Scents of the Season - Pavlova with Apples and Walnuts

Scents of the Season

Pavlova with Apples and Walnuts

Christmas is coming, and all I want is to spark some inspiration and joy with this special seasonal dessert. When it comes to Christmas, this delicate pavlova is the perfect visual the eye lingers upon and makes you wanting to taste it.

This year felt like a century to me, joggling between so many projects and traveling a lot—such a unique, life-changing and truly challenging but so rewarding experience, and I must admit, it seemed harder to find time for the blog. But when Christmas takes over the world, inspires and celebrates the connections, memories and love we have and share, there seems to be time for everything. It felt so right to be right back here, on the journal that helped me discover photography, the beauty of the culinary world, and made my dreams come true.

RECIPE
Pavlova with Apples, Pomegranate, Walnuts and Orange Cream
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

This rustic pavlova brings out the fullest essential flavor of winter. Its light meringue gets topped with crunchy toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds and fruity apples. The citrus flavor combined with the sweetness of this elegant confection, makes this dessert truly exquisite.

Shell
4 egg whites, at room temperature | 240 g caster sugar | 1 tbsp cornflour | 1 tsp white vinegar | 1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only | chopped walnuts |

Cream
400 ml sour cream | 1 orange, finely grated rind only | 2 tbsp pure icing sugar, sifted | 1 small delicious red apple, sliced | a handful of pomegranate seeds, to serve

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 100°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. For meringue, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With motor running, add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until sugar dissolves (5-10 minutes). Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla seeds, then pile mixture into a 20 cm-diameter circle on oven tray, gently smoothing top and making a slight indentation.

3. Bake in center of oven until crisp but not colored (1-1¼ hours). Turn off oven and leave to cool completely with door ajar. Meringue will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

4. For cream, whisk sour cream, orange rind and icing sugar in a bowl until thick. Spoon over meringue, top with sliced apples, pomegranate seeds, chopped walnuts and serve immediately. •


Goodbye 2016 and New Year's Resolutions

There is something so comforting, but equally frightening about the beginning of a new year. Maybe is that amount of unknown and change that it entails, which makes all new beginnings so long-expected. I want 2017 to be for me everything that 2016 couldn't be: more daring, expansive and permissive with my dreams!

2016 has been a good year, because I got to work on an interesting food project for Nestle (to follow soon), I had a new solo exhibition in Romania, I have created cinemagraphs inspired by Miu Miu, Cecile Boccara and Miss Babacilu's products, but also Eiffel Tour, and Romania. I got to see what's looking like behind the scenes at Opera Bastille in Paris, worked on my Florilegium's new volume, I won the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts, I got married and had the rare opportunity to have my bridesmaid coming to my wedding all the way from the US to Romania, and worked on an extensive project proposal for SCAD that led to my next adventure to the US this January.

I am so thankful for all of this to have happened, but I feel that 2016 could have been more adventurous, surrounded by more open-minded people that know how to be professional in this modern age. I think that is such a rarity today (and it shouldn't be) to find individuals that don't toss out life's principles on humaneness, friendship and professionalism. Unfortunately, there are so many people that just choose to forget to be respectful, and choose instead to be cynical and ignorant. Thus, I feel to have been limited in my endeavors by some of these said individuals, that I would have hoped for to remember to be more humane.

However, I consider all disappointments to be strong triggers for something better that awaits to be reflected on. Else, what a new year would mean, if not a reflection on what has been?! All experiences are equally important and shape us with every year in a certain way. Hence, I want 2017 to allow me to express fully my potential, in an environment of like-minded people that know and appreciate life's principles, and care to make every life's moment better. I am looking with so much excitement to what my new artistic experience in the US will bring to me, and I feel so thankful for those so many people at SCAD that chose to believe in my potential again. May your 2017 be sparkling with all things good!

PS: Don't walk by this amazing Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake below, which I prepared for our New Year's Eve here in the Czech Republic. It's all the rage, and needs to be tried asap!


Chocolate-Pumpkin Layer Cake

Hello October! I finally get to come back here and share my thoughts, photographs and recipes with you. I had a wonderful summer with lots of challenging projects, so I have so many stories to share with you. First of, let's talk about this season. Fall is so enchanting with its crisp air, changing colors, nostalgia for the past, and flavorful produce! For me, pumpkin and walnuts equate to the indescribable beauty of fall, when the best produce is carefully harvest to comfort the cold winter that's coming ahead.

I feel particularly inspired by fall because I feel that it gives you the time to take stock of your surroundings much more than any other season. This particular beauty that I believe fall holds as its essence can be tasted and observed in this decadent chocolate-pumpkin cake recipe and in these photographs that brim with that elegance that fall brings along with it.

This is the right cake you need this fall, because it has the perfect ratio of spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. The cake is soft and the pumpkin flavor marries so well with the spices. The chocolate is just the right amount so that is doesn't overwhelm the flavors. It's really so extraordinary that with ingredients so simple such amazing flavors can be achieved. And if there is something timeless and romantic about fall, this cake must be!

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