Royal Meringue

Happy 4th!

If this recipe wrings a bell, it's probably because I made something similar over the Christmas holidays with a Caramel Meringue. Same cookbook too. And I will repeat what I said then: yes, they unmold with no problem. (I didn't believe it either until I made them the first time.)
I know this presentation looks way too involved, but you can simplify any number of ways. I made it with all the bells and whistles as suggested in the cookbook, but you could simplify by crushing some berries, slice the meringue and serve just with the berries. You don't need to bother with the strawberry dip or the toasted coconut unless you want a splashy presentation. 
(BTW: that strawberry dip would be lovely served by itself, surrounded with fresh berries.)

Royal Meringue
From The Private Collection by the Junior League of Palo Alto

8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
2 teaspoons almond flavoring
one 10 1/2 ounce package frozen strawberries. defrosted
1 cup heavy cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
sprigs of mint

Preheat oven to 250.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time beating until meringue stands in stiff peaks. Spoon with great care into a 10 cup ring mold. Press down on each layer to prevent air bubbles.
Place mold in a roasting pan, with 1 inch of warm water. Bake 45 minutes or until meringue is set. Remove from oven, place on a rack to cool completely. It will settle quite a bit. It can sit on the counter all day at room temperature if you wish.

Toast coconut until brown and mix with the almond flavoring. Set aside.
Puree the frozen strawberries (I used fresh, but added a little sugar) Beat the whipping cream and fold in the strawberries. Refrigerate.

To serve: Loosen the meringue by running a knife dipped in cold water around the edge. Turn it out onto a serving plate. Mine always unmold with no trouble. Place the strawberry cream in the middle and top the mold with sliced fresh fruit, then sprinkle the coconut all over. Garnish with sprigs of mint.


The Picnic Game: Fourth of July Picnic S'more Tartlets

Did you ever play the picnic game as a child? Well, Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting a virtual Picnic. In order to participate in the Picnic Game, each blogger chooses a letter and brings a dish that begins with that letter.  Join in the fun!
To see the entire list completed, come back and click on the basket on July 1st....in time for Picnic Month!

And my letter is F: Fourth of July Picnic S'more Tartlets
Adapted from the cookbook Cutie Pies by Dani Cone

1 (12 ounce bag) of semisweet chocolate chips
5 cups mini marshmallows
6 graham crackers, crushed
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packages ready made Pillsbury pie crust ( or make your own pie crust)

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix all ingredients except crust and set aside.
Roll out your crust fairly thinly and cut 3 inch rounds out of your pie crust, re-rolling unused dough. You should get 30 or so.
Press each circle into mini-muffin cup, pressing down and up the sides to form a little pie crust. Spoon the filling into the shells to just below the top. Bake 15 minutes.  Cool.

Cook's Note: I found after 10 minutes the marshmallows and chocolate had melted into a puddle before the crust was even baked. So I left them in there the full 15 minutes, made certain the crust was baked through, then removed them from the oven, added more filling to each cup and put it quickly under the broiler. 

Cute idea, gooey when warm, but they firm up nicely after they cool and are a snap to take along on a picnic. Decadently delicious!


Mini Crab Cakes

These little gems are awesome. Leave it to Cathy at Noble Pig. She comes up with some of the best appetizers. For holidays, for game day, for company, everyone will love to see a platter of these coming their way. Love the little Parmesan/Panko cups....they hold together surprisingly well.

Mini Crab Cakes
From Cathy at Noble Pig, adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 24

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
4 teaspoons plus 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Large pinch cayenne pepper
6 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked over, patted dry, coarsely shredded
1-1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter , melted
Fresh chives cut into pieces

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and egg; beat to blend.  Beat in sour cream, citrus zest, 4 teaspoons chopped chives, coarse salt and cayenne pepper.  Fold in crabmeat.  (This can be made one day ahead.  Cover and chill.)

Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Toss 1-1/2 cups panko, 3/4 cup Parmesan and 4 tablespoons chopped chives in a bowl.  Drizzle melted butter over, tossing with a fork until evenly moistened.  Press 1 rounded tablespoon panko mixture into bottom of each muffin cup (makes a well with your thumb), forming crust.  Spoon 1 generous Tablespoon crab mixture into each cup.  Sprinkle more panko mixture over each.

Bake crab cakes in a 350 degree oven until golden on top and set, about 20 minutes.  Cool in pan at least 5 minutes.  They will firm up. Gently lift each crab cake out of the pan with a fork onto a serving platter. 
(Can be made 2 hours ahead.  Arrange on baking sheet, let stand at room temperature.  Rewarm in a 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes.)

Arrange crab cakes on a serving platter; sprinkle with chives.


Rhubarb Scones

Bet you thought these would be either too moist or too tart, didn't you? I sure did. Couldn't have been more surprised...they were perfect. I expected them to be soggy after the rhubarb baked in them. Didn't happen. I adore scones and to pair them with my favorite rhubarb, have them turn out beautifully, well....what could be better?

Rhubarb Scones
From Food 52, by Midge (Who calls them Naughty Rhubarb Scones for some reason.)

3 stalks rhubarb
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
2/3--3/4 cups heavy cream


Preheat oven to 425. 
Slice rhubarb stalks 1/4 " thick. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl or bowl of food processor. Cut butter into flour mixture by hand (or whiz with food processor) until butter is the size of small peas. Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Blend in sliced rhubarb. (If using the food processor, just pulse -- you want the slices left mostly intact.) Blend in cream until a soft dough forms. (note: you may need to add more than 2/3 cup depending on the weather,etc.) Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. To make triangular scones, flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6-8 scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until reddish-brown on top.


Plum Crunch

Summer's here and along with it, come recipes for grunts and slumps as well as cobblers, crisps, crackles, roly poly, buckles, bettys and dumplings! I love every single one, too. 

Aside from my mother's, Ina's recipes really are the best. I made this plum crunch last year and never posted it; I can't imagine why as it was wonderful. Sometimes recipes get lost in files and it's always fun to discover one everyone really liked. 

(I'm skipping Ina First Friday in July because I'm joining Louise's online Picnic Game, so consider this my July Ina offering!)

Plum Crunch
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

3 pounds Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered 
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
6 tablespoons creme de cassis liqueur 
For the topping 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup oatmeal 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced 

Vanilla ice cream, for serving 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

For the fruit, in a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, flour, and cassis. Pour the mixture into a 12 by 8-inch shallow baking dish. 

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, walnuts, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the plum mixture. 

Bake the plum crunch for 40 to 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbling and the top is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream. 



I rarely make candy of any kind, but in honor of Father's Day and in my dad's memory, I decided to make penuche...his favorite fudge. 
Part of every summer in my childhood we spent boating and we always docked at Mackinac Island for a week or so. Even after I married and had kids, we still spent time on the boat and Mackinac was a favorite stop. Once in a while, we drove to northern Michigan and took the ferry over, with all the other "fudge-eaters", a label bestowed on tourists by the islanders. For good reason, as everyone ends up walking around the island holding a half-eaten box of fudge. Here's a little 2 minute video on Mackinac and their famous fudge making.

Practically every other store is a fudge shop as you walk down main street. As you can imagine, the entire town smells of candy (and horses as there are no cars on the island and walking, boats, bikes and horses are the only  methods of travel here) and you can stand outside and watch it being made, window after window. 
Dad was very particular and we always bought our fudge at May's. It was the best fudge store on the island. There was no "grit" in the fudge, just smooth luscious rich fudge. It still is there, family owned and operated. Also, they make the best peanut brittle ever...another of Dad's favorites.

So...he loved penuche. Pronounced 
puh-noo-chee. And while most penuche has walnuts, Dad liked his without, so that's how I made it for this post. It's amazingly delicious, has a butterscotch flavor with maple overtones. If you're going to make it and your family likes nuts, add 3 ounces of roughly chopped walnuts. 



Vegetable oil cooking spray 
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk 
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar 
5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3 ounces toasted walnuts, chopped (1 cup) , optional


Coat a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line with plastic wrap leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides.
Bring evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 236 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 25 minutes.
Transfer to your electric mixer and beat in confectioners' sugar on low speed. Increase speed to medium, and beat until mixture is thickened and smooth, probably about 5  minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add vanilla and walnuts, if using.
Spread mixture in a pan, smoothing top. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm. Cut into small pieces. 

    Here we are at Mackinac on the boat...Dad, daughter Tracy and me, 1959


Best Ever Potato Salad

Best ever? Those two words always make me give a little (feminine) snort. And to be honest, I didn't believe that title either and hesitated to use it too, until I made it and took it to my Garden Club's end-of-year luncheon. That's a discerning group, all ages, all probably having their own mother's or grandmother's "Best Ever" potato salad recipes. And it's mayonnaise-based, which, while delicious, is, let's face it, fattening and a tad dated to boot.

Need I say they loved it? I thought I made too much (we do a pot luck), but there was only a spoonful or so left. So, I'm passing on Brown Eyed Baker's "best ever" recipe. You can't go wrong with bacon and that's the secret ingredient here, not only in the salad, but in the dressing too. Naughty, naughty.

And all right, so I cheated and took  some of my favorite and completely awesome store-bought mini pastries from the Ft. Lauderdale French Bakery for dessert. Hah! Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

Best Ever Potato Salad
From Brown Eyed Baker

 4 cups cubed red potatoes
 10 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
 ¾ cup mayonnaise
 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
 1 stalk celery, diced
 1 small onion, chopped
½ medium green pepper, chopped

Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. (If you're not sure how to boil the potatoes perfectly, HERE is a good source.) Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the skillet.

Add the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar and salt to the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion and green pepper. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and gently stir to evenly coat. Stir in the bacon. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.


Ina First Fridays: Tuna Rolls

Ina serves these in a grilled hot dog roll, but I wanted fewer carbs so served it as a salad. The tuna would be super done on your grill, but it works fine stove top as well. Just make certain to follow the directions for time because you want it rare on the inside. I served the tuna in a lettuce cup, so I omitted the arugula.

Grilled Tuna Rolls
2009, Ina Garten

Good olive oil 
1 pound very fresh tuna steak, 1-inch thick 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 lime, zest grated 
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes) 
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder 
1 teaspoon soy sauce 
5 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco) 
1 firm, ripe Hass avocado, medium-diced 
1/4 red onion, chopped 
1 tablespoon minced scallion, white and green parts 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 
9 hot dog rolls, grilled or toasted 
1 bunch baby arugula, washed and spun dry


Heat a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grill with oil. Brush both sides of the tuna with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook the tuna over the hot coals for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. The tuna should be seared on the outside and raw inside. Allow to cool and cut into cubes.

(If you don't want to heat a grill, you can sear the tuna in a dry saute pan over high heat. Heat the pan for 2 minutes, add the tuna steaks and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side until seared on the outside and still raw inside.) 

For the dressing:
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder, soy sauce, hot sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Toss the avocado in the dressing and then add the tuna, red onion, scallion, and sesame seeds. Line the rolls with arugula leaves, fill with the tuna mixture, and serve. 


Ina Fridays participants:
Chaya @  Bizzy Bakes
Linda,  @ Tumbleweed Contessa
Mary @ The Egg Farm
Minnie @ The Lady 8 Home
Patti @ Comfy Cuisine
Rocky Mountain Woman @ Rocky Mountain Woman


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