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MARCH 2013 NEWSLETTER

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Do rabbits really lay eggs?

Spacer issue one, volume ten  

Rabbit Walking
EASTER: NOT A THREE HOUR CRUISE!

Spring is definitely here. I am wearing shorts as I type these words. But, if you know me, I would be wearing shorts if it were in the 40's anyway, so that's beside the point. More than Spring, it's Easter and time to celebrate all that that entails. If you have been following our missives through the years you are aware that Tracy and I host a large garden party to celebrate the day with an egg hunt, Chris's world famous Chubby BunnyRamos Gin Fizzes, lots of food and general merriment. As the guest list can include up to forty of our closest friends we rely on good weather to allow us to host the festivities outside as our home is far to small for the crowd. Well, unfortunately even Napa Valley's weather is iffy at this time of year and 3 years ago it was very iffy indeed. A few sprinkles are not unusual but generally the party goes on outside. We knew they were predicting some rain, but we were prepared and had ordered a number of pop up tents in the 10 by 10 and 10 by 15 variety and placed them around the yard to give people refuge from what we hoped would be a short sprinkle. Rabbits in ScooterTracy and I are committed to barbecue and so most of the cooking was to take place out of doors and I was in charge. I began the day slow smoking the meats and was under a tent when a light rain started in the morning. When the guests began to arrive and the egg hunt commenced the rain abated a bit and things looked better, but as the hunt ended the skies darkened and the heavens opened. For the rest of the dayas nearly forty people crammed in a house the comfortablyseats ten,I stood outside and tended the fires. For those of you old enough to remember Gilligan's Island and the part of the beginning credits where they are singing "and then it started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed" and you see the VegtablesSkipper and Gilligan on the deck of the ship while people off camera are obviously throwing buckets of water in their faces? That was me outside tending the meat. It was raining SO HARD that about once a minute the tent over the barbecue would empty itself directly onto my head as I corrected the temperature. Well...how did the party turn out? It was actually one of the most successful Easters ever. Even with the crowding, or perhaps because of it, people talked and laughed and had the best time ever. If you have the right people it really doesn't matter what you do all they really want to do is get together and share the moment and that's not just a good thing, that's a wonderful thing.
Happy Easter!

John & Tracy Anderson


CLASSIC AUSSI PAVLOVA

 

serves 8

Here is a nice Spring dessert that we discovered decades ago in the form of a mix in a big plastic egg called the"Magic Pavlova". We found it in a specialty store that is long gone, as is the magic egg. It was a huge disappointment when both disappeared as we had no idea what the magic mix was made of. Years later, we had a visit from my sister-in-law's father and his Australian wife, Di. To our great delight, she made dessert that evening and lo and behold a Pavlova was created right before our eyes. Better still, she was willing to share the recipe. As you may or may not know, it was invented for the famous ballerina of the same name. It is sweet, light as air and quite spectacular. I have made a few minor changes to Di's original recipe, but here it is just for you.


For the Pavlova:
4 egg whites (room temperature is best)
1 cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar laying around, like I never seem to do, use 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup powdered sugar)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (very cold is best)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Finish:
fruit - this one is all berries and bananas, but you might like mango, citrus segments, kiwi, peaches, plums. pineapple - just about any soft fruit will do.

Pavlova

Beat egg whites with ½ cup sugar and the salt until stiff, but not dry. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining sugar, then gradually add this mixture to the egg whites while beating. Then beat in the lemon juice. Trace a 10-inch circle onto a large piece of parchment paper, then turn the paper upside down onto a baking sheet (the egg white will pick up any pencil or pen it touches on the paper, so best to turn it over). Spread the egg white mixture evenly on the parchment paper into the 10-inch circle. Bake at 290-300 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour (turning after 30 minutes so it bakes evenly) Turn off the oven and allow to cool with the door shut. I get impatient after about an hour and pull that sucker out to cool down so I can finish it, also I have a restaurant stove that never really cools down - do what you will with that information.
While the Pavlova is cooling, whip the cream with the 3 Tablespoons sugar and vanilla to soft peaks. When the Pavlova is completely cool, spread the whipped cream over the top and arrange your fruit on the cream.
This is not really a make ahead dessert, although you could make the meringue bit ahead and store it in as air-tight a situation as you can muster (good luck finding a Tupperware to fit that!), then put the cream and fruit on later. In any case, It is a lovely dessert I'm sure you and yours will enjoy as much as we do.

 

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