Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Iconic Australian Pavlova

Nothing says summer in Australia like a thick decadent slice of pavlova topped with lashings of cream, fresh fruit and passionfruit pulp. There's no other dessert that's quite like it. For those who have never tried it, imagine a thick slice of meringue with a crunchy crust and marshmallowy center that's topped with thick whipped cream and fruit. Now that I've set the stage, let me just say this has been one of the most stressful, exhausting and rewarding baking efforts I have attempted thus far. The ingredients may seem few and the methods may sound simple but don't let that fool you. After failing miserably with my first attempt, I was determined to make it work and whisked away into the week hours of the night. The result was a huge success which leads me to believe that this dessert is made for late night baking.

Here are some tips for the perfect pav:
1. Ensure eggs are at room temperature. I like to sit mine in warm water for 5 minutes.
2. Your mixing bowl needs to be spotless, rubbing lemon will help clean the bowl while residue juice will help set the egg whites.
3. Start mixing the egg whites on slow speed gradually increasing to medium. You want to create an airy texture so do not immerse the entire beater into eggs.
4. One of the main differences between a meringue and pavlova base is that cream of tartar is used to help set a meringue while corn flour is used for pavlova.
5. When moulding the mixture, make a well in the center so the cream and fruit have a place to sit.
6. Start with the oven preheated at 300 degrees, once you've placed the pavlova in, reduce to 250. The temperature change will ensure a nice crunchy crust.
7. Once the pavlova is done baking, allow to cool completely in oven. Baking late at night is a good idea as the pavlova can sit in the oven to cool overnight.
8. Chill beaters and bowl before you begin whipping cream for topping. Adding a touch of cream of tartar will help the cream set.

Whisk egg whites till firm and glossy

Pavlova shell ready for decorating.

Kiwi and strawberries are a classic combo

Spoon some passionfruit pulp over the top and serve!

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup of castor sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tbsp corn starch

1 cup heavy whipping cream chilled
1 tbsp powder sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Fresh fruit and passionfruit pulp (if available)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Line baking tray with aluminum foil, draw 7 inch circle. Grease the tray and lightly dust with corn starch.
3. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a clean dry bowl till soft peaks form.
4. Gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating constantly till sugar dissolves and mixture is thick and glossy.
5. Lightly fold in the vanilla, corn starch and vinegar.
6. Spoon mixture onto the circle and mould into a cake form with concave top.
7. Place in oven and reduce heat to 250 degrees.
8. Bake for 1 hour or until dry and crisp. Turn off oven and leave pavlova to cool completely with oven door closed or slightly ajar. The pavlova shell will harden once cooled.
9. Once cooled, store in a cool dry place till ready to serve.
10. Whisk whipping cream with sugar and cream of tartar till firm peaks form. Spread onto pavlova and decorate with fruit. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wardrobe Diaries: Memorial Day White Affair

Sunshine, 90 degree weather, cold drinks, burgers and head to toe white is how I spent this Memorial Day weekend. We started a new tradition this year, visiting The Pharmacy in East Nashville for a lazy afternoon of dining. The nondescript white facade opens up to a charming beer garden with thick luscious grass, sprawling canopy of leaves and twinkling fairy lights strung up from tree to tree. Chargrilled burgers under afternoon sunlight followed by salty caramel icecream at Jeni's Spendid Icecream... I could get use to this. Hope everyone had an amazing and sunny long weekend. 

{ kookai top also loving this one and this one . armani exchange skirt similar here also loving this one . nine west pumps unavailable in black, similar here . r+j clutch unavailable in grey . dillards gold cuffs . khols panama hat similar here . nails by essie . necklace by gorjanna }

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday's Fancies- Memorial Day Edition

Hi everyone, since Memorial Day is coming up I thought I'd dedicate this week's Friday's Fancies to all the celebrations, festivities and sunshine. Happy long weekend! xx

It's officially BBQ season! What does everyone have planned this weekend? 

There's nothing better than a handful of fresh berries in the summertime. 

Don't forget the red, white and blue for your Memorial day bbq.

Since I don't live anywhere near the beach (closest being a good 10 hours away), the pool will do nicely. 
A fresh nude manicure with a touch of sparkle is the perfect accessory to compliment all the bright summery ensembles. Adore-a-ball (nude) and Set in Stones (sparkle) by Essie.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wardrobe Diaries: Playing House

If you had asked me where do I see myself at this age five years ago, never would I have imagined myself happily married with two gorgeous little girls. Yet here I am in small town USA, living the life of an Army wife and raising our precious children. A world of difference from my previous life of city dweller/architect/foodie/urbanite. It's true what they say, "life happens to you when you're busy making other plans."  I love this crop top I picked up recently from Nasty Gal, the fabric is luxurious and the lace and silk combo gives it a vintage vibe. When it comes to clothing, I do believe in quality over quantity. Well-cut pieces in beautiful fabrics will never go out of style. 

{ j.crew skirt similar here . jigsaw blazer similar here . nasty gal crop top . victoria secret tank similar here . nine west pumps similar here and here . louis vuitton bag . j.crew seersucker headband similar here . j.crew bib necklace worn backwards }

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wardrobe Diaries: Fields of Gold

I live near these beautiful fields where every spring is filled with luscious crops as far as the eyes can see. The first year we lived here there were stalks of corn reaching high into the sky. This year, it's wheat. With development happening at a rapid rate a few of these crop fields have since turned into housing estates. It's such a shame but I'm sure sooner or later this one will be gone too. Sometimes the eye needs a break from the endless sea of brick and asphalt and these fields provide a welcome relief.

So glad that circular sunglasses are making a comeback. I love that they compliment everyone I've seen them on and matches everything in my wardrobe. This pair I recently picked up at Target. I've also seen some great options over at Asos and Nasty Gal

{ bb dakota skirt . kookai leather jacket similar here and here . topshop sequin and chiffon top similar here . guess wedges . dooney & burke bag unavailable in yellow . target sunglasses similar here }

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday's Fancies

Isn't this glitter polish just so fun and girly? I love it used on alternating fingers as an accent colour. By Essie- Off the Shoulder (pink) and Set In Stone (glitter).

My go-to meal for the summer season. Delicious cold noodles garnished with seaweed, sesame seeds and a dipping sauce on the side with a little wasabi for that extra kick. 

I do not know what I did before these three little gems came into my life. Girl Meets Pearl gives the skin a nice warm glow, High Beam illuminates facial features and Posie Tint for a lovely natural blush. Thank you Benefit. 

My wonderful husband spoils me. Thank you for making me a mother. 

Is there nothing more precious than watching children be children? Forever young xx

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wardrobe Diaries: Lilac Leather and Lace

I came across this beautiful train track on the way to brunch the other day. It made for the perfect backdrop to my outfit. Tennessee is so beautiful in the summertime with its abundant trees and greenery. My sister likens this place to a scene out of Twilight (funny). These tracks are used by the Army for transporting equipment and such, which is probably why I've never seen a single train in the three years we have lived here. I recently bought myself this leather jacket from Muubaa as a mother's day present. The leather on this jacket is buttery soft and so comfortable to wear. The thing I love most is the sculpting wire that's been inserted in the seams. This clever little trick allows you to manipulate the jacket however way you want, something rather difficult when it comes to leather.  

{ muubaa leather jacket . gap jeans . tj maxx lace top . oroton crossbody bag . franco sarto heels . longines watch }

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Altoid Brownies With A Hint Of Sea Salt

I am an avid fan of David Lebovitz so when I came across his recipe for Altoid Brownies I knew I had to make them. These brownies are rich and fudgey with a hint of mint and sea salt. I usually use box mixes since I find them no different to brownies made from scratch. With David Lebovitz recipe, these brownies turned out fudgey and gooey without leaving that sickly film in your mouth you sometimes get with chocolate. It might be due to the mint counterbalancing the sweetness, or that the recipe calls for melted chocolate along with cocoa, but most likely it's because David Lebovitz is a baking rockstar. No more box-mixes for me.

Ingredients list
Crush Altoids or any other type of mint into fine powder.
Melt chocolate and butter over simmering water till chocolate is smooth and glossy.

Gently fold the dry ingredients with the melted chocolate mixture. Do not overmix. 

Gooey, fudgey, minty and tasty. 
Altoid Brownies with a hint of Sea Salt
1 teaspoon sea salt (I like use coarse sea salt that's moderately crushed) 
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/2 cup (120g) packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract
1 to 1½ packages of Altoid peppermints, (80-120g), crushed into powder. 

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking pan with foil and grease with butter or cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl over pan of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder.
4. Once chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk in both sugars over simmering water.
5. Remove from heat, cool slightly and whisk in three eggs completely then whisk in the other two along with vanilla.
6. Sprinkle the flour mixture and crushed Altoids over the top and gently fold the dry ingredients in with a spatula until just combined; there might be a trace of flour in places. Do not overmix.
7. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes (David Lebovitz calls for 30 minutes, but I like to under bake my brownies).
8. Store brownies in air-tight container. These brownies are best consumed the next day.

1. Best way to crush Altoids is to place in ziplock bag and hammer with a rolling pin etc. Warning: this is very therapeutic and addicting.
2. Feel free to experiment with any other type of mint or flavouring. My next batch will be with chili powder.

Recipe adapted from
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