Nana’s Pavlova

Pavlova. Even the name is beautiful. It is an Australian desert (though New Zealand often tries to steal credit for its invention with ‘facts’ and ‘historical evidence’) consisting of a soft marshmallowy center, crispy meringue shell and all topped with cream and fruit. It tastes like an angel is taking a nap on your tongue.

“But Deira, why is this recipe any better than all the other recipes floating around the internet?”
She once gave me a hand written copy and it is one of my most valued possessions.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have not been born in Australia and experience the overwhelming joy of a slice of celebratory pav after a BBQ on Christmas, this recipe is dedicated to you. Like a piece of charity to your taste buds.

6 egg whites (room temperature)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 level dessert spoons of Cornflour
1.5 tsp vanilla essence
1.5 tsp white vinegar

500ml whipped cream and fresh fruit to decorate
(I like strawberries, kiwi and blueberries best)

Prep 25 min, Cooking time 1.5 hours
Pre-heat oven to 135 Celsius (if possible, lower or turn off the fan)

1. Beat egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and beat until very stiff. Gradually add the sugar, beating to thick glossy meringue.
Fold in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla.

2. On a flat tray lined with greased paper spread the meringue into a 20 cm circle. Lightly indent the center and decorate the sides with the back of a spoon.

3. Bake on 2nd bottom shelf in moderate oven for 5 min then reduce heat to 135 Celsius for 1.5 hours. Pavlova may be left to cool in stored heat.

Note from my nana-in-law: I turn mine over onto a pavlova plate and decorate when chilled with cream and strawberries.

Enjoy the best food in the world my friends!

What Tickles My Funny. Part one.

Since moving to America and starting stand-up comedy I am always faced with these two statements:

1.”Who is your favorite comedian?”
2. “I’ve never heard of Sean Micallef.”

My taste in comedy is very much driven by countless hours watching ‘The Best of the Late Show’ (the Australian one made in 1992) on repeat with my brother, knowing that the library’s only VHS copy was costing my parents a fortune in late fees.
Add in a good dose of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and hero-worship as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala hit TV screens each year and you should have a good picture of why I can’t quote many American comedians with the fluency I can recount ‘Pissweak World’ and ‘Bargearse’
Here beneath is a testament to my favorite comedians;  whom I love, wish I was and who may have once called me beautiful:

1. Sean Micallef

Back in the 90’s I was young and not allowed to watch TV past 8pm. Despite my parents setting that rule, they gave me a small black and white TV. I understood this gift as ‘Don’t listen to us, do whatever you like’. Thus I would stay up all night to watch ‘Full Frontal’, a sketch comedy show starring Sean Micallef and other people who weren’t Sean Micallef. I’d watch it with my face so close to the screen that my hair would cling to the glass from the static. Without fail my stealth viewing would be betrayed by the laughter pouring out my face as Sean fumbled incoherently as Milo Karrigan. My parents would barge in and unplug the TV (they never removed the TV, which I interpreted as ‘Please plug this back in when we leave and you should probably take some chocolate from the kitchen too’)
In high school ‘The Micallef Program(me)’ began its run and I was in love. Sean Micallef became my spirit animal, my first crush (second if you include Alex Mallory from Growing Pains) and king of all laugh-makers.

Once I met him and he called me beautiful and he gave me a twix bar. The end.

2. The Late Show

*(Technically not one comedian but a comedy entity unto itself)

Not to be confused with the American more successful version, The Late Show was Australia’s own version of SNL but with a smaller budget and much less success (except in Frankston where it rivaled Best Leg’s chips for popularity). This show, more than anything else, has shaped not only my sense of humor but who I am as a person. I can recount every news worthy event of 1992 thanks to the Newsdesk with Tommy G and get nostalgic driving past the old ‘Stacks of Slax’ building because of Tony Martin and Mick Malloy’s expose on zany business names. Graham and the Colonel quotes comprise the majority of my conversations about sport to hide my complete ignorance. This show owns a large chunk of my brain. It really is “Champagne sketch comedy”.

3. Mitch Hedburg

Thankfully this man is known by most. It was his performance at Montreal Just For Laughs in 2004 that once again had me glued to the TV set (by this stage I had updated to a colour 31 cm screen) but I remember not laughing because the grin on my face was too wide to allow me to make a noise. He had a optimistic take on small things which is a rarity in stand-up. His genuine joy for his craft which countered his anxiety on stage made him intoxicatingly fascinating to watch.

4. Maeve Higgens

I discovered this lady when my friend threw Maeve’s book ‘We Have a Good Time, Don’t We?’ at me with great enthusiasm.  It was while reading the first chapter that I saw she too faced the conundrum of having to wash one’s hands after applying good hand cream and I knew she was the voice of my people ( I don’t know who ‘my people’ are, but one day we will accidentally congregate and need a leader).
She may have stolen my hope of making the best comedy cooking show around with her ‘Fancy Vittles’ but heck, with episode themes as adorable as her dog’s birthday party (in which a dog wore a party hat) how I could I possibly compete?