Farófias & Hugs
We're not very good with hugs in Portugal. We kiss. We easily turn our cheek to be kissed as a compliment to someone (even a person we may not know very well) but we seldom hug anyone. For me, hugs are the vital energy that feeds happiness. Someone once said that you can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. I blame Donna Hay for having met Barbara. From the many things I have Donna to thank for, one of the most important is to have crossed paths with such an adorable person. Barbara's fight against cancer has started half a planet away from her home, and just a "block" away from mine when she was finishing her holidays in Portugal. Geography's not important. Love is. Today, I want to wrap Barbara in a tight hug, with beautiful pink flowers, soft poached meringues, and positive thoughts!
When Bron and Ilva kindly invited me to join the super hug to Barbara, I wondered what to make... Farófias. I'll make farófias. French call it ile flotante. The Portuguese call it farófias, a “cloud” of fluffy light airy, fresh meringue combined with lemon custard and a pinch of cinnamon. So together with a huge hug, and a bunch of smiles, that's for you, Barbara!
(Poached Meringues in Lemon Custard with Cinnamon)
Slightly adapted from Maria de Lourdes Modesto, Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa
4 large eggs, separated
4 Tbsp caster sugar
3 cups + 3 Tbsp whole milk
Zest of 1 lemon, cut in long strips
1/2 cup golden caster sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
In a deep skillet set over moderately low heat, bring 3 cups of the milk and the lemon zest to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Strain the milk and return to the skillet. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then add 4 Tbsp caster sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, and beat until stiff glossy peaks form.
Return the milk to low heat and when steam rises from the surface, drop meringue in by rounded tablespoons. (To keep meringue from sticking, dip the spoon often in hot water). Poach the meringues about 2 minutes in the milk, turn and poach the other side 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer them to a large plate and reserve.
As soon as all meringues are poached, strain the milk into a medium-size heavy saucepan and mix in the golden caster sugar. Check if any milk can be poured from the plate where the meringues are. Combine the extra 3 Tbsp of milk with the cornstarch, in a small bowl. Whisk a little of the hot milk into this mixture, then blend into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, over moderately low heat 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Beat the egg yolks lightly, whisk in a little of the hot sauce, stir back into pan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2-3 minutes (do not boil or the mixture may curdle).
Place the meringues into a large shallow heatproof bowl or 4-6 individual plates. Allow the custard to cool slightly, then pour on top of the meringues. Serve warm or well chilled, dusting the meringues with cinnamon at the last minute. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds.