Hello my friends! Well, it’s been almost two months since my last post. It’s about time for another one don’t you think? Did you sense the sarcasm? 😉 Anyhoo, I will spare you the details of the reasons for my absence as it’s the usual lack of time, lack of energy and general laziness on my part to sit down and put something together. I would rather spend my precious time outside, especially during the summer when the sun is making a regular appearance. I would much rather be hiking or doing my favourite thing this time of year – berry picking. Last weekend, the hubs and I went strawberry picking for the second time this season. The first time we went, it was early on in the season and although there were lots of berries, there weren’t a lot of ripe ones to pick. This time, it was just as difficult since it was the end of season and most of the good berries were already picked through. What was left were tiny and oddly shaped, although there were still some perfect ones to be found if one looked hard enough…
Nevertheless, we had missed the boat on the best strawberries. The farm that we went to also had blueberries which were just starting to make an appearance, but the real treasure in these parts at this time are raspberries.
This is where we spent most of our time, among the rows of raspberry plants.
And this was our reward:
At the end of it all, the hubs and I both walked away with the same exact thought: we should become farmers. We left thinking how wonderful it would be to grow our own food, how we would look forward to the harvest and what delicious home-cooked meals we could create with the fruits of our labour. But these thoughts quickly vanished as we soon realized two things: 1) the backbreaking work that is involved in running a farm and 2) neither one of us have much of a green thumb. That being said, I think we’ll leave the farming to the experts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Aside from making smoothies and putting these berries on top of granola and yogurt for breakfast, I wanted to make something that would showcase these beauties.
And what better vehicle for these berries than pavlova, a meringue-based dessert. These individual-sized pavlovas are filled with whipped cream and topped with a simple mixture of berries.
The berry mixture is fresh, tart and tangy and contrasts nicely with the sweet meringue.
What do you think?
How would you showcase these beauties?
Pavlova (from Simply Recipes)
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar OR 2 tsp white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar (I used cream of tartar)
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
- pinch salt
- Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
- Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. (Other recipes say to leave them in the oven to cool, so that’s what I did.)
- Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
- Served topped with your favorite filling – lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
Topping (adapted from Oprah.com)
- 2 cups of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
- zest of 1 lime and juice of half a lime
- Combine berries, confectioners’ sugar and lime zest and juice in a bowl.
- Set aside to macerate 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Notes and Tips
The centre of the meringue turned out a bit chewy. I read that this may be due to undissolved sugar adsorbing moisture during humid days and that using superfine sugar may prevent this problem. Don’t know what to do with the leftover egg yolks? Make pastry cream for a fruit tart or creme brule or use it to make some Korean pan-fried fish.