Did you see it?
The trailer I made for The 505 West! It’s an absolutely astounding AirBnb located in Princeton, just 30 minutes from where we live.
See, this whole thing started when I found out Matt had created this gorgeous space above his restaurant, Horseradish. I was already obsessed with the restaurant and became equally as enamored with the rental.
It is really and truly one of my favorite places to eat and spend time in the area. It reminds me of any number of trendy places in Chicago or Greenville, without the “trying so hard” feeling I often got in those cities. There’s just a comfort to be found sitting on a stool in the restaurant, looking into the open kitchen or perusing the shelves near the front door. I spend a decent amount of time there (though not enough, IMO). Seth and I go on dates there, I had my bridal shower there, it’s a lovely place for a quick lunch. Originally, we’d tossed around the idea of doing food photography work, as I’ve been making headway in that department (see here and here). But, truly, Matt doesn’t need me. He takes lovely photos on his own. And on his phone! Much to my frustration.
So, it morphed into this. A night in the suite and a day in the kitchen. All documented and (somewhat) perfected and presented. (Although if I’m being honest about it being perfected – this is the second time I’ve uploaded the video. The first time was missing the audio transition and I was so mortified I took it down!)
Matt was so kind to open his doors to us. He introduced us to his friends, Elsah and Roger, owners of a local catering company. They have experience and advice and stories I gobbled up faster than the food they made. We laughed, drank Jack Rabbits, and made marshmallows. I took video of it all, that you’ll see at a later date.
I also took a ton of pictures. Just like I did of these pavlovas!
These are my own attempt of the divine dessert Elsah prepared for us. After our day of experimenting in the closed restaurant we sat around a bunch of gathered tables – three couples sharing food and stories. When she plated and served them, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Or my stomach! I’d never tried pavlova before, and let me tell ya, it was worth the wait! They’re amazing. Light, crispy, crunchy, creamy. And not all that difficult, if you exercise a little patience and a little planning. I’m so happy to have tried them. I hope you will be too.
Elsah’s Peach Pavlovas
- Active Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
- Inactive Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 3.5 - 4 hours
- Yields: 8 – 10 pavlovas
For the pavlovas:
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar*
- 1 ¼ tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment begin whipping egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Sprinkle in salt and increase speed to medium-high. Begin adding sugar, one spoonful at a time. Whip mixture until meringue is thick, glossy, and holds stiff peaks. It is really ready when a pinch rubbed between two fingers is completely smooth and no granules of sugar remain. Add cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract, gently folding in to prevent deflation. Using an extra-large cookie scoop, portion meringue onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon, press centers in with a little swoop and flourish, leaving edges higher than the center. Place in preheated oven and immediately lower temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until just ever-so-slightly golden. Turn off heat and prop open oven door using a wooden spoon. Allow shells to cool completely before removing from oven.*
For the lemon curd cream:
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 TBSP butter
- 2 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
In a medium saucepot, whisk together the lemon juice and sugar. Place of medium-low heat and stir until dissolved. Take a small bit of warmed juice and pour it over egg yolks, whisking to temper them and prevent scrambling. Pour yolks into pot and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Stir in butter before pouring into a clean container and refrigerating for at least an hour. When ready to assemble pavlovas, whip the heavy cream on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Add the lemon zest and ½ cup of the lemon curd, gently folding in to combine.
For the brown sugar peaches:
- 4 peaches, pitted and sliced thin
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP bourbon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved, set aside until ready to use.
For the quick bourbon caramel:
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. flaked sea salt
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and bourbon, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is totally dissolved. Remove from heat before stirring into heavy cream and salt.
For the faux milk crumb:
- 1 cup vanilla wafers, crushed
- ½ cup white chocolate chips, melted
Pour chocolate over crushed wafers and stir to combine. Spread over parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 5 minutes to harden.
To assemble pavlovas:
Place a baked and cooled shell on serving plate. Add a good dollop of heavy cream in the center, followed by a drizzle of lemon curd and quick caramel. Layer with peaches and sprinkle with faux milk crumb. Garnish with mint and serve immediately.
*Pavlova recipe adapted from Nigella’s here.
*If you don’t have superfine sugar just throw it in a food processor (or NINJA!) and pulse for a few seconds until grains are smaller.
*the pavlovas may crack, that’s ok! I found that a longer cook time (around 30 – 35 minutes) prevented cracks in exchange for a darker hue much different than the traditionally white pavlovas.
*All ingredients, including shells, can be made a day or two in advance. Simply store everything in separate containers – pavlovas on the counter, everything else in the fridge.