Easter Pavlova

I’m the first to admit it – desserts are NOT my forte. Since my family follows my blog and knows that I have an extreme passion for cooking, they figured they would challenge me to make a dessert for our Easter gathering. Needless to say, I was very initimated but rather intrigued.

I immediately googled “Easter desserts that even a child can make,” and Ina Garten’s Pavolva really caught my attention. I always feel confident in any recipe I get from her, because let’s face it, she is a goddess in the kitchen. I followed most of the recipe exactly, but I created my own fruit topping in lieu of the mixed berries.

Note: Although this recipe is super-simple, it takes almost 3 hours from start to finish so make sure you have ample time to bake…

Ingredients:

  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetened Cinnamon Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 3 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
The Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won’t get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Place the sliced fruit in any pattern, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with fruit.

Mediterranean Feast

Ladies, brace yourselves: Bikini Season is just around the corner.

That’s right, I put the stinky fish on the table. Even though summer is a season that most people look forward to, some women most women are paralyzed by fear when thinking about slipping (or stuffing) themselves into that itty-bitty bikini. I don’t blame you, we’re all guilty of indulging during the holidays and colder weather… we need to keep warm somehow, right?

So what are our options? Jenny Craig? Cleanses? Food that tastes like cardboard?

I’m not going to suggest against any of the former methods- well maybe the third one, but there are plenty of websites that have yummy recipes that keep the pounds off (yes, I just shamlessly plugged my own blog… oops, I did it again).

Last night, Nick and I made a Mediterranean inspired meal that boasts only 197 calories per serving. I didn’t even HAVE to feel guilty for having seconds… and thirds ;). It was delicious and very fresh tasting. I think the boy-toy agreed.

Mediterranean Kabobs:

1block of super-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes (non-veg: 1 lb boneless chicken breast)
For the marinade:
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic, crushed
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the salad:
1 1/4 cups cucumber, peeled
1 1/4 cups diced tomato
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1/4 cup black olives
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh dillweed
1 tsp fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup feta cheese, grated

lemon wedges for serving
Directions:
  1. Marinate the tofu at least 2-3 hours or overnight. If using wooden skewers, soak in water at least 30 minutes if grilling outdoors.
  2. Combine the first 12 salad ingredients (cucumbers through salt and black pepper, not the lettuce) and set aside in the refrigerator to let the flavors set.
  3. Thread tofu on 4 skewers and cook on a hot grill (indoor or outdoor grill) until tofu is cooked though, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Divide lettuce between four plates, top with tomato-cucumber salad, fresh grated feta cheese and grilled tofu. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pic of Nick’s dish for good measure:

Meatless Monday: Stromboli Night

In my house (and mind) you can’t go wrong with cheese. Let’s just say if I were Barney Stinson, and you challenged me to eat nothing but cheese for the rest of my life, I’d have no choice but to say, “Challenge accepted,” with a big cheese-eating grin on my face. I’m sure Nick wouldn’t be the happiest with the results of said challenge, but I suppose he’d just have to deal. ;)

All jokes aside, a stromboli recipe never fails to exhilarate the taste buds and this recipe did just that. We both made the same exact recipe except Nick added some chicken to make it man-cub friendly. With it’s bubbly cheesy goodness, fresh herbs and crispy crust – this recipe will be repeated, no doubt.

And of course, there is only one word to describe this recipe: Legend-DAIRY.

Ingredients:

(Makes 1 stromboli; for non-vegetarian stromboli, add 2 cups shredded chicken)

1 pizza dough ball
1/2 cup Pesto Sauce
2 cups Spinach
1/2 cup Hothouse Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella
1/2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp. Truffle Oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
Marinara sauce for dipping
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, on greased counter roll out dough to a rectangle, about the size of a cookie sheet.
2. Spread Pesto all over leaving a 1 inch space from edge
3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan on top of pesto. Sprinkle Mozzarella the layer of spinach, last your tomatoes and peppers. This is also where you would add the chicken if making non-vegetarian.
4. Now roll, jelly roll style,  starting at the long end so the end result is a big tube.
5. Place on a greased cookie sheet, make sure seam is on the bottom.  Tuck ends under.
6. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Garlic Salt.
7. Cut slits along the top to vent
8. Bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes.