Sunday, October 04, 2015

Summer Berries Pavlova Recipe

The finished summer berry pavlova

It's been a wonderful sunny weekend here in the West Midlands and on Saturday I went to Bridgnorth in Shropshire to buy what will possibly be the last of the late summer berries. We had a barbecue today and pavlova makes the perfect end to any meal.

There are quite a few meringue recipes on Kitchen Delights blog which is mainly because I use up any egg whites that I've frozen for a rainy day and more importantly meringue is one of our favourite desserts.

Summer Berries Pavlova

My favourite recipe for pavlova is by the super talented Alastair Hendy. His isn't a conventional method but gives a no fail meringue, on cooling the case cracks beautifully to give loads of character to the meringue. You will also be rewarded with a wonderful deep soft marshmallow layer within, the outer is delicately crisp. Should none of this appeal and if you must have the perfect meringue just leave in the oven overnight to cool but it won't have the soft marshmallow centre....

You will need:  either a hand whisk or a stand mixer and a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Draw a 20cm circle on one side of the baking paper then turn the paper over.

4 large egg whites
120g caster sugar
110g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar

To decorate:
150ml whipping cream
4 tbsp natural yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
selection of berries

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C or 130°C Fan.
2. Add the egg whites and caster sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk until thickened and firm this can take some time but keep on going. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thick and shiny, about 4 minutes.

Whisking egg whites and caster sugar

3. Blob the mixture inside the circle on the baking tray.  Shape making a dip in the centre for the filling.

Shaped pavlova ready for the oven

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C or Fan 120°C. Bake for 70 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the pavlova to cool on the baking paper.

The finished pavlova case

5. Whip the cream until soft peaks, add the yogurt and whisk again.
6. Remove the cooled meringue carefully to a large serving plate. Decorate with fresh and frozen berries.

A snapshot of a decorated pavlova

More meringue ideas:
Strawberry and Redcurrant Pavlova
Chocolate and Vanilla Berry Pavlova
Traybake  Meringue with Pears, Chocolate and Cream
Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Exhibit, Balham, London - Reviewed

Entrance to The Exhibit, Balham
Entrance to the bar and restaurant
The London reporter skips the rugby and tackles tapas style dishes instead at The Exhibit in Balham, SW London. Has anyone else noticed that rugby fever is in the air? It’s a brilliant excuse to meet friends for beer if you ever needed one, but if it all gets too much, just put your head down in the sand like an ostrich until it’s all over.

Exterior View The Exhibit, Balham

So on Thursday night, myself a dining companion headed to the Exhibit a well known restaurant and bar complex in Balham. You can’t miss it when you pull up at the train platform - it’s like a big black box with sporadic white dot matrix style writing spelling out the bar name.

We had a really warm welcome and headed to the restaurant upstairs above the main bar. It’s fairly light and airy with modern art on the walls by various artists.

Artwork in the downstairs of The Exhibit, Balham
Inside the downstairs bar
Now, the crowd weren’t just there for the dining experience. With three floors including a cinema, private bars, balcony and a huge undercover beer garden with heating, table service and rugby menu, this was definitely one of the more mixed-use spaces I’ve visited.

This is what we ate:
Pan-fried padron peppers with cured Iberian ham on grilled bread with tomato, garlic and olive oil.
There was definitely too much garlic for my dining companion, so don’t say that you haven’t been warned, but overall it was very tasty.

Photographing Iberian Ham on Grilled Bread
The London Reporter photographing the Iberian ham on grilled bread
Next up was the roast pumpkin and hazelnut salad and a wild mushroom and truffled potato puree. I thought the pumpkin salad was good but could have benefited from more herbs. Meanwhile the wild mushroom, and what I think was crispy onion, juxtaposed well with the smooth and creamy bed of mash (which I could have eaten on its own).

The waiter then brought out 4 mini chilli pork tacos served on a long plate. The pork was in a smokey sauce and as nice as they sounded, they just didn’t quite hit the spot. Part of me thinks pulled-pork would have been amazing and would work so much better here.

At this point we had been told that the chef had been on his travels so it was easy to see where the Mexican inspired flavours had come from, although not always the combinations!

Collage of an evening at The Exhibit, Balham
A snapshot of the evening
Fried chicken was up next with toasted pineapple, chopped cashew nuts and gooseberry ketchup. It was certainly a unique combination but I wasn’t sure exactly where the inspiration for this dish was coming from.

The real star of the dinner was this: braised ox cheek nestling on a thick creamy gooey macaroni cheese dish. This was without doubt THE signature dish. The braised ox cheek was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the mac’ was just plain moreish. You’d come back for this one alone and not necessarily to share.

For pud, we shared the almond tart with clotted cream. Again, this was a real crowd pleaser and disappeared in moments.

What else did we do...
We enjoyed seeing the lovely bar area downstairs. It was dimly lit and featured a giant fish tank - apparently quite popular with Balham’s yummy mummies and their children by day.

We then had something quite special to finish. A killer Porn Star Martini cocktail using their own vanilla infused vodka - OH GAWD that will take some serious beating.

Address: 12 Balham Station Road, London SW12 9SG

Disclaimer: We were guests of The Exhibit. All thoughts are our own.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

WÜSTHOF Coloured Paring Knives - Review

3pc Wustof Coloured Paring Knives Set

I like having a selection of kitchen knives to use and these paring knives not only look great they are excellent value too. I've been testing the 3 piece paring set which comes in orange and black.

The serrated edge made easy work slicing the orange, I used the straight blade for slicing strawberries and the small shaped paring/turning knife for removing peel from the apple. The knives are multi-taskers and can be used to cut, slice and shape a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Using Wustof Knives for slicing a variety of fruits

WÜSTHOF have been producing innovative knives in Germany for over 200 years for chefs and the domestic market.
The stainless steel blades are super sharp so please take care with storage.
The handles are ergonomically designed and very comfortable in the hand.
Dishwasher safe.
Price £15.95
Available through independent stockists - to find your local one please visit the Haus website.

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review purposes, all thoughts are our own.