Pavlova’s Dog

I’ve never read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People but, if it doesn’t begin with the words cook for them in big, bold, capital letters, it’s on the wrong track. In our book, food is the best way to win people over. Now that we’re getting our feet under us in our new home city, we’re slowly starting to deploy our go-to strategy. My brother and his girlfriend invited us to join them at her parents’ house for Sunday family dinner this past weekend and, reluctant to come empty-handed, we turned to a favorite dessert recipe – a fruit-studded pavlova.

We first encountered pavlova at a Thanksgiving potluck several years ago. The airy dessert stood out in the sea of butter and carbs. Dennis probably ate a quarter of it (before he was physically restrained by the other guests), and I knew we had found a winner. We found out that the recipe was an old family favorite of a good friend of ours from New Zealand and were thrilled when he agreed to share his secrets. Dennis isn’t usually a fan of sweets, usually preferring to eat fresh fruit after meals, so this was a huge discovery for me, who feels that a birthday without baked goods is no birthday at all.

This recipe is a great canvas for fresh fruit, so feel free to adapt and use whatever looks best at your local market. I also imagine it would be awesome with some sort of chocolate garnish (because really, what isn’t) but we can’t personally vouch for that.

Pavlova, courtesy of the Stolten family

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites (room temp)
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff*, add water and beat again.
  3. Turn down the mixer and slowly add sugar. Once sugar is incorporated, add vinegar, vanilla and cornflower.
  4. Turn the mixer speed back up and beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread and smooth to desired shape (I usually aim for ~1-1.5″ thickness). Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Turn off oven, leaving the pavlova inside, allowing the pavlova to slowly cool. Once the pavolva is cool, decorate with whipped cream and fruit.

*Our friend Michael, the source of this recipe, says that his grandmother beats her pavlova by hand with a whisk. My forearms are not up to this task but, if yours are, and you want to experience some serious kiwi pride, you should go for it.

S

Sufferin’ Succotash!

DC has warmly welcomed us in the last few days by gifting us with a couple hundred dollars worth of tickets in the first 48 hrs. In the words of Sterling Archer, “Eat a dick, DC!” Couple that with the fact that we are now newly minted MDs on the eve of starting our respective residencies, I’ve slowly begun to brainstorm and adjust recipes to suit our new living conditions (namely significantly less time, and tighter budget).

This recipe is inspired by Sylvester the cat’s catchphrase, “sufferin’ succotash!”and the nice kick-in-the-face DC welcome. Succotash is traditionally composed of a base of corn and lima beans which you can customize as you see fit with other vegetables. It is simple and quick to make with the additional benefit of being rich in a bunch of essential amino acids. This particular recipe makes a huge batch and the leftovers are just as tasty.

image

Look at those colors! #nofilter

Succotash

Ingredients:

  • Corn                           2 cobs,  trim off the kernels (may substitute frozen corn as well) ~1.5 cups
  • Lima beans              2 cups
  • Red bells pepper   2, diced
  • Tomatoes                  5 small size, quartered
  • Onion                         1 medium, diced
  • Garlic                         3 cloves, minced
  • Basil                           4-5 leaves, chiffonade
  • Oil                               2 tbsp
  • Salt                             1.5 tbsp
  • Paprika                     0.5 tbsp
  • Black pepper            To taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large pan on medium high heat.
  2. Add diced onion and a pinch of salt. Saute until slightly caramelized.
  3. Add garlic, corn, lima beans. Saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper, remaining salt, paprika, and black pepper. Mix well and saute for additional 3 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Mix in basil and serve.

Be cautious if you end up using canned or frozen vegetables for this dish, drain them well otherwise they end up leaking a ton of water and you end up with a very soggy succotash.

D

Southern Comfort Buttery Biscuits

Hello from moving-land! I’m writing this from the floor of our living room, since two men from the Habitat for Humanity Re-build donation program just walked out our front door with the last remaining soft thing to sit on. I just binge-ate about five of the gingerbread graduation cookies my parents shipped our way while contemplating exactly how we might tetris the remaining miscellany into the upper reaches of our moving pod and Dennis’ car. It’s gonna be tight (the car) or precariously balanced (the pod) or both (eek). Regardless, it’s officially happening, and we’ll soon be in DC! We may still be homeless, but we’ll be there! Progress! We’ll probably also be in serious need of some comfort food (and some vegetables, but whatever) and we’ll be needing to bribe my brother and his lovely girlfriend so that they let us stay with them in their apartment as long as necessary, which is where these biscuits come in.

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with home-made biscuits, but the difference between average and excellent biscuits is pretty profound. The key to these superb specimens is using cold butter and mixing the dough by hand, leaving discrete, nickel-sized amounts of butter remaining in the dough. Once baked these chunks of butter melt, they create ‘buddles’ (butter puddles), and flaky layers. If a batch or two of these don’t soften the blow of a 1,000 mile move, I don’t know what will.

Richard Miscovich’s Baking Powder Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour               5C + 1T + 1t (600g)
  • Baking powder                   2T + 1 1/2 t (28g)
  • Salt                                         2 1/4 t (12g)
  • Sugar, granulated              2T (28g)
  • Butter, unsalted, cold       2 sticks (210g)
  • Milk, cold                              1 3/4c (400g)

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl.
  2. Cut or grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix in the butter with your hands until most of the butter is in large, flat shards about the size of a nickel. This can be accomplished using a pastry cutter or rubbing the dough between the heels of your hands. Do not overmix the dough – as mentioned above, the chunks of butter are critical to the texture of the final product.
  3. Add the milk and mix by hand until just incorporated – don’t worry if you still have a few spots of dry flour remaining. Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and gently knead 6-8 times, until the dough just comes together.
  4. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1″ thick. Fold one third of the rectangle in towards the center, then fold the opposite side over, as if folding a letter. Press down gently, rotate the dough 90 degrees, then repeat the letter fold with the other two sides, creating a square. Roll the dough out again, this time to a rectangle ~9″x 12″ and about 5/8″ thick. Let the dough rest, covered, for about 20 minutes. To cut individual biscuits, make a 3 x4 grid on the surface of the dough, then use a long, sharp knife to cut along the grid-lines, producing 12 biscuits.
  5. Place the biscuits evenly spaced on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Eggwash the tops of the biscuits only, being careful not to let the wash drip down the sides (this would inhibit rising). Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

S

Kale Salad with Sweet Corn (Happy Mother’s Day!)

Kale despite being labeled a “superfood” is quite polarizing. For those that dislike it, chances are the first kale dish you’d ever consumed was rough, bitter, or both especially if it is raw.

I count myself lucky because one of my first experiences with kale was actually through this particular kale salad that a coworker of mine, Emy, had prepared for a potluck. I’ve made a couple variation of the recipe depending on what I have laying around the cupboard or fridge. I’ve made this salad too many times to count as a simple, filling, and delicious meal on days where I haven’t had time to cook.

This post is also dedicated to my mom who really enjoyed it the last time I made it for my family at home. Happy Mother’s Day!

Kale Salad with Sweet Corn

imageIngredients:

  • Lacinato Kale                                         1 bunch, trimmed, chiffonaded 
  • 1 cob of raw corn                                   Trim the kernels off the cob
  • Bread crumbs                                        1/2 cup
  • Shredded Parmesan                            1/2 cup

For Dressing:

  • Garlic                                                       2-3 cloves, minced
  • Olive oil                                                   1/4 cup
  • Lemon                                                     1, juiced
  • Salt                                                           1 pinch

Directions:

  1. Clean, trim, and cut kale reserving only the leafy green parts and put in bowl.
  2. Trim cob of raw corn and add kernels to same bowl.
  3. Add bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk/mix together garlic, olive oil, lemon, and salt.
  5. Pour mixture over the rest of the salad and toss. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Crack some black pepper on top if desired.

There’s a couple key points and variations here:

*I think the choice of using lacinato kale is very important because the greens from it tend to be the most tender and yet still have good texture.

*Dry your greens! No one likes a soppy salad.

*It is perfectly reasonable to substitute canned corn for this recipe. In that case, I like to substitute some of the lemon juice with orange/grapefruit juice to add a bit more sweetness.

* The astute reader may notice that the proportions of acid and oil in the recipe are not the classic 1 to 3 ratio. This is because the slightly higher acid content also helps make the greens more tender, which is also the reason it is okay to allow this salad to sit for a few minutes prior to service without worrying that it will get too soggy.

D