There’s not much better than your significant other scooping you up in their arms, placing you on the couch, and telling you to stay there and watch a movie “or else,” while they head into the kitchen to clean up the mess you made while baking muffins and granola bars earlier as well as to prepare a delicious dinner for the both of you. All because today is the last day of your period of unemployment, the eve of your first day ever of a “big kid” job.
Yes, that is the situation I find myself in right now. Trying to pay attention to The Hobbit, but wanting to post this, since it’s been, yet again, a full month in between posts. I’ve definitely been cooking. In the past month or so, I have begun to cook not just for me, but for 2-3 marines also (they pay for my groceries, haha). Definitely been learning a lot… I understand why spaghetti is such a popular meal and why people complain that boys eat so much! I used to calculate 1/4 lb of meat for each person, I now calculate 1/2 lb… It’s so fun having a full house though. Earlier this week, I hosted a BBQ for eight people or so and enjoyed how everyone pitched in, brought a dish, and just had fun hanging out by the pool and the grill.
As I am about to start work and have an arrangement to cook 2 nights a week while two other people cook 2 nights a week each, I am becoming very familiar with crock pot recipes. I am trying to find unique crock pot recipes, so if you have any good ones, feel free to send them my way. So far, I am doing baked ziti, lasagna, pot roast, BBQ chicken, pork chops, enchiladas, chicken cacciatore.
Anyway, some of my friends went away for a couple weeks for work, so upon their return I had the dessert below ready for them.
Layered Pavlova with Fresh Berries
Adapted from Epicurious
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
- 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 cup egg whites (from 5 to 6 large eggs) at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, trimmed and quartered
- 1 pound bueberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/3 cup chilled sour cream
Preheat oven to 275°F with rack in middle. Lightly butter 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then dust sides of pans with confectioners sugar, knocking out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper.
Pulse superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined.
Stir together vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl.
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Spoon meringue into pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and smooth tops.
Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour (insides will still be marshmallow-like).
Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringues in oven 1 hour. (Meringues may sink slightly and crack while cooling.)
Run knife along sides of cake pans and carefully turn meringues out of pans. Carefully peel off parchment (meringues will be fragile and the crust may crack further). Carefully turn right side up.
Macerate fruit while meringues cool:
Toss berries with sugar and let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour).
Beat heavy cream with sour cream using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks. Put 1 meringue on a serving plate and spread one third of whipped cream over it. Spoon one third of fruit (with juice) over top. Repeat with remaining meringues, cream, and fruit.