Friday, 29 March 2013


Just like Finland, overwhelming majority of the Spanish are Christian. But here the  (Catholic) religiousness is visible in a completely different way. There are altars devoted to different saints embedded in the walls of ordinary homes. Every village seems to have their own patron saint that they celebrate and commemorate in the form of festivals. In close-by Mijas there's even a chapel marking the place where Virgin Mary herself is said to have lived for 500 years, inside a rock no less. At least that's what she had told to the couple of local children she had appeared to.

And if this doesn't feel freaky, then that's what the local Easter celebrations feel like - in the eyes of yours truly anyway. During the Holy Week, Santa Semana there are processions where the men walk around dressed in pointy hooded- robes. The robes cover their faces so that only eyes are visible through the holes cut in the fabric. 

Unfortunately I can't spoil you with photographic evidence of this Ku Klux Klan- like tradition, as this year we're spending Easter in Finland. With no religions shenanigans whatsoever. 

I don't celebrate Easter anyway but it's always nice to have some time off and enjoy getting together with friends around long meals (ok, so that's maybe not so different from our everyday life after all...) And it's a great time to celebrate the humble egg that so prominently symbolizes the resurrection and the circle of life in the Greek Easter tradition. 

And meringues are probably one of my favourite eggy treats. And since I realized I'd never made them myself, it was time to fix that. With that famous "how hard can it be" spirit. And true enough, hard it wasn't. As long as you remember a couple of things. Do not even attempt to whisk the egg whites by hand. Save your biceps and tears and use an electric mixer instead. The bowl and the mixer must be clean and dry. The egg whites should be slightly older and room temperature. The sugar (little by little) shouldn't be added into the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Oh, and if it rains you shouldn't be making meringues at all. Well folks, that's it really.

In case you, instead of free-form spooned ones, decide to pipe them, make sure you use a good quality piping bag. Not the sort of self-exploding one I used. Another equally bad idea is  panicking and trying to destroy the evidence by eating it all. Result: a very nauseous cook.

Both egg whites and yolks can be frozen, so in case you have left over egg whites (say, from penne with chorizo) this  is a great way to use them up. And the yolks left over from this operation can be utilized for crème patisserie, which you can use to fill the meringue nests. That too is nothing to fear, in spite of its high maintenance-sounding name. And it's a good recipe to have in your arsenal - this is said to be for pastry chefs what cement is for builders.


3 egg whites
1.5 dl sugar

Whisk the egg whites until the foam is firm. Then add sugar, little at a time whisking the whole time until the mixture is thick and glossy. If you want to colour the meringues with food colouring or flavour them with something, this is the moment to do that. Spoon (or pipe) the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake in 90° for 45 minutes until the meringues are dry. They might get a bit of colour, so for the last 10 minutes keep checking on them. Turn off the oven and let them dry in the residual heat.

Crème patisserie:

3 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
the seeds scraped off 1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 .5 dl milk
1 3/4 tbsp flour
1 3/4 tbsp corn starch

Mix yolks and sugar. Heat milk in a pan with vanilla. When it's come to boil, pour into the yolks mixing vigorously. Pour back into the pan and bring to boil, stirring continuously. Cook for at least 5 minutes (stirring) so the flour cooks and the mixture thickens. Let cool and. Fill the meringue nests with the cream and fresh berries.

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