Aren't they pretty? There's just something about limes. Don't get me wrong, lemons are nice, too. But limes always seemed more exotic to me--I have no idea why. Could it be that as a kid, my mom hardly ever used real lemons or limes around the house? We had...you know it!...the plastic lemon and lime that was full of juice. Occasionally, real lemons made an appearance, but the only place I saw limes was in the grocery store.
When I started cooking on my own, one of the first things I did was to start using the real things. My mom was a fantastic cook, but she took shortcuts, like a lot of people do. And if that's your thing, hey, that's perfectly fine with me. But once you taste what fresh squeezed juice and freshly grated zest can do for your recipes, the difference is amazing.
Lemon bars are one of my all time favorites. So is Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. And let's not forget Beat That, her follow up. I love these two books. Not only are there lots of great recipes, but Ann's writing style is hilarious. They should be read cover to cover, because her humor even shows up in the recipes themselves. Back to the bars--even though in her book they're called Lemon Squares, there's not one bit of lemon in them. The idea is to make them more tart and really showcase the citrus in them. So you use limes instead--along with the fresh squeezed juice, there's lime zest in the crust and in the filling.
I've made these a few times, and they never disappoint. Lots of lime filled goodness on a wonderful almond shortbread crust. There's almond paste in the crust, and it adds such nice flavor and interest to the bars. I could eat that almond paste right out of the tube, and I've got about 1/2 cup left, if anyone's got any recipe suggestions to save me from eating the rest of it as is. Oh, she suggests using citrus salt for the salt in the filling, for that extra "pucker-up" factor. I still can't find any. I did find a lime salt from Morton's, and used that. Someday I hope to actually find some of the stuff, lol.
Oh, one more thing! Six limes gave me exactly 1/2 cup of juice. And even though I didn't need the zest from six limes, I zested them all anyway. I keep the extra in the freezer for zest emergencies. Hey, don't laugh! It could happen. And when it does, you'll wish you had zest in your freezer, too. ;)