I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! A couple weeks ago the neighbors, my roommate and I started planning FEASTER! our own little gathering to celebrate good friends, good food, and good times in Brooklyn. Last years event was fun and laid back so we definitely wanted to enjoy the day outside in the backyard with good friends. We had perfect weather and everyone made something delicious to share.
The boys took care of the main dish and smoked a pork tenderloin and pork shoulder on the grill all afternoon. We had two kinds of deviled eggs, dyed of course so you knew the difference between the two and my favorite avocado dip. Both were quickly gobbled up as we waited for dinner and we learned that Doritos and ruffles ridges are also good with avocado dip. A friend who dislikes avocado gave it a small taste and actually enjoyed it. I love getting people to eat things they don’t like.
We also had some egg dying going on with glitter, I mean who could resist glitter? It was a good distraction for everyone as we waited for the food to be put on the table. Now I just need to decide what to do with all those hard boiled eggs.
To seat 15 people in the back yard, we used the fence section that we took down between my yard and the neighbors on some cinder blocks and put a couple table cloths over it to hide the truth. Everyone was so excited when everything was on the table, multiple pictures were taken and once everyone’s plate was full, there were periods of silence as everyone just enjoyed.
We had the the two meats, grilled chicken hearts (I tried my new food for the day- it was okay, probably won’t revisit anytime soon), mashed potatoes, green beans, roasted brussel sprouts, baked mac and cheese, spinach and artichoke dip with pitas, Kreugal, salad and fresh strawberry meringue cake. The cake was pretty simple to make, but there is a lot of down time, and you do have to be paying close attention to everything you are whipping. After tasting the whipped heavy cream and sugar, I can never go back to cool whip again. It was sooooo good. As if the fresh dessert wasn’t good enough, the leftovers taste like smooth strawberry ice cream with cookies crunched up. You have to try this recipe!
Fresh Strawberry Meringue Cake
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 7 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 (8-oz.) containers mascarpone cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 4 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- Halved fresh strawberries- about another 1 to 1 1/2 cup
- Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 to 12 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven, and cool completely (about 10 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 250°.
- Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch circles on each piece of paper. Turn the sheets over so the pencil side is down. I ended up using three baking sheets because I didn’t have two big enough to fit both circles. You just want to be able to fit everything in the oven. If you want and have some masking tape, you can secure the paper to the the sheets. Mine was fine without it.
- Process cornstarch, salt, toasted pecans, and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor 40 to 45 seconds or until pecans are finely ground. Be careful here, I almost made pecan butter.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at medium-high speed until mixture is glossy, stiff peaks form, and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes; do not overbeat). Add half of pecan mixture to egg white mixture, gently folding just until blended. Repeat procedure with remaining pecan mixture.
- Gently spoon egg white mixture onto circles drawn on parchment paper (about 1 1/2 cups mixture per circle), spreading to cover each circle completely.
- Bake at 250° for 1 hour, turning baking sheets after 30 minutes. Turn oven off; let meringues stand in closed oven with light on, if you have one, 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until surface is dry and meringues can be lifted from paper without sticking to fingers. Mine was fine in 2 hours. This is the perfect time to slice all those strawberries.
- Just before assembling cake, stir together mascarpone cheese and vanilla in a large bowl just until blended.
- Beat whipping cream at low speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. (Do not overbeat or cream will be grainy.) Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
- Carefully remove 1 meringue from parchment paper; place on a serving plate. Spread one-fourth mascarpone mixture (about 2 cups) over meringue; top with 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries. Repeat layers 2 times; top with remaining meringue, mascarpone mixture, and halved strawberries. Serve immediately, or chill up to 2 hours. Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.