Espresso Meringue Cookie Kisses

My love affair with meringue continues with these adorable AND delicious Espresso Meringue Cookie Kisses. Meringue cookies are so easy to make and satisfy a sugar craving without all the fat. Definitely make these little dainties.. they also make a delightful addition to a table display at an afternoon tea. To see more of my delicious meringue cookies, click here to see my Chocolate Meringue Cookies, and here to see my Rainbow Meringue Cookies
Ciao! xo Laurie

1 cup castor sugar
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons instant espresso granules
3 egg whites

To make the meringues, combine the sugar, cream of tartar, espresso powder and water in a small saucepan. Stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 3 more minutes.
While this is cooking add the egg whites to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk to soft peaks. Once the soft peak stage is reached, keep the mixer running while adding the hot liquid in a slow stream. Mix until thick and glossy.
Preheat oven to 275°
With a star tip and pastry bag, pipe meringues 1/2 inch a part on a cookie sheet with a non-stick pad, like silpat.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes till dry to the touch.
(Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine)

The Inspired Plate Challenge | August | Summer Dessert
Grilled Peach and Blueberry Pavlovas
with a Blueberry Wine Zabaione

September is almost upon us and October after that.. my favorite time of year. Fall. The warm weather starts to fade, the bright pinks and purples turn to bronzy red's and oranges. Apple season is almost upon us ripe for picking and I can imagine hearing the sound of the rustling of leaves underfoot as I walk through the garden. And of course.. "It's the Great PumpkinCharlie Brown!" I LOVED that episode when I was a little girl, the memory of it still evokes in me an excitement when I start seeing the pumpkin patches go up. 

But let's slow down a bit, and just enjoy Summer.. 
Here's a refreshing dessert recipe to start your warm whether off.

If I was to be really honest with you, I'd have to admit that I've been enlivened by this challenge "post".. REALLY! It wasn't the idea of a Summer Dessert that thrilled me, even though my FAV subject for shooting and munching on is anything meringue, but for all my freaking out the day of, trying to co-ordinate colors, dishes and silver, the uploaded photo's were nothing I was expecting. I was pleased.  The colors of the peaches, blueberries, hint of creamy yellow and, my friend turquoise.. just worked. And I felt soothed. My preferred go to colors are dark backgrounds, deep tones and "mood" lighting. That's the artist I thought I wanted to be. Dark and moody.. lol. :) No, maybe it's just the warmth of the deeper colors that I long for in the Fall season. I so would prefer skipping Summer all together. But here in these photo's I've found a middle ground between Spring and Summer. And I'm happy.

One of our goals here at The Inspired Plate is that what we photograph and display for you would kindle desire and awaken your appetite. Maybe even stirring your creativity in the kitchen. 

My friend Carey Pace, a Kingsport TN Food Photographer does just that. She is an AMAZING photographer and will not only summon you to her dessert table with her delicious photo's, but she will take you on a journey through her writing and inspire you "to be".

Please go through EVERY link in our circle :). All of our 'Inspired Plate' girls have delectable sweets to share with you. :)

Grilled Peach and Blueberry Pavlovas with a Blueberry Wine Zabaione
recipe by Laurie M. Vengoechea, Dalla Mia Cucina

Dessert Elements
7-8 Individual Pavlova's
Blueberry Wine Zabaione
Grilled Peaches
1 Pint Fresh Blueberries
Whipped Cream 

Preheat oven to 250
Place rack in center of oven.  
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 3-4 inch circles on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.

4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine or castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch 

1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks.
2. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger.  The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). 
3. Beat in the vanilla extract. 
4. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. 
5. Spread the meringue inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
6. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.) 

The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days. 

Makes 7-8 individual Pavlovas

Blueberry Wine Zabaione
4 egg yolks
4 Tbs. granulated sugar
4 tablespoons Blueberry Wine
1/2 tsp. Lemon Zest

1. Boil some water in a saucepan.
2. Separate the yolks from the whites and place the yolks in a heatproof bowl.  (Save the whites for a meringue dish)
3. Add the sugar and whisk (or mix with an electric hand mixer) until the mixture turns light yellow.
Place the bowl with the egg mixture on top of the pan with
boiling water. Continue whisking. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water, it will cause your zabaione to get lumpy.
4. In a thin stream, SLOWLY add the wine to the egg mixture as you keep whisking.
5. Keep beating the egg mixture until it has doubled in volume and is fluffy and light...about 10-15 minutes.
6. Take off heat. Stir in the lemon zest. Place a piece of plastic over it and keep in the refrigerator

Grilled Peaches
2-3 Large, firm but ripe peaches
1 tsp. mild olive oil
2 tsp. Turbinado Sugar or Raw Sugar
Grill Pan

Cut peaches in half and remove the pit.
Heat grill pan on medium heat.
Brush a small amount of the olive oil on peach halves so they don't stick to the grill pan.
Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the peach as well. This will give a beautiful caramelized effect to the grilled peaches.
Place peaches on pre-heated pan pressing down for 5 seconds. Remove pressure from peach and allow to cook for around 1 minutes. When peach has nicely grilled with caramelization turn over and cook for an additional minute.
Remove to platter.
When cool slice peaches for the Pavlovas.

Putting it all together
Drizzle a few tablespoons of Zabaione on individual dishes.
Place a Pavlova on the Zabaione, fill with Grilled Peaches and fresh Blueberries.
Top with a dollop of whipped cream

*The "Pavlova" recipe is adapted from The Joy of Baking

Buon Appetito!!
Laurie xo

Julia Child's Salade Nicoise


A recipe favorite from Julia Child's book,  "The Way To Cook".

Here are a few photo's of my salad preparations.. I kept pretty close to the original recipe, except for the anchovies. While "I" love anchovy's.. my youngest child freaked a little at the notion of scaly little fishes across her salad. Other than that.. it's pure Julia!! Definitely make this salad.. it has a few components that you can make ahead of time so that the recipe doesn't seem so daunting for a cooking newbie. 

Buon Appetito.. or as Julia would say, "Bon Appetit!"

Julia Child’s Salad Nicoise
Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Copyright © 1989 by Julia Child. 
1 head of Boston Lettuce, large, washed and dried (I used Butter lettuce)
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched
3 or 4 fine rip red tomatoes,quartered and seasoned before serving (I used cherry tomatoes)
8 to 10 ounces oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 cups French potato salad (recipe follows)
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
2-3 flat anchovy filets packed in oil
1/2 cup black Nicoise-type olives
3 or 4 Tbs. capers
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste

French Potato Salad
5-6 white potatoes, cooked to fork tender
1-2 Tb olive oil
1 Tb white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Shortly before serving, line a large, wide salad bowl or a roomy platter with lettuce leaves, drizzle a little olive oil on them, and dust with a sprinkling of salt.
Toss the green beans in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil and salt.
Drizzle a spoonful or two of the dressing over the tomatoes.
Season the tuna lightly with a spoonful or two of dressing.
Place the potatoes in the center of the bowl or platter; mound the beans, the tomatoes and tuna.
Ring the salad with the eggs and anchovy.
Spoon a little more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley. Serve as soon as possible.

French Potato Salad:
Boil potatoes to fork tender.
Allow to cool for a few minutes and slice potatoes. Dress with drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, 
1 Tb white wine vinegar and chopped parsley.