Double (Not Triple) Citrus Bars

I feel like crying every time I look at my photos as of late. I didn’t post a new focaccia recipe I found b/c of how ugly the photos were. Then I forged on and blogged about the chicken carbonara even though the photos were horrible. I just had to blog about that dish b/c it was too good to keep to myself. Now, I have these citrus bars that look almost just as bad as the other photos but taste too insanely good not to share!
I first thought the problem was due to a dirty lens, so I bought a lens cleaner to remedy the problem. Also, I played around with the white balance as usual, but all the photos came out looking funky. I don’t know why!! I am guessing the colors are off b/c all the aforementioned dishes already had a yellow hue to them on their own so it was hard for me to get the right color. Therefore, for the current photos, I used the blue container of whipped cream to guide me on the right color, but I still think the overall color of the photos looks off! *CRY*
Oh well. I will move on to tell you about these bars. I hope the weird yellow-green-blue colors don’t deter you all from making these bars. You know they must have been good if I went on to post these photos.

You see that bite I took? I almost immediately stopped this photo session after that bite b/c it was so good. I just wanted to eat more. However, I thought about you all and kept clicking away. See how much I love you? LOL!

WARNING: Do not be alone after making and refrigerating these bars! You will eat almost all of them by yourself. They are that good haha. I had to really force myself to not eat the whole thing. I managed to go throw the whole thing within 3 or 4 days, though, and that was hard to do! I do still have 2 more small bars left that will most likely be consumed today hehe.

Oops! I take that back. I guess I couldn’t wait much longer. I had to go on and eat that first bar.

The crust was a bit too salty because I put in too much (oops!), but the filling was perfect. It was so soft and creamy and citrusy. It wasnt too acidic though. The reason I’m calling these bars “double citrus bars” is because I didn’t have any limes in the house, and as I mentioned in the previous post, I was too broke (and tired) to go to the store and get some limes. So, I used my leftover lemons (double amount) and oranges instead. I also used more citrus juice than what the recipe called for to make it more acidic. If you like it sweeter, then use the amount on the recipe. I have posted the triple version of these bars below. Please make these ASAP!

Be sure to eat these with homemade, whipped cream, too!!

Double, not Triple, Citrus Bars
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and discovered on Bakers Royale

(I made these bars at night, so no process photos today!)

Crust:
5 ounces (~1 1/4 cups, crushed) animal or graham crackers
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar (light or dark)
pinch of table or kosher salt

Filling:
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest (I didn’t use)
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used 3 tsp to replace missing lime zest)
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 14-oz can of condensed milk
1 egg yolk, room temperature
6 Tbsp lime juice (I didn’t have)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (I used 8-9 Tbsps to make up for missing lime juice)
1 Tbsp orange juice (I used 2-3 Tbsp)
*The total amount of juice in the recipe comes out to 1/2 cup. I used about 2/3 cups.

Garnish (optional):
3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes (I used 1/2 cup and still ended up with way too much leftover. I suggest using 1/4 cup instead)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan (I used a rectangular tart pan for (failed) aesthetic reasons), allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray (I used baker’s joy).

TO MAKE THE CRUST: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse animal or graham crackers until broken down, about ten 1-second pulses; process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds (you should have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs). Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses (if large sugar lumps remain, break them apart with fingers). Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.

TO MAKE THE FILLING: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zests, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add juices and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.)

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

Chicken Carbonara

Chicken Carbonara?! What?! But Carbonara is supposed to have guanciale (pork cheek), pancetta or at least bacon! Well, I didn’t have any of those items, and I was broke at the end of April, so I decided to improvise and use chicken strips in place of the traditional meat for this dish, and guess what? IT. WAS. FANTASTIC!

Oh my goodness. Now I think I’m going to make my carbonara like this in place of the traditional way because 1) it’s cheaper 2) not as fatty if you use chicken breasts 3) it tastes lighter. Now, don’t get me wrong, the traditional version is much more flavorful because of the flavorful pork, but the other ingredients in carbonara helps retain the same yummy flavor in this chicken version.

I used the recipe I always use, which comes from a video on Italian Food Net (I mentioned this site before when I made the indimenticabili (unforgettable) lasagne al ragù for my friend). I rely on this site for almost all of my traditional, Italian, savory dishes. I love how the videos are in Italian, and the food always looks amazing.
Before I offer you the modified recipe, let me tell you a little story about my first taste of Pasta alla Carbonara (feel free to skip this story and go directly to the recipe :D!):

On my last day in Venezia (Venice), I had a few hours to spare while waiting in the airport. I became hungry and wanted to try out the pasta in Venezia since I had missed out on a lot of savory dishes during my time in Italy after eating copious amounts of gelato al limone.

I approached one of the airport restaurants and asked for Spaghetti alla bolognese, but they were out! My heart sank because I really wanted to try out this dish in Italy. Instead of lamenting over this missed opportunity, I ordered the only other pasta dish available – Pasta alla carbonara.

I had absolutely no idea what this dish was. I just knew that it had a white-looking sauce, so I was disappointed that it didn’t have tomatoes in it. I am normally a very picky person, so I was a bit hesitant about trying out this new dish. I sat down slowly, inspected the dish closely, twirled my fork around the pasta, gulped, and took a bite.

Words cannot describe how I felt after that first taste. All of a sudden, nothing existed but this dish and my tastebuds. I was in pasta heaven. I completely forgot I was in an airport with other people around. The feeling was similar to how I felt when I ate the gelato in the sense that I don’t really recall what happened after that first bite. I came out of my pasta-induced coma only after the last bite.

As soon as I came back home, one of the first things I did was look for that recipe. I was surprised that that white-looking sauce was basically the amalgamation of eggs and pasta water along with a few other ingredients. When I made it at home for the first time, I was once again transported to that time in Venezia.

Now, with this chicken dish, I didn’t have the exact same feeling as I had in Venezia, but I was in pasta nirvana without a doubt. This dish is truly amazing. I am so glad I chose to make this dish in lieu of going out to eat for a quick bite. Please make this dish tonight! If you use store-bought or already-prepared pasta, it doesn’t take long to make at all.

Guess how much this plate was?! If you guessed more than 1 U.S. dollar then you’ve guessed too high. Yep.

Chicken Carbonara

adapted from Italian Food Net
I adapted this recipe for one person, but the full recipe is below.

360 gr. (12.69 oz.) Spaghetti
60 gr. (2.11 oz.) cut, skinless chicken (I used breasts, but you could try other cuts)
80 gr. (2.82 oz.) Parmesan cheese
80 gr. (2.82 oz.) Pecorino cheese (I had only parmigiano reggiano, so I used just that)
4 Eggs, room temperature (one egg per person)
1 Teaspoon black pepper (try to use fresh ground black pepper)
Extra virgin olive oil

Pour the extra virgin olive oil into the frying pan, add a handful of cut chicken breasts, 1 tsp of black pepper, and put the pan on a low heat.

Meanwhile crack the whole egg (1 per person) into a dish, beat it with a fork, add a pinch of black pepper, 1 Tbsp of fresh grated pecorino, 1/2 Tbsp of parmigiano reggiano, and beat it again to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Now put spaghetti into a pot of boiling salted water, 90-110 Gr. (3.17-3.88 Oz.) per person.

Continue to cook the chicken on low heat until it is cooked and brown around the edges. Don’t overcook, or it will be too dry.

Once chicken is ready, add a little pasta cooking water into the pan so that the starch of the water helps to mix all the ingredients. Turn off the heat, and wait until the pasta is done cooking (preferably al dente (less cooked than some are used to, especially in the States)!

Once Spaghetti are cooked al dente, do not drain; instead, add more pasta water to the chicken to create a sort of watery “sauce”. Next, drain the pasta (reserving the pasta water), and put it into the pan, add a little more pasta cooking water.

Take the cheese/egg mixture; beat it again, and pour it into the pan. (I suggest turning off the heat at this point, but the cook in the video kept it on. I had some scrambled eggs at the bottom of my skillet by following his method)

Stir slowly, sautè, add a little pecorino cheese, a little parmesan cheese, and a little more pasta cooking water. Stir again over low heat, and if the pan is too hot remove it from heat.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish garnished with a little pecorino and a parmesan, add the sauce (i.e., the pasta water and oil leftover from cooking the chicken) all over the spaghetti and serve in a HOT dish.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com