There's just something about growing your own food.
In this Brave New World of global import/export where you can basically die from eating the wrong vegetable (big cucumber scandal in Germany with lots of casualties), is a home grown meal the new epitome of "comfort food" (as in "food that doesn't kill you")?
For an urban citizen like me it's definitely an exciting feeling to pluck the fruit off the bush and instantly eat it.
Warm weather has finally blessed Denmark with blue skies and deep yellow sun, and I'm summering in the countryside at my parent's beach farm to take the stress off of a depressing spring. Everyone's here--the cats, the chickens, the whole family. Before we arrived my parents have spent the last three weeks eating strawberries with cream for dessert every evening. The darn berries just keep popping out and it's such a waste not to eat them.
But three weeks is a long time and my parents are so fed up with this, so when we arrived I decided to shake up the dessert a little. How about a Strawberry Pavlova? Pavlova is the national dessert of New Zealand, however they use kiwis (not the bird but the fruit, mind you) which we do not grow on these longtitudes. So here's a Danish version.
Fresh Strawberry Pavlova
(for 4 people)
4 egg whites
200 g cane sugar
1 pinch of salt
5oo ml cream
3 teaspoons powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean stalk
500 g (approx. 1 lb) fresh strawberries
1 orange, un-contaminated please!
1 heap of mint leaves
Our vegetable & fruit garden. It could be so much more if my parents didn't spend so much time watching Mad Men or shopping for cake but there you go.
I start by picking all the berries that have ripened enough today for consumption.
Mr Cat is giving a helping paw.
Fresh and ripe, full of vitamins-- especially a good source for iron.
Once inside I need some fresh mint leaves-- there must be some in the indoor greenhouse...
There you go.
Start by whipping up the egg whites.
Whip it real good!
Grab the cane sugar.
When the egg whites are showing white peaks, add the sugar slowly while you keep whipping it. Real good.
Add a pinch of salt.
Turn on your oven by now and set it to 150˚C / 302 F˚
Whip it all until you have smooth, even meringue cream.
Shape a container with baking paper to keep the batter inside and not flowing all over the place. You could even use a heart shaped cake form if it's wide enough. You don't want the batter to lay thick as it swells up a bit during baking.
All ready to go in!
Bake the stuff for 45-50 minutes. It needs to be crisp on the outside and doughy/caramel stringy on the inside.
After baking take it out and cool it on a wire rack.
Dum di dum, this is going well...
FUCK!!! What a mess! The caramelized sugar cane sticks to the paper like glue!
Is this why they invented non-stick baking paper?
There goes my beautiful bottom layer. Oh well, let's just enjoy life and ignore my sloppyness.
Whip the cream into whipped cream adding the icing sugar and vanilla.
Cut the strawberries into halves.
Cover the meringue bottom layer with the whipped cream and spread the strawberries over the cream.
Pick the mint leaves off its twigs and sprinkle over the cake.
Slice the orange peel a la julienne across the cake, and voila!
Delicious! This was a very nice variation of the good old Danish strawberries & cream dessert. The meringue adds a nice crunch and the mint and orange toppings contribute with a fresh sensation to all the sweetness. Next time I think it would be nice to add nuts to the meringue layer for even more crunch. And maybe some more orange into the whipped cream to give an even more sour/fresh contrast to all the sugar.
Hmm, this almost looks like the tutti frutti version of a pizza, no?
Bon appetit from the low evening sun of Northern Jutland!