A Chocolate Pavlova is the perfect platform for fresh whipped cream and summer berries. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

This week I have my 13-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, here at the cove keeping me company. We both like to eat and we’ve been cooking together since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’ll never forget the first time I had her here for the day. A wee lassie dressed in her mother’s old OshKosh overalls, she perched on my kitchen counter and helped knead the weekly bread. Noticing the satisfied smile on her face made me realize I had a chef in the making right there in front of me and from that day forward we have clocked in many kitchen hours together.

Since that time, Lucy has perfected chocolate chip cookies, hollandaise sauce, key lime pie, French macarons, chicken Parmesan and all manner of soups and quiches. She’s even a published food writer!

One of her favorite meals features “porky steak” (aka pork chops) and this seasonal sautéed salad. These delightfully sticky chops pair so well with lightly sautéed vegetables, just-picked herbs and creamy mozzarella.

We keep it light because we must have room for the pièce de résistance – Chocolate Pavlova. Lucy’s mother first made this dessert for me 20 years ago in her tiny apartment with the non-kitchen. This crackly-on-the-outside, fudgy-on-the-inside chocolate cloud is the perfect thing to impress your friends, even the gluten-free ones.

As the Pavlova cools, it will deflate and crack, revealing the gooey center. So frost it with whipped cream and pile on the sun-ripened berries. And yes, it’s totally OK to eat this dessert first. I highly recommend it.


Hoisin-Glazed Pork Chops

1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon honey
1 pound (4, 1/2-inch thick) boneless pork chops
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare grill for cooking over direct medium heat. Stir together barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, sherry and honey in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended.

Season pork with ginger, garlic salt and pepper on both sides. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Using tongs, turn frequently and cook until pork is no longer pink in the center. Brush with glaze during last 5 minutes of grilling time.

Boil remaining glaze for 1 minute and serve with pork. Yield: 4 servings

Pepper & Mozzarella Salad

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large colored bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch bites
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) marjoram or oregano
1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained

In a large skillet, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil for 3 minutes, until softened. Add bell peppers and stir while cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, cover and cook for 3 more minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, uncovered until juices are reduced and thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.


In separate bowl, toss mozzarella with pepper flakes, marjoram, parsley and capers. Toss with cooled vegetables and serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Pavlova with Berries

6 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
Sweetened whipped cream
2 cups fresh berries
1-2 ounces chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment paper.

Beat egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form. Beat in sugar a spoonful at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle cocoa, vinegar and chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold in with a rubber spatula.

Mound the meringue into pan, smoothing the top. Place in oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. Cook for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. When it’s ready, the Pavlova should look crisp and dry on top, but when you poke the center it should feel a little squidgy. Turn off oven and open the door slightly. Allow to cool completely in the oven, during which time the Pavlova will collapse.

When ready to serve, carefully run a knife around the sides and remove the sides of the pan. Gently transfer pavlova from pan platform to a serving plate and peel off the parchment. Top with whipped cream, berries and chocolate shavings. Yield: 8 servings

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