Life at Oxford led to innovative kitchen Quests: Avid cook honed skills to survive in the '60s and to enjoy the '90s.

Kitchen Encounters

August 07, 1996|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

Four days after her wedding to Fred Meier, Pam Berquist Meier and her Oxford-bound husband sailed on the S.S. France to England -- with a copy of "The James Beard Cookbook" in her steamer trunk.

Oxford University in the '60s, Meier said, "was a male-dominated society," and dinner invitations to her husband often excluded her. So the new bride was determined to become a culinary star, so she could issue the invitations. "I decided I had to be a pretty good cook if I wanted to see my husband, or anyone else, regularly."

Their living quarters were small and she had to shop every day. "I taught myself cooking and English money at the same time."

These days she divides her time among running the Baltimore Museum of Art's annual spring antiques show, doing interior design for Arnot & McComas, and teaching cooking classes. But she still spends plenty of time in the kitchen. "I cook every day," she says, "because I love it. Around 4 o'clock, I stop whatever I'm doing and start dinner. My children say they love to come home because they get a wonderful meal every day."

And, most often, it's a different meal. "I've always been the kind of cook that I'll try something, and then put [that recipe] away. I just like to try new things all the time."

Although her kitchen is fairly recently renovated, in a gray and white color scheme with two granite-topped islands, it's not air-conditioned, so she finds cooking this time of year an extra challenge. "I'm always looking for things to keep me cool."

This cooling dessert has become one of her rare repeats.

Mango sorbet in vanilla tulip cups

Serves 6

FOR THE SORBET:

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

3 pounds very ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced

juice of 1 lime

FOR THE TULIP CUPS:

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup (about 2 large) egg whites at room temperature

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a saucepan, simmer the sugar and water for 5 minutes and let the mixture cool.

Puree the mango with the lime juice (you should have about 2 1/2 cups) and add 1/3 cup sugar syrup or more to taste until the desired sweetness is achieved (depending on the ripeness of the mangoes).

Chill mixture until it is cold and freeze in an ice-cream freezer according to manufacturer's instructions.

To make the tulip cups, heat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl cream the butter, beat in the sugar and beat mixture until fluffly. Add vanilla and egg whites and beat the mixture for 5 to 10 seconds or until smooth. Sift flour over mixture and fold it in. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of the batter onto either end of a buttered cookie sheet. With the back of a spoon dipped in cold water, spread batter to form 6-inch rounds. (To bake all 6 tulip cups, you need 3 cookie sheets.)

Bake cookies, in staggered batches, in the middle of oven for 5 or 6 minutes, or until edges are brown. Let cookies stand on baking sheet for 30 seconds, or until just firm enough to hold their shape.

Working quickly, transfer them one at a time with a metal spatula to a glass bowl six inches in diameter, and pinch in the four sides to make flower shapes. Cool until they hold the shape, then finish cooling on racks.

To serve, place tulip cup on dessert plate and, using a melon-baller or ice-cream scoop, scoop balls of the sorbet into the cups. Serve immediately.

Pub Date: 8/07/96

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