TV dinner {Downton Abbey}

ladygreymacarons1

I’ve had my heart broken many times… by Julian Fellowes. After the last season of Downton Abbey, I vowed I was done with the show. No more Downton. No more Lady Mary. Not even the Dowager Countess.

After Sybil, there was just too much of this…

DA mary sad

and last year’s season finale that aired on freakin’ CHRISTMAS caused even more of this…

DA marycrying

I was too frustrated and exhausted to continue. But now that I’ve had almost a full year to recover, the scars are slowly starting to heal. Now for us non-UKers, the new season has yet to premiere in the States. Yet somehow I’ve been watching the new episodes online (don’t worry, I’ll watch them when they air on PBS too!) and of course I find myself, once again, wrapped up in the storylines of Carson and Branson and wily Thomas… even Edith! I will not give away any spoilers for my fellow American fans. Instead I’ll provide you with a delicious recipe!

Continue reading

Advertisements

birthday pavlova


i love birthday cakes, especially when i get to make them. every year, i take it upon myself (most willingly) to bake my mom’s birthday cake. and since she’s the best mother ever (and the most low-maintenance person i know) she always lets me choose the cake! over the years, i’ve made dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake, boston creme pie, carrot cake, coconut cake, but this year i wanted to make something a bit different.

enter one birthday berry pavlova. for a summer celebration, this dessert is perfect. it’s light, full of summer fruits, and such an elegant showstopper!

Mixed Berry Pavlova
adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 eggs whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ½ pint fresh blueberries
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry Sauce (recipe below)
  • Whipped Cream (recipe below)

(1)  Preheat oven to 225° F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, draw an 8-inch circle onto it then flip the paper over.
(2)  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, set aside.
(3)  In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low and increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, then slowly and gradually add in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. 
(4)  A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase the speed a bit and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes. 
(5)  Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center (you want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit).
(6)  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color.  Check on the meringue about 30 minutes into the baking time.  If it appears to be taking on color or cracking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and rotate the pan. After baking, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy).

Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 10-oz. bag frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam 

(1)  Purée the raspberries in a blender.  Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. 
(2)  Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and jam, until it is heated through and the sugar and jam are dissolved. Let cool before serving. (Can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated)

Whipped Cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)  Whip the cream in a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 
(2)  When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm.  Be careful not to over-do it, or you might end up with a bowl of whipped butter.

Pavlova Assembly: When the meringue is completely cooled, place it on a serving plate.  Spread the top completely with the sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about ½ cup of  raspberry sauce.  Spoon the mixed berries and sauce mixture carefully into the middle of the pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.  Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce on the side.

Makes one 8-inch pavlova (6-8 servings)

for her gift, my siblings and i all pitched in to get her this le creuset pot that she’s been wanting for years. i can’t wait to taste all the soups and chilis to come out of it.

happy birthday dear mommy, happy birthday to you!

i cannot believe i’m saying this but, i’m off to nyc for the summer TOMORROW! it’s all exciting, nerve-wracking, and surreal but with a belly full of pavlova, i should be ready to go. i think.