I have to say successfully making this Pavlova was one of my finest moments in the kitchen. I remember thinking Pavlova was the fanciest dessert ever when I was growing up. But for as long as I can remember, the thought of making meringue has scared me. There are too many variables in meringue making and the fact that something can go wrong at any point in the process just stresses me out. I spent quite a bit of time reading old cookbooks and consulting the websites of chefs I trust for learning something new. The end result was a smashing success. I was so proud!
I made this a bit earlier in the summer for my wonderful mother’s birthday, so depending on where you are peaches and cherries might not be at the peak. As far as fruit selection goes, you can’t really go wrong. Personally, I would stick to berries and stone fruits, but there are endless combinations that would be delicious.
Summer Fruit Pavlova
For the Pavlova
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine or distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Fruit Topping
2-3 cups of mixed berries or fruits of choice.
For the Pavlova
Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
For the Whipped Cream
Whip the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm. Be careful not to over-do it, or might end up with a bowl of sweet homemade butter.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the fruit carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.
I made these in an attempt to use up some summer fruits that were rapidly approaching their use or lose stage. There are endless summer fruit combinations you can use, so go wild. I think strawberries and peaches go together amazingly, but I could imagine raspberries, blueberries, pluots, apricots and all sorts of other fruits working perfectly.
These pancakes are perfect for brunch! If I was making these for a weekend brunch, I would definitely add a glug of bourbon to the pan when you add in the peaches, just to give it an extra decadent, boozy, brunchy feel.
I will say, I had a hard time getting these pancakes to cook through, hence the crispy looking edges. I think I was being slightly impatient with heating my pan (there really is only so long a girl can wait for breakfast after spin class…), so I had to sacrifice give a few utter failures to my official tasters (aka the pups). The crispy edges did not have a burnt flavor, which was lucky, just a different texture.
This is another fast meal you can make on the grill instead of in a hot kitchen. The marinade/dressing for the steak is phenomenal. It really brings out the sweetness of the peaches and helps the flavors meld together perfectly. My peaches took a while to grill, so I would suggest putting them on the grill before the meat, which will cook quite quickly. You could easily add the peaches and steak to some lettuce, with a sprinkle of blue cheese and you would have any amazing salad.
In a blender, puree the garlic, bay leaf, shallot, jalapeño, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce and thyme until combined. With the blender on, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the canola oil and puree until smooth. Season the marinade with salt and pepper. Pour half of the marinade into a shallow baking dish, add the skirt steak and turn to coat. Let the skirt steak stand for 20 minutes. Add the Dijon mustard to the remaining dressing and blend. Transfer the dressing to a small bowl.
Meanwhile, light a grill. In a small saucepan, combine the water with the honey, cinnamon and ginger and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the peaches.
Drain excess marinade off the skirt steak. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper and grill them over high heat, 6 to 7 minutes, turning once, for medium-rare meat. At the same time, grill the peach halves, turning them frequently, until they are charred in spots and softened, about 8 minutes. Cut the peaches into wedges and thinly slice the steaks. Transfer to plates and serve, passing the dressing on the side.
I am trying to make the most of the last few weeks of summer produce, which apparently means, peaches go with everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, it doesn’t matter, peaches belong there. And they definitely belong in this salad.
I have wanted to grill peaches all summer, I was planning on a dessert originally, but when I saw this recipe and that it involved balsamic and peaches, I quickly changed my mind. This salad was absolutely perfect. The peaches were very ripe and juicy and grilling them brought out the flavor even more. The balsamic reduction, was slightly sweet, but maintained that delicious vinegary tang that really complemented the sweet peaches. If you don’t have a gril, fear not! I totally cheated and used a grill pan! I would highly recommend this salad. It would probably be the perfect meal to enjoy over your Labor Day weekend!
Grilled Peach and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (from The Best of Fine Cooking Cook Fresh Fall 2011, p. 15.) – Serves 4
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 firm-ripe peaches, halved and pitted
4 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups lightly packed baby arugula
1 ball buffalo mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces, or 15 bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), cut in half
Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. (If using a grill pan, wait to heat until you have prepared the vinegar.)
Combine the vinegar and thyme in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a summer and cook until the mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 6 to 9 minutes. Remove from heat, disgard thyme sprigs, and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Rub the peaches all over with 2 teaspoons of the oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the peaches cute side down until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Slice each half into thirds.
In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons of oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter. Top with the buffalo mozzarella and peaches and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the balsamic reduction, adding more to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I’m on a bit of a blue cheese kick at the moment, let’s just accept that and move right along to talking about how amazingly delicious this salad is. Every single thing about this salad is a good thing. When you combine so many good things together, you end up with a very great thing. This salad is awesome. I was a bit skeptical about these flavors working together. Even though I love peaches and blue cheese, I wasn’t sure how well they would actually complement each other. It turned out to be a delicious combination. I think the key is to make sure your peaches are super ripe. The sweetness really counterbalances the tangy blue cheese and the vinaigrette.
I originally saw the recipe in my current favorite cookbook Real Simple: Meals Made Easy, but luckily it’s also on Real Simple’s website. I am definitely planning on making this a couple more times while there are still ripe peaches around. I also think that this salad would be really scalable for smaller or larger serving sizes. I actually scaled it down for 2 and we had leftovers the next day. It would also make a tasty work lunch, if you kept the peaches and dressing separate until serving.
Chicken Salad with Peaches & Blue Cheese (adapted from this recipe.) Makes 6 servings.
If using rotisserie chicken, skip to step 2. If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, wash and prepare chicken. Pat dry with paper towels. Season with kosher salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of garlic powder and paprika. Depending on time and preference, the chicken can either be baked in the oven or cooked stove top on a grill pan. I basically followed this recipe for the chicken. Easy, peasy.
Arrange the lettuce, chicken, peaches, cheese, and almonds on a platter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle over the salad.