What is the “WOW” Factor? My definition: recipes/dishes that require minimal effort for maximum impact. We all have them…they are those recipes that you pull out in a pinch, or love to make frequently, because you know that they are easy but will always please the eaters and get rave reviews. And what cook doesn’t love to be praised highly for the effort they put in?
An example of this would be roast chicken. I use a ‘tried & true’ recipe that involves separating the skin from the meat and rubbing a combination of olive oil, salt and chopped up rosemary between the skin & meat, then tossing one or two quartered lemons (depending on the size of the chicken) and rosemary twigs into the cavity before binding the legs together and then bunging the chicken in the oven (60 minutes at 425F). Takes no time at all to prepare and it is golden & beautiful at the end. And if you’re up for it, use the drippings to make a gravy to go along side.
But my new favourite WOW factor recipe is Pavlova. We lived in Australia for a few years in the early 70’s where my mum discovered pavlova. It was always a special occasion when she made pavlova for dessert. It always seemed like a magical fairy dish to me…light yet slightly chewy/gummy, golden swirls on top, laden with fruit…you get the picture.
But I never saw her make one so I had this “Wizard of Oz” image – I didn’t know what went on behind the curtain but I was sure it was very complicated and well beyond my limited baking skills. Then I found a recipe a few years ago and decided I was ready to tackle pavlova on my own…lo & behold, a new recipe for the WOW factor reportoire.
Pavlova takes about 10 – 15 minutes of prep time and then bakes in the oven for around an hour. This is the recipe I use (without the cardomom) and although I prefer to make a large one, you can also make individual pavlovas depending on the occasion. And I vary the topping depending on what fruit is in season…
I made one last night to take to a bbq – pavlovas are a wee bit difficult to transport but you can cover up all the cracks and breaks with a fruit topping (you can also add whipped cream) before you present it.
Perfect example of a WOW factor recipe…and even though I now realize I am giving away my secrets, I am always on the hunt for more. What are your favourite WOW recipes?