Rhubarb and Strawberry Pavlova with Rose petals and Vanilla syrup.

This photo is a reject from a shoot for a wholesale food website in Poland, I was happy with the recipe so I thought I would share. Pavlova is such a dated dessert that is always associated with Kiwi fruit and strawberries but given a Middle Eastern touch and a tart fruit, it was surprisingly good. It might make a good substitute for Christmas pudding as it looks so spiffingly festive. If you do think ‘gosh that is a good idea’, buy rhubarb now, cook it and freeze it because I think it is the end of the season.

The product the website, Lamonde foods, is promoting is vanilla syrup which is available at fine foods stores, I sell a New Zealand brand called Heilala at Jaggers. It works really well with both the rhubarb and the strawberries.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Pavlova with Rose petals and Vanilla syrup.

serves 8

1 1/2 tsp cornflower

1 tsp rose water

5 egg whites or 150g

220g caster sugar

6 stalks rhubarb, sliced into 2cm slices

1/4 cup vanilla syrup

300 ml pouring cream

1/2 tbsp caster sugar

1 punnet strawberries

1 tbsp vanilla syrup

dried rose petals (optional)

Preheat oven to 160 C. Mix the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of cold water and the rose water. In a food mixer beat the egg whites until thickened then add the caster sugar slowly until incorporated. Add the cornflour mixture and keep beating for 6 minutes at medium-high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy.  Line a rectangular baking dish with grease proof paper and a little vegetable oil and smooth in the meringue. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden on the top then turn off the oven and allow to cool with the door ajar.

Put the rhubarb, the 1/4 cup of vanilla syrup and 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan and simmer until very tender, about 6 minutes. Whip the cream and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form. Quarter the strawberries and mix with the tablespoon of vanilla syrup.

Once the pavlova is cool, if serving in individual portions, top with the cream and cut into eight squares. Top each piece with the rhubarb, some of the rhubarb syrup and some strawberries. Sprinkle with the rose petals if using and serve. Alternatively bake the pavlova in a round shape, top with the cream, rhubarb and strawberries, sprinkle with rose petals and serve whole.

Rosewater and vanilla creams.

I accidentally bought buttermilk instead of normal milk (the carton looked the same and I wasn’t paying the least bit of attention) so I might as well show you a really good, easy and delicious dessert from Greg Malouf (and I will probably also make pancakes). I made this dessert when I had very little time left to come up with something to finish a middle eastern dinner and it was perfect, light, not too sweet thanks to the buttermilk and easy to make and serve. I halved the quantity below to make 6 glasses.

Rosewater and vanilla creams

500 ml pouring cream plus 150 ml pouring cream, lightly whipped

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways, seeds scraped out with a knife

75 g castor sugar

3 sheets gelatine

500 ml buttermilk

1/4 tsp rosewater

dried rose petals for serving

Put the 500 ml cream, vanilla seeds and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar, bring to the boil then immediately take off the heat and cool a little. Soak the gelatine in cold water until wobbly, a few minutes, squeeze the water out then add to the cream mixture and stir to dissolve completely. Strain this mixture and refrigerate to cool completely.

When the cream is cold, add the buttermilk and rosewater then fold in the lightly whipped cream. Pour into glasses and leave to set in the fridge. They will set within an hour. Serve with the rose petals sprinkled over and around the glasses. Pretty

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Mocha Creme Brulee.

My fridge stopped working this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. I went straight out and bought one of those special stainless steel ones, the ones that look really smart. The down side is I was left with quite a bit of food that needed eating including cream and eggs. My favourite dessert is creme brulee and I have been wanting to photograph something (anything) in these bowls I got from a church second-hand shop. I didn’t have a vanilla bean in the house even though there are probably 750 at my shop so I decided on left over espresso coffee and dutch cocoa for flavour.

Here are the steps: 450ml cream, 40g sugar, 1/4 cup coffee and 1 tbsp dutch cocoa in a saucepan, bring to the boil then take off the heat. Whisk five egg yolks with 40g of sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the hot cream very VERY slowly to the egg yolks while whisking the whole time. Anchor your bowl to a wet tea towel to steady it.

Pour this custard into 4 ramekins and bake in a bain marie 50 minutes at 150 degrees. Then cool.

Sprinkle the tops with castor sugar and tip off excess but leave it liberally covered. Fun part, blow torch the sugar to melt and caramelise. The creme brulees can be made in advance, refrigerated and just blow torched at the last minute to serve.