Friday, December 7, 2012

Sabatino Truffled Risotto.

This stuff is just amazing. Add cold water, cook for about 20 minutes...and voila! Gourmet-tasting feast for your tastebuds in no time or effort at all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Staple: Beef Stew

[Adjusted from]

An old-fashioned beef stew recipe for the slow cooker.


Into the crockpot (set to low):
6 carrots, cut in pieces
6 med. potatoes, cut in pieces
2 cups water

Into a gallon-size ziplock bag:
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 pounds lean stew beef

In browning skillet:
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, made hot
Add contents of ziplock bag
Once browned, transfer to crockpot

Into the browning skillet:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
Sautee until slightly caramelized, transfer to crockpot

Into the browning skillet:
1/4 cup water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
Simmer til bouillon has dissolved, transfer to crockpot

Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (stirring occasionally), until vegetables are tender.

Blend 1/3 cup cold water with 3 tablespoons flour. About 30 minutes before serving, add flour mixture to the crockpot. Stir gently. Turn to high and cook until thickened.

Serves 6 to 8.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits


2 cups Bisquick biscuit mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix biscuit mix, milk, and cheddar cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Mix melted butter, garlic powder, and dried parsley; brush generously over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Make 10-12 biscuits.


I made this recipe almost as-is (and proceeded to eat 3 straight out of the oven...mmm), except that I didn't have garlic powder and so used onion powder and garlic salt. This recipe is already very salty (just like the real ones served at Red Lobster!), so I will use unsalted butter and add salt to taste in the future. I also don't own a brush; a spoon did the trick. Also, pay attention to your biscuit bottoms if you use a dark non-stick pan, as at 450F they brown very quickly.

Next: Popeye's, and Fogo de Chao's!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tomatoes, cucumber, and feta -- my summer triumvirate. Plus kalamata olives.

Summer brings a whole new attitude towards food. Quick, room-temperature or cool foods, and fresh fruits and veggies. Today's lunch featured pita, roasted pine nut hummus, cucumber, tomatoes, and crumbled feta. Would have tossed in some salad greens and olives but didn't have any handy. Also picked up plenty of tuna varieties for tuna pasta salad and namya later this week, and served myself strawberries and a spoonful of sherbet for dessert.

Do you know anyone who follows the Chinese tradition of cool vs. hot foods?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CSA Box: Week 2!

A huge pile of goodies this week!
  • Pea Vine (my dad assures me this is a delicacy)
  • Parsnips (still didn't cook up last week's)
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Potato Onions
  • Rhubarb (YAY! already cooked up into sauce)
  • Asparagus (steamed)
  • French Breakfast Radishes (boiled)
  • Sauté Mix or Spinach (we got spinach)
  • Arugula (allergic)
  • Baby White Turnips (YAY! mild enough to eat raw)
  • Baby Bok Choi (steamed)
  • Garden Herb Pack (I thought this might be dried herbs, but it's actually the live plans in a little plastic planter -- rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, thyme, savory, Italian and curly parsley)
Really excited to tackle this week's veggie cornucopia, starting with rhubarb sauce and steamed aspy!

    Monday, May 14, 2012


    The asparagus from our CSA box sautéed up beautifully with a little extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Sometimes I'm glad M doesn't like most vegetables... I ate these all up myself! Even tasted a bit like movie theater popcorn. :)

    Our first CSA box of the season!

    We picked up our very first CSA box on Saturday, and are happy to report that so far we're quite pleased!

    Early in the week, we received a mailing confirming our registration along with details about our pick-up site and the pick-up process. On Friday, we received an electronic newsletter detailing the veggie delights we could expect to pick up on Saturday.

    When morning rolled around, we headed out armed with a wheeled cooler bag my mom had received as a freebie at some point (the farm reuses the shipping boxes). Our pick-up site is conveniently just a few blocks away, and the couple whose garage serves as the pick-up site were super helpful and friendly. We were among the last to show up, but happily packed up our boxful of goodies along with a season calendar and newsletter w/ updates from the farm (and recipe suggestions! very helpful for some of the less common vegetables, like stinging nettles below). This week's box included:

    • Baby Parsnips
    • Sunchokes
    • Chives
    • Green Garlic
    • Potato or Egyptian Walking Onions (we got the latter)
    • Spinach
    • Asparagus
    • French Breakfast Radishes
    • Salad Mix
    • Stinging Nettles
    • Willow (we didn't take this; it's intended as a decorative item)

    Note: If there's anything you don't want, you can leave it in the swap box. And, if there's anything in the swap box that you want, you can take it. Nice!

    So far we've used everything except the parsnips, chives, potatoes, and nettles, and it's only Monday! Guess we needn't have worried about not using everything up...I think the novelty helps us get excited about trying new vegetables or cooking new recipes. And a lot of the vegetables can be eaten raw or very simply dressed, so it hasn't been too much of a strain to prepare.

    Already our diets have improved, and the process has been quite edifying as well -- there was a bit of confusion about the difference between the green garlic and Egyptian walking onions, and more confusion about whether we got potatoes or the Egyptian walking onions, and what sunchokes were, but we got it all sorted out thanks to the helpful hints in the newsletter and a little Google searching.

    I think we'll make mashed potatoes w/ chives and sour cream next, and maybe a nettle frittata. But still brainstorming ideas for what to do with the parsnips and sunchokes.

    PS. Our CSA farm doesn't offer free-range eggs, but they do have grass-fed meats, monthly cheeses, fruit boxes, and coffee.

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Salmon Soup

    A few weeks ago I dragged in a one-pot cookbook from the library and carefully placed it near M's desk.

    A few weeks went by... I casually mentioned its existence, to which I received a non-committal grunt of acquiescence. 'Yes, I realize the book is there...yes, there are probably some great, simply recipes in there that even I won't mess up..... Yes, I will try one of the recipes some day.'

    Another few weeks... I randomly pointed out a recipe that was sure to be a winner. And finally, after nearly 2 months...we have a pretty tasty product!

    Salmon Soup
    [from The Everything One-Pot Cookbook, 2e]

    4 cups chicken broth
    1 lb fresh or smoked salmon
    1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
    salt to taste
    ground black pepper to taste
    1 bunch fresh spinach, well washed and chopped

    Add broth, salmon, onion, salt, and pepper to a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add spinach, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

    Bon appetit!

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Yakisoba Bento Variations

    It's been a while since I lasted posted a bento, though I have put one together every so often this semester. Today's bento features 1/2 a package of pre-prepared/frozen yakisoba (from Costco), grape tomatoes, and a few slices of champagne mango.

    The yakisoba has been really convenient; it tastes good, keeps well, and there are no messy liquids involved. The only drawback is that it's a little oilier than I would prefer. But until I come up with the time to pan-fry my own noodles, these will work just fine! One whole package is 500 calories. Pictured here is a little over half, so I'd say this bento totals around 400 cal.

    And another yakisoba variation (in my favorite bento colors box):

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Bagel Bob-ombs

    Finally did it! Here's a first peek at our bagel bombs. :) The only things I'd change are to reduce the salt in the topping and work on perfecting the bagel dough technique. And maybe not eat all of them in one go. De-lish!

    [UPDATE 5/4/2012]

    Made a double batch w/ tweaks this afternoon. Some thoughts:

    • No salt necessary in the topping.
    • Reduce salt in the cream cheese filling to allow the natural sweetness of the scallions/green onion to really shine.
    • It's impossible to make these without eating at least 3 immediately out of the oven. Definitely plan to make extra!

    The salt in the dough is necessary for proper rising. I used King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (higher gluten content) this time, and kneaded the dough by hand for 10 minutes before proofing. It came out beautifully -- easier to shape and mold, puffed up at least 2x as much as last time, with a nice, soft interior and firm exterior. I also added a little corn flour to the parchment so the bombs wouldn't stick, which added a nice crunch to the bottoms.

    Interestingly, the cream cheese filling exploded to the side rather than on top like last time. I also tried adding asiago cheese to the tops of a few of them...didn't brown properly, so they came out big and puffy and pale (pictured above). Not so appetizing-looking, but they taste just fine. Probably need a handheld flame broiler (like the ones used on crème brulée).

    A work in progress. But I have to say I really enjoyed working with the dough, surprisingly enough (if you're ever pissed off and need something to punch, throw together some bagel's super tough to knead and you'll get some tasty treats out of it!). I also liked working with mochi and dumpling doughs. The curse of the yeast breads appears to have been lifted, so maybe I'll try a hand at some breads next!

    Uhn-yuhn! Onion Soup Medley

    I picked up a bunch of green onions (along with rhubarb) at the market yesterday thinking to chop and toss 'em in with some cream cheese to make the filling for bagel bombs. Well, neither M nor I were feeling up to the daunting task of dealing with yeast (for the bagel part), so we (er, I...M opted for a nap) made the filling and have mostly ignored the latter half of the recipe since.

    I did, however, make up a wonderfully fragrant onion soup for dinner tonight. :) It's dead simple, and probably my favorite way to eat vegetables.

    Onion Soup Medley

    3-4 stalks of green onion, rinsed, trimmed and cut into 3" lengths (I slice the white part vertically down the middle so it cooks at the same rate as the rest)
    1 sweet onion, halved and then quartered (the ones we got from Costco are GINORMOUS...bigger than a softball. I only used half for this recipe)
    3 chicken bouillon cubes or your favorite stock
    1/2 tbsp olive oil
    black pepper, to taste

    Combining the green onion, olive oil, and about a liter of water (you can always add more later) in a saucepan, simmer until almost but not quite tender. Add the bouillon and sweet onion, then continue simmering until translucent, sweet, and tender. Do not overboil or overcook, or you'll have soggy onion (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Dash with pepper just before serving. Smells heavenly!

    Excited for for the challenge of our first CSA box!

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Saturday market haul: Cheese please!

    Despite the cold April rain, M and I ventured out this morning to hit the Saturday Market (and in M's case, run an 8k). After making 2 rounds of the market, I came away with:
    • Spring onions ($1)
    • Rhubarb ($3)
    • 4 kinds of cheese (Evalon (a gift); Torta del Casar; Gorwydd Caerphilly; and our perennial favorite: bread cheese)
    • Strawberry-rhubarb bar
    • Potato buttermilk donuts
    • Apple fritter (eeew. for M, post-race)
    • Maple-frosted cinnamon roll as big as my face (BEST thing of the day)
    Evalon is a type of goat cheese that tastes rather similar to the Cardona or Marisa by Carr Valley that I mentioned in a previous post. Will have to taste them side-by-side, but as this wedge was purchased as a gift, it'll have to wait til next time.

    My first experience at Fromagination was a good one; the staff wasn't nosy or pushy, and when I asked for assistance they were enthusiastic and helpful (the primary reason for my visit today is that we're thinking of ordering a small mountain of cheese for our upcoming nuptials. This is the 2nd cheese place we've contacted. More info to come later). They had a wide selection of cheeses as well as small gifts to pair with the cheese (chutneys, jams, jellies, cookies, chocolates, wines, etc).

    The part I liked best is that they sell small sample wedges of various cheeses for people who just want to have a small taste of a new imported cheese rather than having to buy a full-size wedge. I picked 2 random cheeses -- Torta del Casar, a pungent sheep cheese from Spain that uses thistle instead of animal rennet, and Gorwydd Caerphilly, an increasingly rare unpasteurized Welsh cheese. The texture of the former is nice, similar to brie w/ a soft and smooth center that becomes more firm towards the edges. A nice, lightly salted taste. M said it reminded him of the flavor of olives/olive oil. The Gorwydd Caerphilly was soft but a little more crumbly in texture, with a stronger, earthy flavor, a white middle, and a thick, darker natural rind.

    In essence, so much for the diet today! But in other news, we're back to considering signing up for a CSA box...I want to like market shopping, I really do, but I never seem to come away with too much by way of fresh produce when I go to the Saturday Market -- mostly cheeses and baked goods -- and we'd love to try new and seasonal fruits and vegetables (if only we had our own Spitalfields!). We're still worried we won't be able to finish each box before everything spoils, but if we're committed to our goal of knowing what we're eating, eating locally and in season, and diversifying our consumption, we're going to have to at least give it a try.

    PS. Just finished My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. Eye-opening on the documentary standpoint. And it's increasingly likely I'll become a full-on pescetarian or vegetarian before long.


    We officially signed up for our CSA share! It was difficult to choose a farm since there are so many in our area, but we'll see how it goes. We'll be picking up a vegetable box every other week from May through December. We also considered getting peak season fruit and free-range eggs too, but maybe next time. Oh and btw, all of the major health insurance carriers EXCEPT ours offer a CSA rebate. Grumble.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Overnight Oats

    Lately I've been having Fage 0% with a drizzle of honey or agave and a sprinkling of pumpkin flax granola, which is lovely and a breakfast I look forward to each morning. Unfortunately, I ran out of Fage this weekend (ahh! crisis!), so we picked up a container of Chobani (plain, non fat).

    As it turns out, I really prefer Fage 0%...the texture, the taste, the price (it's cheapest at Costco, I've found). So what was I going to do with a huge, brand-new container of Chobani?!

    I keep coming across this concept of 'overnight oats' and decided to give it a try. It's pretty much equal parts milk, Greek yogurt, old fashioned rolled oats, fruit, and some kind of sweetener all tossed together and left in the fridge overnight (consumed chilled). Then, you can go to town with the add-ins, kind of like at Pinkberry or Red Mango except with your oatmeal (and depending on how healthy you want it to be!).

    I used 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup 1% milk (in the future I will use soy milk), 1/4 cup non-fat plain Chobani, 1/4 cup diced mango, and light agave to taste -- maybe 1-2 tsp. (Note: this works out to roughly 200 calories). I dumped everything into a jar, stirred it up, put on the lid, and left it in the fridge overnight. Maybe I added a little too much sweetener (tasted absolutely decadent comparative to the rest of my diet. I've been spoiled this morning!), but this overnight oats recipe tasted just like a mango smoothie or a mango lassi (plus oatmeal)! Probably would be excellent as a snack on hot summer days, too.

    I don't have photos this time around, but you can check out some awesome add-in variations here:

    A lot of people swear by adding Chia seeds. I would have, except that a little bag cost $12 at Whole Foods. I'll be looking for a cheaper bulk variety to give this supposed 'superfood' a try.

    Happy Tuesday!

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    QOTD: Product Reviews

    When companies send their products to bloggers to review (sometimes offering free giveaways to readers), do they expect a positive review? Do bloggists ever struggle with the dilemma of hating a product? And why are we so obsessed with trials and reviews anyway, especially for things under $15? Are we afraid to try new things? Or just loathe to have that half-eaten package left in the fridge to rot over the next week or two as no one jumps to finish it off?

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Risotto and Gnocchi

    Gotta hand it to those Italians for the number of quality dishes they've invented. After the mediocre results from the the wheatberry mock risotto experiment, I decided to try my hand at making regular risotto. Turns out it's super easy, versatile, and delicious! It's definitely going onto my list of go-to recipes when I need something quick and tasty to whip up.

    I'm still tweaking the add-ins so I don't have any photos, but here's the basic method:

    [original method here:]

    Chop and sauté a sweet onion in olive oil until glazed (try not to caramelize unless that's the flavor you're going for, bc it will overwhelm the other ingredients), add 1 cup of risotto (I used Arborio), then after swishing it around and coating all the grains in oil, add 4-5 cups chicken broth 1 cup at a time. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. The grains will produce/add a lovely creaminess, but I also added a tablespoon of butter to the onions and some grated parmesan cheese (approx. 1/2 cup). Since the base is already creamy, the parmesan incorporates in as it melts, unlike with the wheatberry mock risotto which was pretty watery.

    For last night's risotto, I added sautéed asparagus, peas (at the very end--they can turn to mush quite quickly), sliced Italian chicken sausage, and pine nuts. Yum! The original recipe also called for zucchini, but for some reason the supermarket didn't have any (and this particular supermarket is usually busting at the seams with I imagine it must be completely out of season at the moment).

    So that was dinner, Italian at the core and served with spinach salad and strawberries for dessert. All that was missing was the garlic bread.

    We had basil prosciutto-wrapped fresh mozzarella for our appetizer instead.
    For lunch today, another Italian delicacy. I decided to use some frozen spinach-stuffed gnocchi I picked up at the store. Gnocchi is probably my favorite pasta shape/type! The only problem is that most restaurants like to serve it with a wine or vodka-based tomato sauce. They're usually happy to serve it with marinara if I ask, but it's not quite right bc a real serving of gnocchi, imo, should be with a slightly creamy tomato sauce.
    Individual gnocchi are described as "pillows", but this is the first time I've had gnocchi actually shaped like pillows!
    YUM. So soft with a slight chew at the center and delicate sweetness...MMMMM!!!!
    At any rate, I've been craving an eggplant tomato sauce for a while now. I normally don't mind store-bought tomato sauce, but it just wasn't going to fit the bill this time. I didn't follow the original recipe exactly and paid for it with mushy eggplant, but it was much easier to make and still tasted good!

    [sauce method here:]

    1 package frozen spinach-stuffed gnocchi, prepared according to package directions
    1/2 medium eggplant, cubed
    1 can Red Gold diced tomatoes (I used the kind with basil, garlic, oregano), partially drained
    olive oil
    garlic salt (to taste)
    pepper (to taste)

    About the eggplant:
    You're supposed to salt and compress the eggplant, but I didn't feel like it... And then learned that eggplant acts like a sponge and no matter how well you oil your pan, it'll always soak it all up. So I added a little water and basically boiled the eggplant in the end. Just letting you know in case you prefer to prepare the eggplant the proper way!

    1. Toss eggplant cubes in pan with olive oil; heat on medium.
    2. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Salt with garlic salt and pepper.
    3. Add drained diced tomatoes.
    4. Serve immediately over pasta.

    Note: if using an aluminum or Teflon-coated pan, make sure to rinse and neutralize your pan soon after cooking so the tomato acid won't affect the pan.

    Bon appétit!

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    New take on old grains.

    As a child growing up in an Asian family, rice was of course the staple grain (barley also a favorite of mine from a young age, though I was the only person in my family to ever eat it). Since then, my world of grains diversified...couscous, quinoa, polenta, etc. Having a broad selection of grains helps change up the dinner menu from day to day, and the best part is that a lot of grain-based recipes are the "dump in a pot and stir" type.

    It's also amazing to me how one of the simplest grains (corn meal) can be transformed into a real show-stopper. Yesterday M and I attended a formal dinner at The Madison Club, and I had the best polenta I've had in my life.
    Sorry the image is so dim!
    Smooth, creamy, with just enough thickness and full of fantastic flavor. One of my classmates is actually a prep chef in the kitchens, so I'll definitely be asking him what secrets went into making that polenta!

    And then there are probably hundreds of grains still out there that I've never tried. Last weekend I came across a few recipes featuring wheatberries. I love chewy textures, so I thought I'd try it. The spinach portobello wheatberry mock risotto simmering away on the stove smells AMAZING right rich and earthy and savory and MMMMM! can't wait to taste-test!!

    Other recipes I hope to try eventually:


    I followed the recipe from almost exactly, but I thought I'd post some thoughts and ideas for future renditions here. In looking at the photos and recipe, I initially expected:

    1. A quick, throw-in-the-pot meal
    2. Healthy
    3. Savory, earthy
    4. Smooth, thick texture with chewy grains (like tapioca, maybe)

    The first 3 are true. It was so easy to chop up an onion, some mushrooms, and simmer it all down with some broth, chicken sausage, and spinach.

    However, if you're expecting the wheatberries to be the star of the show, you will be mistaken. I used 6 rather than 8 cups of spinach, and still it seems like you're basically eating a creamed spinach salad w/ wheatberries as garnish and no cream. I also wouldn't make this dish without the chicken sausage -- you'll be missing out on big flavor and texture. Wheatberries are usually described as "chewy". But unless I didn't cook them long enough (some sources say an hour; the recipe only calls for 20 minutes; I cooked for about 35), I think it's a lot more like eating brown or wild rice (which both have hulls). While the hulls do make cooking wheatberries super easy (they don't break down in water, so you don't have to worry about sticking or burning or adding water), it's not my favorite texture. Also, plan to soak them for at least 8 hours -- it helps break down chemicals in the wheatberries so your body doesn't have such a tough time digesting. I would also wait to add the parmesan till the end, as a garnish.

    So, in conclusion, a very healthy-tasting, earthy dish (onto which I piled PLENTY of grated parmesan...which probably made it a lot less healthy). I'll try steaming wheatberries next time to see if it changes the texture at all. Otherwise I think I'm going to look into regular risotto recipes!


    Tried steaming in the rice cooker, and they did come out a little softer. Also, they taste pretty good in Fage Greek Yogurt (plain) and a drizzle of honey! Reminds me of the warm, sweet red or mung bean dessert 'soup' they sometimes serve at the end of Chinese meals.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Ode to a Pavlova, which could also be a Nightingale.

    In this post I continue recounting the culinary exploration that unexpectedly (but happily) accompanied my two months in London circa 2006, where I was introduced to several delicious treats:
    Including one Mr. Orlando Bloom. Though I can't profess to know how he tastes.
    I'm sure the much-maligned bland and super-boiled dishes do exist, but such niceties as elderflower cordial, welsh cakes, and pavlova have effectively put an end to any stereotypes I may have had about cooking in the UK (whether those dishes originated in the UK or not -- and in most cases, not!). A heartfelt thank you to the Main family for one of the best experiences of my life!

    Here be the makings of what constitutes THE original pavlova, for me anyway.
    Pavlova in the making! Looks like a microwave, but is a combination oven / microwave. In fact, the owner only knew how to use it as an oven, and never used it as a microwave. The American that I am, just remember to take those metal racks out before 'waving!!
    So I'll admit I'm a bit misguided in thinking all the nice things I ate while staying with a British family originated in England (in fact, the pavlova has its origins in New Zealand). But whatever the case, it has since become one of my best dishes, or if not that, then definitely the one I can count on to turn out well most of the time and at least look pretty on the table.

    I have also attempted alternate versions, including "forgotten cookies", but am still tweaking those methods and will post when I come up with something I'm happy with.

    Mini-pavlovas (3") that I made for S's going-away party in 2010.
    The method included here is a modification of several different recipes tried and tested over the years. When making a pavlova, I recommend precision and patience. The method is not as forgiving as other desserts in that substitutions for ingredients are not advised (unless you're experimenting, of course!). The ideal is to have a delightfully dry, crisp, lightly golden exterior, with a slightly moist, pillowy interior that is full and pure white. Common issues are a "weeping" meringue, a "fallen" meringue, and a "chewy" or "tough" meringue. I have at one time or another produced all of these problematic (but tasty) meringues, which are preventable if you attend to the notes below.

    Pavlova to ring in 2012!

    4 egg whites (room temperature is best -- take care that NO yolk gets mixed in!)
    1 pinch salt (optional)
    1 cup caster sugar
    1.5 tsp cornstarch
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1 cup heavy or whipping cream
    1 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    Fresh fruit -- I use strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi. Also popular is passionfruit. Raspberries taste wonderful but tend to bleed all over the place, and blackberries have seeds.

    1. Make sure all equipment is oil-free, and try to avoid touching the inside of the bowl or whipping tines w/ your hands. Oil impedes the ability for the egg whites to stiffen.
    2. Beat egg whites til soft peaks form (tips bend over when you pull the whipping tines out). Keep beating -- don’t stop & start.
    3. Add 3/4 cup caster sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar w/ cornstarch, pinch of salt, and continue to add mixture to the whipped eggs 1 tbsp at a time.
    4. Beat until stiff and shiny, and smooth when rubbed between fingertips. About 5-7 min.
    5. Sprinkle in vinegar and gently fold w/ spatula (15-18 strokes only). Let stand as you assemble the baking equipment for the last bit of sugar to dissolve completely (this is very important -- undissolved sugar will result in weeping or empty meringues).
    6. Draw 7" circle on parchment if you need a guide, then flip onto baking sheet (if you use foil or wax paper, it will stick). Mound meringue, making a shallow well at center (this helps prevent the meringue from cracking when you mound the goodies on top). Bake at 250F for 1h15, turn oven off, crack door open, cool in oven 30 min. (For 3" rounds, bake 35 min, cool in oven as above).
    7. Beat heavy or whipping cream w/ remaining 1 tbsp sugar and vanilla until thickened and slightly frothy -- don't overbeat, should be a consistency between cool whip and whipped cream, but not really either. Spread over pavlova, top with mixed fruit. Serve immediately.
    (Note: the meringue base can be made ahead of time and kept for a few days, but once you assemble it it will not last more than a few hours).

    NOTE: Depending on the temperature, humidity, and your oven, timing will vary!

    Stick one of these on your door, flip on the telly, and dig in! ENJOY! :D