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Fresh Corn and Basil Salad with Black Beans

I love summer.  I love food in summer.  With June Gloom…it’s difficult to get that true summer feeling.  Salads like this help.  I love all things in this salad.  Fresh corn cut off the cob, diced red onion, black beans, basil chiffonade and topped with a few diced tomatoes.  I threw this together for a midday work barbecue today and I can’t wait to get some on my plate.

Fresh Corn and Basil Salad with Black Beans

6 ears fresh corn shucked
I small red onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh basil
3 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 a lime – squeezed
salt and pepper

Place shucked corn ears into salted boiling water for 3 minutes…just to cook out the starch a bit.

Remove from boiling water and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking, when cool, remove and pat dry.  Cut kernels off of the cob, holding the ear vertical, and cutting as close to the cob as you can without getting too much of the pith.

Throw corn, diced onions and black beans in a bowl and mix.  Add in vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Make sure to taste along the way to get the seasoning right.  If you will be serving it cold (from the refrigerator) season a little more heavily.

Right before serving, chiffonade the basil, and toss in.  I topped it with a few seeded and diced tomatoes for a little punch of color.

Chocolate Pavlovas with Mascarpone Mousse

So if you know me…you know that sweets aren’t really my thing.  At least not like salty-crunchy-starchy-delicious things are.  But…there’s a catch.  I like to make sweets…and as long as there are others around to eat them up…I’ll keep making and you keep eating.  Which brings me to the Pavlovas…made while on vacation when there were lots of people to make them quickly disappear.

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious.  Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Chocolate Meringue

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
¼ cup  confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form.  (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Mmmmmm…cocoa powder!

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white.

Mixing the cocoa powder and sugar into the meringue looks like it will never happen…just continue to fold gently and it will eventually come together.

I free-formed the meringue onto a silpat…you can really make them any size and shape you’d like.

I also filled a pastry bag with the meringue, and piped it onto a parchment lined sheet pan.  Overall, I liked the look of the free form shapes better, but they were a little big for 1 serving.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp.  Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  I was a little surprised at the extended baking time…but they worked out perfectly.

Onto the mousse…

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1 ½ cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups  mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp Grand Marnier

Put ½ cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat.

Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Transfer the mixtureto a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl.  Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose…I whipped by hand…as I was quickly using up every dish, bowl and utensil in the kitchen…and a good arm workout never hurt anyone.

Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed (or continue to whip by hand with whisk until your arm almost falls off…either way…whip until it holds soft peaks.  Warning:  DO NOT OVERBEAT as the mascarpone WILL BREAK.

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten.  Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated.

I used two spoons to shape canelles of the mousse, plopped them onto the pavlovas and finished it with a loose whipped cream drizzled over the top.  The final tough is missing…and is actually a common mistake of mine.  I had a few fresh mint leaves to place artfully on top…and once again…forgot about them entirely until the camera was turned off and the plates scraped clean.

Sigh.  Next time….

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