Meringue chick on a puff-pastry and coconut nest
Eating Your Words 2010 is drawing to a close! As I and my co-host Jennifer of Savor the Thyme announced earlier, we will be posting a round-up of all the entries within one week of the challenge deadline, followed by an announcement of the winner chosen by Andrew Zimmern to receive our fabulous prize of an Aunt Else's Aebleskiver pan. Quite frankly, I don't envy our guest judge's task as all of the entries so far have exceeded our expectations for creativity and playful spirit. This is going to be tough choice!
In the meantime, I wanted to offer an early 'thanks!' to Chef Zimmern and Chad Gillard of Aunt Else for their generosity toward making Eating Your Words a true can't-miss event. Most of all, many thanks to our entrants (including those of you who may still be working on your words) for your enthusiastic participation and support of our contest. It is so incredibly gratifying to find such happy camaraderie in the blogosphere, especially since some might consider connections through such a medium 'impersonal', simply because our exchanges do not occur face to face. Yet, what could be more personal than sharing with others a glimpse of the laugh-out-loud, fun-loving and creative individuals we all are?
So, to all of you who have entered, will enter or are eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the entries, thank you so very much for joining us in Eating Your Words!
Gratitude is Boundless
The 'thank yous' continue as I finally offer proper and long-overdue acknowledgment of several awards that fellow bloggers have been so kind to share with me and others in the past few months:
History of Greek Food for sharing her Blogger Appreciation '09 recognition. An author, sociologist and archaeologist, Mariana is a treasure trove of historical facts and cultural insights into Greek food traditions, and is a person whom I greatly admire. Hers was one of the very first blogs I started following when I began my own site and it continues to be a stellar model of how to share the richness of global culinary heritage.
Happy 101 comes from Pearlyn of A Full-Timed Housefly - a perfect description of someone who knows that happiness starts with the simple joys of a delicious meal. Reading her blog is like sitting down at her family's dinner table in Singapore (which I would love to do someday). So, for some of the best examples of Asian home-cooking to be found on the web, please stop by at Pearlyn's!
Kitchen Worthy still decided to share her Sunshine Award with me, for which I am pink with gratitude. With her scrumptious recipes and stunning photography, it's hard to believe that her blog is only three months old! From sweet to savory, American classics to global favorites, Liren offers something for every taste, so stop by to find something delicious for yourself.
Given the marvelous food to be found in these blogs and that we'll soon see profound words writ deliciously in food, I thought it best to offer something light and airy. I drew inspiration from a piece that I wrote for Simple, Good and Tasty, a Minneapolis-based local and sustainable foods website founded by Lee Zukor, who gave me the amazing opportunity to become a part of SGandT as a contributing writer. Thank you, Lee, Shari and everyone at SGandT - I am so proud to be associated with such an outstanding team and organization!
So far, I've written four pieces for the website, including the most recent story about a small, local specialty-foods company that makes artisanal versions of the neon-colored marshmallow Peeps so ubiquitous during Easter. Unfortunately, a tight deadline and the shop's hours prevented me from picking up some of these confections for, er, research purposes, before the story was due and I ended up nursing a massive hankering for sugary chicks. What to do? Why, make my own . . . kind of.
The peeps on everyone's lips are, of course, made of marshmallow, but I decided to go with another M-word: meringue. Seeing as how I've never made meringues before, I turned to online sources for guidance and found what I needed from Matt at Wrightfood and the Helpwithcooking.com website. I wanted to give my peeps the same soft yellow shade of real chicks but was a bit too timid with the food coloring, resulting in a more ecru hue. Still, I was quite pleased with the results, although my chicks look a bit like pointy-beaked ducklings. But hey, at least they're still in the avian class!
Makes approximately 3 dozen
Large round piping tip (size 1A/Wilton - I used Ateco/809)
Whites from 2 eggs
pinch of cream of tartar
4 oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)
Separate egg whites and yolk, being careful not to get any yolk in the former. Set whites aside to bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300°F
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat until soft peaks form. Continue to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar one teaspoon at a time until all the sugar is used and stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in extract and food coloring, gently incorporating them into the meringue. Fill decorating bag with meringue and pipe out desired shape onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. (For a nice tutorial on piping out Peep-like shapes, check out this blog post for Saffron Meringue Chicks).
The un-ugly chick of the flock
Turn down preheated oven to 275°F and place tray of meringues inside. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off oven and leave meringues inside as it cools. When ready, remove from oven and serve. Decorate chicks as you'd like - I used melted chocolate chips and a toothpick to make the eyes.
For the 'nest', I used some leftover puff pastry cut into 2 circles with a 3" biscuit cutter; using another cutter one size smaller, I cut out a ring from one of the circles and placed it on top of the other, forming a raised border. I then brushed pastry with the leftover egg yolk from the above recipe and sprinkled it with sweetened coconut flakes, then baked at 375°F for about 15 minutes.
Peep props for my peeps!