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.

Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella with Thyme and Rosemary

Oh. My. Goodness. This was so delicious, if I do say so myself. Nick and I recently dined at North, in Arcadia – it quickly became one of our faves. They have an appetizer called the “Bread and Cheese Plate” – when we ordered it we figured we would be getting a selection of cheeses, some olives, chutney and bread; but what we got would be so much better.

While sipping on a lovely red wine, our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw a cast-iron skillet of cheesy goodness and beautifully grilled artisan bread slices. Needless to say, we were in heaven. This dish was so delish, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it days after we had been there. Naturally, I took a stab at creating it at home and it was my favorite dish that I’ve made to date.

I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten, but added some twists to it. My recipe is below.

  • 1 pound Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and 1-inch-diced
  • 1 pound smoked mozzarella, 1-inch-diced
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crusty French baguette, grilled and sliced

Directions

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

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Distribute the cubes of Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the truffle oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and truffle oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked cheese family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.