DIY: A Parade Ready Bicycle! (VIDEO)

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Did someone say parade?

Raspberry Pavlova

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith for Thom Magazine
Shot on location at Alex Raskin Antiques in Savannah, GA

I was 26 when I served my first pavlova to a bunch of Ski Patrol hooligans in Vail, Colorado. It was a ballsy move to serve as the last course of a wild-game heavy dinner to a group of men of whom most would rather wrestle a bear than use a cloth napkin.

Appetizer course pheasant. Main course elk. Dessert course baked meringue?

I’d seen the recipe in a cookbook by Lee Bailey and thought it was the most beautiful dessert ever created. At the time, I didn’t know that the lack of humidity in Colorado would make it a slam dunk dessert for me, I just wanted to be as cool as that guy, Mr. Bailey, who’s slight body and inviting smile graced the cover of the book. So, macho guests be damned, I made pavlova.

I don’t remember everything about that night –just a few life changing points. I remember a few guests were left on my sofa and elk scraps were left for the dog, but not a crumb of pavlova was left on the dessert platter. I remember I went to bed that night with the cutest and smartest guy at the table –the same guy I make pavlova for today. 
Raspberry Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova from Libbie Summers
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack
serves 8

8 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar (pulse sugar in a food processor for superfine)
½ teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup heavy cream whipped with 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form
1 cup raspberry puree (from fresh berries)
1 cup fresh raspberries
¼ cup chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)
mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 250º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until they hold soft peaks. With the mixer running, begin adding the sugar a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat until the meringue is very shiny and holds a stiff peak. Beat in the extracts. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch with a spatula. Divide the meringue evenly between the the two baking sheets with the meringue in the middle of each sheet. Using a spatula, spread the meringue out to an 8-inch circle.

Bake until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color (about 65-75 minutes). Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (I let mine cool overnight). The outside will have cracks, but the inside will have a marshmallow consistency.

To Assemble: Place one meringue round on your cake stand. Top with half of the whipped cream and swirl in half of the raspberry puree. Top with the second meringue and repeat. Finish with fresh raspberries, chopped pistachios and a few fly away mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers (Photography by Cedric Smith)
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers (Photography by Cedric Smith)

Heart Leaf Garland

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Assisted by David Dempsey

I love this idea for marking a path to a wedding reception, a lunch date in the woods or basically for any old party where the guests need to find their way. 

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Valentines Day
Heart Leaf Garland

What you need: 
Length of ribbon (I used 9 feet of a 1-inch pink grosgrain)
Green leaves
Sewing machine and thread

What to do: 
Cut the leaves into heart shapes (don’t try to be perfect). Sew, using a decorative finishing stitch onto the ribbon

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Valentines Day

Iced Malted Cherry Coffee

Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

When you didn’t get quite enough sugar on Valentine’s Day, this deliciousness will do the trick! A little jolt of espresso, a lot of malted milk, the slightest cherry and a whole lot of goodness! 

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Iced Coffe, Desert Drink, Cherry Coffee

Iced Malted Cherry Coffee
(a dessert coffee drink)

What you need:
1 cup brewed espresso
1/2 cup malted milk powder
2 teaspoons cherry syrup (yes, that “cherry syrup”)
Whipped cream (I colored mine pink)

What to do:
In a large Mason jar, add hot coffee and malted milk powder. Place the lid on the jar and gently shake the contents until the malted milk powder is dissolved. Place jar in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and add cherry juice. Shake again. Pack two glasses with ice and pour coffee mixture over. Garnish with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a dusting of malted milk powder. Serve immediately.

Libbie’s Food Styling Props: Burlap Coffee Bag I poached from Perc coffee while we were there doing a podcast, Vintage Mason Jar with Zinc lid purchased from Habersham Antiques Market, Hermes Ribbon from where else, Vintage silver iced tea spoon purchased from an Antique shop in Annapolis, MD that I can’t remember the name of (it’s on Maryland Avenue and the owner is British), black straw liberated from a coffee shop in North Carolina that I would rather not mention since their significant straw loss could be traced back to me.

Never Fail Chocolate Soufflé

By Libbie Summers

Dear Scared of Soufflés,
I’d like to introduce you to Never Fail Chocolate Soufflé. I think you guys will really hit it off.

Chia Chong
Never Fail Chocolate Soufflé
makes 6


What you need:
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
5 ounces BEST quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon cocoa powder


What to do: 
Preheat oven to 375°. Liberally butter 6 individual soufflé ramekins and use the 3 tablespoons sugar to sprinkle the insides; set aside.

In a metal bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate (stirring often). Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the egg yolks one at a time.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat egg whites with salt on medium high speed until they hold soft glossy peaks. Continue beating egg whites on high speed, gradually adding the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, until the egg whites hold stiff glossy peaks.

Gently stir 1/3 of the eggs whites into the chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. The chocolate mixture should be full of bubbles, even colored and without egg white streaks.

Spoon your soufflé mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12-15 minutes until risen with a crusty exterior.

Dust with cocoa powder and serve right away.