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

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at iwrite33@comcast.net or 504-0545.

My granddaughter and I 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 she came to visit me on her own. A wee lass of 3, dressed in her mother’s old OshKosh overalls, she perched on my kitchen counter and helped knead the weekly bread. Seeing the satisfied smile on her face, I had a hunch that she was a chef in the making, and from that day forward we have clocked many kitchen hours together.

Now almost 17, Lucy has perfected chocolate chip cookies, hollandaise sauce, Key lime pie, French macarons, chicken Parmesan, pasta with vodka sauce and all manner of soups, quiches and other exquisite offerings. She’s even a published food writer.

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

We keep it light so we’ll have room for the piece de resistance – chocolate Pavlova. Making this crackly-on-the-outside, fudgy-on-the-inside chocolate cloud is the perfect way to impress your friends, especially if they’re gluten-free.

As the Pavlova cools, it will deflate and crack, revealing the gooey center. Pile on whipped cream and sun-ripened strawberries. And yes, it’s totally fine to make this just for yourself. You deserve 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. In a small pan, stir together barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, sherry and honey. 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 the last 5 minutes of grilling time.

Boil remaining glaze for 1 minute and serve with pork.

Yield: 4 servings

Pepper and 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


8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch bites

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1 tablespoon capers, drained

In a large skillet, saute 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, oregano, 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 springform 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 chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold in with a rubber spatula.

Mound the meringue into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Place in oven and 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 the oven and open the door slightly. Allow it to cool completely in the oven, during which time the Pavlova will collapse.

When ready to serve, carefully run a knife around the edge of the Pavlova and remove the sides of the pan. Gently transfer from the pan platform to a serving plate, peeling off the parchment. Top with whipped cream, berries and chocolate shavings.

Yield: 8 servings

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