Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sweeten Your Sunday with Strawberry Lemon Squares

I was recently given a review copy of Sunday Dinner in the South, a lovely new cookbook of recipes and reminiscences by Nashville food personality and cooking-school instructor Tammy Algood. My father is a minister, and some of my dearest childhood memories involve this culinary tradition. Whether we were sitting down as a party of six for a cozy family-style meal or enjoying a festive afternoon with other members of the congregation, those fleeting hours of fellowship after Sunday-morning worship provided a wonderful respite from the responsibilities of the week. In this series on A Little Loveliness, Tammy shares practical tips and easy recipes -- encouragement for all of us to bring loved ones to the table to share in the delights of food and friendship. Today, enjoy a dessert bursting with fruit!  

Strawberry Lemon Squares

I have been making these dessert bars for eons, and I never get tired of them. They have an extra bonus of traveling well if you are having dinner on the grounds. They can be served without the garnish if you are taking them to another location.

Yield: 12 to 15 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup strawberry preserves
2 cups whipped cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 forks until crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared dish and bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Place the cream cheese and white sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and blend until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining 1/4 teaspoon zest.

Spread the preserves evenly over the warm crust and top with the cream cheese mixture. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, cut into squares and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a whole quartered strawberry.

"Meals are always best when shared, and Sundays tend to put us in a different frame of mind from any other day of the week. It's a more reflective day and perfect for breaking bread together." ~ Tammy Algood

Photos from Sunday Dinner in the South. Used with permission.

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