Sorry for the delayed absence. Let's blame a particularly social weekend, tutoring headaches and a spike in the maximum temps up this way - it was 37 on Saturday - for keeping me from the computer. We can also blame the computer itself as it is slowly dying and causing problems.
We had a great weekend, a little busier than I would normally want in just a few days but lots of fun. Friday night was #1's soccer club wind up and all the kids were presented with medals (photos will be forthcoming in a day or two) and then enjoyed a sausage sizzle. It was lovely to see all the kids at the presentation - they were so chuffed with their medals, or metals as #1 insists on calling them. While we were there a friend phoned to see what I was doing for dinner and if I could be persuaded to join her and another friend at a local restaurant. I was easily persuaded and enjoyed a 'girls night' with a yummy meal, nice wine and fun conversation. Saturday dawned a little earlier than I really wanted but since Red Dirt Daddy had been great about letting me have a little extra sleep during the week I thought it would be nice to return the favour. That night I went round to visit a friend whose hubby is away for three weeks. She has twins in #1's class at school and was in need of some grown-up company. More wine, pizza and lots of gabbing led us to midnight when I declared that I really really had to go home. Again dawn arrived waaaaaay too early. Then we had friends to dinner Sunday night! Three families from soccer and/or school came over for a bbq - we purposely made it an early start so the kids wouldn't be too late and everyone was gone by 8.30. Everyone contributed to the meal and we had some great food, more wine (for someone who rarely drinks I did fairly well this weekend) and a terrific afternoon/evening. One of our guests is gluten intolerant so I racked my brains for a gluten-free dessert that she could eat that didn't have citrus in it so that I could eat it too and finally settled on pavlova. This was the first time I'd made a full-sized pav, I usually make mini ones or just meringues and I also made it using the convection setting on my microwave. It was a little flatter than I expected (but I think I spread it out too far which didn't help) but was absolutely delicious. Certainly, there are more simple pav recipes but this one was worth the extra effort. It received outrageous compliments and went straight to my top 10, which is mostly made up of desserts anyway!
The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (2006 ed.)
4 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
300ml cream, whipped (I used 600ml)
punnet of strawberries
pulp of 3 passionfruit
Preheat oven to 200-210 degrees Celsius. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray and mark a 20cm circle (the pavlova will spread a little).
Beat the egg whites and salt in an electric mixer until they stand in stiff peaks. Sift the sugar and gradually sprinkle in 1 tablespoon at ta time, beating at full speed only until all the sugar has been added. Lastly fold in the vinegar and vanilla. Spoon large dollops inside the circle on the baking sheet and smooth over the top lightly. Place in the oven (reducing the temperature to 150) for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave the pavlova int he oven until cold. If using a gas oven , bake at 150 for 1 hour, reduce heat to 120 for a further 30 minutes and then turn oven off and leave the pavlova in oven until completely cooled.
When the pavlova has cooled, slide onto a large, flat cake plate and remove the baking paper. Don't worry if the pavlova collapses slightly, also expect cracks on the surface. Whip the cream until stiff and scoop over the top of the pavlvova. Hull and slice the strawberries and scatter them over the cream. Spoon passionfruit pulp over the top.