|Pavlova with Cape Gooseberries and Passion fruit|
Cape gooseberries, golden globes hidden away in their papery lantern cases, their tart sweetness adding to the vitamin C overload that is South Africa’s winter fruit salad. We really have more vitamin C in winter than in summer here, our trees laden with guavas from April till August, oranges by the sack-full a whole lot cheaper than potatoes, lemon trees, naartjies (clementines, mandarin, tangerines and the like) small enough to pop into lunch boxes and the prolific Cape gooseberries diverting us from our purpose every time we go to the veggie garden to pick spinach.
The theme of this month’s Monthly Mingle hosted by Jeanne at Cooksister is a Taste of Yellow, the yellow of sunshine and hope, in memory of inspirational food blogger Barbara Harris of Winos and Foodies, who recently died of cancer. Read more about her in Jeanne’s post and why yellow is so appropriate to remember her by.
Usually we just eat them straight from the bush, but I thought they would work perfectly with a pavlova. They have the right amount of tartness to offset the sweetness of meringue and enough flavour to hold their own in the partnership. The granadillas, or passion fruit, complement them nicely.
I use Nigella’s pavlova recipe from How to Eat, leaving it in the oven to cool and then assembling it a couple of hours before eating to allow the cream enough time to start softening the centre of the meringue in mallowy succulence, while the outside stays crisp and crunchy. The recipe follows at the end of this post.
Jeanne asked us to share either memories of Barbara or cancer stories in our posts – I didn’t know Barbara or her blog, but a dear friend of my husband’s family who died of cancer nearly ten years ago would be right at home in our food blog community, so I'll share a few memories of her.
Most of my memories of Ursie involve food:
Home-made bread and home-churned butter from her farm made up the first course of our wedding braai served with gravad lax, simple butter had never tasted so good before;
The huge bowl of fresh fruit salad served at breakfast when we visited them a few years later with young son in tow.
Our tradition of saying 'Blessings on the meal' before each meal came from her.
When we finally moved out to South Africa in the last year of her life, she took me around and introduced me the people she knew in our local community, starting off friendships that gave our small children their first roots in a new home.
All this was while she was fighting her last battle with cancer, trying first natural treatments and then resorting to chemo when they weren’t enough. Their border collies Cobalt and Vygie were staying with us on our farm by this time. Used to farm life, the Cape Town flat that Ursie and Pete were living in while she underwent treatment was impossible for the dogs.
The last time Ursie visited us was the day before our Youngest was born, sitting out on the stoep as a thunderstorm was brewing, waiting to meet this baby that was reluctant to be born and several days past her due date. I remember cutting her hair for her then, wispy with new growth after her last chemo treatment
She did see Youngest before she went; we all visited two at a time when she was in ICU and I took our three week baby in to meet her, only to be asked to leave after a few minutes by a nurse horrified at thought of exposing a newborn to unspecified possible sources of contagion in the IC unit. I was always glad I had taken her in – it seemed right for them to meet, one just starting her life journey the other just completing hers.
She will always be a part of our lives – we have a tree planted for her here, ten years later her dogs are buried near it, but her memory is as fresh as if she were here yesterday. Thank you, Ursie, for sharing your food philosophy with us, simple, home-made with love and fresh flavours. You are still an inspiration to me in my kitchen.
I hadn't thought about it when I chose this recipe, but Nigella Lawson has lost many close family members to cancer, so I hope she would be happy to have her recipe included in the monthly mingle with this theme.
From Nigella’s How to Eat
4 egg whites
250g/9oz castor sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
A few drops vanilla extract
250ml/1 cup cream
Berries and passion fruit
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
Whip up the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Don’t put it all in one go – the important thing is to give it a chance to dissolve as you whisk, so a little at a time works best.
Whisk until the mixture is shiny and satiny and stands up in peaks.
Sprinkle over the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold in gently.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and dollop the meringue mixture in a circle roughly 25cm/9inches in diameter. .Smooth it evenly.
Put into the preheated oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150C/300F. Bake for about 1 ¼ hours. Switch off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
Remember to take it out before you heat up the oven for the roast the next day!!
One or two hours before serving, whip the cream and prepare the berries.
Turn the cooked pavlova upside down onto the serving dish. Remove the baking paper.
Pile the cream over the base and then arrange the fruit on top.