Strawberry Meringue Cake

It's Canada Day here and since it's Wednesday, we don't get a long weekend, but instead a nice break in the middle of the week. I often go strawberry picking on July 1st, but it's gloomy outside, so I decided to skip it this year. Besides, I've been baking so much lately that I can't (or better shouldn't) have more fruit at home as I'll be tempted to bake something something else with it.

However, I still have an amazing Strawberry recipe to share. I've made this cake many times before and I am always amazed at the flavours and textures of this dessert. Original Russian recipe is called "Dream Cake" and I can totally understand why. After I made this cake for the first time I couldn't wait to make it again. Then when strawberry season came a year later, I kept dreaming about this cake over and over again. 

It's not an overly difficult cake to make and the recipe is pretty forgiving, but it is not really simple. The bottom layer is a cross between shortbread and cake. It's sweet and light and a perfect vehicle for juicy strawberries. Bright fruit is then covered by a layer of light meringue which gets dry and crispy over the edges, but is still soft and marshmallow-y inside. And to make this cake different from the other kinds of meringue cakes, the same dough that is used for the bottom layer is grated over the meringue; when baked, the topping contrasts so well with the softness of the marshmallow and baked strawberries. 

Delicious Strawberry Meringue Cake - perfect summer dessert

I have made a few tweaks over the years to the original recipe. Most notably I reduced the amount of butter used for the pastry, I added cream cheese to sub some of the butter since I like the slight sourness that it brings to the dough and I added some greek yogurt as well. These substitutions made the pastry more cakey. You can use all butter to get a crumblier shortbread texture of the bottom layer if you'd like. I also think that the amount of sugar could be reduced a little bit, but I have not experimented with it yet. 

Strawberry Meringue Cake

adapted from Sonulya

Eggs - 3 large or extra-large
Butter, room temperature - 56 g (half a stick, 4 tablespoons)
Cream cheese, room temperature - 62 g (quarter of 250g brick package)
Greek yogurt, unflavoured - 60 g
Sugar - 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup
Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Vanilla - 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you like more vanilla taste)
Salt - a pinch
Strawberries - about 15 large strawberries (~500 g)
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Butter and flour a 10 inch cake plate.
  • Separate eggs.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs yolks with 3/4 cups of sugar until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add softened butter, cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla and mix well.
  • Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until soft dough forms.
  • Separate the dough into two parts. One should be about 3/4 of the dough and the other is 1/4.
  • Wrap the smaller portion of the dough in plastic wrap and put in the freezer.
  • Cover the bottom of the pie plate with the remaining dough, spreading it evenly. No need to refrigerate.
  • Slice the strawberries. Better to slice them at this step rather than in advance as it gives time for the dough to chill in the freezer.
  • In another large clean bowl whip the egg whites with the left over 1/2 cup sugar until hard peaks form.
  • Spread strawberries over the bottom layer of the dough.
  • Cover strawberries with meringue.
  • Hopefully by this time the smaller portion of the dough chilled enough and it can be grated over meringue.
  • Bake for about an hour until meringue is crispy. Start checking after 50 minutes to make sure that it's not burned.

Comments
As mentioned earlier, you can use all butter instead of the combination of butter, cream cheese and yogurt, just take about 180 grams of butter.

- Make sure that the smaller portion of the dough is chilled really well. This time I forgot to chill it for long, so it was really (I mean really really) difficult to great. Like ridiculously difficult since it was so soft!

- Meringue layer gets soft the next day. It's still very good. I actually even like it more, but it's different in terms of texture the next day.

- Apparently it can be made with apples too. I have never tried it with anything other than strawberries because it's so good and I feel like I'd be cheating on one of my favourite cakes if I made it with some other fruit.

- Original recipe was for 9x13 pan, I've never made it in anything other than my pie plate, so I can't guarantee that the proportions would work.

Strawberry Meringue Cake - delicious summer dessert
Posted on July 1, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Easy Chickpea Patties

Remember how I was saying that most of my recipes have some kind of story behind them? Well, the story behind this particular recipe is my vain. Not something to brag about really, but it is what it is. How can vain be responsible for my dinner, you ask? Well, it's my shoes... Obviously!

A few days before making this dinner I wore my really comfortable shoes to work. I then changed into more appropriate and less comfortable heels in the office and forgot to switch my footwear when I went home. Follow me so far? Then the next day I went back to work with intention of getting my comfy shoes back. I remembered to make the switch before the end of the workday and happily was on my way home when I happened to glance at myself in the elevator. And this is where my vain comes into play. These really comfortable wedges really (and I mean really) did not go with the dress I was wearing. I could not (I repeat, could not) go to my local supermarket looking like this. But I had nothing substantial in my fridge, so I spent the next half an hour on the subway thinking of what I could cook for dinner that would be satisfying and, most importantly, easy.

I could do pasta, that's always something that we have on hand, but I just finished the last piece of cheese and I love cheese with pasta. I could do simple eggs, which I love, but I had no meat or potatoes to go with them. I could do my Sweet and Spicy French Toast, but I somehow wasn't really into breakfast for dinner. And this is when my mind wondered about what I had in my pantry and I remembered about a whole case of cans of chickpeas that I bought from Costco.

So, I came home and quickly made these little patties. They took only a few minutes to mix together using my trusty food processor. I didn't go crazy adding various flavours, I just wanted something quick and easy. I had them with plain greek yogurt and some avocado and lemon juice. It was light and satisfying. My husband had them with salsa and we both liked these morsels. 

Easy Chickpea Patties can be a great snack, appetizer or a fast and healthy dinner

Easy Chickpea Patties

makes about 12-15 depending on their size

Canned chickpeas - 1 can (540 ml)
Parsley - 4 or 5 sprigs (or more)
Egg - 1 large
Mrs Dash No Salt Original Blend - 1 teaspoon (or any other seasoning of your choice)
Cayenne pepper - 1/2 teaspoon (optional
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Drain the chickpeas really well.
  • Place drained chickpeas and all other ingredients into a food processor and process until uniform in texture.
  • Shape patties and place on a baking sheet catered with parchment paper.
  • Bake for about 30 min or until patties are firm.
  • You may want to broil for 2-3 minutes to give the patties a tiny bit of colour.
  • Sprinkle with some lemon juice and serve with yogurt.
Posted on June 29, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Lemon Paprika Chicken

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Ricardo Cuisine , however all opinions are my own.

I have a lot of cookbooks. My love affair with cookbooks started over a decade ago when I was just beginning to learn how to cook. I could spend hours at a book store just browsing through pages upon pages of delicious recipes and beautiful photos. Once I finished university and started working I began buying various cookbooks. I still have them, but I mostly keep them for sentimental reasons. In fact, I have not bought any cookbooks in quite some time. There are way too many amazing blogs and sites online where I can find anything with just a few clicks of my keyboard.

Although I was previously addicted to cookbooks, I was never much into cooking magazines. With one exception: Ricardo! I remember when I got my first issue for free at a Food and Wine show back in 2008 (or was it even 2007?). It took me a few months to warm up to the magazine and then I was hooked. I kept buying it and then finally decided to subscribe only to learn that the magazine would no longer be available in Ontario.

So, when last year I saw an ad that Ricardo Cuisine was back, I subscribed immediately! I love waiting for the colourful issues and then leafing through them imagining dinner parties I would throw and compliments I'd get.

Lemon Paprika Oil for delicious and easy roast chicken

Now, Ricardo brand has evolved and includes a website to accompany all the delicious magazine recipes. Last Friday I was looking for something easy to make. I had a big package of chicken thighs that I got at Costco and I was browsing Ricardo Cuisine chicken recipes when I saw this little gem . It was perfect! Exactly the kind of recipe that I like to make: fast, easy, delicious and with minimal ingredients.

Just as I expected, the result was delicious. The aroma of smoked paprika and lemon made my mouth water and I couldn't wait for the dish to be ready. I served the chicken with rice and poured some delicious lemony juices over it.

One trick that I'd like to share is about fat and juices that come from roasting chicken. Sometimes I put wire racks inside roasting pans in order to make crispy chicken and let all the fat collect at the bottom. Sometimes I just put the chicken directly in the pan. But regardless of any of those methods, I do not pour the fat out. I put the pan in the fridge overnight and let everything harden. The next day I scrape the white fat and store it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. It'll last quite some time. I then use it instead of oil or butter when I cook. It's delicious for breakfast when frying eggs or making hash browns. It's great with fried rice also.

Lemon Paprika Chicken is easy and fast recipe perfect for weeknight, but also fancy enough for a weekend dinner

Underneath the fat there will be jellyfied chicken juice. I scrape it into another bowl and also keep in the fridge. It will not last as long as the chicken fat, but it'll last a week or so. It's delicious flavour that I don't like going to waste, so I add it to rice, quinoa or buckwheat.

Lemon Paprika Chicken

Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
Lemon juice - half a lemon
Lemon zest - half a lemon
Smoked, spicy paprika - 1 teaspoon
Garlic, finely minced - 1 clove
Dijon mustrard - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Chicken thighs - 6 large
Lemon, cut into 8 pieces - 1 lemon
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except chicken and lemon. Mix well. Note: I used mortar and pestle to blend it all together including garlic which I only smashed, but didn't mince. Worked like a charm!
  • Loosen skin on chicken thighs and spread lemon paprika oil under the chicken skin as well as on top of the skin. 
  • Place chicken thighs on a pan, arrange lemon pieces all around chicken.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Broil for about 3-5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Note: do not forget chicken under the broiler like I did as you can clearly see from the picture!
Lemon Paprika Chicken is easy and fast recipe perfect for weeknight, but also fancy enough for a weekend dinner
Posted on June 24, 2015 and filed under Recipe.