I was recently invited to a family get-together, the first barbecue of the summer for me. I had to take a dessert, but was running short of time, since I only found out the day before and was out that evening and then working the next day.
I really love dessert. I’m such a sweet tooth, and while I admit that I don’t often make a huge amount of effort with my savoury cooking, I do love to try different desserts and spend a lot of time and effort on them.
Probably my all-time favourite desserts are tiramisu and baked cheesecake, but they are also the ones I tend to find most disappointing, as I have such high expectations when I have them when I go out for dinner. When travelling through Italy with a friend for a week, I constantly ordered tiramisu for dessert, but I would always end up dissatisfied. Maybe it was that I was going to the wrong places, but they all just lacked something for me.
Anyway, for this barbecue I knew I wouldn’t have the time to whip up something that was in any way time consuming, so after some wonderful suggestions on the Vogue forum, I decided to just do a Kiwi classic, pavlova.
I found a fabulous recipe from Gourmet magazine. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to make the pav from scratch, so I had to settle for a bought one. But I think it was the best pavlova I’ve ever had! Although maybe it’s just because I haven’t had one since last Christmas.
It felt fitting to use a recipe from Gourmet, after just listening to an interview with the editor, Ruth Reichl, former food critic for The New York Times, discussing what she planned to do with her life after she had received the news Gourmet was to stop publication in November.
It’s not a magazine that I ever bought, but I still feel a sadness at its passing, not just because it’s a magazine of great history, but also because its closing is a sign of the times for magazine publishing. Incredibly, the circulation for Gourmet was actually at its highest levels when it was shut down, but it was the lack of advertising that killed it. It’s a luxury magazine, and the luxury advertisers like Porsche and Rolex have pulled back their advertising considerably since the recession.
Reichl lamented the fact that American food writing is now being dominated by the likes of Rachel Ray – what Reichl calls ‘stupid food’. While this is no doubt an elitist view, it does point to a wider problem, I think, of how we’re constantly being told we don’t have time to cook. We’re saturated with quick and easy options, but yet there seems to be more cooking on television than ever before. It appears that we’re spending our time watching cooking on television rather than spending time actually cooking.
Obviously there is a need for quick options – I wanted one myself for the barbecue. I may not have the abundance of time or the money needed to completely live the Gourmet lifestyle, but like with the pavlova, I can take some inspiration from it and focus on the joy that creating something delicious, decadent and beautiful for yourself and others can bring.
My Gourmet-inspired pavlova:
pavlova (either made from scratch or bought)
pouring cream, whipped with a little icing sugar added
Wild Appetite Tipsy Lemon Curd (this is lemon curd with the dutch liquor advocaat added to it)
macerated berries (I used strawberries) – cut hulled strawberries in half and soak in the juice of one or two lemons or limes and 2 tbsps of caster sugar. You can also add a liquor such as limoncello if desired.
Combine the whipped cream and lemon curd, arrange strawberries on top and serve pavlova with extra strawberries. Yum!