Beautiful Pavlova

Pavlova

A pavlova is one of those desserts one can whip up in 15 minutes, pop in the oven before dinner guests start arriving, and have for dessert a couple of hours or so later. Or, more often than not in my case, whenever your guests stop feeling so stuffed from dinner and start feeling like they have room in their stomachs for dessert. Or make the meringue ahead and keep it in an airtight container for a day or two (depending on the humidity in your area), and then put it all together just before serving.

My first encounter with Pavlova was, aptly, in Australia. I won’t get into the tussle as to where it originates from exactly, but this dish is definitely one loved by many Australians as well as New Zealanders. I had my very first taste of it in a little café somewhere in Melbourne. Granted, the way the café made it wasn’t something memorable, but I was immediately struck by the possibilities of the dessert.

The sweet meringue base is mild enough to be the foundation of a multitude of flavours, and pairs well with lightly sweetened whipped cream, fruit, fruit-based curds, etc. There’s something about the sweet crisp base combined with the billowy cream and the tart-sweetness of fruit that is a winning combination. Continue reading

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How to Peel Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts 7

One might think it a simple affair.

Buy raw hazelnuts, de-skin and roast, use in recipe. One might think it would be straight-forward and fuss-free. One would, as I quickly found out, sadly, be wrong.

After buying raw hazelnuts a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been languishing in my pantry looking balefully at me every time I open the cupboard and reach unerringly for something else. Deciding that I had better get a move on with experimenting with my list of hazelnut-based recipes before the nuts decided to revolt entirely (read go stale), I opened the bag and decided to see what I could make with them.

Since most recipes that include hazelnuts call for them to be skinless and roasted, I began to do just that. (Skinless, because their skins are bitter, and roasted, because this brings their oils out and increases their flavour immensely.) And immediately discovered how difficult it is to try and peel the skins off the darn things! Continue reading

Lemon, Dill and Salmon

3 Salmon - cooked

If you missed my last post, it may be news to you that I just got married. I absolutely love weddings – it’s essentially a great party where families and friends from all sorts of places get together, you meet lots of new (generally) wonderful people, and eat, drink, laugh, dance and have a great time surrounded by said people.

That being said, when you have a pile of visa paperwork, your other half gets a promotion, and you’re kind of on your own with most of both your families living far away and you need to plan your wedding (besides venue and dress) in about three weeks, life can get a little crazy. But one must eat. And being food-lovers, we ate. A lot. Turning to food for comfort in stressful times is a common practice, although seriously not recommended, especially before your wedding! I’m still surprised I managed to fit into my dress! Continue reading

Bolognese or Bolognaise, Italian or French?

The prerequisite bolognese/bolognaise recipe!

Disclaimer: this probably isn’t the ‘classic’ or ‘perfect’ or ‘whatever-you-want-to-call-it’ bolognaise recipe…. but it’s the one that my friends, family and I love – both to cook AND eat.

The full bolognaise recipe is something that I just started doing pretty recently. The soffritto (Italian) or mirepoix (French) which is the combination of onions, celery and carrots – makes the bolognaise, SO much better. I made this for a dinner we had recently, and the smell of it made a couple of people say “WHAT did you put in that?? It smells so good!”

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Oven-baked Chicken Breast & Mango Salad

Until about 8 years ago, my family used to go to a country club on weekends to swim, have dinner, go bowling and basically have awesome family-time. I distinctly remember looking at the dinner menu one day and thinking to myself that their new dish entitled “Mango-chicken salad” looked rather interesting to my teenaged eyes. I mean, come on, mangoes, chicken and mayonnaise? What could a bit of green do to hurt that combination?

So I ordered it.

As soon as the waiter had put it in front of me, all my sisters wanted to try it! One of my sisters, MA, after eating one bite looked really put out with me and complained, “Why do you always pick all the nice things to order?!”… What could I say to that? I just offered her more salad and hoped she wouldn’t finish my dinner for me.

This memory pretty much inspired our dinner: Oven-baked Chicken Breast with Mango Salad.

Oven baked chicken breast with mango salad – taken with Roy’s iphone 4

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