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When I travelled to New Zealand in August of 2006, I came across the amazing dessert Pavlova. It was everywhere I went. Curiously, it is New Zealand’s national dessert, and can be found at all manner of cultural events, in bakeries, and in many homes. And it’s no wonder why; it’s a very light, slightly sweet dessert that takes full advantage of seasonal fruits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year on my birthday, I make a Pavlova as my “birthday cake”. The recipe is simple and easy to follow, and doesn’t take much time. The flavours remind me of every amazing experience I had in New Zealand: the bungee jumps, the skydiving, the beaches, the glaciers, and especially, my first foray into kayaking.

To this day, my trip to New Zealand is consistently my favourite experience. It was a great country to visit, I met so many fascinating and fun people, and had the best time of my life. I miss it everyday, and find myself fantasising about the countryside constantly. So it’s no wonder that I try my best to remember all these good times through my sense of taste!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The basic recipe is a meringue base, with whipped cream and fruit on top. I’ve altered the whipped cream to make a White Chocolate Orange Chantilly Cream, using orange flavoured white chocolate. The best (and most affordable) orange flavoured white chocolate is only available around Christmas time. It is Terry’s White Chocolate Orange.

Pavlova

4 egg whites

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sliced strawberries

2 kiwis

2 passion fruits

1 cup whipped cream

6 oz orange flavoured white chocolate

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the egg whites and beat until stiff. Whisk together the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Add the mixture to the egg whites a tablesppon at a time, while beating on medium speed, until all is combined. The meringue should be shiny, white, and stiff. Fold in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the oven to 200 F, and mound the meringue on the pan so it is between 6-8″ in diameter. Bake for one hour. Turn off the oven, and leave the meringue to cool overnight.

Whip the cream until soft peaks. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, and pour into the whipped cream while beating on medium speed. Add the whipped cream on top of the meringue, then arrange the fruit (either artistically, or haphazardly, as I have done).

Now on to the photography:

I had some considerable difficulty with lighting. It was a cloudy day (on my birthday!), so I couldn’t get the best shots. I don’t know what the little blue flowers are, but I enjoy the contrast they bring. Any thoughts or suggestions?! I welcome your feedback! =)

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I woke up to a windy, cold, rainy, and otherwise nasty weekend. The only motivation for me to get out of bed was to bake something warm, full of fruit, and, for a change, with minimal sugar. Blueberry and peach galettes with a multi-grain pate brisee was perfect!

 

Multi-grain Pate Brisee

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
2 tsp sugar (only 2!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk

Combine all ingredients except the oats and milk in a food processor. Pulse to blend. Add milk, just until the mixture comes together. On a clean surface, spread out the oats. Quickly and gently knead the oats into the tart dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Blueberry filling
1 1/4 cup blueberries (I used frozen, because it’s winter here)
1 tbsp corn starch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Peach filling
1 1/4 cup peaches, chopped (again, I used frozen fruit)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Split the tart dough in half, and roll each into a circle, roughly 1/4″ thick. Place fruit mixture into the center of the dough (you can mix the fruits, if you want!) and fold up the tart dough. It will not cover the fruit, but will have many folds.
Brush with an egg wash (one egg plus one yolk with a pinch of salt), dust with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 350 F until golden and crisp. Eat warm, or wrap in plastic wrap and save for later. The galettes will be good for 2-3 days only.

I’m pretty happy with these photos! I think they are my best food photography yet. Any thoughts or comments? Anything I should change? Is it obvious that I boosted the saturation and contrast a bit? Probably… but I think it looks tasty! Anything to make (frozen) peaches brighter and juicier can’t be bad, right? =)

Natural lighting ROCKS! Except for some of the shadows caused by the huge freakin’ pine tree in front of my window… it might become a problem when it fills out and blocks all the sunlight!