For crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 sticks salted butter, frozen and cubed (if using unsalted butter you may want to add a pinch of salt)

For lemon filling:

5 large eggs at room temperature
3 whole lemons
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Confectionary sugar for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:
1. Put flour, confectionary sugar and butter into a food processor and pulse until butter forms small pea size balls.
2. Line a 9 x 13 oblong baking dish with non stick aluminum foil and place flour mixture into the pan, pressing until it is evenly spread across the bottom.
3. Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes until the edges are slightly brown.

For lemon filling:
1. Break the eggs into a food processor.
2. Roll the lemons onto a cutting board to help release the juices. Zest the lemon skins and juice the lemons.
3. In a separate bowl, add the corn starch to the lemon juice and whisk to remove most of the lumps.
4. Add the juice mixture, zest, sugar, vanilla extract and melted butter to the food processor bowl and mix until well blended but not frothy.
5. Add mixture to the dish over the baked crust and be sure that it is evenly distributed.  Bake in the 350 degree F. oven for a minimum of 15 minutes and check for doneness. You may have to put back for another 5 minutes. (Check by shaking the dish and if there is no jiggling then they will be done.)
6. Sprinkle top of squares with confectionary sugar. Cut into tea sized squares.

Recipe courtesy of Laurie Lufkin, Host of Inspired Cooking, 2010.

Laurie Lufkin Update
by Heather Atwood

When I walked in the door to Laurie Lufkin’s kitchen, warmly decorated in culinary antiques, trays of bacon were crisping in the oven, two large balls of shortbread dough were softening on the counter - they would be baked cookies delivered to The Open Door by the end of the day - and a secret something was cooling.  Lufkin pointed to a tray of blue and white frosted cookies balanced on a chair and said, “Oh, I need to do something with those!  How 2 Heroes was here yesterday making a cooking video with Lilly -”

Laurie Lufkin, and now her daughter Lilly, too, might soon be more famous Essex icons than the beloved fried clam.  Laurie Lufkin is a talented cook; She enters cooking contests  - her Facebook page is impossible to keep up with;  Just today I voted for her entry “Spiced Cranberry Minis with Sweet Salty Cashew Butter” on the Zoye 100% Soybean Oil Recipe Contest - and she wins.  

At the Topsfield Fair this year Lufkin’s Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Espresso Mousse took first.  In December she won 2nd place in the “Moo-Vision” Lactose Milk Cook-off for her “Johnny Cakes with Pan-Seared Scallops and Pumpkin Corn Pudding.”

Lufkin won $1,000 in January, for her “Cooked Perfect New England Turkey Meatball Mini Slider Paninis” in the Cooked Perfect Meatball Contest.  But the big news this year was her “New England Buttermilk Pumpkin Cakes with Sour Cream Apple Caramel and Dried Cranberries” for which Laurie tucked away a winning check of $10,000 from the 2nd Annual New England Dairy Contest sponsored by Hood Sour Cream.

It’s been a good year for Lufkin.  She earned her first magazine cover:  Taste of Home glossed her glamorous “Cranberry Orange Christmas Cheesecake” on its cover.  She travelled to Chicago to participate in a cook-off for Santa Margherita Wines, and to Newport, R.I. for the Beringer’s Great Steak Challenge, for which she took third place with her “Grilled Steak Panini with Olive Tapenade and Fontina Cheese.”

But The Contest, as those participate in these things refer to it, looms ahead.  It’s the ultimate challenge, the Holy Grail of cooking contests:  Pillsbury.   The Bake-Off.  That was the secret experiment in Laurie’s kitchen when I arrived, but I’m not allowed to give anything away.  All I’m saying is that the kitchen smelled delicious.

Right now people all over the country are submitting recipes - any number - with fingers and toes crossed that they will end up as one of the 100 finalists to travel to Florida next year for the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which only happens once every two years, such is the intrigue and complexity of its order.  Finalists are contacted around August, so mid-summer ringing telephones make bakers jumpy.  The Pillsbury Bake-Off winner takes home one million dollars; much is asked of that Crescent Dough.

I think Lufkin is an intuitively great cook.  Some people have a sense of food’s texture, taste -  and its ability to surprise  - in their genes, and it ends up in the turn of a wooden spoon.  Here is Lufkin’s recipe for Lemon Squares, a perfect recipe - the balance of crumb in the crust to tartness in the filling worth a million bucks.  

Watch for Laurie Lufkin’s Cooking Show, Inspired Cooking with Laurie Lufkin, on the local cable channel.

Luscious Lemon Squares
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