Thursday, June 25, 2015

Almond Pavlova with Strawberries

(8-10 servings)

This almond pavlova with whipped cream, chocolate and strawberries is pretty easy to make. You can bake the meringue the day before so that everything assembles quickly on the day you plan to serve it.

I experimented a bit with the meringue. The traditional version uses twice the weight of sugar to egg whites. I tried this and found the resulting pavlova too sweet. I ended up decreasing the amount of sugar the second time around with good results. The second pavlova was still a bit sweeter than I like, but I doubt most people would complain about that.

The strawberry season is almost over here in Sequim. I might be able to head out and pick one more time, if I'm lucky.

almond pavlova
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup *fine sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Trace an 8 or 9 inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper and place that onto a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake them in the middle of the oven for about 5-8 minutes or until they are fragrant and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Place about 3/4 (reserving the remainder) of the toasted almonds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a fine meal. Set aside.

Place the eggs whites into a clean glass or metal bowl and begin to beat until they are frothy. Add the lemon juice and sprinkle the cornstarch evenly over the surface and resume beating.

Add a tablespoon of sugar at a time until you have used all of it up and the meringue is stiff.
* I used evaporated cane juice which I processed in a blender to make it finer. I didn't do this with my first batch and noticed my meringue was grainy because the sugar didn't completely dissolve.

Sprinkle the almond extract over the surface and fold the meringue a few times using a spatula. Add the ground almonds and carefully fold those in taking care not to over mix. The almonds don't need to be perfectly blended.

Empty the contents of the bowl onto the circle you drew previously and using the back of a spoon, spread the meringue to fit the circle. Sprinkle with the reserved sliced almonds and place into the middle of the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F from 300°F. Bake the meringue for about 40 - 50 minutes. It will be ready when the outer portion has hardened and the middle still feels a bit soft to the touch.

Remove from oven and cool.

**whipped cream
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat at high speed. Reduce the speed of your beaters when the cream begins to get thick and watch the whipped cream carefully. It can go from thick, to stiff, to butter really fast. You want it to be quite thick and spreadable, like frosting. Set aside.

**If the pavlova sits for more than an hour or two before serving you might consider stabilizing the whipped cream. To do this you will need:

1 tbsp water
3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin

Place the water into a very small pot and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over that. Gently heat until the gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Don't let it thicken.

When you begin to whip the cream, add this mixture while the beaters are going. The rest of the instructions above remain the same.

to assemble
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp heavy cream
the vanilla whipped cream you prepared earlier
1 1/2 pints strawberries (about 3 cups) washed and dried

Carefully heat the chocolate and stir until it has melted. Gently heat the cream and stir this into the melted chocolate. Set aside.

Place the baked pavolva onto a serving plate. Spread the whipped cream over the pavolva and place the strawberries over the cream. Drizzle with the chocolate.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trout with Lemon Caper Sauce

(2 servings)

Here's another quick dish that's suitable for a weeknight dinner. On occasion I'll change up the sauce a bit by adding any combination of chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, minced garlic or chopped chives.

It's essential to have everything prepped and ready to go, otherwise the trout might cool down too much while you make the sauce.

3/4 lb trout fillets
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, to  taste
1 tbsp capers

Rinse the fillets with cold water and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Warm a serving plate and keep warm while you cook the trout.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted and begins to froth, add the trout skin side down and cook for about 3-5 minutes until the skin is crispy and the fish begins to looks opaque along the edges of the fillets. The time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your fish.

Gently turn the fillets over and cook another 3-5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Remove to the warmed plate.

Add the wine, lemon juice and capers to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, scraping up the browned bits until the sauce has reduced by almost half; about 3-4 minutes.

Pour the lemon caper sauce over the trout and serve immediately.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce

(3-4 servings)

I came across this terrific recipe a few weeks ago at Epicurious and have made it a few times since then. This simple and flavorful dish comes together very quickly and is great for a quick weeknight meal.

adapted from Epicurious
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti
2 tbsp butter 
6 - 8 anchovy fillets 
4 - 5 sliced garlic cloves
a pinch or 2 crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs quartered medium tomatoes or sliced (in half) cherry tomatoes
a splash of dry white wine (optional)
freshly ground pepper and salt, if needed
4-5 leaves fresh basil, sliced 

Cook the spaghetti in lightly salted water; drain and reserve 2/3 cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovy, garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until anchovies are broken down and garlic is soft; about 4 minutes.


Stir in the tomatoes and continue to cook until they begin to fall apart; about 10 minutes.

Toss in the pasta as well as 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the rest of the cooking liquid if needed. Add the splash of wine, if using. Cook until the sauce coats the pasta. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Divide between plates and sprinkle with the basil. Serve