Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pistachio Lime Bars

After my trip to Sicily, I arrived home with a bag of pistachios from Bronte, the home of (according to the Sicilians) the best pistachios on the planet.  I actually have to agree with them, they are pretty special.  I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but today I decided that I would try and make some lime bars using the pistachios in the crust, and in the filling.  I'm adapting a recipe I'd seen for lemon bars in the New York Times, but using limes since I love the flavor and I think it will be quite delicious with the pistachios.  The recipe is for a 9-inch square, but you could easily double it to make it in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.  Make sure to use pistachios from California or another trusted source, since there are quite a few from China heading into our markets.  The pistachios from Bronte tend to stay in Italy and the rest of Europe.  In Bronte the trees grow right out of the lava in the foothills of Mt. Etna.

Pistachio Lime Bars
Makes about nine 2-inch squares

For the Crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small bits

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and coat the inside of a 9-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is grainy.  
  3. Press the crust into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes.  

For the Filling:
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
confectioner's sugar for garnish

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, baking powder, flour and lime juice.  
  2. Pour over the hot crust, and sprinkle the top evenly with pistachios.  
  3. Bake another 20 minutes, until the filling is set.  
  4. Remove from the oven and immediately cut the bars into squares.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and cool completely.  The bars will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Serve at room temperature.  

Press into the prepared pan

Bake for 20 minutes

Pistachios from Bronte

Sprinkle the pistachios on top of the filling otherwise if they are in the filling they will steam instead of toast
20 minutes for the filling and you are done
Cut them immediately, otherwise when they are cool you will lift off too much of the filling when you cut them
A sprinkle of confectioners' sugar and your are ready
If you would like to use lemon instead of lime, the NYT recipe called for 1/4 cup lemon juice and some zest, since lime zest is frequently bitter, I opted for 1/3 cup lime juice and no zest.  These could also be made with orange juice following the same recipe.  I've got just enough pistachios left to be able to make another batch sometime soon, and maybe use the Oro Blanco grapefruit from Specialty produce.    Ciao for now.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Alternative Potato Salad

For the Fourth of July, my menu had a definite Mediterranean theme; a cheese platter with Italian cheeses, and assorted accouterments,
Roasted Halibut with lemon and garlic
Caponata (the Sicilian eggplant dish)

and a potato salad with green and yellow beans.  When I posted photos on my FB page the recipe for the potato salad was requested, so here goes.  I didn't photograph every step because I wasn't planning on posting, but you can get the idea of how to put this together.  It is a mash-up of the traditional salad Nicoise, using oregano, and an immersion blender for the dressing.

Alternative Potato Salad
Serves 6

1/3 pound green beans
1/2 pound yellow beans
6 medium red potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed fresh oregano
2 sprigs Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a steamer, steam the potatoes for 45 to 50 minutes until tender.  Cool.
Snip the ends of the beans, and bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.  Boil the green beans for 5 minutes, and remove from the water.  Add the yellow beans and cook for 4 minutes, drain well with the green beans, and season liberally with salt and pepper in a colander. (the salt will draw water out of the beans, and make your salad watery, keep the beans in the colander until ready to toss with the potatoes.  
When the potatoes are cool enough, cut them into bite sized pieces.  If the skins aren't gorgeous, peel the potatoes, then cut into bite sized pieces.  Add the beans to the salad bowl.  
In a 4 cup measuring cup combine the vinegar, oregano, parsley, garlic, zest, and lemon juice.  Using an immersion blender, blend until the garlic and herbs are broken up.  Add the oil, and blend until smooth.  
Taste for seasoning and adjust using salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.  The salad can be served at room temperature.  If you plan to refrigerate the salad, remove it from the refrigerator 90 minutes before serving, and re-toss with more of the dressing.  
I hope you all had a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.  After 2 1/2 months in Europe you know that I have a lot to catch up on now that I'm home, I'm hoping to post more photos and stories in the coming weeks.  Ciao for now.