Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Pavlova With Fresh Berries

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There’s a long-standing argument on whom credit is given, New Zealand or Australia, for creating this beautiful dessert. This dessert was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who first toured Down Under in 1926. It was said that this dessert was created by a Wellington chef in her “honor”.

This meringue-based dessert’s origin was created somewhere else. After tireless research, it turns out this dessert actually belongs to the Americans and English. This meringue-based dessert with its crisp crust, and soft light inside, usually, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit is as elegant as it is delicious.

Pavlova With Fresh Berries is a dessert that can be made in advance and assembled right before serving. I’m going to use all types of fresh berries and modestly toss them in a delicious raspberry sauce. I’m also going to make a fresh whipped cream kissed with pure vanilla.

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mint

Fresh-Mint-Leaves

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food Processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, Stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, pastry bag with a star tip

Ingredients For Meringue:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 cup of sugar
3 teaspoons of cornstarch, sifted
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup of cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

Raspberry Sauce:
Yields: 2 cups
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of raspberry jam with seeds (seedless optional)
1 tablespoon of Chambord (raspberry liqueur)

Fresh Berries:
1/2 pint of hulled and sliced strawberries
1/2 pint of fresh blueberries
1/2 pint of fresh blackberries
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries
Fresh mint for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 180-degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw the outline of 4 inverted 6-inch creme brulee dishes, using the dishes as your guide, two on each paper. Turn the paper upside down so the pencil marks won’t get on the meringue.

Place the egg whites and salt n the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about a minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about another 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the sifted corn starch, white vinegar, and vanilla extract to the beaten egg whites.

Fill the piping bag with a star tip with the egg whites. Starting in the middle moving outwards, draw out the meringue to complete the traced outline of the creme brulee dish. Once the outside of the line of the dish has been reached, go around one more time on the outer line to make a lip. This will allow you to fill the meringues to be filled. Refer to the pictures above.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven, for a least 1 additional hour. They will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

While the meringues are baking and cooling in the oven, this gives plenty of time to make the raspberry sauce and prepare the whipped cream.

Directions For Raspberry Sauce:
Place the raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and the Chambord, into the bowl of the food processor, fitted with a steel blade, and process until smooth. Transfer the raspberry sauce to the frig and chill.

Directions For Sweetened Whipped Cream:
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Note: Do not overbeat!!!
Yields: 2 cups

To Serve the Pavlova With Fresh Berries, carefully place the meringues onto the serving dishes. When ready to serve, fill the centers of the meringues with sweetened whipped cream. Place 1/4 cup of the mixed fresh berries (per meringue cookie) in a bowl. Ladle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce in with the fresh berries and toss. Then ladle the sauced berries onto the top of the whipped cream in the center of each of the meringue cookies. Take a tablespoon of the raspberry sauce and drizzle some around the meringue. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

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Brown And Wild Rice Medley

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Taking help from your local grocery store is not something you should ever feel guilty about. For weeknight meals, I’ll use the grocery store as my sous chef.  I’m always taking advantage of, what I call, “short cuts”. There’s nothing better than adding a few great ingredients to quick-cooking rice to make it into something special. This is my Brown And Wild Rice Medley.

“Minute Rice” has come out with a brown and wild rice variety, in single-serving cups. Basically, the rice is ready to serve in sealed cups.

For this dish, I’m using a store-bought fresh Cantina-style salsa. I absolutely love this variety of salsa so it’s a staple in my house. This is a side dish that pairs great with chicken, pork, or fish.

Cilantro

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Cilantro

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 to 4 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sauté pan, serving bowl, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 (4.4-ounce) cups of ready-to-serve Minute Rice, Brown and Wild Rice
1 15-ounce can of black beans, reduced sodium, drained and rinsed
1 11-ounce can of shoepeg white corn, drained and rinsed
1 plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 a green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 a white Spanish onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon of  Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh Cantina-style (restaurant-style) salsa (14-ounce container available in most produce departments of local grocery stores)
2 tablespoons of cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:
Drain and rinse the black beans and shoepeg corn Seed and dice the plum tomato. Chop the cilantro.

Follow the directions for the rice. Pull (or cut) the film and remove it from the cup. Place the cup in the microwave and heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes (cooking time for 2 cups).

Important:  Remove the cups carefully, from the microwave, taking hold of the cup from the side using an oven mitt or potholder.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil, the diced onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Cook the vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the cooked ready-to-serve rice.

Next, add the drained and rinsed, black beans and shoepeg corn. Continue stirring allowing the vegetables to warm through for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salsa, stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, add in the chopped cilantro.

Serve my Brown And Wild Rice Medley warm or at room temperature.

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Sweet Chili Fire Chicken

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How about making “take out” at home? I’m saying “why not”! Sometimes grabbing fast food once and a while is sometimes a necessity. Making delicious Chinese “take-out” dishes at home is even better. A few simple ingredients with a heavy bottom pot can make this dish a reality. This is my version of Sweet Chili Fire Chicken.

Chives (2)

Chives (2)

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Snow Peas

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Olive Oil

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eggs

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, candy thermometer, spider, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red bell peppers, julienned
2 1/2 cups of canned pineapple chunks, drained
2 bottles of Thai sweet chili sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of snow peas, very thinly sliced on the bias
3 tablespoons of chives, finely minced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

For The Chicken:
2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced into 1 1/2-inch size cubes
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 cups of cornstarch
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:
Prep all the veggies first, having them on stand-by.  Using a meat cutting board, dice up all the chicken, tossing them into a bowl along with the salt and pepper.  Using tongs, make sure the salt and pepper are distributed evenly on the chicken. Grab the largest bowl you have or a large Tupperware container, making it easier to coat the diced chicken pieces. Next, add the flour and toss so that all the pieces are coated.

Preheat Vegetable oil to 360-degrees F.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy bottom pot, like a Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, and using a candy thermometer, have the oil temperature reach 360-degrees F. The oil will take a little while to reach the perfect temperature for frying. Move on to sautéing the vegetables.

Add olive oil to the sauté pan. Over medium-high heat, add the veggies and minced garlic. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, cook until just soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks just to warm through. Turn the heat off.

Transfer the sautéed veggies and pineapple, from the sauté pan, to a large deep-sided skillet. This will be necessary for accommodating all the ingredients. Set the skillet to the back of the stove before starting the frying process.

In one large mixing bowl have the beaten eggs, in another large mixing bowl have the cornstarch. In small batches, dip the diced chicken into the eggs and then into the cornstarch shaking off any excess cornstarch. Place the finished coated chicken pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Check the temperature of the oil. Once the oil is ready, add the battered chicken in small batches, about 5 to 6  at a time, into the pot. Continue dipping the chicken into the egg mixture and then into the cornstarch. Cook around 2 minutes per side or until golden and crispy. Remove from the oil, then transfer them onto a sheet pan lined with a paper towel. Repeat this process until all the chicken pieces are cooked.

Place the skillet over medium heat. Add in all the crispy golden pieces of chicken to the veggie and pineapple mixture. Pour in the bottles of the Thai sweet chili sauce and toss to combine. Simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once everything is hot, turn the heat off. Garnish with minced chives.

Serve immediately.

I like to serve my Sweet Chili Fire Chicken over a bed of Basmati rice.

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