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Martha Stewart's Lemon SquaresBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Lifestyle and cooking maven, successful business woman Martha Stewart rose to prominence as the author of numerous books on cooking, entertaining, and decorating. A graduate from Baranard College with degrees in both History and Architectural History, Stewart worked as a model during college to pay for her tuition. Born Martha Helen Kostyra — all four of her grandparents were Ellis Island-era immigrants from Poland — she married Andrew Stewart in 1961. They had one child and divorced in 1987. Prior to her fame as a business tycoon, Stewart started a catering business in her basement in 1976 with a friend from her modeling days and wrote and published her first entertaining cookbook in 1982. This was followed by many others.
An ambitious, hardworking perfectionist with a distinctive sense of style, over the course of time, Stewart expanded her brand to include a magazine and television program, serving as CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. She launched a line of popular kitchenware and home furnishings. Stewart was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World 1996."
All was going well with her growing authoritative "domestic goddess" status, as well as many Daytime Emmys under her belt for her show Martha Stewart Living, when Stewart suddenly resigned her company's CEO post in 2002, following charges of illegal insider trading. She was subsequently convicted of four felony charges in March 2004: conspiracy to obstruct justice, make false statements, and commit perjury; false statements (2 counts); obstruction of justice. This was all the result of an investigation into her controversial sale of ImClone stock. She was released from prison in March 2005 after serving five months and was on house arrest for another six months. She wasn't allowed to rejoin the board of her company until 2011.
Stewart has worked hard to regain the respect and trust she had with her millions of fans prior to her scandal. After her release from prison, she launched a highly publicized comeback and again entered the TV spotlight. She became a regular contributor of cooking, gardening, and crafts segments on NBC's Today show and appeared in an adapted version of The Apprentice, which didn't do well in the ratings. She has written a number of new how-to and cookbooks and launched an upscale line of homewares for Macy's. Stewart's daily talk show was nominated in six categories for the 33rd Daytime Emmy Awards in 2006, including Best Host and Best Show. Her comeback has been challenging, as her daily talk show, moved to the Hallmark Channel before its seventh season, was cancelled due to low viewership. However, she now is hosting another show as of 2010. She retooled her company and partnerships, including one to manufacture and market a new line of Martha Stewart-branded carpet tiles. Stewart was inducted into the 2011 New Jersey Hall of Fame for her services and contributions to Enterprise. She won the New York Women in Film & Television's Muse Award in 2011.
The following zesty Lemon Squares recipe is from her 2008 cookbook, "Martha Stewart's Cookies, The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share."
Martha Stewart's Lemon Squares
Pucker up: This version of the bake-sale favorites is the most intensely lemony one we've tried. A generous crown of powdered sugar not only adds to the flavor of these sweet squares, but also makes them easier to stack for storage.
For the crust:
- 3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen, plus more for dish
- 1-3/4 c/ all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
For the filling:
- 4 lg. eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 3 T. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
- 3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 c. whole milk
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Butter a 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish, and line with parchment paper.
Make crust: Grate butter on a cheese grater with large holes; set aside. Whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter; stir with a wooden spoon until combined and mixture looks crumbly.
Transfer mixture to prepared dish; press evenly onto bottom with your hands. Freeze crust 15 minutes. Bake until slightly golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Leave oven on.
Meanwhile, make filling: Whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and milk. Pour over hot crust.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 deg F, and bake until filling is set and edges are slightly golden brown, about 18 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into 2-inch squares. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Lemon squares can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 days.
Makes about 2 dozen.
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Biography website, Stewart, Martha (http://www.biography.com/people/martha-stewart-9542234).
Editors of Martha Stewart Living, "Martha Stewart's Cookies, The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share," Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Clarkson/Potter Publishers, NY, 2008.
IMDb.com, Stewart, Martha (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0829644/bio).
Wikipedia, Stewart, Martha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Stewart).