After the birch beer and walleye sandwich, which hit the spot, I moseyed down to the leisure time activities building at the Minnesota State Fair to check out the quilts and the competition baked goods of jams and jellies and all those things that people do to pass the time in the Minnesota winter. (Darn. Can’t sample any of the winners. All the competitors’ goods are displayed inside of glass cases.) As I looked at the different cookies and breads and fancy bars, I was dreaming of what it would like to be a judge. How did the judge not devour every bite? If I were the judge, I’d say, “This is good, but I need a little more to be sure.” Right then and there I envied the judges.
It reminds me of the story Sabina told me about when she first went out with her man, Udo, the wine professional. Udo invited Sabina to a wine tasting; except Sabina didn’t know anything about wine tasting. There were many wines to try and each with a comment card where you wrote down your opinion of the wine. As she went down the line tasting each wine her remarks were a cascade of well-lubricated expressions. “This is good. This is nice.” And the more wine she tried the more enthusiastically she exclaimed, “This is really good!” Sabina drank the wines. (Whoops. Tasting means tasting – not drinking the wine or spirits.)
Anyway, I digress, as I continued to stare through glass at the all the yummy stuff, I was surprised to see some delicately colored pink and green meringues. They were so perfect looking. (Anna had recently made some that I tried. Very sweet. Meringues are fluffy whipped egg whites and sugar baked into a confection.)
As I stood transfixed at some point just past the meringues, I turned my head as I heard a woman authoritatively say to 2 men, “You can’t get those here.” I piped up, as they trailed away, “Oh but you can get them here. Are you from here?” The last man turned when he heard me and looked embarrassed, “From St. Paul.” I replied, “You can get them at Patisserie 46 on Grand Avenue in Minneapolis.” I smiled. (Happy fool that I am.) He smiled like he was talking to a weird person and followed his friends. But it is true! They have meringues and so do Patrick’s Bakery – a little patch of French heaven in Minneapolis.
So if you have a hankering for sweet stuff, here’s a recipe for Swiss Meringues from page 339 of the Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook. Thank you, Betty. (Smirk. Betty is a fictional person.)
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
¾ cup granulated sugar (fine)
¾ cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1½ cups sliced fruit
Cover a cookie sheet with heavy brown paper. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a small mixer bowl until foamy. Beat in (fine) granulated sugar, I teaspoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not under beat.
Drop meringue by ¼ cupfuls on to brown paper. Shape with a knife into 3-inch ovals. Bake in 225 degree F oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven; leave meringues in oven for 1 hour with the door closed.
(After removing them from the oven,) press a hollow into the bottom of each meringue with thumb. Finish cooling at room temperature. Beat whipping cream and powdered sugar in chilled bowl until stiff. Reserve ¼ cup fruit for garnish; fold remaining fruit into whipped cream. Fill meringues; place 2 together. Serve on sides (yo-yo fashion). Garnish with additional whipped cream if desired and the reserved fruit.
For anyone daring enough to try a recipe for pink meringues this one’s from the chef Rachel Allen, who makes everything look so dang easy. Note: caster sugar is fine granulated sugar and icing sugar is powdered sugar. http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/607033 Retrieved September 3, 2010.
Go to the fair and become inspired!
Now, I am going to make peach cobbler. There’s a first time for everything.