22 January 2011

Weekend Cooking: Review: Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht

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Last fall I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennie Schacht's Farmers' Market Desserts. I realize that it's not farmers market season for many of us who live north of the equator, but it's never too early to start getting ready to use wonderful, fresh, and locally grown ingredients. And for my Southern Hemisphere readers, you can visit your favorite farm stand tomorrow.

The first thing you'll notice when you pick up Farmers' Market Desserts is how pretty the book is. Leo Gong's photographs--from farm and market scenes to the finished dishes--are stunning. Don't you love the cover? You'll want to spend some time just looking at the pages. But, of course, what's a cookbook if you don't want to make the recipes?

Have no fear, everything in this book looks yummy. The chapters are divided into types of fruit and by season. Besides the expected berries, apples, and stone fruit, there are recipes for citrus fruits, dried fruits, and tropical fruits so you can turn to the book all year round. Throughout you'll find plenty of tips for buying fruit plus wonderful stories about family farms and markets from across the United States.

The ingredients are generally easy to find, but Schacht provides substitutions just in case. Because there are variations for most of the recipes, you can confidently adapt the desserts to fit the season or individual tastes. The directions are clear, and I like that they are unintimidating to the inexperienced baker. The cookbook includes plenty of baking, cooking, and serving tips.

I thought I'd share the following recipe for Key Lime Bars for two reasons. First, they have become a favorite of mine and, second, they can be made in all seasons. Based on Schacht's advice, I've made them both with common limes and with common lemons, because good Key limes are hard for me to get. I've had success with both variations.

Key Lime Bars

24 bars

Shortbread Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for finishing
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Key lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh Key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated Key lime zest
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
1. Preheat oven to 350F, with a rack in the lower third. Line the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, extending it about 2 inches beyond the pan all around to aid in removing the bars from the pan.

2. To make the crust, stir together the flour, 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, lime zest, and salt in a bowl. Scatter the butter over the top. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture has the appearance of wet, clumpy sand. It should hold together in clumps when you gently press it with your fingers.

3. Scatter the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and use your hands to pack it firmly onto the bottom. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.

4. While the crust bakes, make the filling. Stir together the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs and stir until completely smooth. Add the lime juice and zest and the half-and-half and mix slowly but thoroughly to create a smooth mixture without many air bubbles.

5. When the crust is ready, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325F.

6. Pour the filling over the hot crust and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate for 30 minutes for easiest cutting.

7. Use the extended ends of the paper to lift the large bar from the pan to a cutting board. Using a sharp, heavy knife, and wiping the blade clean with a damp kitchen towel between cuts, cut lengthwise into 4 equal strips, then cut crosswise into 6 equal strips to make 24 bars. Pack the cooled bars between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

8. Serve cold or at room temperature. Sift confectioners' sugar over the bars just before serving.

Published by Chronicle Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780811866729
YTD: 8
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Chinoiseries 1/22/11, 6:33 AM  

Yum, lime bars! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I love anything lemon and lime... and good to know that regular limes will work well (key limes are hard to get by here as well..)!

Heather 1/22/11, 6:52 AM  

That is one great looking recipe! We love Key Lime Bars! Well, Key Lime anything really! And that cookbook sounds wonderful!

Gnoe 1/22/11, 7:13 AM  

That these bars have become a favourite is definitely a good reason to post the recipe! LOL I wish you could post a photo!

Marg 1/22/11, 7:54 AM  

You know I never even thought about checking to see if there were any farmers markets here. Turns out there are! If I remember I might go and check one out soon!

bermudaonion 1/22/11, 8:43 AM  

I need to print this out. My mom grows Mexican limes and always has more than she knows what to do with.

Hannah 1/22/11, 8:49 AM  

Sounds like a great cookbook for my collection. (Then again, are there any cookbooks that are not good for my collection?) Thanks for the delicious-sounding recipe!

Peaceful Reader 1/22/11, 9:33 AM  

I love Key Lime anything so I may have to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing this cookbook.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/22/11, 9:54 AM  

This cookbook looks fantastic - takes me out of the winter doldrums, and looking forward to farmer's market season!

I like your choice of the key lime bars this weekend (#bloggiesta); this pairs well with Mexican food :)

Beth F 1/22/11, 10:04 AM  

Dawn: yep, it was intentional. I thought of doing a Mexican meal post, but ended up here instead.

Margaret @ BooksPlease 1/22/11, 10:54 AM  

I must try this recipe!

My recipe this week is also a dessert - Strawberry and Almond Crumble.

Margot 1/22/11, 11:00 AM  

This book sounds like a good one to both read and use. I'd like to add my vote to a Mexican meal plan.

Molly 1/22/11, 11:07 AM  

I am a key lime fanatic! I will definitely try this recipe soon.

mrsnesbitt 1/22/11, 11:33 AM  

Hi - newbie here via Margaret @ Books Please. Sounds very delicious. I look forward to sharing my recipes over this meme - this week I have introduced myself via my kitchen - very apt I thought

Heather 1/22/11, 12:24 PM  

I've never actually bought the Key Limes at my store. You can get a bag for about $5.00. It would be worth it for this recipe. Thanks.

Jennie Schacht 1/22/11, 1:59 PM  

Hi there -- Jennie Schacht here. Thank you so much for sharing Farmers' Market Desserts and the Key Lime Bars with your readers!! There are farmers' markets just about everywhere. Check out www.localharvest.org for markets in your area. You'd be surprised how many operate in winter. Happy market shopping and baking!

caite 1/22/11, 3:49 PM  

I do love citrus...yum

And I love a cookbook with great photos, clear instructions and accessible ingredients. sounds like a winner.

Kate 1/22/11, 3:54 PM  

Hi there - newbie here! I found you via Booking Mama from the Foodie's Reading Challenge. This weekend I reviewed a Jacques Pepin cookbook.

Thanks very much for hosting! I'm looking forward to reading and participating.

(I love my farmer's market! It's always so exciting to see the seasonal fruits and veg coming in.)

Joy Weese Moll 1/22/11, 5:17 PM  

That's my kind of cookbook! We may still be able to get apples this month at our Winter Market in St. Louis, but that will probably be the last of the fruit until the early berries show up in May. Are there any rhubarb recipes? That's always a fun early spring dessert ingredient.

Marie 1/22/11, 5:34 PM  

The book looks really good and the recipe sounds delicious. I love limes! Thanks for the substition advice. I've only seen key limes in our grocery store once.

Peppermint Ph.D. 1/22/11, 9:32 PM  

Yum!! We love anything made with lemons and limes...and this cookbook is so right up my alley! Our farmer's markets are still sparse, but things usually are hopping by the first of March :)

Nan 1/22/11, 10:16 PM  

Oh, yum! I especially love lemons so would probably use them instead. Sorry no cooking from me today. Tomorrow?? Not sure yet.

Kim 1/23/11, 12:38 AM  

Hi Beth--
I am commenting to tell you that I am planning a weekend cooking post, I am planning on starting your labels mini-challenge for bloggiesta soon, and I am testing to see if my gravatar works.

Kim 1/23/11, 3:27 AM  

Key Lime Bars you say? Why yes! I would love some. :)
I finally got my post up....been busy all day getting my tech abilities caught up to the rest of the blog world!

Shelly B 1/23/11, 8:56 AM  

Those do sound yummy! What a neat cookbook. I love the farmer's market, but could spend a small fortune on fresh fruits and vegetables. One of these weeks I'm going to join in on the cooking post fun as I have many cookbooks to share.

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/23/11, 11:10 AM  

I really love the idea of this cookbook -- and I love farmer's markets! C'mon spring!!

picky girl 1/23/11, 12:16 PM  

I am so not a cook. I'm picky, and so I stick to a regimen of recipes. But yesterday, I baked a cake FROM SCRATCH for my best friend's 30th birthday. It was soo good. Strawberry cake made with cake flour, pureed strawberries and everything. Then I made a strawberry cream cheese frosting.

I had a ball (though my kitchen looks a little worse for the wear). And I love Key Lime. I may have to try this one out soon. Thanks!

JoAnn 1/23/11, 1:26 PM  

This sounds so good- I love lemons and limes! The cookbooks sounds very well organized and easy to use, too.

Sue Jackson 1/23/11, 7:23 PM  

Oooh...both the cookbook and the key lime bars look good!

I made apple crisp today (we're just about to eat it). No local apples right now, but I picked out ones from NY which isn't too far from here (and my home state).


Unknown 1/24/11, 9:14 PM  

The book sounds really good, I love fruit desserts. I'll have to see if my library has this one too.

joanna 1/25/11, 6:10 AM  

I'm late, but better late than never! :-) Your recipe sounds great!

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