A Dessert To Honor A Ballerina: The Pavlova

While walking frantically through the grocery store, after work yesterday, searching for a delicious dessert inspiration to hit me, (We were having some friends over in a few hours (freaking out!) and they were bring the entree and I was doing salad and dessert) I came across the berry section of the produce aisle and what do you know, all the berries were on sale. Hallelujah! Berries…something with berries. Boom! It hit me. Pavlovas!

I stumbled upon this gem of a dessert a few years ago, when it struck me as unique and genius. I love meringue, right, and a pavlova is like a meringue crossed with a….a marshmallow…and I love marshmallows too, so naturally when I discovered how the two could become one, I was doomed. It gets better. The top of this miraculous ballerina cake is loaded with whipped cream and fruit. Berries by the quart. It’s so light and fresh, you can literally eat a whole half of the cake and feel justifiable.

Pavlovas are named after the Ballerina Anna Pavlovna Pavlova, supposedly created in New Zealand, or Australia by argument, in honor of the beautiful Anna.

Anna Pavlvoa. The inspiration...delicate and airy

Anna Pavlvoa. The inspiration…delicate and airy

It’s a very fitting tribute. The crisp flaky outer shell of the “cake” is delicate and ruffled like a tutu, and the center is moist and fluffy like a cloud. One bite and I feel like I could pirouette through the kitchen…stop me now.

Here’s what I did

ingredients.

ingredients.

6 egg whites ready to whip...see those beautiful yolks? don't chuck em! save them for something else!

6 egg whites ready to whip…see those beautiful yolks? don’t chuck em! save them for something else!

whisk together the cornstarch and the sugar

whisk together the cornstarch and the sugar

add the salt and the cream of tarter, then add the sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time on Med. High

add the salt and the cream of tarter, then add the sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time on Med. High

My mixer is a ballerina...look at her spin

My mixer is a ballerina…look at her spin

almost there

almost there, just added in vanilla and vinegar

the rub test

the rub test

feels a little gritty, needs to whip a few more minutes

feels a little gritty, needs to whip a few more minutes

stiff peaks

stiff peaks

no more grit

no more grit

trace an 8" circle on parchment...boy was that fun measuring all the circular items in my kitchen

trace an 8″ circle on parchment…boy was that fun measuring all the circular items in my kitchen

flipped my circle over so the pencil graphite isn't touching my cake

flipped my circle over so the pencil graphite isn’t touching my cake

plop it out into the circle

plop it out into the circle

push it out to the circle edge, flatten the top and sweep up the sides to create a stubby little volcano shape

push it out to the circle edge, flatten the top and sweep up the sides to create a stubby little volcano shape

300º preheated oven

300º preheated oven

just finished baking...now it's time to dry out

just finished baking…now it’s time to dry out

Blueberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Strawberries. Berries!!!!! Rinsed and Drained, gently patted dry

Blueberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Strawberries. Berries!!!!! Rinsed and Drained, gently patted dry

step 1: place dried pavlova on serving plate

step 1: place dried pavlova on serving plate

load with Fresh Whipped Cream... or Cool Whip...whatever you got time for

load with Fresh Whipped Cream… or Cool Whip…whatever you got time for

step 3: add the berries and sprinkle with powdered sugar

step 3: add the berries and sprinkle with powdered sugar…P.S. if you don’t want yours to be broken, don’t let your 5 year old “help” you get it ready. “Help” = pick apart and eat 

cue harps...ahhhh....

cue harps…ahhhh….

flaky shell with marshmallowy interior...we almost finished off the whole thing before I remembered to capture this image...close one.

flaky shell with marshmallowy interior…we almost finished off the whole thing before I remembered to capture this image…close one.

Dinner, thanks to the very talented Lorraine, was a-ma-zing and dessert, thanks to Anna Pavlova, was just as satisfying

Here’s what you’ll need…

Pavlova

1 1/4 C sugar

6 egg whites

2 Tbsp Corn Starch

1/4 tsp. cream of Tarter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp vinegar

Whipped Cream or Cool Whip

2 pints Bluebberies

1 pint Raspberrries

1 pint Blackberries

handful of Strawberries cut up

powdered sugar for dusting

Whip egg whites until frothy then add in tarter and salt. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch. add by the Tablespoon into egg whites on medium high speed. Once stiffer, add vanilla and vinegar. Whip to stiff peaks and make sure its not gritty, by rubbing a small amount between finger and thumb.

Trace an 8″ circle onto parchment and form meringue into a flattened volcano like shape within the circle. Bake at 300ºF for 1 hour and let it rest in the oven for 2 hrs or overnight. It may crack and fall as it cools…its ok.

Fill with whipped cream and top with berries.

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Sriracha Coleslaw

It just so happened, my local grocery store had a sale on beef brisket, that I could not refuse. I love brisket and my husband loves it even more, and sadly, when shopping on a budget, it’s not a regular item on our shopping list. However, on those rare occasions when it’s on sale, I snatch it up. Fast.

Sorry to tell you, I did not post a recipe and how-to on smoking beef brisket. Another time, I promise. It was so last minute, that I had to prep the meat, literally 10 minutes before picking my kids up from school. Only to spend the rest of my afternoon, babysitting The Big Green Egg turned smoker on my back patio, making sure my fire was hovering at 250º. Distraction would have equaled disaster. So again, maybe next time.

Fortunately, I did remember to make a recipe for the sriracha coleslaw that was a welcome accompaniment to the lush shredded smoked meat. It’s got enough tang and heat to cut through the smoky beef intensity and just enough sweetness to balance all the savory.

Here’s what I did…

chopped my cabbage

chopped my cabbage

chopped carrots, finely

chopped carrots, finely

chopped celery

chopped celery

chopped red onion

chopped red onion

added salt

and some sugar

and some sugar

fresh cracked pepper

fresh cracked pepper

a few splashes of apple cider vinegar

a few splashes of apple cider vinegar

sriracha mustard...shazam!

sriracha mustard…shazam!

add the mayo

add the mayo

after tasting I added a bit more sugar and a smidgen more mayo

after tasting I added a bit more sugar and a smidgen more mayo

so pretty

so pretty

Now, while this little bowl of goodness took a break in the fridge, I got busy prepping my smoked brisket for sandwiches!!

Here’s what I did to put it all together…

on a toasted onion roll, on went some Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce

on a toasted onion roll, on went some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

Next, a hefty helping of shredded Smoked Beef Brisket

Next, a hefty helping of shredded Smoked Beef Brisket…forgive the messy plate juices

On top of the beef,  a generous portion of coleslaw

On top of the beef, a generous portion of coleslaw…

To slathered the top bun with horseradish sour cream

 slathered the top bun with horseradish sour cream and snuck in some lettuce on top of everything

topped and ready to eat

topped and ready to eat

yes, my heart is complete! Beef Brisket sandwich showin me some love.

yes, my heart is complete! Beef Brisket sandwich showin me some love.

Sriracha Coleslaw

2 1/3 C cabbage

1/3 C carrots chopped

1/2 stick celery diced

1/3 onion, sliced thin, then roughly chopped

1/3 C mayo

2 tsp. sriracha mustard

1/4 C. sugar

2 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

ENJOY!

Challah Bread…a new recipe!

I love some good Challah Bread. It’s airy, soft, eggy, slightly sweet, and so shiny! Perfect to use for bread pudding, french toast, cheeseburger buns, or toasted with Nutella. My original recipe doesn’t turn out quite as amazing as I’d like, so I’m on the hunt for the ultimate Challah recipe. Today’s recipe comes from my friend Connie H., in NJ, who makes an absolutely beautiful loaf of braided Challah bread.

Here’s what I did…

I whisked the eggs and milk together

I whisked the eggs and oil together, then added the very warm water

in a separate bowl I sifted in the flour...

in a separate bowl I sifted in the flour…

the salt...

the salt…

 the sugar...

the sugar…

and the yeast...

and the yeast…

mixed it all together until it became a smooth and soft dough, then let it rest for 20mins under cover in greased bowl

mixed it all together until it became a smooth and soft dough, then let it rest for 20mins under cover in greased bowl

once it was rested, I rolled into a log, so i could portion out 4 pieces accurately

once it was rested, I rolled into a log, so i could portion out 4 pieces accurately

rolled each portion into even lengths, about 12" long

rolled each portion into even lengths, about 12″ long

Pinch all pieces together at the top

Pinch all pieces together at the top

step 2: cross the centers and go under the outer left and over the outer right

step 2: cross the centers and go under the outer left and over the outer right

step 3: cross the original outer right over the original  outer left.

step 3: cross the original outer right over the original outer left.

step 4: take new outer right and cross over, take new outer right and cross under

step 4: take new outer right and cross over, take new outer right and cross under

step 5: repeat until there is no more space, pinching the bottoms together to seal it and prevent separation.

step 5: repeat until there is no more space, pinching the bottoms together to seal it and prevent separation.

i reserved some of my dough to make burger buns....my favorite!!

i reserved some of my dough to make burger buns….my favorite!!

covered with oil sprayed plastic, and let rise a few hours

covered with oil sprayed plastic, and let rise a few hours

while the oven heated, I brushed the loaf gently with egg wash  and sprinkled with seeds

while the oven heated, I brushed the loaf gently with egg wash and sprinkled with seeds

Viola! I big loaf for french toast and buns for burgers.

Viola! I big loaf for french toast and buns for burgers.

Here’s Connie’s Recipe…

Connie’s Challah Bread

Connie's recipe

Connie’s recipe…enjoy!

Growing Grass from Seed: Day 1

It’s been a LONG winter. For a story to long and sad to share on such a sweet blog, I’ll just say we have to plant grass in our backyard. Again.

When the ground thawed this year, we got out the shovels and heavy metal rakes, a beautiful rental bobcat, and went to town leveling out the yard, and by my husband insistence, sculpted a pretty interesting bmx bike track along the fence line.

So, I figured, I’ll post the progress on our little turf adventure, and anyone can either learn what not to do, or actual find some helpful tips for their project.

DIY GRASS GROWING TIPS

#1) make your yard level and if possible sloped to where you want water to shed (for example, away from your house)

#2) modify your soil if necessary. (we added peat moss because our soil was very compacted, and stony

#3) water down the soil to help breakup big clumps of dirt

#4) get some super cute assistants to help spread the topsoilIMG_2585

assistants No.2 & 3 are a bit distracted

assistants No.2 & 3 are a bit distracted

assistants  No. 2&3 are really becoming one with the earth

assistants No. 2&3 are really becoming one with the earth

assistants getting a good hose down before their bath...and yes, that is my kitchen sink sprayer.

assistants getting a good hose down before their bath…and yes, that is my kitchen sink sprayer.

#5) Ignore tip number 4. Cute assistants end up making more work than necessary

#6) Make sure your hoses are connected and sprinklers can reach every area. (rotate where your hoses lay or you may get a line of no growth on your new grass)

#7) spread seeds with a seed spreader, using the correct seed for your needs and sun exposure. We planted shade mix under the tree and a sun mix in the open yard.

#8) water thoroughly and Keep All Pets and Kids OFF!

Day 1 complete.

he's pretty sad that he lost is backyard for a month, but he's really milking the situation...more trips to the park now!

he’s pretty sad that he lost is backyard for a month, but he’s really milking the situation…more trips to the park now!

I may be completely insane by the time this yard is safe to walk on. I’ll keep you posted.

Garlic Knots

What’s a girl gonna do with oodles of pizza dough? Make garlic knots of course! Making homemade pizza dough is way easier than it seems. Not as easy as buying from the freezer section of the store, but definitely more rewarding. We eat a lot of pizza (a whole lot) so I figured out a few recipes to incorporate the extra dough, and here is one of them.

Garlic Knots. Bitesize. Addictive. Irresistable.

Here’s what I did…

I combined the yeast, warm water,  and a bit of sugar

I combined the yeast, warm water, and a bit of sugar

I added salt, oil, sugar and 1 cup of flour to make a slurry...the yeast is getting happy

I added salt, oil, sugar and 1 cup of flour to make a slurry…the yeast is getting happy

added the rest of the flour slowly

added the rest of the flour slowly

until it looked like this, just pulled together into a sticky ball

until it looked like this, just pulled together into a sticky ball

consistency of dough should be very "squishy"

consistency of dough should be very “squishy”

after kneading about 5-10 minutes, with lots of throwing it down on the work surface, the dough gets smooth and is still very tender

after kneading about 5-10 minutes, with lots of throwing it down on the work surface, the dough gets smooth and is still very tender

cover and let rise in warm area

cover and let rise in warm area

it grew rapidly

it grew rapidly

and kept growing after I punched it down

and kept growing after I punched it down

the dough...soft as a pillow after rising an hour or more

the dough…soft as a pillow after rising an hour or more

roll out as long as your hand breadth

roll out as long as your hand breadth

tie in a knot

tie in a knot

 a great way to keep little hands busy

a great way to keep little hands busy

ready to go

ready to go

while the knots are cooking, I pull out my olive oil that's been marinating minced garlic

while the knots are cooking, I pull out my olive oil that’s been marinating minced garlic

add some fresh herbs, slat pepper, and more garlic

add some fresh herbs, salt,  pepper, and more garlic

once cooked, they can be dumped in a big bowl

once cooked, they can be dumped in a big bowl

toss them in A LOT of garlic Olive Oil.... A LOT I SAID!

toss them in A LOT of garlic Olive Oil…. A LOT I SAID!

cook for another couple of minutes before eaten so they are fragrant and watm

cook for another couple of minutes before eaten so they are fragrant and watm

Here’s what you’ll need

Garlic Knots

1 c. lukewarm water

1 package fast acting yeast

1 tsp.+  salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 c. (whole wheat flour optional for this 1 cup)

 1.5 – 2 c. flour additional

1/4 c. “good” Olive Oil

8 heads of Garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried parsley

s/p to taste

bake knots at 425º for 5-10 mins

Baking Milestone: Homemade Yeast Donuts

I’ve made donuts at home before. You know, open up the Pillsbury tube, punch a hole through the center of each preformed circle of white “dough” , toss it in oil, roll it in cinnamon sugar. Homemade donuts. But yesterday, I wanted HOMEMADE DONUTS.

I don’t know why I make life so much harder for myself. In the crazy shuffle of loading 3 small children into the car before breakfast on a Saturday morning, to run to the grocery store to get almond milk and strawberries for these homemade strawberry glazed donuts, my wise son of 5 years old says, “Mom, we can just go to dunkin donuts.” Yes. Yes we could. But nonetheless, on we pressed on.

I’m not gonna lie, making homemade donuts is pretty messy and takes way more time than my more than patient children (and I) expected. But the end result was delicious, not so picture perfect, donuts for lunch. (Real mom win there.)

Here’s what I did…

the ingredients

the ingredients

add yeast to warm water with some sugar wake it up

add yeast to warm water with some sugar wake it up

heat milk on the stove on medium

heat milk on the stove on medium

add shortening to the milk and heat until melted

add shortening to the milk and heat until melted

milk and shortening combined and bubbling

milk and shortening combined and bubbling

put sugar and salt in a bowl

put sugar and salt in a bowl

then pour hot milk into on top, stirring until cooled a bit

then pour hot milk on top, stirring until cooled a bit

add sifted flour

add 1 cup sifted flour

add eggs

add eggs

in 5-10 minutes the yeast has started to foam up considerably

in 5-10 minutes the yeast has started to foam up considerably

add yeast to the bowl and stir

add yeast to the bowl and stir

add more flour and mix

add 1 more cup of flour and mix

switched to  my dough hook and added more flour

switched to my dough hook and added 2 more cups of flour

prepped my kneading board with flour

prepped my kneading board with flour

stopped mixing when it looked like this

stopped mixing when it looked like this

turned out the sticky dough  and kneaded in flour until it just was't sticky anymore...maybe 5 minutes

turned out the sticky dough and kneaded in flour until it just was’t sticky anymore…maybe 5 minutes

placed ball of dough in a greased bowl to rise in warm area

placed ball of dough in a greased bowl to rise in warm area

dough doubled in size which took about 1 hour

dough doubled in size which took about 1 hour

turn out dough onto floured surface and just press into a flat piece, 1/2" thick.

turn out dough onto floured surface and just press into a flat piece, 1/2″ thick.

i used a donut cutter to twist donuts out, but a cup and a piping tip would suffice

i used a donut cutter to twist donuts out, but a cup and a piping tip would suffice

I'm starting to get giddy at this point

I’m starting to get giddy at this point

need to rise for another 40 minutes

need to rise for another 40 minutes…p.s. as a helpful tip, let plenty of flour coat the bottom of these babies so they don’t stick and come off easliy

risen but are super fragile! don't handle to much or they'll deflate...very sad

risen but are super fragile! don’t handle to much or they’ll deflate…very sad

fry for 2 minutes per side at 350º. Notice the back one deflated from handling to much

fry for 2 minutes per side at 350º. Notice the back one deflated from handling to much

drain on paper or towels to remove excess oil

drain on paper or towels to remove excess oil.(not the prettiest donut pic I chose to use…oh well)

make a simple glaze with milk, butter and confectioners sugar, and cook unto glossy and smooth

make a simple glaze with milk, butter and confectioners sugar, and cook unto glossy and smooth

coat on all sides

coat on all sides

let excess glaze drip back into the pan

let excess glaze drip back into the pan

fluffy interior and crisp exterior

fluffy interior and crisp exterior

kids got involved with decorating, strawberry glazed is their favorite

kids got involved with decorating, strawberry glazed is their favorite

Here’s what you’ll need…

Yeast Donuts

1/2 c water, warm
2 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c almond milk or regular milk would work too
1/3 c sugar
1+ tsp salt
4 – 4.5 c all-purpose flour, sifted and added in stages (may not need it all)
1/3 c shortening
2 eggs

GLAZE
1/4 c almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1-1.5 c sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 Tbspn butter is optional

*optional strawberry glaze…chop up 1/2 cup strawberries and add to glaze and cook down to make a puree…add slowly to a bowl of powdered sugar to make a thicker frosting glaze