Sunday, 5 August 2012

Individual Peach and Caramel Pavlovas

Dinner at our friends Ophelia and Kumar was a blast last night.

Mrs Ribeye mentioned that she had read in the newspaper earlier in the day that 'Fifty Shades of Grey', the mummy-porn novel by British author E.L. James, was the first book to outsell Harry Potter. 'Why?' asked Kumar absolutely ingenuously, 'Does it have goblins in it?'


Kumar actually cooked for us for the first time ever, and he made us a traditional Pakistani spicy beef stew called Nihari. I have asked him for the recipe so that I can recreate it at home. It was incredible - once he emails me the recipe, I'll post my version on Potless.

After last night's dinner, with the inevitable five million drinks to accompany it, Mrs Ribeye and I had a restorative day in bed today with the Sunday Times, 'Come Dine With Me' on More 4, and some comfort food. After eating some chicken soup, I asked the wife what she fancied for dessert. 'Pavlova, please' was the reply.

I find this answer both ridiculous and utterly adorable. Firstly, how am I supposed to rustle up something that complicated in a few minutes? Secondly, it is adorable that my missus, without any hint of irony, expected me to deliver it without any hesitation. I love her for that.

She was absolutely correct, of course - I had a sumptuous pavlova on a plate ready for her to eat within four minutes. There was no way that I could have eaten one myself, so the challenge had the added dimension of me having to create this complex dish for one person. And not only did I manage it, but Mrs Ribeye told me that: 'This is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth'. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Of course, there is a knack to being able to deliver this miracle: Prepared store cupboard ingredients. I had a tin of condensed milk caramel in the larder, alongside a carton of meringue nests. The remnants of a tub of double cream happened to be in the fridge from a dinner we had had with our friend Natalia mid-week, and the peaches were in the fruit bowl. If I had had berries or pineapple or cherries instead, then the recipe would have a different name - but in this instance the peaches were an inspired lucky non-choice. Mrs Ribeye loved how their subtle sharpness cut the richness of the dessert, saving the dish from becoming too sickly-sweet. I would definitely make this dish again for a dinner party next time, but I would actually make the meringues from scratch instead. But for a night-in emergency pudding, this is very hard to beat.

This recipe has the added bonus of being very cheap to make. £1.50 per very generous serving.

Serves 1


2 meringue nests (home-made, if you can be bothered)
4 tablespoons of double cream, plus a little extra for garnish
2 tablespoons of tinned condensed milk caramel
1 peach, stoned and finely chopped

Spoon two tablespoons of cream onto each meringue and add one tablespoon of caramel to one. Place half of the peach bits onto each meringue and place the non-caramel meringue on top of the other one to create two layers. Dot the remaining tablespoon of caramel all over the pavlova and pour a little extra cream on and around, as a garnish, to bring everything together. Serve immediately.

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