Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Weekend - Friends and Food

Last night was a wonderful dinner party in celebration of many things this Father's day weekend.  There were a dozen guests and two grills.  The meal started with stuffed mushrooms and marinated shrimp as well as dates and water chestnuts, individually wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and baked.  This was followed by a main course of grilled steak, pork medallions, scalloped potatoes, corn relish, corn casserole drizzled with molasses (EJ's always requested recipe), cucumbers in sour cream and herb sauce and lots of green salad with homemade dressing.

It was a Midwest backyard barbecue at it's best, with paper plates and brandy slush, mineral water with fresh lime, lots of laughter the shade of some beautiful trees and the wave of more than one American flag.  As the afternoon light shone down, there were brightly colored bags flying through the air with a Cornhole tourny in the back yard (complete with blockers, hookers, police and maybe a leprechaun, though there was no cornfusion).

The group was not composed of bloggers but folks whose lives entwine with ours, engineers, scientists, educators, the camera staying quiet for the festivities.  Not every event in my life is posted for the world, parts of me always remaining intensely guarded and I cherish the lives of good friends and colleages who wish to enjoy these gatherings in the most private of settings.

But I have to share the dessert for this Father's Day in case any of you are thinking "what to make today that's special and unique, just like my Dad". With it was a delicious blueberry tart  that one of the guests brought and the always popular Creme Brule baked in a casserole pan  instead of small ramekins (yes, you may use the large spoon).  But this dessert was truly the star of the show.

Pavlova - A Perfect Summer Dessert .  It's named after the famed Russian ballerina, allegedly created in New Zealand for the young woman by a local chef, though versions of it are also popular in Australia, England and Austria. It's an extraordinary dessert consisting of a light meringue shell that has a crisp exterior and tender interior that literally melts in your mouth.  The interior is filled with  mounds of vanilla bean infused soft whipped cream, and topped with soft fruit from a local farmer's market.

The major difference between the Pavlova and a large meringue is the addition of corn starch  which results in the Pavlova having a crisp and crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist marshmallow-like center, unlike meringue which is light but solid throughout.

Pavlovas are quite fragile and have a habit of deflating and forming cracks when you open the oven to a colder temperature.  Simply have some extra whipped cream to cover any crevasses.  It will be a spectacular dessert either way.

May all of you that are Father's, mentors and friends, enjoy this day.  Know also, that as good men, you make a difference in someones life each and every day, even if you don't think it's noticed.