We used a BIG wheel of brie for this video, which can be very expensive. You can get away with something about (or a little over) half the size. A little bit of brie goes a long way.
YIELDS: 8 SERVINGS PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 15 MINS TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 40 MINS
1 (35-oz.) wheel brie 6 strawberries, tops removed and sliced 1/2 c. blueberries 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tsp. honey Graham crackers, for dipping
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off the top rind of brie then place brie in a skillet about its same size. Bake until brie is bubbling and totally melted throughout, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place strawberries and blueberries in separate medium bowls. Divide orange juice and honey evenly between each bowl and toss to combine. When brie is ready, arrange fruit in the pattern of the American flag. Serve immediately, with graham crackers for dipping.
I’ve had this idea written up on my nice little kitchen chalkboard for at least three weeks now. The name “Watermelon Chicken Salad” sat there happily on the board right next to all my other random ideas, most of which have since gotten scratched off and erased and replaced with something new because I actually made them and posted them. For whatever reason, this little guy lingered. Another week would pass with no sign of a watermelon chicken salad, but for whatever reason when I’d clean off my board for the week, I really didn’t want to erase the idea just yet. I had this premonition of great things to come.
Speaking of great things.
In the three weeks that “Watermelon Chicken Salad” has been staring me down from the chalkboard, I’ve bought 8 million watermelons with very good intentions, thinking that each of them would be the one I’d use to make some kind of inspired and beautiful salad. But then I discovered this drink instead and every single piece of watermelon since has been doomed for the blender. Or my mouth. Today I ate it for breakfast, which is so weird, but actually not as weird as watermelon in a salad.
And I have a really important question. Why is watermelon like candy? It’s so incredibly good. Juicy, bright, sweet, red… it’s basically large
cubes of all-natural Jolly Ranchers. Have you ever frozen watermelon cubes? <— That. You’re welcome.
So I got a really great bottle of balsamic and starting thinking about salads, and BAM. The inspiration for this salad finally hit and wowzzer. The long wait to actually make this combo happen was totally worth it. Here she is, in all her blue cheese crumbled, rainbow colored, crunchy almond, sweet balsamic glazed glory.
Pinky promise, as I am writing this, I can hear Bjork’s fork + plate clinking together at record speed as he is devouring this in the next room.
The salty blue cheese to me was the thing that tied it all together. You have the sweetness of the watermelon and the balsamic glaze, the savory of the seasoned chicken, the crunch of the almonds, the freshness of the spinach, and then that blue cheese. Oh, the salty, creamy tang that makes my heart go wild. I am making a weird “I LOVE IT” face right now as I’m writing this because I don’t even really know how to describe what I’m trying to say – you get it, though, right? Through computer food osmosis, are we kind of experiencing it together?
Color, crunch, and yum. I want that to be the tagline of my life.
Pretty salad, come to mama.
This Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad has blue cheese, watermelon, almonds, herbed chicken, and a balsamic glaze. Simple and fresh.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (I used a spice mix I got at a specialty food store)
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups baby spinach or greens
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup sliced or crushed almonds
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy.
Meanwhile, turn a grill or nonstick skillet to high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning on both sides and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer to the hot grill and cook until no longer pink on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. Let rest for 5 minutes; cut into small cubes.
Layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, blue cheese, almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with additional olive oil if desired.
What is a Pavlova? It’s a sweet cloud of deliciousness! Actually it’s a meringue based dessert that’s named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It’s lightly crispy on the outside and light and marshmallowy on the inside. It’s usually served topped with fruit and cream.
Pavlovas can be a cake like dessert or they can be individual shells filled with cream that’s topped with fresh or preserved fruits. I love meringues and Pavlovas are one of my favorites. It’s one of the desserts I always choose when we’re on a cruise.
Most folks think Pavlovas are for company desserts, yes, they’re that impressive. But really Pavlovas a pretty easy to make. I usually make them after I’ve made my grandmother’s flan which uses up a lot of egg yolks. Pavlovas handily use the remaining egg whites. Other than egg whites all you need is sugar, preferably caster or baker’s sugar (it’s super fine sugar that is between regular sugar and powdered sugar), cream or tartar, cornstarch, and vanilla. You probably have all those things already. (If you don’t have caster sugar you can either pick some up at the grocery store’s baking aisle or place regular granulated sugar in your blender and pulse until the crystals turn into a fine grains, sort of like sand, but not powdery.)
You’ll also want to use your standing mixer with a whisk attachment. You can also use a hand held mixer. You’ll need parchment paper to line your baking sheets, and a piping tip and bag if you have one. Otherwise you can spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper for baking.
In a large bowl beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.
Gradually add caster sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating at high speed.
Add cornstarch and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Pipe or spoon meringue on to the parchment paper. If piping start with a small circle for the base then pipe coils of meringue on top of it. If spooning meringue drop them on the sheet and use the back of the spoon to make a shallow indentation in the middle. (I usually drop meringue Kisses with any leftover meringue. I use them to top the strawberries)
Place on sheet in the oven and IMMEDIATELY lower temperature to 245 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 200 degrees and back until the meringue is dry to the touch. Touch carefully as they are fragile.
Turn off the oven and open door halfway. Leave meringues inside to cool down to prevent them from cracking.
Meanwhile whip mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When meringues are cooled fill the wells of each meringue with cold cream mixture. Top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries. If you have a meringue kiss place one on top to decorate the pavlova, you can also add a fresh mint leaf if you like.
Looking for something to up your desserts? These Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries are just the thing! Not only are they delicious but they’ll make even a store bought frozen pound cake look gourmet. It adds sophistication to a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream too. Seriously, these strawberries will make just about any dessert look like you spent all day in the kitchen.
Summer is strawberry season so you’ll have no problem finding cartons of strawberries at very reasonable prices. I make these strawberries many time every summer. I store them in my fridge and use them to spruce up desserts. A batch will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days; and the longer the berries are steeped in the wine marinade the tastier they’ll be. But do toss them out if the berries start to look brown and wrinkled, that is if you can keep them long enough for that to happen.
The best part of making these strawberries is that it is so easy! So make a batch today!
1 Basket of Fresh Ripe Strawberries – cleaned, hulled, and sliced
Slit vanilla bean lengthwise and scrap some of the inside into the wine mixture then place the bean in the pot.
Bring pot to boil then lower heat.
Simmer the wine mixture in the pot until the liquid is reduced by 1/3. Syrup will be thin not thick.
Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. You can save the bean to use later for something else.
Let syrup cool to room temperature.
Place sliced strawberries into your container, I use a Mason Jar, then pour syrup into the jar.
Let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using to top desserts. Marinated strawberries will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Use these Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries to top ice cream, lady fingers, pound cake, sponge cake or you favorite dessert. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf and you’ve got a sophisticated looking dessert.
My all time favorite Filipino dessert is Cassava Cake. What you may ask is Cassava Cake? It’s a sticky dessert made from the Cassava (Manihot esculenta) a starchy tuberous root widely cultivated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is a staple in the developing world. When it’s dried its to a powdery or pearly extract we call it tapioca!
In the Philippines cassava is grated and used as the main ingredient for desserts including Suman, a sticky dessert wrapped in banana leaves. I like that too, but my favorite is Cassava Cake the way my grandma used to make. This so called cake isn’t really a cake, at least not in consistency. It is not “cakey” or “spongy” at all, instead is has a sticky consistency similar to “mochi”.
I’ve had several versions of Cassava Cake, made by different friends hailing from other provinces of the Philippines. From what I have observed it seems that different regions prepare it differently. I like our version the best, the bottom part has that same sticky consistency, but it has an almost custardy top layer. My version is also pretty sweet, just perfect for my sweet tooth. I do have to say that Cassava Cake may be an acquired taste, some folks love it and others can’t stand it.
This recipe has been in our family for years! The only difference in we’ve “modernized” it. Back in the day my grandma and aunts would spend a day grating the cassava and coconut, then the evening soaking the grated coconut and squeezing out the milk. These day we buy the frozen coconut milk and grated cassava, so much easier. You can use canned coconut milk instead of the frozen one, but my aunt insists the frozen coconut milk is best. You can buy both the frozen grated cassava and coconut milk at most Asian markets. I hope you like it!
1 16 oz. bag frozen grated cassava, thawed
1 16 oz. bag frozen coconut milk, thawed
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 Can Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
6 Egg Yolks
1/2 Stick Butter, Melted
Mix all ingredients is a large bowl. Stir well to make sure sugar dissolves and milks are well blended.
Pour into 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
Place filled pan into a larger roasting pan.
Fill roasting pan with water until is reaches the half way point of the panning containing the cassava mixture.
Place both pans in a 350 degree oven and steam for about an hour or until the middle is set.