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April 2011

Easter Pavlova

Slice of pavlova
 Have you ever heard of this?! It's amazing, and I don't know how I've missed it. I stumbled upon this Australian holiday dessert while reading a book about France (the author is an Aussie), and I couldn't wait to try it. So simple - meringue shell, covered with whipped cream, topped with fresh fruit. It's light and beautiful and delicious - perfect for spring, and berry season. We used strawberries and blueberries, and mangos. What a rich, delicious container for regional fruit!

I got the recipe from AllRecipes, and just tweaked it a little: 


3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 cup white sugar (I reduced this to 3/4 cup in keeping with proportions used for other meringue recipes; it was still plenty sweet)
1 tablespoon corstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice (we didn't have lemons so used a capful of rice vinegar - other recipes called for vinegar; it worked fine)
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced (or any fresh fruit)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Draw a 9 inch circle on the parchment. An easy way to do this is to draw around the outside of a 9 inch pan with a pencil.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar gradually, while continuing to whip. Make sure sugar is completely dissolved. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cornstarch; lightly fold into meringue with lemon juice.
  3. Spread a layer of meringue to fit circle on parchment, approximately 1/4 inch thick. With remainder of mixture, pipe or spoon swirls around the edges to form a shallow bowl shape.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 1 hour. Turn off oven, but leave meringue in oven for an additional 30 minutes. When cool, the meringue should be hard on the outside, and slightly moist on the inside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cream and half a cup of confectioners sugar, and whip until thickened. Decorate with fruit of your choice; strawberries are excellent.


[photo: A slice of Pavlova the day after; we were too anxious to try it to stop and photograph it in its entirety. Note the crusty meringue, and the berries resting on a cloud of whipped cream... I am smitten.]

How do you solve a problem like Zucchini...

 Stuffed zucchini
Zucchini season has begun! Our farmer friends at the Saturday 441 market gave us a basket full of round "magic eight ball" zucchini this week, and I'm sure it's just a foreshadowing of things to come. This is the first time we've had so many of the round variety, and something about it's shape was inspiring.  

Pumpkin-like, they seemed to lend themselves to stuffing, and we came up with this simple recipe that also used the basket of bok choy and onions we received. It was festive and fun, and guests seemed to really enjoy it. We'll make it again. 


2 or 3 round zucchini
1 cup rice
1 cup dried lentils (we used the smaller, darker "French" vairety; they hold their shape a little better than the more common greenish-brown ones)
1 bunch bok choy
sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup grated cheese, optional

Prepare zucchini: Preheat oven to 350. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise (for very small zucchini, just cut the tops off), scoop out seeds with a spoon and discard. Pour about 1/2" of water in the bottom of a baking pan. Place the squash, cut-side up in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, till tender.

Prepare lentils: Rinse thoroughly, place in pot with 3 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes till tender (keep checking after 20 minutes). Drain.

Prepare rice: Bring 2 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Add 1 cup rice. Bring back to boiling, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Prepare bok choy: Wash bok choi, then cut into 1-inch wide slices, including stem. Dice onion and mince garlic. Saute onion and garlic in about 2 tablespoons olive oil till onion is clear. Add cumin, and stir around for 1 minute. Add bok choy and mix with onion and garlic. Add a couple tablespoons of water, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes till bok choy is tender. Drain. 

Gently mix together drained lentils, rice, and drained vegetables. Salt and pepper as desired. Add 3/4 cup grated cheese if desired. Scoop into pre-baked zucchini and sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes till cheese is melted. 

A Poem about Morning

New day
- William Meredith

Whether it's sunny or not, it's sure
To be enormously complex-
Trees or streets outdoors, indoors whoever you share,
And yourself, thirsty, hungry, washing,
An attitude towards sex.
No wonder half of you wants to stay
With your head dark and wishing
Rather than take it all on again:
Weren't you duped yesterday?
Things are not orderly here, no matter what they say.

But the clock goes off, if you have a dog
It wags, if you get up now you'll be less
Late. Life is some kind of loathsome hag
Who is forever threatening to turn beautiful.
Now she gives you a quick toothpaste kiss
And puts a glass of cold cranberry juice,
Like a big fake garnet, in your hand.
Cranberry juice! You're lucky, on the whole,
But there is a great deal about it you don't understand.


Welcome Morning

Morning shower sm
- Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning.,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my sliver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
let it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't share, I've heard
dies young.