It’s very hot right now and the fruit is abundant.  Time for Pavlova!  Pavlova is my FAVORITE dessert.  I’ll spare you how much I love this food.


I use a recipe from a blogger friend of mine at The Kitchen’s Garden.  She shared with us Mama’s Pavlova.  This is a no fail Pavlova shell.  Though I’ve had variations on the outcome ( all my fault ), I’ve never had a disaster. 

You should read her recipe, but here’s what it looked like when I followed along.

I whipped my egg whites and friends until it could hold a spatula to attention.


Chucked it into a parchment lined round tin.  Smoosh it around with the idea that you will eventually put cream and fruit on it.DSC_0822

Placed in a preheated oven which is then turned down.  It cooks and puffs.DSC_0824

After it cools, I put some whip cream on it and peaches.  Any seasonal fruit will do.  Kiwi fruit, strawberries, nectarines ….


If you have friends in Australia, ask them to bring out some canned passion fruit syrup.  This acts as the area rug and pulls the pav together.  It is impossible to find in France, so I am very careful with each drop we use.  Hopefully you have better sources.DSC_0840

I added some grated milk chocolate.  It’s supposed to be crumbled Cadbury Flake, but we are in the land of Milka.  DSC_0842

I thought grated Flake was the tradition, but apparently after sample size n= 2 Australians, this is some fancy ass addition.

This Pav was a bit sloppy, but I was very pleased.DSC_0846

Mama’s Pavlova has never let me down!  Thanks Celi!

And Whoa, Behold ‘Tis The Time for Fruit Crisp


That’s it. Ease your fruit fresh, frozen or otherwise into a casserole pan. Splash some water and a dash of salt. Do your magic butter- flour crumble move ( cup of flour, cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter ) and ruffle fluff it on top with a dash or two of cinnamon. Stick that baby in the oven ( standard 350F ) for thirty minutes to bake your fruit crisp heaven.


If it comes out a little wet, stick it in a crepe and call it French.

Vanilla Extract


Why pay the man to make substandard vanilla extract when you can make your very own. You can pick your alcohol. You can pick your bean. You can adjust your vanilla bean to alcohol ratio. You can save hundreds. You can make gifts for friends. You can be quiet, listen and slow down.

All you are doing is sticking a bean in a jar with some alcohol. So hard? Can you handle it? Then you wait. You wait two or three months. You may need to not wait months because you’re impatient. And it will still taste great.

Of all the vanilla extract recipes I’ve tried, I chose Chef and Steward. It’s simple. It’s fantastic. Some people talk about heating or adding water and I feel that is wrong. – clean jar – some nice, juicy, wet vanilla beans – some alcohol. Stick them together, shove in a dark cupboard and wait. Get on with your life. Forget the vanilla bean project. Your work is done.

Here are some tips:

1) When the vanilla extract you used to buy before starting your new life as a vanilla extract maker says “Bourbon” … the alcohol used was not Bourbon Whiskey, it is a French island. Oh, do a little Wikipedia number and clear up some things. I’m not going to rewrite that.

2) Bourbon Whiskey might make for interesting vanilla extract. I’ve not tried it. Do tell.

3) White rum is a wonderful vanilla extract alcohol, but think about some alternatives. I used Armagnac (okay, husband’s idea.  there.  i said it). And let me tell you right here, right now, vanilla soaked in Armagnac is crack. “This is the best cookie I ever ate,” they’ll say. “What is this cake made out of, crack?” To which you can explain that the crack you used in the cake is but a dash of salt compared to the amazing vanilla extract you made and used in your confections.

4) Should you not live in the middle of Armagnac-ville, your local alcohol man can easily get you to the good stuff  if there isn’t any on the shelves. You can then flip your hair back and indulge in all your wankery that you know what Armagnac is.

5) Don’t use dry, sad vanilla beans.

5.5) Imitation vanilla is made from wood that was once friends with vanilla.  Don’t try to make that.  That is yucky.

6) After you’ve used your extract a bit, you can add more alcohol to the same beans and restart your date of commencement.

That’s it. Now get out of here. Back to work.

Strawberries and Chocolate, It Don’t Get Much Better

Strawberry 2010

The Strawberries are showing their ripe little faces early around here.  Both France and Spain’s strawberries are available and they are both succulent. … except France’s strawberries are better.  The small, funny looking ones taste the best.  Something that’s nice to do after everyone is leaning back, pants loosened, going on and on about what a great griller you are is to get out the strawberries and chocolate.  I pop about a half a cup or so of heavy cream in a pot and stick in on the grill.  After all the food has been cooked, the charcoal is usually just right for a slow warming of cream.  I then break up a bar of semi-sweet melting chocolate and add it to the cream stirring slowly.  Once it’s all incorporated, stick it in the middle of the table along with the strawberries and dig in.  No double dipping!
Swirling Strawberry
You Need:

  • Strawberries – Local strawberries are best.  The strawberries grown for shipping (like those sold at Costco) Look great, but don’t taste like strawberries.  I’m not sure what they taste like.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate for melting (Ghirardelli is nice if you can’t get Nestle)
  • Heavy cream

Do To It:

  • Warm cream
  • Break up chocolate bar and stick in cream to melty the chocolate


… and nothing goes with strawberries better than a brut Champagne!

Dessert Tamales

dessert tamales with date surprise

Delicate, sweet goodness all snug in its own little wrapper.

You Need:
Masa … the ol’ “golden cornflour”
Azuki Beans (sweetened red beans)
Banana Leaves

masa masa mixture

The masa part:
Quite simple really. Pop some masa in a bowl, like a cup or so. It’s like making pancakes with Bisquick, you add melted butter until the consistency is compactable were you to make a tamale. Add the azuki beans.

sweet beans! long, long leaves

The wrapper part:
The banana leaves are long, long LONG. Carefully tear them into squares, they’re just wrappers so no need to be particular.

banana leaf and emily

The tamale part:
Grab a hand full of masa mix, stick a date surprise in the center. Grab some more masa mix to form a cute, little, rectanglish thingo. Pop that down in the center of the banana leaf square and wrap ‘er up. Usually pull one side over, tuck in the bums and roll to the other side. A tamale is born. So cute and impressive.

middle wrap. huh-huh huh huh it's like a jungle tuck in the bums



Pop that on the grill for a bit and flip once. You want it to be steamy warm. Good job. Grab some champagne, girlfriend.

grillin' uh