Cook, that is.
Well this week’s recipe is another dessert and it’s a corker – I call it my Pavlova for Dummies.
But first, here’s some background info on why I’m such a shit cook and need to cheat with desserts in particular. Then I’ll tell you about how I test-ran this meringue-baby just last weekend.
You see, over the past twelve months I have been forced to watch the old man shed a few kilos whilst goading me daily with his newly toned, sexy physique (his words).
What can I say? Marriage is hard enough without your husband losing weight, especially in the unorthodox way he has done it.
And the changes to his body have caused him to behave in quite a peculiar fashion, particularly when he has his shirt off. He has this tendency to thrust his hairy, middle-aged chest out into my face first thing in the morning and say things like ‘just look at this body, Lou’.
He seems to have forgotten that ‘running’ actually does very little for your pecs and that sadly for me, I’m still faced with the same impressive set of man boobs and belly button fluff that I’ve been staring at for the past twenty-five years.
Another downside of his healthy eating plan is that he has completely sanctioned dessert in our house.
That is, for everyone but HIM. Because healthy eating to the old man still includes a minimum of five desserts per night.
He will brazenly deny that accusation, of course, because he doesn’t seem aware of what constitutes a dessert or how many times he opens the fridge door after dinner when he thinks we’re not looking.
And admittedly, you do need to be fairly creative to find sugar in our house.
Primarily due to Kurt’s ADHD, which is exacerbated by the same passion for sugar as his father but which acts as a mind-altering substance on him, so I buy very little sweet stuff. And on the rare (nightly) occasions when we do need that sugar fix, we generally head down to the local Deli and pay double for a Mars bar in penance for our lack of self-discipline.
I, of course, do not need dessert, because in the interests of my health I have made a vow to replace it with wine fruit.
If he’s lucky the old man might score some fruit, out-of-date yoghurt, an old pot of custard and occasionally some stale cake on offer during his dessert raids, (usually left over from trying to impress guests or NC’s constant stream of student ‘FEED ME NOW’ friends), but there’s very little else.
The dessert games usually commence straight after dinner. His first course will be an apple, followed by a yoghurt ten minutes later. Half an hour later he will begin rooting around in the bowels of the fridge desperate to sate his sugar itch, which is where his creativity truly comes in. Custard is mixed with ice cream, stale cake combined with hundreds and thousands or sometimes those little silver balls from past birthday cake supplies and frosting. Sometimes he goes batshit crazy with frozen fruit, peanut butter, coco powder and jelly.
His ‘kill-me-now’ scenario is when there is absolutely nothing in the pantry apart from my emergency 85% dark chocolate, which he describes as cardboard yet still manages to demolish in one mouthful.
The point of this long diatribe is that the main reason I have had to develop the Mastercheat recipes was because I have a house full of food heathens who all have different palates and needs and so I rarely get the opportunity to be Jamie Oliver in the kitchen.
So when someone asks me to bring dessert to dinner, I tend to get a little strung out. Like last Saturday night.
Which is where my Pavlova for Dummies comes in.
The only good thing about being asked to bring dessert is that most people are shitfaced by the time you serve it and will forgive you a bit of culinary ‘cheating’. Admittedly, the designated drivers can be a bit problematic when they’ve waited all night for a sugar fix, but they’re obviously boring fuckers, so who really cares?
I should mention here also that the only ‘potential fail’ part of this Pav is that it does need to be erected on site, which at the BEGINNING of last Saturday night, didn’t seem like a problem.
Because I was busy getting caught up in the occasion – laughing at my own jokes, being as loud and obnoxious as you can be on bucket loads of white wine and nerves, (when your sugar-intake is coming directly from fermented grapes), and lapping up the accompanying smorgasbord of fabulous Indian nosh that our hostess had obviously lovingly prepared, (for what must have been a month at least).
So the Pav ingredients remained discreetly in my bag.
And understandably, the responsibility of dessert kind of passed me by until about 10.30pm when the old man gave me the look of ‘we need to get you out of here before we lose all our friends’ and we started bidding our farewells. Suddenly my friend pulled me aside and asked me where the dessert was….
‘What dessert?’ I remember thinking in my drunken haze, followed by a ‘FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!’.
Yet this very situation, dear friends, is exactly where the Pavlova For Dummies really comes into its own in Mastercheatery, because I kid you not, I got that baby on the table within five minutes flat.
So here is my gift to you. The recipe for:
Pavlova For Dummies
Coles or Woolies Pavlova ready-made base
Manual whisk (plus strong, hot man) or something electrical that does the same job – I think I used a hand-held soup maker in my haste, but it worked
Bag of frozen fruit – that defrosts while you are drinking
Cut up strawberries and blueberries for authenticity
Tin of passion fruit puree if you want to look the biz
Icing Sugar if you REALLY want to look the biz
Take meringue base out of box as furtively as possible, then conceal the packaging immediately in the recycling bin.
Ask the closest and hottest, young male to whip cream for you. If he’s really hot, give him a manual whisk as it takes a lot longer. Ask him to spread the cream slowly and liberally over the base while you
watch prepare the fruit.
Drain frozen fruit and dump on top of the cream.
Conceal frozen fruit with real fruit pieces where necessary.
Drizzle tinned passion fruit puree over the top.
Sift icing sugar over the top for the professional Mastercheat look.