A Few Random Things…
At the risk of assuming you’re the teensiest bit interested, I’m going to tell you a few things you may or may not know about me/us, only because some people have asked. Okay, three people to be exact – but I had writer’s block, so since the words for this amazing, fantastic spring dessert that you see here were not flowing in their usual manner from The Muse, I thought in lieu of staring into the abyss of a blank computer screen (and to get you this recipe-pronto!), I’d have a writer’s block party instead. Let’s get it started!
- Sometimes I have to sing the alphabet when I’m looking up the correct spelling of a word. And yes, I said “look up.” I still use the dictionary because I don’t like spellcheck. I don’t trust anything that flags “purée” as being suspect. Hey, I have my standards.
- I can yodel! Just kidding! I tried to once but it just ended up sounding like a series of irritating hiccups. But I’ve always wanted to channel the Swiss Miss and brag that I could.
- If I acquire one more wicker anything, my husband is threatening to put me in therapy, citing that I’m a basket case.
- I wear flip-flops all year long. But just around the house in the really cold months. That is, if I can keep the puppy from chewing through yet another pair. I’ve lost ten eleven so far to those tiny, sharp teeth. You think I’d learn to not leave them on the floor or within biting radius by now. But I can’t stay mad at her. I mean, really? Who could resist that face?
- Adam and I were married in Vegas. It was fabulous. After getting the marriage license, we call The Little Chapel in the West. They said we could get married at 12 p.m. or 4 p.m. “Honey, do you want to get married at 12 or 4? Okay, we’ll take the four o’clock.” “Cousin” Karen was the witness and after the sweet ceremony, they pronounced us husband and wife. The church bells rang, they opened the doors for us then yelled to the couple waiting outside, “Next!”
- While shooting, Adam fell into a canal in Venice and almost couldn’t get out.
- I sleep with a box fan on high, even in the dead of winter. It sounds like a B-52 getting ready to take off, but I can’t sleep without it. I get some pretty strange looks lugging it in to the lobby when I overnight at a nice hotel (usually in a black garbage bag in a pathetic attempt to camouflage my co-dependency, which now that I think about it probably looks even more suspicious.) Don’t know what I’m gonna do when Adam and I book a room at the Waldorf one of these days. Maybe the concierge would happily procure one! Surely, there are dozens of us. Dozens!
- Ice cream is the only food that I eat faster than my husband.
- Someone whom I completely adore (cough! Adam) once threw a big temper tantrum in the pharmacy because, as he was looking at the box of supplements, he could not find the dosing instructions for hisOne-A-Day vitamins. Take a minute and talk amongst yourselves.
- I’m psychic. Well, kinda sorta. I do “know” things from time to time about people and have predicted certain outcomes but, it does have its parameters. Like you’ll never see the headline “Psychic Girl Wins Biggest Lottery Ever!” Darn it.
- I have a seriously O.C.D. spice rack. Not only are jars and tins grouped according to size and manufacturer…but they’re alphabetized, too. Guess it’s a Virgo thing.
- And, finally, the burning question on everyone’s mind: Is “Beverage” my real maiden name? A food stylist and chef with a name like that? Seriously? Yes, it’s true. Beverage is my given name. And, with a name like Beverage, I’d better be good! You can bet I got a lot of flack for that growing up. “Is that really your name?” people would perpetually ask incredulously. “How do you spell it?” they would continue and I’d answer, “Beverage – just like a drink.” You know, it’s hard being a kid when your last name is a category on a menu. Perhaps surnames control one’s professional destiny – because I did recently see an advertisement for Payne’s Glass Repair.
Hailing from Australia, this stunningly famous dessert is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (the meringue kind of resembles a tutu). Although I love, love, love key lime pie, my version is a curd with no condensed milk in sight. It’s sweet and a little tart with a velvety smooth texture, which pairs so brilliantly with the crisp and chewy meringues.
Key Lime Pie Pavlovas
- For the meringues:
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the key lime curd:
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup key lime juice
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the meringues: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar; beat until mixture is thick and glossy and resembles marshmallow cream, about 5 minutes. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla. Drop six even dollops of meringue on the prepared baking sheet, spacing an inch or so apart. Using a spoon, make an indention in the center of each to create a “nest.” Place the pan in the oven; immediately reduce the oven temperature to 225 degrees. Bake until the meringues are dry on the outside but centers are still soft, about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan set on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
- Make the lime curd: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and the zest. Add in the butter and mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add the lime juice and salt and mix well. Pour the mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has reached a bare simmer, has thickened and has reached a temperature of 170-175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. (Do not boil.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow the curd to cool to room temperature with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface before refrigerating.
- Spoon some curd in the wells of the meringue nests and serve.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: Eggs are easiest to separate cold, but beat up much better at room temperature. Make sure there isn’t a speck of yolk in your egg whites or they’ll never whip up well. Room temperature limes are much easier to juice, too. Zest them first, then juice.
Product Purity: Always use the real deal when it comes to extracts. You’d think Nielsen-Massey pays me to endorse their brand, but alas, no. Their flavor is superior. Key limes, from Florida, are smaller, rounder and have more of a yellowish color than the supermarket staples. But if you can’t find them, feel free to substitute Persian limes readily available year-round.
Presentation: The beauty of meringue is that it can take just about any shape. You can get super fancy and pipe it with a star tip or into boxes with lids. But I prefer the free-form, rustic look. Garnish with a few pieces of kiwi and a slice of lime. A dollop of sweet cream doesn’t hurt, either.