Happy Memorial Day! I’m just back from a weekend of mayhem in the North Carolina mountains with friends and an incredible amount of food and drink. I’m not sure the last time I laughed so much – between trips around Boone and a “booze cruise” paddle boat adventure on Trout Lake – we really had the best time.
I took the lead on Saturday night dinner. I planned a menu that could take advantage of seasonal ingredients and my friend’s fantastic grill that overlooks the mountains. I picked everything up at The Fresh Market before we drove to the highlands – and convinced my friend to pick up local Rudd Farm strawberries for a special holiday dessert.
Saturday menu included an assortment of grilled pizzas – Fresh Jalapeno, Tomato and Soppressata; Asparagus, Triple Cream Cheese and Bacon; and Hot Paprika Shrimp, Pesto and Goat Cheese. And, a Seasonal Strawberry Pavlova from this month’s Bon Appetit Magazine. The addition of fennel seed to the meringue was absolutely unique and delectable. All the recipes were incredible, decadent and perfect for an evening of grilling on the deck with mountain views and good red wine. I’ll post the recipes this week – while I return to the real world and mandatory diet.
Seasonal Rudd Farm Strawberry Pavlova, from Bon Appetit June 2013
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 3 cups, strawberries, quartered
- 1 cup, fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
- 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 200°. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites, cornstarch, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until frothy. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 table-spoonful at a time, until stiff peaks form. Beat in fennel seeds. Spread out meringue on a parchment-lined baking sheet into an 8-inch round about 3/4 inch thick in the center and 1 1/2 inches thick at the edges, creating a well for the filling. Bake meringue until firm to the touch, about 3 hours. Turn off oven and let meringue cool in oven, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, toss strawberries, raspberries, lemon zest and juice, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl; let stand to let fruit release juices. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Beat in mascarpone just to blend. Carefully transfer meringue to a serving platter. Fill with whipped cream mixture. Top with berry mixture.