Anna Pavlova was a famed Russian ballerina who was loved, if not worshipped, around the world. In 1926, in Wellington, New Zealand, she was performing and a hotel chef was creating. The chef wanted to honor Anna with something light, something ethereal. He succeeded.
There are many, many pavlova recipes. Essentially, a large meringue shell with high sides is baked, then filled with something rich and light[custard, whipped cream, …] and finally adorned with fresh fruit. Or chocolate, of course.
In their delectable book Meringue, authors Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evan Gardner have a whole chapter devoted to pavlovas:
- Chocolate Angle
- Chocolate Flecked with Chocolate Mascarpone and Strawberries
- Brown Sugar Plum
- Balsamic Strawberries
- Banana Cream
- Cherries Jubilee
- Lemon with Lemon Curd and Blueberries
- Kiwi with Lime Zest
- Classic Berry
And what did Suzen do? Her own thing, of course. And I had not a complaint. This is the perfect dessert to answer the question: “What do I do with …”
We had peaches and blueberries in full summer abundance awaiting their fate. This no better ending for a perfectly ripe peach than meringue and whipped cream. Suzen followed the recipe for Classic Berry Pavlova but substituted the fruit du jour.
You make this on a day when the humidity is low and the fruit is fresh. It won’t endure a night in the fridge, so make it just before consuming. Leftovers? No, not a chance. Soggy, sad, soggy. But why on earth would you have any leftovers?
If you want the elegance of a Russian ballerina, then your first slice of pavlova should be accompanied by a cold sample of fine dessert wine. Don’t skimp with the pavlovas!
Classic Fruit Pavlova
Yield: serves 8
For the meringue shell:
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the whipped cream filling:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the fruit topping:
- 4 cups of fresh berries, or
- 4 cups mixed of peach slices and blueberries
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar [optional]
Begin with the meringue shell which will take a few hours from start to finish. Work that time into you meal planning.
Preheat your oven to 350⁰F.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add vinegar and salt and beat on medium-high until soft peaks forms. Add the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, beating until all of the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating on high until the meringue is stiff glossy peaks. Beat in the cornstarch, about 1 minute more.
Like a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pip or spoon the meringue into a 1-inch circle, making the sides higher than the center. Bake for 5 minutes then lower the temperature to 250⁰ and continue to bake for 1 hour more. Turn the heat off the oven but leave the meringue shell in the oven for 3 hours or more [even overnight] to that it contuse to dry. When completely cool, loosen the meringue by gently peeling it of the parchment or by sliding an offset spatula underneath the shell.
Whip the cream sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until stiff.
Rinse the fruit and dry. Toss with sugar if you desire.
To assemble the pavlova, gently transfer the meringue shell to your serving plate. Sped whipped filling in your shell just up to the higher border. Top with the fruit in the design of your choice. The classic is a spiral. You can simply pile the fruit on for a less formal appearance.
Source: Meringue by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evan Gardner
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55MM Macro lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO 200 and F/5, 1/50th second, ISO 3200 respectively
Last year was not a good one for our mint. It was late coming up, the stalks had few leaves, and the leaves were perforated by gobbling insects that I never saw. Or tasted. To my knowledge.
This year, all that rain and now intense heat have given us a mint forest. The plants are over two feet high and dense with leaves. The bugs are nowhere to be found and there are no holes in my leaves. I believe they did not know how to swim. I will not complain about a wet spring until the next one arrives.
So, we grow our own mint. Do we grow our own blueberries? No. Why? Bears. Humans think we are at the top of the food chain. If you live in Manhattan, that is pretty much true, assuming that you consider financial traders to be human. But, if you live in the Catskills, and if you want to live a long life, then you defer to the bears.
We buy our blueberries at the market. In abundance.
This drink is actually rather sophisticated. It does NOT taste like a blueberry shake with alcohol. With fresh, fragrant mint, this is still a mojito. But the color is now blueberry blue and there is just a sweet dash of berry that frames the mint in your mouth. Of course, the blueberries add a smooth viscosity to the drink that adds to your satisfaction.
When it’s in the high 80’s and you are sitting on your porch, watching for bears, a gun in one hand, then the other hand should be holding one of these.
I suppose the gun is a bad idea, in combination with an alcoholic beverage. You should not drink and drive and you definitely should not drink and shoot. Nobody ever asked Dick Cheney what was in his breakfast orange juice the day he shotgunned his buddy.
Yield: 2 large cocktails
- 10-12 large mint leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
- ¼ cup of simple syrup
- Juice of two lemons
- 6 ounces of white rum
- 1 cup of fresh blueberries, rinsed, dried and picked over for fragments, stems, …
Put the mint leaves in the bottom of a metal cocktail shaker. Add the sugar and muddle, seriously, for a minute. You are using granulated sugar here as a grinding agent to help break down the mint. Add the simple syrup and lemon juice. Muddle more, another minute until you just don’t feel much resistance anymore. The mint leaves exist, but you’ve extracted the flavor.
Add the rum.
In a blender, add the blueberries and process until smooth. This is another example of where I suggest you use a Vitamix. A half minute at high speed and EVERYTHING is smooth. There is no need with the Vitamix to sieve the results.
Add the blueberry mixture to the cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake. Again, take some time. It’s not just one or two juggles here. You want to shake vigorously and until the outside of the shaker is truly cold to your hand.
Pour into two chilled cocktail glasses. Add ice cubes or, better, crushed ice. Adorn with blueberries or mint or both.
The blueberry flavor is subtle. You will not attract bears.