lemon blueberry coconut bars

I have a friend who makes the BEST (absolute BEST) lemon squares.  EVER.

Micheline … I’m talking about you.

Her lemon squares are tart and fresh and light.  The side pieces are spectacular … the graham crust base adds a little sweetness.  Perfectly balanced.  Perfectly baked.  A complete delight.

I loves.

And so … although I heart all things lemon, I haven’t baked lemon squares in ages because I can’t imagine making a batch as wonderful as Micheline’s.

Until now.

These aren’t the same.  But they sure are good.  DARN GOOD.

I was co-hosting a female cocktails and bling thingy (you know … ladies gather to drink and try on jewelry) … and wanted to bring along some baked treats.

I decided that it was time to try a new recipe (friends and family are always the best people to taste-test new recipes on) … and upon mentioning a blueberry – coconut – lemon combo to another friend (Rose … I’m talking about you now) … she pretty much convinced me I absolutely had to make these.

I’m glad that I did.

The original recipe is from bon appétit’s desserts  recipe book (double-lemon bars).  It caught my eye because it promised big lemon flavour (a must) … and looked like it would have a firm enough base to hold the addition of toasted coconut and blueberries.

It lived up to my demands.

The one thing … and perhaps I’m noticing it because I haven’t made lemon squares recently … but these were really (and I mean REALLY) sticky and gooey: both good things … just have a napkin on hand … or don’t be afraid of licking your fingers.

I pretty much always opt for licking my fingers ;0)

crust:
ingredients:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 c. butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp vanilla

lemon – blueberry filling:
ingredients:
1/2 c. coconut, toasted
1 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
6 eggs, room temperature

3 tbsp flour

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a rectangular pan (9×11) with foil or parchment paper and generously spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Using your food processor, blend together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter, and cut it in, using the pulse “on/off” method, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add vanilla and process until the dough comes together. You’ll know it’s ready when you take a bit and pinch it together and it holds.

Press the dough evenly into the pan – using a flat bottom measuring cup, evenly flatten the base. Bake until the crust is golden – about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling.
Toast the coconut for about 8 minutes on a cookie sheet in the oven. Set aside.

No need for fancy equipment – whisk together the sugar and eggs until well blended. Add the lemon juice and flour. Whisk to incorporate. Strain into another bowl (you’ll see that not all the flour dissolved, the whisk will catch that and any lemon pits you might have missed).

Mix in the lemon zest.

Reduce your oven to 325 F.

Spread the blueberries evenly over the base. Top with the toasted coconut. Pour the lemon mixture over-top; ensuring that the entire pan is evenly covered.

Bake until the sides are set and the filling no longer moves when the pan is shaken. About 35 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Cover and chill at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Using the foil or parchment as an aid, lift the dessert from the pan. Fold down the sides, cut away the edges, creating a clean side … and a little snack for the baker :0)

Cut into rectangular bars … or do like me, and cut the rectangular bars into 3 smaller cubes. I was able to get over 2 dozen pieces.

Remember this recipe creates a very gooey bar… a very delightful twist on a the traditional lemon square.

You should try it.

must.love.food

I have a new little project on the go.

This is a sneak peak.

I promise more details soon.

I will tell you though …

I heart ALL of these people.  They make me happy.  And so does their food.

must. love. food.

kelp records winter warmer

Street. Food. Is. GREAT.

Especially when it’s paired with beer.

That’s how we do a food festival in Ottawa.  Street food and beer.  In a Polish Community Centre.

A-MAZ-ING.

8 chefs all presented their version of street food.

I didn’t get to try all of it … I was on-site on behalf of Edgar (working with the HILARIOUS Michael) … but I was lucky enough to get to sample some of the fares.

Mother. Of. Pearl.

It started with the Whalesbone Oyster House Catering’s deep fried mac & cheese.

It was … SPECTACULAR.  I mean … it’s deep fried mac & cheese.  You kinda have to love it.  But you also love it because it was so cheesy and delicious … crunchy exterior and hot creamy interior.

Loves.

Then I wandered over and sampled Ryan Janssens’ (of DISH) chorizo pogo with bacon jam.

It was hot and spicy.  And although it was deep fried – it wasn’t greasy.  It was that perfect pogo batter (you know the one I’m talking about … you can remember it from your youth)… and with the chorizo filling … it was THE BEST POGO OF MY LIFE. I honestly wanted to go back and get another.  And then another.

Brilliant.

Edgar was paired with Beau’s – and so Marysol came up with a porchetta dish … creamy mashed potatoes, topped with aged cheddar.  Then we generously piled on the pork belly and ham, a veal gravy and a sprinkle of crispy celery root chips.

It was delicious.  Hot and creamy.  Salty and fatty.  It was everything comfort food should be … all in one mouthful.  I LOVED it.  And not just because it was from Edgar’s table … but because it tasted so darn good.

My pictures honestly don’t do the plate justice.

Oh … and it went really well with Beau’s bitter ;0)

I had a chance to wander a little (between plating our dish) … and so although I didn’t sample the Hintonburgh Public House dish, or anything offered by the Manx … I was able to snap some quick pictures.

Pressed and  Seed to Sausage were two another food stands I wanted to sample … but it just didn’t happen.  I actually didn’t even get a picture of either their brisket sandwich (Pressed) or their gourmet hot dogs (Seed to Sausage).  Boo to me … but everyone I asked about loved both.

My afternoon finished off with a sample of the Mill Street brew (delightful) and Murray Street’s Meat Cone.

I LOVE the meat cone.

What isn’t to love?  Pulled pork. Check. Cheese curds. Check. Sausage. Check. Mustard. Check.  All piled in a cone … I was able to grab my fork and dig right it.  A-MAZ-ING.  My only regret is that it has taken me this long to finally sample Steve Mitton’s version of the meat cone.

My favourite part of this event though wasn’t the food (although I totally loved everything I ate) … it was the fact that so many people turned out to eat, drink and be merry.

It certainly was a true winter warmer.