If you’ve been following me on Twitter and/or Facebook for the past month or so, then you’ve obviously seen many of my low-carb Paleo real food creations in the kitchen. Since shifting the diet Christine and I eat to a more Paleo-styled low-carb diet that is zeroed in on consuming real foods as much as possible (never a bad thing!), I’ve seriously enjoyed the creativity that comes with being in the kitchen again. I’ve been using some awesomely healthy ingredients and even venturing on the wild side just a bit. The resulting daily gourmet low-carb Paleo meals have made Christine a very happy woman (although she still does the dishes…but doesn’t mind if I keep cooking like this!).
My cooking personality is very similar to what was expressed by my podcast guest Chef Todd Mohr this week who encourages people to learn methods rather than recipes. Although I do think recipes can serve as an excellent template for a dish, ultimately it is YOU who has to be the one to personalize the food to who you are. That’s part of what makes cooking so much fun and I constantly anticipate what I can make next in my kitchen that fits within my low-carb Paleo lifestyle. One thing that is going to help with that immensely is the release of a fabulous new Paleo cookbook with recipes that are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and low-carb. It’s called Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking in a Gluten-Free Kitchen by Julie and Charles Mayfield and I shared my review of this book with you last week.
One of the first recipes that jumped out at me (it SCREAMED!) to make was all the way in the back on page 320–“Luscious Lemon Squares” looked and sounded absolutely amazing! The photos Julie and Charles used throughout their cookbook are enticing enough to make anybody want to jump right in head first and do these recipes. This particular recipe called for a few ingredients I didn’t have, so I improvised.
The crust was supposed to use raw almonds and Steve’s Original Paleo Krunch. But all I had on hand were macadamia nuts. So I put those in a blender to see if I could make a crust out of them and the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. Oh my, this worked out so well I think I have a new source for making a crust on a dessert that will be versatile for MANY different recipes! I also had to alter the recipe to fit a 9X13 pan since I didn’t have a 9X9 one. And the custard part of this recipe was also an interesting experiment since I’d never made a custard in my life. But having local pastured eggs, ghee, and other quality ingredients made this part of the recipe a hit as well and I think the bright yellow color in the final product made all of the efforts to do this recipe worth it.
Check out this gorgeous picture of how it turned out:
(With permission from Julie and Charles and adapted from their book Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking in a Gluten-Free Kitchen, here’s my version of this incredible recipe)
JIMMY MOORE’S MACADAMIA NUT CRUSTED LUSCIOUS LEMON SQUARES
13 ounces macadamia nuts
1 Tbs fresh local honey
4 Tbs lemon zest
3 large pastured eggs
2 Tbs Pure Indian Foods grass-fed ghee, melted
Coconut oil (enough to grease your pan)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a paper towel and dip it in your coconut oil. Liberally grease the bottom of your 9X9 inch dish or pan (mine is a glass dish baking pan). Pulse blend the macadamia nuts 4 ounces at a time and dump into a mixing bowl when you create crumbs. Repeat until all of the nuts are chopped up into your “flour” mix. Add honey (or you can substitute some stevia if you don’t want to add the carbs to your recipe), lemon zest, and eggs to the macadamia nuts and whip vigorously with a fork until well-blended. Do a taste check of the batter to make sure it has the appropriate sweetness for you. You’ll taste a subtle lemon flavor, but not overpowering (saving that for the custard). Empty batter into baking dish and gently press down the batter with a spoon until it is evenly distributed along the bottom of the pan. Place pan into preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow crust to completely cool on counter or quickly in the freezer.
The Lemon Custard
1/2 cup Pure Indian Foods grass-fed ghee, melted
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
8 large pastured egg yolks
2 Tbs fresh local honey
2 packets of stevia (or liquid stevia equivalent)
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
While crust is baking, whisk egg yolks, honey, stevia and lemon zest in a mixing bowl until blended. Pour mixture into a sauce pan on medium heat adding in the ghee, coconut oil and lemon juice. Continually stir this mixture to prevent the eggs from getting cooked in the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat immediately and continue stirring. Strain this mixture through a fine sieve (if not, you’ll get some of the lemon pulp and even a few seeds in your custard) and place in refrigerator or freezer until completely cooled.
Making The Lemon Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove completely cooled crust and custard from the freezer and/or refrigerator. Carefully spread a layer of the thickened lemon custard mixture over the top of the crust covering it completely. Place the dish in the oven baking it for 10-15 minutes until the custard becomes nearly translucent. Allow the finished bars to cool in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. ENJOY!