Usually at this time of year, I’m baking and decorating eggs and organizing a big family dinner. Usually I’m up early making sure every nook and cranny is clean. Usually I’m hosting a big family gathering and if not, our immediate family. But not this year. This year we’ve decided that we need an extended weekend to get some major gardening projects underway. We’ll be building a raised vegetable garden and hopefully getting some lettuce and peas in the ground for early harvesting. By the end of the weekend, we should have something similar to this but only one big bed:
Last year we had a huge family gathering and my decorating theme was to bring the outdoors in with burlap table runners, natural flowers and onion-skinned dyed eggs
. Here’s (a very poor) picture of my centerpiece from last year. Ranunculas, pansies, eggs and pussy willows in a basket helped tie in my rustic theme.
But just because I’m not entertaining, doesn’t mean that there won’t be a special dinner for Alan and myself. On the menu for Sunday will be:
Rack of Lamb with an herb crust
Mini roasted potatoes
Grilled asparagus with Parmesan shavings
Pavlova with Strawberries
The pavlova is something that I try to make every Easter. After the heaviness of the lamb or ham usually served at this time of year, I like to counter it with a lighter desert. Here’s my beautiful daughter cutting into last year’s creation:
Pavlova is basically a large meringue covered in whipped cream and berries. An Australian creation honouring the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who is credited with introducing the world to modern ballet as we know it today. Like a ballerina, the pavlova floats with an airy grace. But don’t let all this history and drama sway you from making this delicious and simple dessert:
Pavlova with Berries
6 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. I’m lucky enough to have a Kitchenaid, but a hand mixer will work too, just takes longer. Add the sugar 1 TBS at a time, mixing between additions. Beat until glossy peaks form. Add cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla. Beat until mixed in. Mound meringue on a foil lined cookie sheet to form a circle about 10″ in diameter. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue in oven to cool. Remove from cookie sheet and transfer to serving plate. This can be done a day ahead.
Just before serving, whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 3 TBS sugar till stiff. Mound on top of meringue. Top with strawberries, kiwis or any fresh fruit. Serve additional fruit on the side.