Week 2 – Fresh Herbs (Abby)

I’m a bit behind on this post, since I didn’t make the meal until late last week and then was out of town over the weekend. This spring Scott (the boyfriend) and I bought some basil, chamomile, and mint plants. I have fallen in love with using fresh herbs while I cook, and so I was excited when Kari and I decided to go with them for our second week ingredient. In fact, this almost turned in to a week long “challenge” for me, since almost everything I made last week had fresh herbs.

My cute boxwood basil plant :)

My cute boxwood basil plant 🙂

For the specific challenge meal, I decided to use the huge piece of salmon that Scott had bought. I thought rosemary would be a good pair for the fish, so I picked some up while at the grocery store as well. It was such a simple meal to prepare; I first rubbed it with some olive oil, and then seasoned it with some roughly chopped fresh rosemary, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a little crushed thyme (unfortunately not fresh). I then grilled it on top of some tinfoil, skin side down. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but I served the salmon with some baby red potatoes that I boiled and seasoned with butter, olive oil, fresh basil, chopped rosemary, and salt and pepper. It was a perfect summer meal.

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Week 1 – Rhubarb (Abby)

Abby here. For the first week of our recipe challenge Kari and I chose rhubarb. Rhubarb is such a quintessential spring item that it only made sense we used it as our first ingredient. I absolutely love the tartness of rhubarb, and when paired with the right things it is completely perfect for those warm spring evenings.

I had found a recipe for an Eton Mess with rhubarb quite a while ago (from the crumb.com) that I wanted to try, so when we decided to go with the stalky fruit I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I had never heard of the dessert before, but it sounded delicious. An Eton Mess, for those of you who like me, haven’t heard of the treat, is a traditional English dessert. It is a mixture of fruit (traditionally strawberries), cream, and meringues. The slightly crunchy meringues contrast the light whipped cream perfectly, and the rhubarb is such a nice compliment to the pair. The three components are combined right at the last minute and are barely mixed together, so it results in a swirly, beautifully colorful treat.

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I had never made meringues before so it was a fun challenge for me. Also, Isabelle Boucher (the author of the recipe) added Greek yogurt into the whipped cream to lighten it up some; it was something I had never tried, and to be honest was a bit nervous about (I really love whipped cream). I was pleasantly surprised, and the yogurt ended up being a perfect complement to the cream and to the flavors of the dessert in general. The recipe was deceptively simple and may be one of my new favorites. I have seen other variations of the Eton Mess as well, with various summer fruits, so I plan on trying those out at some point because my boyfriend and I loved this one so much.

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Rhubarb Eton Mess

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Meringues:

  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Rhubarb Compote:

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Yogurt Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Make the Brown Sugar Meringues (up to 2 days ahead)

  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On medium speed with a mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add in both the white and brown sugars, one spoonful at a time. Continue whisking until the sugars have been completely incorporated and the whites have formed stiff peaks. Finally, gently fold in the vinegar, corn starch and vanilla.
  3. Spoon the meringue into twelve large dollops onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the surface of the meringues feels dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in with the door closed to cool for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

Rhubarb Compote (can be made up to 1 week ahead)

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and beginning to fall apart. Set aside to cool off to room temperature.

Make the Yogurt Cream (shortly before assembling)

  1. In a large bowl, whip together the heavy cream, yogurt, sugar and vanilla until it stiffens and soft peaks form.
Assemble the Eton Mess (at the last possible minute)
  1. Crumble the meringues into a large bowl. Spoon the cream and rhubarb compote on top, and fold until just barely combined (the mixture should still look streaky).
  2. Divide evenly between six dessert bowls or martini glasses, and serve immediately, and enjoy!

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