Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Sweet Ending

So, it has been a while between posts, I am still doing the Lighter Life diet, or I should say I am again doing it. More sensibly this time, giving myself a night off once a week to eat and drink sensibly with loved ones.

Last night was one of those nights, with friends from Oz coming for a much planned dinner. Brian and Tony have been living in London for a little over a year, and Tony works way too much, so getting into his diary takes a bit of planning to say the least!

Sticking to the plan of healthy eating, we dined on a small Mexican feast of tequila and lime marinated chicken thighs, and a 2 inch thick slab of rump marinated in Rescado de Bistec paste mixed with lime juice from the Cool Chile Company, bowls of salsa and home made guacamole. All washed down with margaritas and red wine.

To wash down such a lush dinner we needed something special. Many moons ago in a country far far away I had the pleasure of dining on a brown sugar pavlova at a restaurant in Crows Nest named MuMu Grill. I had replicated it a few times back in Oz, but not made it since moving to London. Now was the time.

Brown Sugar Pavlova
230g raw caster sugar
110g soft, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
4 large eggs, whites only
1 teaspoon cornflour
Fruit and whipped cream to decorate

Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Spray with vegetable oil and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on the paper.

Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
Serves 6

One of the mags I miss from back home is Australian Gourmet Traveller, it is too expensive to import here, but thanks to the joy of Ipad, I now subscribe to the electronic edition. This months cover reminded me of my MuMu fun so I decided to use the syrup recipe to build in a bit of the joy we had over Christmas in Cuba (oh yeah - we went to Cuba for Christmas, ate too much pork, drank too much rum and I even got a suntan!)

Rum and Lime Caramel
330 gm (1½ cups) raw caster sugar
70 ml golden rum
60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice
½ cup firmly packed mint

Stir sugar and 180ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, cook until dark caramel (5-6 minutes), then remove from heat and carefully add 100ml water (be careful as hot caramel will spit). Add rum, lime juice and mint and cool to room temperature. Strain (discard mint) and refrigerate until required. Rum and lime caramel will keep refrigerated for a week.

To serve this I piled the pav with freshly whipped cream, fresh pineapple, passionfruit pulp (fresh is best, buts lets face it, this is London, in winter, I have no chance! I used a can of John West Passionfruit Pulp bought at a ridiculously marked up price from the Oz Shop.) I finally drizzled the whole lot with the rum and lime caramel and stood back so as not to be speared by the fast moving spoons!

With such sweet friends, this was a sweet ending to a great night. Now I just have to go and face the piled of washing up.....*sigh*.