Saturday, September 5, 2009

Beet Maple Meringues...and I heard you say ewww

Beet Maple Meringues

I have been thinking about a dish to prepare for the Slow Food movement Eat-In, which is happening across the country on Labor Day. The purpose is to bring awareness to childhood food education--to reform the outdated standards which children face in school, and to encourage healthier, smarter food for children. Its a massive undertaking with many political implications, but on a personal level I want to try and help as I can.

The Eat-In is a potluck, and asks that people bring a dish that is healthy, exciting for kids, and made with ingredients costing under $20. I have been wanting to make meringues for a while as I think the light, crisp feeling they give are perfect for a sweet low in fat and gluten free (in order to please everyone attending).

I decide to make meringues flavored with maple syrup, and better yet, cook some beets in the maple syrup to impart a hot pink hue.

as the egg whites are whipped, I slowly pour in the cooled syrup, and look what a gorgeous shade of pink...

My hands were too covered in eggy goo to take pictures, but I piped the flowers using just the coupler on my pastry bag.

They came out crisp, sweet, and disappeared within 5 minutes, mostly by little hands of Clyde's friends. After eating some lunch and sweets, Clyde helped the Growing Chefs make homemade pesto for the crowd.

The movie "What's on Your Plate?" was screened, and I thought it was amazing. Two spirited girls from the East Village track where their food is from and how it gets to their table.

It was a lovely event, and I feel so inspired at how many people showed up--not everyone needs to have a kid in a public school to feel the urge for change. Later that day, my friend asked me to join the nutrition committee for the PTA, and armed with confidence that people really care about school food beyond parents, I happily signed up. xo

Beet Maple Meringues

6 organic egg whites, room temperature
pinch of sea salt
1 cup maple syrup
1 small beet, peeled and minced into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or arrowroot

1. Add minced beet and maple syrup together in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat covered for 30 minutes until beets are cooked and soft. Strain, reserving chopped beets for some other experiment. Let maple syrup cool.

preheat oven to 200 degrees, line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Splash a bit of white vinegar and salt in the bowl fitted for a standing mixer. Rub with paper towel and wipe clean. This will ensure the bowl is grease free for your egg whites.

2. Beat egg whites on medium-high until foamy and bubbly, then add sea salt and cream of tartar/arrowroot.

3. Increase speed to high, until mixture is thick and creamy. Slowly add cooled maple syrup mixture and vanilla, and mix until combined.

4. Using a pastry bag fitted with the coupler, fill and pipe five blobs for petals, and one center blob for the stamen on the parchment paper.

5. Place in the oven, and bake for 1 hour, then turn off oven but keep the door shut for at least 2-3 hours until meringues are crisp to the touch.

6. Keep in airtight container, as air will quickly soften these.

For more information about the marvels of the Slow Food movement, please visit September is pay what you can membership month.

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