Festive Pavlova

Pavlova Cake (Meringue)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons corn flour 

Preheat oven at 350F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. 

In a medium size bowl, add the egg whites and a pinch of salt. With a hand mixer on high speed beat about 5 minutes, until soft peaks form. Add cold water, beat again. Add sugar gradually while beating. Add vinegar, vanilla, and corn flour, while still beating. Beat the mixture until you have thick stiff peaks. 

Trace around the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan or a plate to draw a circle on the parchment paper. With a large spoon add the meringue mixture in the circle, leaving the outer edges a little higher than the middle. Pavlova should be round with a little shallow middle for the cream and topping.

Place the pavlova into the oven right away and lower the heat to 250F. Let it bake about 1- 1 ¼ hours. When the pavlova is crisp on the outside and barely golden, turn off the heat and let the it cool completely before removing it from the oven. It will take at least 3 hours to cool.Transfer to a serving plate. Before serving, add whip cream in the center and top with fresh berries.  
stiff peaks

This Pavlova recipe is a very festive desert that is perfect for large celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays. This elegant dessert was created in honor of the Russian ballerina named Anna Pavlova during her visit to New Zealand and Australia in 1920.

Dried Figs with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts

Dried Figs with Gorgonzola cheese and Pine nuts
12 or more moist whole dried black mission figs
3 or more ounces creamy Gorgonzola cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
12 or more toasted pine nuts

With your thumb, press down on the middle of the fig.  Make an indentation large enough to fit the cheese.  You can stuff as much cheese in the indentation as you wish. With a teaspoon add the cheese, black pepper, and top with a toasted pine nut.

Dried Black Mission Figs
 An afternoon,  I was searching for a snack and couldn’t decide what I wanted. Did I want something sweet? Did I want something savory? Dried figs are always in the pantry, and I had some leftover Gorgonzola from a class, so I put them together and decided that I could have both, the sweet and savory. There it was a new recipe for me to try at parties. I've made them since many times for my clients and cooking classes, and everyone seems to absolutely LOVE them!

It’s an easy dish to prepare that will delight and impress your guest. Each bite is memorable. I can’t explain memorable because you have to taste it to understand what I mean.

If you cannot find moist figs, place the dried figs in a small pan with warm water on low heat for a few minutes, add a little bit of sugar, and cook until they moisten. Strain and pat dry. 

By the way, I also serve these as a dessert with a little drizzle of honey on top. Stickily delicious!

Smashed Peas Fennel and Mint Crostini

Smashed Peas Fennel and Mint Crostini
3 tablespoons lemon olive oil, divided                                           
1 small onion, finely minced                                                
1 small fennel bulb, finely minced (reserve greens)                       
2 cloves garlic, finely minced                                                
1/3 cup vegetable stock        
1 pound fresh or frozen peas, thawed                                            
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint
Roasted garlic sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
10-12 lightly toasted French bread slices
Fresh Fennel and Mint
In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and gently cook the onion and fennel until soft and barely golden. Add garlic and cook until golden. 

Add the vegetable stock and turn up the heat. When it comes to a boil, add in the peas and cook about 5 minutes. 

Remove from heat, add the mint and season with the salt and pepper. Use a stick blender or potato masher to make a chunky mash of the peas. When the slices of bread are toasted, add a heaping teaspoon of pea mixture. Top with crumbled cheese and fennel greens. Drizzle some oil on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Peas
This recipe can be served as an appetizer or a side dish before smashing it.   However if you like to smash some of the peas, go right ahead.