When I asked to collaborate with my food stylist colleague and friend Claire Perez she suggested that we make and shoot a Pavlova! What a grand idea! A grand cake that is easy to make! The meringue is crispy and chewy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A cake with amazing bursts of flavors and textures in one bite.


Strawberry-Mango Pavlova

This classic ethereal dessert is often served with mixed berries.  Any fresh fruit will work.  I chose mango and strawberries because I love the flavor combination.  And my neighbor has a mango tree and I found a just-picked, fragrant, ripe bag full on my front porch yesterday.  Thank you nice neighbor.  The cream topped meringue discs won’t hold up for long so plan on assembling this dessert as close to serving time as possible.  Makes 10 servings.   - Claire Perez

Claire Perez is a food stylist, editor and recipe developer based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Concentrating on multimedia food styling, she additionally offers a wide range of food-related services including prop styling, editorial, idea generation, conceptualization, recipe editing and development, and boutique catering. As an honors graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, Claire’s practical kitchen experience began under the tutelage of Jacques Torres during his reign as Executive Pastry Chef at restaurant Le Cirque. Soon thereafter, Claire accepted a position at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and assisted in developing and styling “Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook”. As Senior Food Editor she contributed to content development and creative direction for MSL Magazine, MSL Weddings, winner of the American Society of Magazine Editors General Excellence Award and the Emmy-award winning, MSL Television show. Additionally, Claire shared her expertise in several facets of the organization from the books division to participating in the launch of MSL Kids and MSL Baby magazines to consulting on the design of the studio test kitchens, among other projects.










- 1 ½ cups sugar

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch

- 6 large egg whites, room temperature

- Pinch kosher salt

- 1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar

- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

- Lime scented cream, recipe follows

- 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

- 2 large mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced

- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped


1  Preheat oven to 250 F degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 7-inch cake pan as a guide, trace three 7-inch circles on the paper.  Turn the paper over so the pencil lines are on the pan side.   Using a small bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch, set aside.

2  Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed, combine egg whites and salt.  Whip whites until foamy, increase speed to medium high and gradually add half the sugar. Increase speed to high and gradually add remaining sugar.  Whip until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes.  Add the vinegar and vanilla.

3  Using a spatula, spread 1/3 of the meringue on each of the circles on the parchment paper forming three discs.  Bake for 1 ½ hours or until dry to touch and pale cream color. Turn off the oven and cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour.  Meringue discs will be crisp on the outside and soft in the center.

4  Place one meringue disc on a serving plate.  Top with 1/3 of the Lime scented cream and 1/3 of the fruit. Repeat process with remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle top layer with pistachios.

Lime scented cream

- 1 pint heavy whipping cream

- Zest of I lime

-  Juice of half a lime

- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed, whip cream and vanilla until thickened.  Increase speed to medium high and whip until soft peaks form.  Fold in lime juice and zest.

Blueberry Milk Cake

This is a beautiful simple rustic cake to make when you have fresh sweet blueberries. I love this hot out of the oven, with the blueberries still steaming.






- 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

- 2 eggs

- 3 tsp. baking powder

- 1/2 c. sugar

- 1 tsp. cinnamon

- 1/4 c. lemon zest

- 1 c. milk

- course raw sugar

- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter melted

- 1 – 2 c. fresh firm blueberries (not frozen)

Mix dry ingredients, then wet ingredients, then mix together until just blended. Do not over mix or cake will be tough. Butter an 8×8 pan then pour thick batter into the pan. Sprinkle with blueberries, then course sugar and bake 375 degrees until top is light golden brown. Sprinkle with a little more course sugar right out of oven. Enjoy!

Banana Upside Down Cake

If I were a chef, I would definitely have to say I would probably be a pastry chef. There is just something about mixing all the ingredients together, placing them in an oven and having the end result pop out in it’s beautiful form! That said, I always have a lot of bananas in my house, and a ton in my freezer (for banana bread later). If you enjoy Bananas Foster or Banana Bread you will love this fabulous banana cake. Syrupy on the top, soft in the middle and crispy on the bottom.





-  1 over ripe banana mashed

- 2 tbsp. sour cream

- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

- 1 tsp. cinnamon

- 3/4 stick unsalted butter

- 1 1/2 c. sugar

- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

- 2 eggs

- pinch of salt


- 3/4 stick unsalted butter

- 3/4 c. packed brown sugar

- 1 tbsp. maple syrup

- 3-4 large just ripe bananas, slices diagonally

Oven 350 degrees. Butter a round cake pan. Topping – melt butter in a saucepan, then add sugar and syrup, heat and stir for a couple of minutes until thickened. Pour mixture into pan. Place banana slices overlapping and in a circle.

Combine: mashed banana, sour cream, butter, sugar,vanilla, and eggs, beat until mixed through. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Pour thick mixture into pan being careful not to move the banana slices. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and done through middle. Let stand to cool a bit, then run knife along outside of pan and flip onto a plate.

Chef Lindsay Autry’s Dill Pickles

In a pickle? Enjoy a pickle!

See a  familiar face? Chef Lindsay Autry has recently taken over the stoves at the historic Sundy House in Delray Beach, Florida. Previously she achieved international acclaim as the Chef de Cuisine of Las Brisas at the Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, was the executive chef at Omphoy in Palm Beach and was a finalist on “Top Chef Texas”. After inheriting a love of cooking at an early age, Chef Autry graduated from Johnson & Wales University and now her southern roots are a constant influence in her menus. Her cooking flavors show the bold Mediterranean influence introduced by her Greek grandmother, and the classic French cooking techniques she honed under James Beard award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein.

Below is Autry’s quick pickle recipe that can be used on cucumbers or any crisp vegetable, such as carrots, onions, green beans or cauliflower. For a fiery kick, add a touch of crushed red pepper in each jar. Yield: Makes 4 pint (500 ml) jars




– 3 lbs. pickling cucumbers or any other vegetable

- 3 cups white vinegar

- 1.5 cups water

- 2 tablespoons kosher salt

- 1 tablespoon celery seed

- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

- 1 bunch fresh dill; divided into 4

- 1/4 cup minced garlic

How To:

1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. If using large cucumbers, slice into desires thickness. If using other vegetables, cut them into medium size pieces that will fit inside of the jars.

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, sugar, spices and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Sanitize your mason jars by running them through the dishwasher or wash them by hand in hot water.

4. Divide the minced garlic and fresh dill between the jars, pack in the vegetables.

5. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space). Quickly cover the jars with the proper lids and let cool to room temperature. Store pickles in refrigerator for up to 2 months. Enjoy after 2 days!


Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.

You can make your pickles shelf stable and have a longer shelf life by processing the jars. See the instructions provided by the canning jar package for processing times.

Park Avenue to Sanford…

As a child I grew up shopping on historic Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. What used to be a few stores, toy store, beautiful park with huge oak trees and plenty of squirrels, a railroad station and a few restaurants is now a shopping and dining destination. The street abounds with shops, restaurants, galleries, outdoor cafes, a lush park with a rose garden and plenty of dogs and the amazing Tiffany museum. Drive a little further North to historic downtown Sanford and you will find eclectic shops, a riverside city and a hometown German restaurant where you can drink a variety of German beers. Bon Appétit!!!



The first rolls of film I shot in my first photography class were of my Meemaw. My great grandmother who at the time was 98 years old. I remember as a child playing in her yard of soft Indiana grass in the Summer, swinging on the porch swing and playing with my cousins in the yard until the fireflies came out. When we would come to visit she would host ice cream socials and all the family would gather and visit, talk and laugh. But I also remember her always offering us sugar cookies from her very unique farmer’s kitchen. My father always said whenever he came to visit as a child she always had cookies waiting. It is amazing how you can miss a person and a place so much.


In the Kitchen: Ingredients & Tools

Everyone has specific ingredients/tools they use on a daily basis and everyone uses different things, which I always find very interesting. Here are a few of the items you will always find in my kitchen…


Cinnamon – I use this spice in pancakes, banana bread, doughnuts, apple pie, cookies and Indian inspired dishes.

Organic Eggs – I always use brown organic eggs. They taste better to me and it’s one of the most affordable organic proteins you can buy.

Olive Oil – I use extra virgin olive oil. I baste my turkey with it every Thanksgiving, as well as use it for omelette making, roasting chickens and making delicious dips.

Parchment Paper – Visually I like brown parchment paper best. I use it to line baking sheets to roast vegetables, bake cookies, wrap cheese in and to make packets to bake fish in.

Sea Salt – Because sea salt is more concentrated you can use less and it has more flavor than regular table salt.

Lemons & Limes – I always keep lemons and limes in the refrigerator. I use them to make guacamole, soups, fish dishes, tacos, lemonade, limeade, etc.

Cilantro – This is one of the herbs I grow in my kitchen window, keeping it away from outdoor pests. I use it in guacamole, dips, tacos and soups.

Cinnamon & Sugar Doughnuts – Home Style!

When I was a child the sweet aroma of fried sugar and cinnamon doughnuts my mother was making would waft through my house. These are inexpensive and easy to make. Enjoy hot out of the skillet and with a glass of cold milk. Tidbit – Any type of fried dough with some type of sugar on it is a favorite of mine! At the fair, farmers market, The Fractured Prune in Maryland…the list goes on…






- 1 roll of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (not the layered type), hand shape into doughnut shapes

- 1 cup of sugar mixed with a tsp. of cinnamon

- canola oil to fill skillet half way

Fill your skillet half way with oil. Bring heat up to medium/high. Test oil heat by placing a little ball of dough into the oil. Oil should sizzle slowly. The key is to get the oil hot but not too hot. Place the rings of dough in oil carefully without splashing and let golden brown on one side, then place a fork in the center of the doughnut and turn to the other side. When completely browned, dip the doughnut in the sugar mix until thoroughly covered, shake off excess sugar mix and place on a plate. Enjoy at their best hot out of the skillet or warm.