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

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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)

Rhubarb Profiteroles

Recipe and Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Assisted by Candace Brower

Once you master the art of making a pâte a choux (an airy cream puff dough) the possibilities of its use are endless. You can fill the baked dough with a savory or sweet mixtures. In honor of our rhubarb week, we chose sweet.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Profiteroles, Recipes

Rhubarb Profiteroles
makes approximately 15

Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, and 2 egg whites
Pastry Cream (recipe to follow)
Rhubarb Puree (recipe HERE)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan add the milk, brown sugar, butter and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Using a wooden spoon, stir crazy fast until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tight dough forms, about 2-5 minutes.

Transfer the dough into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low allowing the dough to cool for about 4 minutes. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, making sure the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Once all the eggs are added continue mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe golf ball-sized mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them. Cook for ten minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

To assemble: Cut the profiteroles in half. Swirl some or all of the Rhubarb Puree into the chilled Pastry Cream before filling a piping bag with it. Pipe a generous amount of the filling onto the bottoms of each profiterole. Replace the top and serve.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Profiteroles, Recipes

Pastry Cream
makes about 3 ½ cups

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups milk
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons butter

Directions
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan heat the milk on medium high heat until it starts to simmer. While the milk is heating whisk the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla paste and cornstarch together in a separate bowl. Temper the milk into the egg yolk mixture by slowly ladling a cup of the hot milk into the bowl and whisking constantly. When the egg yolks are tempered add to the pot. Whisk constantly until the pastry cream starts to thicken making sure it bubbles. Add in the butter. Strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove any lumps and allow to cool.

NOTE: Make sure to put plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream when storing to prevent it from developing a skin.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Profiteroles, Recipes

Ginger Rhubarb Pie

Recipe and Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Assisted by Candace Brower 

Rhubarb pie…yes! Ginger Rhubarb Pie…you bet!!

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Pie, Recipe, Salted and Styled

Ginger Rhubarb Pie
serves 8

Ingredients:
1 prepared pie dough for a double crust pie (get our recipe HERE)
1⁄2 cup candied ginger
6 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced 1⁄4-inch thick on the diagonal (about 6 stalks)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough and drape over a 9-inch pie plate being careful not to stretch the dough. Allow the dough to loosely drape over the sides. Refrigerate while making filling.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add the candied ginger and pulse until nearly pulverized (you can also chop finely with a knife).  Add the pulverized ginger, rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon to a large mixing bowl and toss to coat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place rhubarb filling in chilled pie shell and top with a lattice top pie crust (Learn how to do a lattice top pie crust HERE). Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar if desired. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a rich golden brown (about 1 hour and 15 minutes). Let pie cool completely before slicing and serving.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Pie, Recipe, Salted and Styled

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Pie, Recipe, Salted and Styled

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Rhubarb, Pie, Recipe, Salted and Styled

Good and Evil Chocolate Layer Cake

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Careful, if you start baking this cake right now, it may not last until Friday.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Chocolate Cake, St. Patrick's Day, Savannah, Irish

Good and Evil Chocolate Layer Cake
(Irish Cream Frosting, Southern Praline Topping)
Serves 12-16

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers Original Irish Cream flavor
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste, can substitute 2 teaspoons extract
1 cup boiling water
Irish Cream Frosting (recipe to follow)
Southern Pralines, chopped (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare five 9-inch cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper and spraying with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the coffee creamer, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla paste and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Reduce speed and add the boiling water. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.

Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake until the centers just bounce back (about 16-20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and frosting with the Irish Cream Frosting. Garnish with chopped pralines if desired.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Chocolate Cake, St. Patrick's Day, Savannah, Irish

Irish Cream Frosting
(yields about 5 cups, you won’t need all of it if you don’t frost the sides)

Ingredients:
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
2/3 cup BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers Original Irish Cream flavor

Directions:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 6 cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to medium and add the salt, vanilla paste, and the coffee creamer. Beat for 2 minutes. If the frosting is too thin at this point, add more of the confectioners’ sugar, 1⁄2 cup at a time, and beat for 1 minute, until fully incorporated. If the frosting is too thick, add more of the coffee creamer, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat for 30 seconds or until just combined. Refrigerate the frosting for 20 minutes before using. Frosting can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Chia Chong, Chocolate Cake, St. Patrick's Day, Savannah, Irish

 

 

Pink Preggers Pickle Pie

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

I live in what must be the most fertile neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia. In the past five years, since my husband and I moved in, I know, by name, ten babies that have been born on our block. There is an eleventh and twelfth, but for the life of me I can’t remember their names. If I squint my eyes and concentrate hard enough I’m pretty sure they both start with a hard C, but I wouldn’t bet my dog on it. I’ll wait to ask when they’re old enough to spell it.

On this street (which has been compared to the set of The Truman Show), I’ve become a keen observer of the pregnant women in my midst. I pretend to listen as they talk their foreign language of “what to expect when they least expect it,” or something along those lines. And I actually listen when they talk about the crazy things they put in their mouths for fetal sustenance—a subject that never fails to fascinate me.

My favorite preggers neighbor, Margaret, once frightened the other gorilla mothers by telling them her lunch consisted of a fat dill pickle and a slice of pie, washed down with a tumbler of cherry Kool-Aid. This didn’t disturb me at all. The sweet-and-sour flavor combination reminded me of cherry Kool-Aid pickles sold at roadside markets in the Deep South, and got me thinking about how good a pickle pie could be.

I dedicate this recipe to all the mothers out there. If the math continues the way it has, there will be another couple neighborhood babies born by the time this book is published. Don’t count on me to remember their names.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Pickles, Pie Recipe

Preggers Pink Pickle Pie
(a sweet + sour craving pie)
serves 8

What You Need
1⁄2 recipe The Cold Truth Pie Dough
3 large eggs
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon lemon extract
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup drained and finely ground Red Kool-Aid Pickles (recipe on my site; use a food processor or box grater to grind them)
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger disc of dough to a 12-inch round, about 1⁄8 inch thick. Gently drape the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. (Draping is the key: You don’t want to push the pie dough into the pan; just let it fall naturally). Trim the dough to create a 1-inch overhang from the edge of the pie pan. (Kitchen shears are the best tool for this.) Turn the overhang under and decoratively crimp the edges (see “Guerilla Pie Decorating,” page 140 for a bunch of fun crimping ideas). Refrigerate until ready to use.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until thick and light yellow in color. Reduce
the speed to low and add the lemon extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, heavy cream, and butter. Beat until well combined. Fold in the pickles. Pour the mixture into the chilled pie
shell and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until set (the filling will be jiggly in the center but firm around the edges). Let cool on a wire rack before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, if you like. I like.