This week our friend Leela Cyd will be here at Schoolhouse to celebrate the launch of her very first cookbook, Food with Friends. Below is a special guest post by Leela where she shares how to make her very own Portland-inspired reciepe for mini pavlovas. You can get tickets to our event with Leela on Friday here.
Portland will always hold such a special place in my heart — we spent 7 years here, really the “growing up” years of my 20s. I often think about the rose city, it’s perfect peak produce, cloudy days, cozy vibes and all the pals there... When the early Spring Rhubarb peeked into our farmers’ markets here down South, I knew it’d be exploding with vibrance up in Portland, and I just had to spin it into a topping for my fave, ethereal dessert: mini pavlovas.
Pavlovas are an easy-to-make, total show-stopper dessert. You can make all the components early in the day and then bring to table to have guests serve themselves. This is how I like to entertain, with the work done before the friends arrive, that way I can fully enjoy the company and not be in the kitchen stressing. The possibilities for riffing on the basic template of meringue, whipped cream and fruit are endless and adaptable to whatever your preferences are, what’s most seasonal and the mood of the day. A mini pav is splendid with a little lemon or lime curd if you have a pot hanging out in your fridge too, don’t hold back on multiple flavors going on at once — the chewy/crunchy bed of meringue practically begs to be decorated and slathered with toppings. I recommend you think of things that grow together, lemons, mint and berries or strawberry, rhubarb and pistachio or even a bevy of berries —blueberries, raspberries and blackberries — you cannot miss.
PAVLOVAS WITH BRAISED RHUBARB, ROSE CREAM & PISTACHIO
For the Meringues:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 scant cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, draw 4-inch circles as your guide with pencil, flip the paper over so you can see the lines, but aren’t cooking directly on graphite.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on high until soft peaks form, gradually add in the sugar until stiff peaks form. Add the salt, vanilla, cornstarch and vinegar until evenly incorporated. Using a spoon, form 6 “nests” of meringue, using your fingers or another spoon to lift the sides a bit and make the centers flat. No need to worry if things get messy here.
Place the meringues in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for about 50 minutes, until lightly golden. Turn off oven, open the oven door and allow meringues to sit there until cooled. This produces a crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside pav.
For the Rose Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup labneh (greek yogurt or creme fraiche will also work here)
1/4 teaspoon rose water
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1/3 cup roughly chopped strawberries
In a bowl of a stand mixer, whip cream until soft peaks. Continue to whip on high- add the labneh and rose water until stiff peaks form. Fold in the jam and strawberries, just barely, so you have swirls of color and texture throughout. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
For the Rhubarb
- 1 - 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut in half and into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup white wine (orange juice is also lovely)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 vanilla bean, interior scraped into mixture
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9 x 13” baking pan, toss all ingredients until evenly coated with wine and honey and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan until ready to serve.
- 1/2 cup crushed pistachios
- sliced strawberries
- organic fresh and dried rose petals
Place a meringue on each plate and invite guests to top their pavlova with a dollop of whip cream, spoonful of rhubarb and a scattering of all the toppings.
Words & images By Leela Cyd