Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Pavlova Time!

Just in time for your Fourth of July party, I offer you Red, White, and Blue.

I love the luscious berries of summer— bright red strawberries and raspberries, beautiful blackberries and deep indigo blueberries.

I’m making Pavlova, a dessert dish which combines ethereal meringue, softly whipped cream, and fresh fruit.

The name of the dessert was chosen in honor of Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, but it’s an on-going debate on whether the dessert originated in New Zealand or Australia, with both countries claiming ownership.
Pavlova toured both New Zealand and Australia in 1926 and Australia again in 1929. A similar recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling,” can be traced back to a 1926 New Zealand cookbook, Home Cookery for New Zealand.
In 1935, Chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, where Pavlova had stayed in her 1929 visit to Australia, created a dessert in the ballerina’s honor. The resulting recipe he called “Pavlova,” after someone commented that, “It was as light as Pavlova.”
Chef Sachse commented that he had “improved” upon a recipe for a Meringue Cake which he found in “Women’s Mirror Magazine,” which, ironically, had been submitted by a New Zealand resident.
It would seem that the New Zealanders first developed the recipe, but it wasn’t until an Australian chef developed his recipe that the name and the recipe became more widely known around the world and became an important part of the national cuisine of both countries.
The dessert was a metaphorical representation of the ballerina, with the colorful fruit and the light, frothy meringue epitomizing the magnificence of the dancer’s costumes and her “lighter than air” form.

Very Berry Pavlova
4 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
½ cup more sugar for macerating the berries
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup each strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries
Zest of one lemon
¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
3 TB sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup mascarpone
Heat oven to 200°.
Place parchment paper on baking sheet, and set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating on medium-high. Gradually add in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar until the whites are stiff and glossy.
Sift powdered sugar over egg whites and gently fold in until just combined.
Either spread or pipe the mixture onto the parchment paper, making two large circles. Build the circles up on the sides so as to contain the berries and whipped cream.
Bake for two hours until lightly browned. Do not open oven door. Turn off oven and let the meringue cool in the oven for about an hour.

While the meringue is cooling, macerate the berries. I combined the red berries in one bowl and the black and blue berries in a second bowl. Sprinkle the extra sugar over top of the berries, add the lemon zest, and let them sit for at least an hour. The sugar serves to draw moisture out of the fruit, which ends up combining with the sugar to create a lovely syrup.
Beat the heavy cream at medium speed until soft peaks form. (Rosie Note: When beating cream, you want the cream, bowl, and beaters cold, so I set the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes. When you beat eggs, you want them at room temperature to achieve the best volume.) Beat in the 3 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gently mix in the mascarpone.
To assemble, place one meringue on a serving dish, spread a quarter of the whipped cream mixture on top, spoon half the berries and syrup over the whipped cream. Spread a quarter of the whipped cream, and top with the other meringue. Spoon the rest of the whipped cream and remaining fruit on top. And enjoy immensely.
If desired, drizzle chocolate syrup over top of your Pavlova and pour a glass of the bubbly and you have a trifecta of perfection.

Meringue ingredients.

Whenever you whip egg whites, be sure to have them at room temperature (for maximum volume) and with absolutely no contamination from yolks, oil, or water.

To get egg whites to room temperature crack them into a small bowl and place the bowl in a larger bowl of warm water.  Be sure no water gets in the whites.

Rosie Hint #396:  Don't bother making meringues when it's raining.

You can pipe the meringues out or you could simply spread them out with an offset spatula.

This was delightful with champagne.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rosie Is Published.

Please check out Rosie's latest article,
"I Scream.  You Scream.  We All Scream For ...  GRANITAS!"
in the Summer 2015 issue of

Rosie Makes A Leisurely Lunch On A Rainy Day.

We had some wonderful rains the other afternoon for several hours and then again the next day for several hours.  I love it and my garden loves it, especially since I just threw out all sorts of seeds right before.  There's nothing like a good rain to kick start a garden.  And there's nothing like a good rain to kick start me in the kitchen.
I'm actually "planning" lunch today, something I rarely do, but I had a few things I wanted to make.
I have some boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I want to fry.  Yes, I'm battering and frying skinless thighs.  I'm making skillet cornbread because I can.  And I have green beans which I'm going to crank up with ginger and soy sauce and hot red pepper flakes.

First, I'm making a marinade for the chicken thighs.

 And would you look at that.  I'm still fueling on coffee.
My mug is from my favorite set I got at the "Aztec" Ruins in Aztec, New Mexico.

4 1-inch chunks frozen ginger (Explanation later.)
3 garlic cloves
4 TB tamari sauce

 Now, I shall explain to you about the wonders of frozen ginger.  When I want ginger, I want it now.  I don't want to have to go to the store to buy ginger for whatever I'm making.  Sooooo, I buy fresh ginger in bulk, cut it into one-inch pieces, and freeze it.  That way, whenever I want ginger, I have it on hand.   BUT WAIT!  THERE'S MORE!!   There's ginger juice.  I love to use ginger juice in marinades, stir fries, sauces, you name it.  And there's only one way I know to easily extract ginger juice.  You take a frozen ginger cube and nuke it for about 25 seconds, until it's slightly hot.  Then squeeze it between thumb and forefinger.  The juice will flow out.  Alternately, you could use a garlic press.

 I have 4 cubes of ginger with its juice and 3 garlic cloves.
 Throw out the fibrous ginger.
  Or compost it.

 Add in the tamari sauce and drop the thighs in, turning to coat.
 Let marinate for at least 2 hours.

Next up, the green beans.
Green Beans 
That many green beans. (See above picture.)
And this much red pepper, green pepper, and onion. (See below picture.)
3 TB brown sugar
3 TB tamari sauce
1 TB rice vinegar
1- 2 tsp hot red pepper flakes (I like mine on the hot side.)
1 TB sugar
1 TB unsalted butter
kosher salt to taste
Cook green beans in boiling salted water for 1 minute.  Drain and plunge into ice water bath to stop cooking.  Drain well and dry with paper towels.
Combine brown sugar, tamari, vinegar, and pepper flakes, stir well, then nuke for about 25 seconds or until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.
Toss beans, peppers, and onion in sugar.  
Heat 1 TB butter in skillet over medium high until sizzling.  Add in beans, peppers, and onion to pan. Cook, tossing for about 5 minutes or until slightly blackened.  Taste test.  Season with salt.  Remove from heat and add to the dressing mixture.  Toss to coat.

 Only 1 minute in salted boiling water.
 Drain and immediately plunge into ice water.
 This stops the cooking, keeping the beans al dente, and sets that beautiful green color.

 Brown sugar, crushed red pepper, and tamari sauce.

 I tossed the vegetables in a little sugar,
 then sautéed them in butter over medium high heat about 5 minutes.
  You want the vegetables slightly caramelized.

 Toss the beans, peppers, and onion with the dressing.
Cover and set aside.

On to my cornbread, made with fresh corn.

1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 ears corn, cut from cob
4 TB unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs

Note:  I generally don't have self-rising cornmeal, but accidentally picked the self-rising instead of plain.  If you have non-self-rising, you can make self-rising by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to 1 cup plain cornmeal.

Heat oven to 400°.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Cut kernels off cob and process in a blender about 2 minutes, scraping down sides.  Melt 1 TB butter in small skillet and add corn purée.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 8 minutes.  I ended up with 2/3 cup of purée.

Remove from heat and add 2 TB butter.  Whisk until butter is melted.  Add buttermilk, whisking, then add eggs, whisking until incorporated.  Fold corn mixture into cornmeal mixture until just combined.

Melt remaining tablespoon butter in 8-inch iron skillet until sizzling.  Pour batter into skillet and spread evenly.  Cook a minute or two over medium high, then place pan in oven.  Bake 15 minutes or until top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Kernels from two ears.

Corn purée goes from this ...

...  to this.

Whisk in butter.

And eggs.

Pour corn mixture into dry ingredients.

Fold in until just incorporated.

Spread evenly into skillet.

Ta daaaaa!!!!!!

Fried Chicken Thighs
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups flour
2 TB freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup milk
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
oil for frying

Combine flour, pepper, and salt.  Mix well.
Whisk milk into yogurt until smooth and the consistency of buttermilk.
Dip thighs first in the flour mixture, then in the yogurt mixture, then back in the flour again.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large iron skillet.  When the oil reaches 350°, add in 4 of the thighs. Remember not to crowd the pan.  When the first side is nicely browned (about 3 minutes), turn over and brown the other side (2-3 minutes).  Drain and place thighs on rack.

Crisp on the outside.  Check.
Juicy and flavorful on the inside.  Check.

Fresh corn flavor.  Check.
Tang from buttermilk.  Check.
Moist from butter and eggs.  Check.

Green beans
Al dente.  Check.
Caramelized.  Check.
Excellent dressing.  Check.

And dip that cornbread in the green bean dressing.  That's some kinda good!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rosie Is In A Devilish Mood.

 I love my new $9 copper platter.
Guess what Rosie's making today.

If you guessed deviled crabs, you would be correct.

 We had a bunch of blue crabs, 
callinectus sapidus, or "beautiful swimmer."
Mr. Hawthorne picked the crabs
because Rosie don't pick no crabs if she can help it.

Rosie's Deviled Crabs
 2 1/2 cups crab meat
3 TB minced celery
2 TB minced parsley
1 TB minced multicolored sweet peppers
 with a little jalapeno added in for some punch
1 TB sliced scallions
4 TB melted unsalted butter
1 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground mustard
2 TB heavy cream
dry sherry
Texas Pete
equal amounts panko and crushed Ritz crackers for topping
pats of unsalted butter for each crab

Heat oven to 325°.
Gently mix all together, trying not to break up the crab meat.
Mound mixture into 7 crab shells.
(You could spread it out to 8 shells, but I prefer odd numbers.)
Drizzle 1/2 tsp sherry and 1/2 Texas Pete on top of each.
Top each shell with Ritz/panko mixture and a pat of butter.
Bake at 325° for 18 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Jalapeno top left, then minced celery top right
and sweet peppers at bottom.


  I had to check on Junior.
Too bad he can't just relax and chill out.

 Crab meat with celery, parsley, scallion, and assorted peppers

 Wash and scrub shells.

 Stuff shells.

 Equal parts panko and Ritz crackers for the topping.

 I also had some  barely dried herbs from the garden 
that I'd used in something the day before -
parsley, oregano, dill - which I sprinkled over top.

 Drizzle sherry over each. 

 Add Texas Pete.

 Panko and Ritz topping. 

 Pat of butter and bake.
 Pure devilishiousness!