Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I was so jazzed when one of my favorite bloggers, Yossy Arefi of Apt 2B Baking Co. published a cookbook this past spring, and yeah I totally went to a signing at Union Square Farmer’s Market just to have my copy autographed. Her inventive flavor combinations, unfussy baking style, and gorgeous photography never fail to inspire me in the kitchen. I’ve been slowly working my way through Sweeter Off the Vine, a book that focuses on seasonal fruit-focused recipes, and couldn’t wait to make the Pavlova with Rhubarb.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I’m a bit late to the party since rhubarb season is coming to an end, but if you have a few stalks left that need a great opportunity to shine or a have been stockpiling it like I have then this is for you. A showstopper that does take a few steps, but is so worth it when the sweet crisp meringue, cool smooth whipped cream, and tart rhubarb hit your palate. I liked the twist of making them individual portions a little crunch from toasted pistachios – and who can resist that pale green color against the fuchsia pink.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Rhubarb and Pistachios (yield 12 servings)

Meringue Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
kosher salt

Topping Ingredients:
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped

Meringue Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of sugar with the cornstarch. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment or (large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed until firm, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar mixture a little at a time.

The mixture will start off looking foamy and frothy, then turn white and look closer to soft whipped cream, eventually resembling melted marshmallow fluff. Continue to beat on high until the meringue is solid white and forms shiny, firm peaks, about 12-15 minutes. The true test? Turn off the mixer and once the whisk has stopped spinning, remove the whisk from the meringue – both the meringue in the bowl and the meringue on the should form matching points like snowy mountain tops.

Once the meringue is ready sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and the vinegar on top and fold in gently with a rubber spatula to combine.

With a pencil, draw 6 circles approximately 4 inches in diameter (think the size of a water glass) on each of the parchment-lined sheets and turn over. You’ll still be able to see the guides, but you won’t get pencil markings on your meringue!

Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment into the delineated circles, and spread and smooth to fill. Use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the center and form a shallow bowl – that’s where the whipped cream and fruit will go later.

Put the sheet pans into the oven, immediately turn it down to 300 degrees F, and bake for 30 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another 30 minutes with the oven door closed. The remove the sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper and meringues over to wire racks to cool. Once fully cooled, meringues can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Topping Instructions:
For the rhubarb topping, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, spooning juices over halfway through.

Carefully transfer rhubarb pieces (they will be quite soft) to a bowl and reserve juices. Let cool completely.

Just before serving, beat together heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Place meringues on a plated and fill each one with whipped cream. Top the whipped cream with the poached rhubarb, and garnish with pistachios. Spoon rhubarb juices over the pavlova, and serve immediately.

Inspired by and written with reference to Yossy Arefi’s Rhubarb Pavlovas in Sweeter Off the Vine (pg. 27), pistachio component from Martha Stewart’s Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios, and assistance with miniaturization from Nigella Lawson’s Mini Pavlovas with Berries. Thank you, Ladies.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a stand mixer (but a handheld would work just as well), medium mixing bowl, spatula, two rimmed baking sheets, chef’s knife, a medium cutting board, glass baking dish, tongs, measuring cups and spoons.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

It should come as no surprise that I’m pretty obsessed with pie – both the making of pie (and all the adventures that ensue) and of course the eating of pie (the best part.) As peak summer produce season draws closer and closer I’ve been dog-earring my copy of Four and Twenty Blackbird’s and plotting my next pie adventure like a cartoon villain. Not a terribly villainous villain, unless bringing dessert wherever I go in the name of “sharing” is considered wicked. I tried the sisters Elsen’s pie crust recipe this time around – the use of cider vinegar was intriguing – and since I’ve always been a fan of all-butter pie crusts this one is my new go-to.

The filling recipe by Chef Hugh Acheson, my favorite Top Chef guest judge, combines strawberry and rhubarb with just a hint of spice from the black pepper. Strawberry and rhubarb come into season around the same time and are a classic example of “what grows together goes together.” A perfect blend of sweet and tangy all in a portable, buttery package. These hand pies are made to be shared; preferably while picnicking on a sunny day in the park.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies (yield 16 pies)

All-Butter Crust Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice cubes

Crust Instructions:
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the diced butter pieces and toss lightly to coat with the flour mixture. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain. Take care not to over blend.

In a large measuring cup, combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the butter and flour, and blend with a rubber spatula until it is fully incorporated.

Continue adding more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the spatula or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough just comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.

Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Discard any remaining ice water mixture.

Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the flour time to absorb the moisture and relax. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Filling Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 ounces strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
5 ounces rhubarb, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch kosher salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Filling Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the strawberries and rhubarb and cook until soft and jam-like, 6–8 minutes. Stir in sugar, vinegar, pepper, lemon juice, and salt; cook 3 minutes more until the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill at least 30 minutes before using.

Assemble and bake the pies: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1⁄4 inch thick and use a large, round biscuit cutter to cut out 14 rounds. Gather the scraps and re-roll to create the final 2 rounds.

Lay the disks of dough out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Place 2 tablespoons filling in center of each disk of dough. Whisk the egg in a bowl, brush edges of the dough with the egg wash and fold in half over the filling. Press the edges together and crimp with a fork to seal. Chill 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a fork, prick tops of pies; brush tops with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake pies until golden, about 20 minutes; let cool slightly before serving.

Re-written and very lightly adapted from All Butter Pie Crust by Four and Twenty Blackbirds (pg. 207) and Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies by Chef Hugh Acheson via Saveur.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Surprisingly, yes! I used a large mixing bowl, 2 quart sauce pan, 2 rimmed baking sheets, pastry cutter, rubber spatula, rolling pin, 4 inch fluted biscuit cutter, 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, pastry brush, dry and liquid measuring cups and spoons, and parchment paper.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter | Image: Laura Messersmith

While it’s mid-July and everyone has moved on to the stone fruits – wouldn’t that be a fun name for a band? – I’m still clinging to rhubarb season. What can I say? I’m not tired of it and since I can still find a stalk or two in my grocery store I’ve decided not to let go quite yet. At least not until I had a chance to make this Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus from the May issue of Bon Appétit.

Roast chicken in high summer probably sounds insane – turn on the oven? To 400 degrees?!? Hear me out though and it will start to seem a little more reasonable.

Point 1: Here’s your chance to practice some really easy chef-y things like making compound butter and poaching. Essentially you’re just cooking the rhubarb pieces until they soften enough to mix into softened butter. The end. See? But doing them makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something super fancy.

Point 2: You can make extras and how could having deliciously summery roast chicken for salads or in a sandwich ever turn out badly? Getting some of the heavy lifting done all at once means you can put your feet up knowing that dinner tomorrow is already done!

Point 3: The most important point of all - this roast chicken is wonderful. The compound butter has fresh ginger and rhubarb that’s been lightly poached in orange juice lends a bright, slightly spicy, citrus sweetness to the meat. Frankly, I’d love to do a marinade version of these flavors as a start and then go double or nothing with the compound butter. A plan for next summer, perhaps?

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter | Image: Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter (serves: 4)

Ingredients:
1 cup (1 large stalk) rhubarb, large diced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3½–4 pound whole chicken, or 4-6 bone-in pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Instructions:
Dice rhubarb stalk into 1/2 inch pieces, peel the ginger and finely grate. Bring the diced rhubarb, orange juice, honey, and grated ginger to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb softens and is easily pieced with a fork, about 5 minutes.

Drain the rhubarb through a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid and rhubarb separately; let cool.

Add the room temperature butter to the rhubarb and mix until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Dry the chicken with paper towels and place skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently slide your fingers underneath skin to loosen and spread the rhubarb butter underneath taking care not to tear the skin. Drizzle the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some of the reserved rhubarb cooking liquid, scatter thyme over, and season with salt and pepper.

Roast chicken until skin is browned and crisp and meat is cooked through, about 40-50 minutes. The juices will run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh should register 165 degrees F. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Rewritten and slightly adapted from Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus from the May 2015 issue of Bon Appétit.

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Surprisingly, yes. I used a small sauce pan, medium mesh sieve, liquid measuring cup, chef’s knife, small cutting board, and microplane grater. I also needed a small bowl, rubber spatula, baking pan, tongs, measuring spoons, instant read thermometer, and paper towels.

The Verdict:
Roast chicken is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. It’s so simple that the seasoning really has to be spot-on or sadly it can be flavorless and disappointing. No need to worry on that account with this recipe. The chicken is beautifully juicy and tender – a close your eyes it’s so good first bite – the rhubarb is light, a little acidic, and perfectly balanced by the just slightly sticky spice of the orange juice and ginger. 

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

It’s suuuummmeeeeerrrr! (Did you hear that in an Oprah voice? Yeah, that’s how it sounded in my head too.) I know it's definitely summer - no backsliding into chilly spring this time - because the berries are out of hand ripe, we hit 90 degrees in New York last week, and my neighborhood ice cream shops are jumping with families out for a post-dinner treat. All the more reason to turn on the oven right? Umm, no. Unless you’re making something with all those delicious berries, like these crisps. Then definitely proceed!

I know I’ve been focusing on pie this year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve changed my tune on crisps and crumbles. All the delicious summer fruit and a la mode possibilities with 85% less effort, and as I discovered when I made blueberry pie the other week things come together a whole heck of a lot faster when there’s no peeling (still love you apples & pears!) and minimal chopping. Meaning: these crisps from Fine Cooking Magazine featuring the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination can be in the oven with only about 25-30 minutes of effort. Meaning: a homemade dessert can be yours tonight! Are you sold yet?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps (yield: 6 crisps)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the oats, chopped pecans, and salt. Add the diced butter and rub into the dry ingredients between your fingers until the mixture has mostly pea-size pieces (don’t worry if it’s not uniform). Set aside, in the refrigerator if it’s a warm day.

In a large bowl, toss the sliced strawberries, diced rhubarb, cornstarch, and the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Divide the mixture among six 6-oz. ramekins and top with the oat mixture. It’s easiest to hold the ramekins over the bowl as you spoon in the fruit and topping. The ramekins will be very full but the filling will cook down.

Transfer the ramekins to a large foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream or a bit of whipped cream.

Slightly re-written from Fine Cooking magazine’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a small bowl, large mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, and large spoon. I also needed measuring cups and spoons, 6 ramekins (if yours are 7 ounces like mine, then add a little more fruit to the mix), a baking sheet, and aluminum foil. Resist the urge to skip the baking sheet & foil – they will save you a ton of clean up time since these crisps are 99% guaranteed to bubble over.

The Verdict:
Rhubarb captured my attention about a year ago and now if I see it on a menu I have to order it. I’ve been waiting semi-patiently for it to arrive in the produce section since about March so that I could cook with it myself. These crisps made the wait well worth it – sweet, tart, just a hint of nutty crunch – delectable with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Please make them before rhubarb disappears for the season!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith