Eggs and berries are plentiful on our little homestead right now.
It's our first year growing strawberries and we're getting more than I thought we would. We eat the strawberries almost as fast as we pick them. We pick them fresh every day. They ripen on the plant and the taste is phenomenal. Store bought berries have nothing on these babies. There is no comparison. You owe it to yourself to seek out some local strawberries and taste the difference yourself.
Our mulberries are incredibly plentiful. I will be making jam again this year. It's Mr. B's favorite, along with Mulberry Pie and Mulberry Cobbler. The Mulberry Liquer I made last year was wonderful, so I see more of that this year also. We're planning to dry some of our mulberry harvest to use like raisins. Apparently they do it in Turkey and it's quite a delicious snack and very healthy.
If you are looking to try mulberries yourself, look for a mulberry tree in your neighborhood, or find someone like us who grows them. You won't find them in your supermarket, because they are difficult to harvest and transport and their "shelf life" is very short. Your Farmer's Market is probably your best bet to search for them. If you live near Manito, Pekin, or Peoria in Illinois, contact me.
I was trying to think of a good way to use our bounty of berries and eggs and it came to me. Pavlova! It's the perfect early summer dessert and uses all three ingredients.
Pavlova is a meringue traditionally topped with whipped cream and fruit in season. You can also top it with lemon curd, as I did here because I wanted to use the egg yolks, or with a pudding or custard and, of course, fruit.
You'll want to bake the meringue early in the day as it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake and then you must cool the meringue in the oven with the door closed, which will take approx 3 to 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. On one side of the sheet parchment, using a pencil, trace around an 8 inch round cake or pie pan, dark enough so that you can see the circular outline when you flip the paper over and lay it upside down in your pan.
4 egg whites (fresh, local eggs from pastured hens) at room temperature (separate your eggs one at a time into a separate small bowl and then pour into your larger bowl, just in case you accidentally get some yolk in them - there must be NO yolk or grease in the egg whites or they won't beat up)
A pinch of salt ( see here if you don't know what a pinch is )
1 1/4 cups of sugar - I use 1 cup which is still very sweet
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream ( 1 pint of whipping cream - add 2 tablespoons of sugar, optional )
Fresh Seasonal Local Fruit
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and put to one side.
Put your egg whites in a large bowl and add the pinch of salt. Beat with a mixer until the egg whites become 'white' and glossy peaks form.
Add your sugar to the egg whites, 1/3 at a time, beating after each addition, until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Sprinkle the cornstarch mixture over the meringue, then, using a spatula, gently fold the mixture together, until combined.
Empty your meringue out onto the center of your circle on the parchment paper. Using your spatula spread and shape your meringue into a circle and smooth the top.
Place your pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature of the oven to 250 degrees.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Turn off the oven and let the meringue cool completely in the oven, about 3 to 4 hours.
Top with whipped cream and seasonal local fruits.
Eat Fresh. Eat Seasonal. Eat Local.