Disney Funk and Carmelitas

The week following a vacation is generally just a melancholic blur of work and laundry and grocery shopping and laundry and healthier eating and memories of warmth and sunshine.  This goes for vacations lasting the usual 7 days or those extending towards two weeks and/or particularly those cut short at 3 or 4 days, the so-called long weekends.

This week was that week.  Where nothing truly gets done, but one in which I feel exhausted and sleep deprived and a tad bloated and all sorts of hungry…hungry for butter and sugar and ice cream.  Not carrot sticks and tuna salad.  Ugh…so easy to fall out of a good habit and quite the struggle to jump back in.

Disney was great.  The race was great.  The weather was great.  The food was great.  The company was great.  And the ears…I became slightly obsessed.

Proof.

I look good as Mickey.

… 

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Peanut Brittle Blondies

Happy New Year’s Eve!

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night, 2012.  Let’s be honest… this isn’t a good-bye forever…I will continue to write you on checks and various other papers until at least February.  I mean, just last week, I wrote 2010 on a receipt at the car repair shop, so I am guessing I will see you again around 2016 or so, when I am signing an oh-so-important document and I will try my darndest to turn a 2 into a 6…which never works as well as if it were a 5 or a 1…

Any big plans for NYE?  Going out on the town, dressed to the nines, dinner and dancing, champagne toasts, and a midnight kiss?  Or is it a night in with the kiddos with party hats and streamers and those noise maker thingys, which always seem like a good idea while you are standing in the middle of Target on a Wednesday afternoon, but when it is 12:30am on 01-01-insert year, and that sleep deprived child is still running around like a maniac blowing fiercely into a once-upon-a-time- good idea noise maker.  And it may not be a small child running around, but perhaps a grown adult.  And she might be me.  If you invite me to your party…don’t le me near the noise makers.  I have an affinity towards them.  It is a once a year love affair.  Suppose I will ever grow up?  Ha!

I was going to make a champagne cocktail to ring in 2013….buutttttt, as of late, all I have had on the brain, booze wise, is bourbon and ginger ale…Don’t get me wrong, it’s worthy of an entire blog post, and maybe some day it will shine in all its glory…but not today and not on New Year’s Eve.  NYE calls for champagne.  And why make a cocktail out of champagne…the bubbly is rockin’ all on its own.  Instead of anything fizzy or spritzy or liquor infused…I whipped together a batch of blondie brownies.

Peanut Brittle Blondies…nutty, butterscotchy, chewy, and caramelly….Plus, you get to use up that random tin of peanut brittle that your Great Aunt Lucy hands out at Christmas each and every year….or if you are like me, you have a bit left over since you made 3 batches trying to replicate a friends family recipe…either way, two birds, one stone.

Let’s bake!

Butter melting over medium heat…pay close attention.  Please do not become distracted.  It will turn fast!

Browned butter!  Smells so nutty and almost caramel-like.  Transfer to another bowl, and let cool…and go collect your other ingredients.

Besides browned butter…you are going to need brown sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and soda, egg, vanilla, and of course peanut brittle.

Another gander.

Browned butter and brown sugar are mixed

An egg and vanilla are added..

Next goes the flour…

And mix JUST until combined …

Peanut brittle needs to be folded in and sprinkled atop…and bake.

I hope you have a great New Years and that 2013 be filled with great joy, many laughs, good friends and family, and much happiness.  Cheers!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Peanut Brittle Blondies
 
Makes an 8 x 8 pan, about 9 blondies
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Stick Butter, browned and slightly cooled
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Peanut Brittle, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8×8 baking dish with tinfoil or parchment paper, leaving a little bit hanging over the edges for easy removal later.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan and it begins to smell nutty (be patient!). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, blend together, with a wooden spoon, browned butter and brown sugar. Stir in egg and vanilla, mix until combined.
  5. Stir in flour just until combined.
  6. Fold in ¾ Cup of chopped peanut brittle.
  7. Spread batter into prepared pan and top with remaining ¼ cup of peanut brittle.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown and the center is just set. These are better if they are underbaked vs. overbaked.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool.