Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

Is there such a thing as a healthy snack”? I am not talking about fruit and vegetables, more like a granola bar type of snack. They are so convenient to have for traveling, or just when you are on the go. Recently, I set out on a mission to discover recipes for homemade snack bars that taste great, are nutritious, and low in refined sugar. Not a snack bar that is as heavy as a door stop and tastes like cardboard, (the vegetarian baked goods of the early 70’s still haunt me), but something lighter for a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon.

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

This all started because I made a pledge several years ago. I promised to myself that if there was a dessert or treat I really wanted to eat, like cookies, I would make it and not buy it. Store bought cookies are not allowed in the house. I do this to control my snacking binges and it really works. Phase two, of my pledge is to add more items on my list, like snack bars. Honestly, I haven’t bought them since I made the pledge, so I am not eating them. However, we need a better stock of snacks in our pantry, so I don’t binge on crackers or chips.

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

Over the past two weeks I have scoured the internet looking for solid recipes in the granola bar category. Each one had large amounts of sugar and they were all in “soft” snack bar variety.  Don’t people want crunchy snack bars? Don’t people crave that crunchy texture and is one of the reasons why chips are so damn good? I like crunchy granola bars so I will table this quest for another day.

One recipe caught my attention from the cookbook “Life In Balance”, by Donna Hay. The cookbook features several snack recipes all made with whole foods and good health in mind. It is not a crunchy granola bar, but all the ingredients are nutritious and foods I enjoy. I choose the Cacao, Banana, Date, and Cashew Bars recipe to test today, because it meets all my requirements, except being crunchy. Another bonus, I had all the ingredients except the cashews. However, I did have a bag of walnuts for an easy substitution. Also, this recipe allowed me to use up some bananas that were getting too ripe.

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

What I like about this snack bar is there is no refined sugar, no flour, and no dairy. It is filled with natural cocoa powder, bananas, fresh dates, walnuts, and a little vegetable oil. The 4 wholesome ingredients get puréed in a food processor then baked until firm. They taste like a bittersweet fudgy chocolate brownie. The cocoa flavor stands out, but it is not as bitter because of the dates, bananas, and walnuts. I would like them to be a little denser with more variation in texture, but the taste is very pleasing. If you crave a sweet fix for your snacks and love dark chocolate, this is the snack for you.

More snack foods  for a light meal or picnic

Stuffed Pastry with Swiss Chard and Feta

Irish Cheese Platter

Pork Dumplings

Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar, recipe.

All the ingredients are nutritious in their own right, but mixed together they make a nutritious snack bar that won’t weight you down with extra fat and sugar. According to My Calorie Counter from Fitness Pal, each snack bar has 228 calories, 21 g carbs, 17 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 3 g protein, 4 mg sodium, 14 g sugar, and 4 g fiber.

 

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Snack

12 bars

Serving Size: 1 snack bar

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar

Cocoa, bananas, dates, and walnuts are blended together then slowly baked for a healthy snack alternative. Perfect for the times when you need a little something and you are on the run. These snack bars are made with all-natural ingredients, without processed flours and refined sugars. The original recipe uses cashews so if you prefer, feel free to substitute the walnut with your favorite nuts. They are gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.

This recipe is slightly adapted form Donna Hay's cookbook, "Life In Balance"

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (35 g) natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (180 g) firmly packed chopped pitted fresh dates (9-10 dates)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup (200 g) chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup (200 g) mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
  • coconut flakes for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven for 325°F (160°C). Line an 8 x 8 inch pan (20 cm x 20 cm) pan with parchment paper. Use two strips wide enough to cover the bottom of the pan and long enough to extend up and over the sides of the pan. One strip will crisscross the other, so all the sides of the pan are covered. This is so you can easily lift out the snack bars and cut them.
  2. Place all the ingredients, expect the coconut flakes, in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Plop the cocoa, fruit and nut mixture into the parchment lined pan, then spread evenly across the bottom.
  4. Sprinkle with the coconut flakes.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until firm to touch. Set the timer for 35 minutes to check and gauge the progress. Continue baking as needed.
  6. Cool completely in the pan. Remove the cocoa banana nut snack bar out of the pan by lifting the sides of the parchment paper and placing it on a cutting board. Make one slice across the middle, then six even slices across each half making 12 snack bars. Store the snack bars in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Will last for to one week.
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Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar. An easy recipe for a healthy snack. No refined sugar or flours. Gluten free and vegan

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Purée of Vegetable Soup

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Oh baby it’s cold outside and nothing warms up a numb body better than a steaming hot bowl of soup. Purée of vegetable soup is an easy recipe made with ingredients typically found in a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. Canned tomatoes, canned or fresh cannellini beans, onions, carrots and celery make up the foundation for this hearty soup. The additional ingredients, like herbs, spices and other vegetables, add extra body and flavor for a bright tasting vegetable soup with great depth of flavor.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Puree of Vegetable Soup recipe.

My original intention was to create a hearty tomato soup recipe. I love tomato soup, especially when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. Essentially, I did develop a tomato soup, but one with a blended flavor of tomatoes, aromatics and legumes. As a result, compared to a traditional tomato soup, the tomato flavor is less pronounced. I found the generous amount of mixed vegetables softens the tomato flavor, creating a hearty and fresh tasting blend of garden delights.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

I love living where there are four distinct seasons, but during this dark and chilly winter, I sometimes need a reminder of the sunny and warm days to come. These short days with harsh and biting temperatures can make a person feel sad and extra hungry. Do you find your appetite increases during the winter? Mine does. I believe the body needs extra calories to maintain a normal body temperature. That is my theory but some scientists disagree.

If you find you are always craving something extra during the winter, instead of reaching for a bunch of crackers, or cookies, make a bowl of vegetable soup. Not only will it provide sustenance and warm you up, the bright color and taste will lighten your winter mood and give hope for the spring days to come.

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Warming winter foods:

Swedish meatballs

Beef stew with Horseradish Sauce

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Puree of Vegetable Soup, recipe.

Purée of Vegetable Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Soup

Cuisine: Italian American

7 cups

Serving Size: 1.5 cups

Purée of Vegetable Soup

This is a fresh tasting and hearty soup perfect for cold fall and winter days. It is an easy and delicious soup made with canned tomatoes, canned white beans, onion, celery, and carrots. I also added fennel bulb for a brighter flavor. If you prefer, substitute it with roasted red pepper or any leafy green vegetable you wish. Also, any canned or fresh white bean works with this recipe. If you are using canned beans, make sure they are the low or no salt variety. Homemade stock is preferred, but low-salt store bought stock will work just fine. You can also use chicken stock if you are not making this a vegetarian meal.

Fresh herbs like thyme, basil or tarragon are nice additions as well. Add the thyme instead of the Herbs of Provence, and the fresh basil or tarragon after the soup is puréed.

Ingredients

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, (about 9 oz / 254 g), minced
  • 3 celery stalks (about 8 oz /223 g), minced
  • 2 carrots (about 6 oz/ 165 g), minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (about 7 oz / 219 g), minced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • 1- 28 oz can (800 g) whole peeled tomatoes in purée
  • 1- 15 oz can (425 g) cannellini beans
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
    Garnish
  • 2 TB raisins
  • 2 TB chopped walnuts
  • 2 TB chopped celery leaves
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • Small pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the minced onion, celery, carrots and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables until they begin to get soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. While cooking occasionally stir the vegetables so they don't brown or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the fennel and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  5. Cut up the tomatoes into 3-4 irregular size pieces and add them and their juices to the vegetables. Add the vegetable stock and cannellini beans. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Taste the soup after 7 minutes and correct the seasoning with more Kosher salt and or fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  7. Purée the soup with a blender or an immersion blender, until smooth or to your desired consistency.
  8. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  9. Garnish with croutons, your favorite garnish, or the celery raisin walnut garnish.
    Garnish
  1. Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together. Taste and correct the seasoning. Let the garnish sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve room temperature with the soup.

Notes

You can make this soup any consistency you like. If you do not own a blender or food processor, keep it chunky. Add more stock to thin it out if you think it needs it. To make it smooth with chunks of vegetables, strain out about 2 cups (500 ml) of the cooked vegetables from the soup before you purée it. Once the soup is puréed to your desired consistency, add the mixed vegetables back in.

For more pronounced tomato flavor, add a tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot of cooked vegetables before you add the tomatoes and other liquid ingredients. You may need more stock to thin out the consistency.

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Puree of Vegetable Soup, an easy recipe with bright fresh vegetable flavor.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Airy Salmon Mousse

Airy Salmon Mousse, recipe.

When I look through some of my older cookbooks, like Gourmet Volumes 1 and 2, or Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, I often wonder if people still eat the same way. Some foods in these books just seem dated. Like aspic. Does anyone make aspic filled with fish or meats anymore? Yet, there are those recipes that remain as classics and stand the test of time. It is my belief that salmon mousse is a classic appetizer. No matter what decade or age, salmon mousse continues to appeal to our taste buds and senses. It is fresh and light tasting with an elegant creamy texture. In my experience over the past 30 or so years, it is one of those appetizers that people just adore.

Airy Salmon Mousse, recipe

This is a classic recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. By coincidence, this book was first published during a transitional time for me in my early 20’s. I just graduated from college and started living full-time in New York City. With eager and innocent expectations, I was ready to explore many frontiers and cooking was one of them. As a result, this cookbook taught me about foods from all over the world, with new and exciting bold flavors. Illustrated with fun drawings and a causal style, The Silver Palate Cookbook encouraged a relaxed and festive attitude towards cooking and entertaining. It inspired me to experiment, but most of all to cook. I felt like I graduated from an apprenticeship with the Joy of Cooking into a Master’s program with The Silver Palate.

For more fun appetizers try: Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecake

Roast Shrimp Cocktail with Sriracha Aioli Cocktail Sauce

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon and Crispy Pitas

Cheese and Herb Chive Bread

Airy Salmon Mousse, recipe.

What I love about this salmon mousse recipe is the fresh salmon flavor. It is creamy without any heaviness, which is often the case with classic French inspired foods. You can serve this as a first course in ramekins or a stylized plating. Also, it is delicious as a spread served in a bowl, or shaped in a decorative mold. Generously spread the mousse on dark pumpernickel cocktail bread, toast, water crackers, cucumbers or endive. No matter how you serve salmon mousse, it has a sophisticated presentation and eating experience. There is no need to go crazy with decorative piping in fancy pastry. I prefer serving the mousse as an appetizer spread. People can help themselves and often keep coming back to the plate for more. Where ever the salmon mousse is set, that location becomes a gathering spot for feasting and interaction.

Salmon mousse happens to be one of my favorites appetizers. It is perfect for New Year’s Eve or any special occasion.

Airy Salmon Mousse, recipe

Happy New Year’s Everyone.

Airy Salmon Mousse

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Category: appetizer or first course

Cuisine: American

12

Serving Size: 4 oz

Airy Salmon Mousse

Airy and fresh salmon mousse is a throwback appetizer recipe from The Silver Palate. It is a perfect appetizer for cocktail parties and special occasions, as well as a first course for an elegant dinner party. This classic appetizer stands the test of time and is a real crowd pleaser.

Over the years I have made this with both canned salmon and poached salmon. Both options taste perfectly fine. The only challenge is sifting through the canned salmon picking out the bones. Buying canned salmon is very economical, but you will spend more time making it because of the bones.

Plan ahead. Make this mousse the day before you need it, or in the early morning the day you need it. It requires a minimum of 4 hours chilling time in the refrigerator.

Because there is uncooked onion in the mousse, the onion becomes sharper the older the mousse gets. Salmon mousse is best served within 24 hours of making it, but will last a couple of days in the refrigerator. Keep chilled until it is time to serve it.

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) boiling water
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TB finely grated onion
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 TB minced fresh dill
  • 2 cups (500 ml / 305 g / 11 oz) finely flaked poached salmon, or finely flaked canned salmon with the bones removed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in cold water to soften. Add the boiling water and gently whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Add in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, grated onion, Tabasco, paprika, and fresh dill. Whisk into the gelatin until completely combined and smooth. Cover and cool in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. The mixture will look thicker and starting to gel.
  3. In a medium size bowl whip the heavy cream until peaks form when you lift the beaters out of the cream. Set aside.
  4. Fold the finely flaked salmon into the gelatin mixture.
  5. Carefully fold in the whipped cream until evenly incorporated.
  6. Pour the mousse into individual ramekins (if you are serving them as a first course) or a 4- 6 cup (1 L - 1.5 L) bowl or mold.
  7. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Serve chilled with water crackers, on toast crackers, pumpernickel cocktail bread, or sliced cucumber rounds.
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Airy Salmon Mousse recipe. A delicious classic appetizer for a special occasion.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

I love it when everything just falls into place without extra planning or trips to the store. When a spontaneous idea and a refrigerator packed with leftover food from the holidays fit together perfectly like pieces in a puzzle. Today, as I stared into the obis of my stuffed refrigerator an idea for tonight’s dinner just fell into place. As my eyes traveled from the stacks of containers filled with rice to the other remains of our holiday meal it dawned on me, I could make fried rice. I have plenty of rice and salmon, now all I need is cabbage.

Searching through the maze of leftovers was like looking for a misplaced set of keys. “I know it’s in here somewhere”. That one missing thing which is usually right in front of your nose but, you can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, without emptying my whole refrigerator I found what I was looking for staring right back at me, was a container full of roasted Brussels sprouts. Ah ha, Brussels sprouts are members of the cabbage family, right? Yes. Whoop whoop, no need to run to the store, I’ve got everything I need all in one place. A dinner of fried rice solves four problems at the same time: use up some of the rice, use up some of the Christmas Eve dinner leftovers, clear out space in my refrigerator, and make tonight’s dinner.  Fried rice made with poached salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for the win.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

This recipe is lightly based on an old recipe in Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook, Fried Rice with Shrimp. I used it as a foundation along with one in Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. My recipe builds on the concept of making a substantial meal from ingredients that by themselves are too small. One 8-ounce piece of salmon isn’t big enough to feed a family. However, when you combine it with ingredients like rice and vegetables, it makes a full meal with plenty to go around. My family loves fried rice and always orders it when we eat out for Chinese food. Why not make it at home and use up some of the leftovers? It is too good to save for takeout.

I made fried rice with salmon because that is what I have, but if you have tons of turkey, ham, pork, chicken, or goose from Christmas dinner you can’t go wrong mixing any of those foods with fried rice. You can also switch up the vegetables. Instead of cabbage or Brussels sprouts use, broccoli, asparagus, peas, sugar snap peas, kale, green beans, or Swiss chard. You can make it with prepared food, or entirely from scratch. Heat up, or cook each ingredient separately in a wok or skillet, then toss everything together with a soy sauce and sherry seasoning.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

A nice garnish with the salmon fried rice is removing the skin off the salmon and frying it. You get very crispy salmon skin pieces to mix in with the soft rice. It is a nice contrast and tastes great. I cut the skin into strips then fried it in peanut oil. You could fry the skin whole then break it into smaller pieces if you wish. Just cook it till it is dark brown and very crispy then sprinkle some salt over the crackly skin when you are done.

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts, recipe.

 

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Category: side dish or entree

Cuisine: Asian American

7 1/2 cups fried rice

Serving Size: 4 - 12 oz

Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

Fried rice is a great meal to make when you have lots of leftovers, whether it is salmon and Brussels sprouts or turkey and broccoli. Anything goes. This recipe is slightly sweet from the sherry or vermouth with just a hint of spice. A real family favorite. Fried rice works best with day old rice. Freshly made rice is too moist and will get sticky.

Ingredients

  • 5 TB peanut oil or canola oil (divided)
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 lb (8 large) shrimp, cut into thirds (optional)
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • 8 oz (201 g) cooked salmon
  • 1 onion thinly sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 7 oz (201 g) cooked Brussels sprouts, slivered (or 1/2 half a head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced)
  • 1-2 medium carrots (2.25 oz / 61 g) julienne
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups (14.5 oz / 412 g) cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sherry or vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB sherry vinegar
  • Garnish with fried salmon skin, or chopped peanuts, sliced scallions, or sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 TB peanut oil or canola oil in a large skillet, set at medium high. Add the half of the minced ginger and minced garlic and sauté until soft, but not brown. Add the prepared shrimp and cook until just done. The shrimp will no longer be translucent, and are tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate and reserve. Add the salmon and sear on the top and bottom sides of the salmon of a couple of minutes. Remove the salmon and reserve.
  2. Add 2 TB of peanut oil or canola oil to the pan and heat. When warm add sliced onion and cook until soften, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts (or fresh Napa cabbage) and cook until warmed through. If you are cooking fresh vegetables cook until soft but retains some of the bright green color, about 10 minutes. Season the vegetables with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  3. If using peas add them to the vegetables and cook until heated through. Remove the vegetables from the pan and keep warm.
  4. Combine the soy sauce, vermouth or sherry, and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Wipe out the pan and add the last tablespoon of oil and heat up. Add the rice and cook until warmed through.
  6. Break apart the salmon to large flaky pieces and add to the rice. Add the vegetables, shrimp and soy/sherry or vermouth mixture and toss to coat. Cook until the rice mixture is hot.
  7. Make a well in the center of the rice and pour the eggs into the well. Cook undisturbed for about one minute then stir the eggs with a fork to encourage the eggs to make small curds. Mix the eggs with rice and vegetables until cooked through.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the sherry vinegar. Stir.
  9. Garnish with your favorite garnishes, like sliced scallions, parsley, basil, chopped salted peanuts or pistachios, salmon skin cracklings, or sesame seeds.
  10. Serve immediately.

Notes

To make the fried salmon skin, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a skillet or wok and heat on medium high. Add the skin to the hot skillet and cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Stir to cook the skin on all sides and not burn. When crisp and brown, remove the skin using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Sprinkle with a small pinch of Kosher salt.

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Fried Rice with Salmon and Brussels Sprouts is a new twist on a favorite family recipe.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

A few years ago, I offered to bring a dessert for our Russian themed book club meeting. Our theme had nothing to do with the current US and Russian political climate, but was literary based around a love story from a classic Russian novella by Sergeevish Turgenev. At the time, the possibility of Russia interfering with the 2016 election was not even a blip in our imagination. Our job was to decipher the leads told throughout a melodramatic Russian love story and form an opinion if “First Love” was the definitive love story written in the 19th century. The task was not as insurmountable as it sounds, but my bigger concern lay with what should I bring for dessert?

After reading the story, and not feeling enthusiastic about it, I waltzed into researching ideas for a “Russian” dessert. It did not take long to discover a meringue dessert created to honor the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. Pavlova is a dessert consisting of a meringue nest filled with whipped cream and seasonal fresh fruit. Each bite is a choreographed dance of sensual textures and flavors. It is soft and crispy, sweet and tart, and as light as a ballerina pirouetting on a cloud.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

In 1926 and 1928, Anna Pavlova toured with her ballet company to Australia and New Zealand. Her world tours were as anticipated as the Beatles and considered a major event for both countries. Chefs in Australia and New Zealand built on the excitement and honored her by creating and naming a meringue cake in her honor. Both countries have a long-standing dispute over the origin of the pavlova, inspired by the dancer’s tutu. The pavlova turned out to be as captivating as the ballerina’s graceful dancing, growing in popularity around the world for almost a hundred years. There is evidence that neither country created this meringue cake, but they did influence in its legacy. A true love story in its’ own right.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

How to Make a Pavlova

Unlike other meringues, like my peppermint meringue cookies, that are crispy through and through, a pavlova has a crispy outside and a creamy-marshmallow center. A small amount of corn starch makes this marshmallow middle possible. The luscious contrast in texture is one reason for the dessert’s popularity.

Making a pavlova is not difficult, but like all meringues they are temperamental. The right conditions, cool dry air, and slowly adding sugar to the developing meringue are key to success. Another important factor is making sure your mixing bowl and beaters, or whisk, are clean. Any oil or fat residue will prevent the eggs whites from developing into an airy cloud. A new trick I just learned is clean out your mixing bowl and beaters with distilled vinegar then wipe the bowl and beaters dry with a lint free cloth. This extra step will ensure your bowl is free of any traces of fat.

Once the egg whites are all glossy and fluffy, bake the meringue in a low temperature oven. Don’t peek. Keep the door shut throughout the cooking and cooling process. Like a soufflé, meringue deflates when exposed to air before it is set.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

Meringues are very sweet, so I offset the sweetness with tart fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream. Adding extra sweet fruit, jams, fruit curds, or sauces makes the pavlova cloyingly sweet. Passion fruit has a tart flavor and is perfect with meringue. If you can find fresh passion fruit scoop out the flesh and seeds and drizzle it over the whipped cream for a dramatic affect. Otherwise you can buy frozen passion fruit pulp in the freezer section of your grocery store. I made a sauce  with the passion fruit with a little sugar and reduced it slightly. Resist the temptation to add more sugar. The sauce is tart by itself, but combined with the sweet meringue, the tart flavor subsides.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

Switch it up

For a dairy free option, make whipped cream with coconut cream found in full fat coconut milk.

For a vegan option make the meringue with Aquafaba, chickpea water, and use coconut milk whipped cream. Top with fruit and passion fruit sauce.

For more lemon flavor add 1 TB fresh lemon juice to the finished meringue. Fold it in with the lemon zest, corn starch. Omit the vinegar.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsweetened natural coco powder for a chocolate Pavlova. Fold in the coco powder with the corn starch until no streaks are left. (omit the lemon zest in this recipe)

My pavlova recipe is adapted from  Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Mixed Berry Pavlova.

Lemon Pavlova with Passion Fruit and Kiwi

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes

Category: Dessert

6-8

Pavlova is a sweet, airy and show stopper dessert made with meringue that is crispy with a creamy center. Covered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit, a pavlova is a spectacle to see and eat. A very elegant dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. For best results, assemble the pavlova just before serving.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten, Mixed Berry Pavlova

Ingredients

  • 5 egg whites, about 1/2 cup (125 ml)
  • 1 cup (7 oz/ 202 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp distilled vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB powdered sugar
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced thin,
  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) frozen passion fruit pulp, or one fresh passion fruit
  • 1-2 TB granulated sugar (if using pulp)
  • Berries and fresh mint to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°F/ 82°C and place the oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Draw a 9 inch (23 cm) circle in the middle of a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover a large rimmed baking sheet. Turn the paper over, and place the parchment paper on your baking sheet. The drawn side is facing down. Set aside.
  3. Wipe your mixing bowl and beaters with some distilled vinegar then wipe dry with a lint free cloth.
  4. Add the egg whites with a small pinch of Kosher salt to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn the speed to medium-high and whisk until the egg whites become foamy and hold soft peaks.
  5. With the motor running add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition. This will take some time, about 5 minutes, but it prevents the egg whites from deflating. When all the sugar is added, turn the speed up to high and beat until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks and all the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Test if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a small piece of whipped egg whites between your fingers. If it feels course, then the sugar has not fully dissolved. If so, continue beating the egg whites or a minute more, but be careful to not over beat the meringue because it will deflate.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the cornstarch over the meringue. Add the lemon zest and vinegar then carefully fold the ingredients into the meringue until evenly combined.
  7. Pour the meringue on to the parchment paper aiming for the middle of your circle. Spread out the meringue to evenly fill the circle.
  8. Bake for 1.5 hours then turn off the oven. Keep the oven door closed no peeking. Cool the meringue in the oven for an hour, or until it reaches room temperature.
  9. You can make the meringue a day ahead and store in an airtight container on the counter. A cool oven is a great place to store the meringue overnight. Do not refrigerate.
    Passion Fruit Sauce
  1. Pour the passion fruit sauce into a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and add 1 TB of the sugar. Whisk to combine and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste add another tablespoon of sugar if needed. Remember the meringue is very sweet so keep the passion fruit sauce on the tart side. Whisk to combine and simmer. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken and slightly reduces. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a heat proof container. Cool to room temperature.
    Make the Whipped Cream
  1. Add the chilled heavy cream to a medium bowl and whip with a hand held mixer, or use a free standing mixer, until just starting to thicken. Add the vanilla extract and sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Cover and keep refrigerated until needed.
    Assemble the Pavlova
  1. Just before serving, slowly peel away the parchment paper from the meringue. A thin spatula helps release any stubborn parts. Slide the meringue onto a serving plate, then layer with the whipped cream. Scatter the fruit on top of the whipped cream then drizzle with the passion fruit or some of the sauce. Garnish with fresh mint if using.
  2. Serve immediately with extra sauce.
  3. Once assembled, pavlovas do not keep very long because the whipped cream makes the meringue soggy. You can cover any leftovers with aluminum foil and keep in the refrigerator for one day with the understanding some of the crispiness will subside.

Notes

Meringues are temperamental to humid condition. Store in an air tight container until needed. A cool oven is the best place to store a meringue, just make sure you don't accidentally turn it on. You can also make 6 - 8 small nests instead of one big one. Each meringue then gets a large dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit.

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Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

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