Light desserts for summer meals

As soon as the first whiff of spring is in the air I start to think of summery desserts. No more rich pies or chocolate cakes, no more hot puddings. I want to avoid making desserts that require long hours of preparation and have to be baked in the oven heating up the kitchen. I do want to take advantage of just-ripened fruits, by making fruit flans or kuchens and cold puddings with fruit sauces.

There is a dessert which meets all these requirements. It is easily and quickly prepared on top of the stove and can be made hours or even a day in advance -- and it tastes very refreshing. Cold Farina Pudding 3 cups milk 1/2 cup farina 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 egg whites Pinch of salt 1 quart fresh strawberries sliced or crushed and mixed with 1/2 cup sugar 1 pint heavy cream 1/4 cup sugar

In a 2-quart sauce pan, rinsed with cold water, bring milk to boil. Add farina very slowly, stirring constantly. Add salt and sugar, bring again to boil, then lower heat and simmer until very thick. Stir frequently to avoid scorching. Add vanilla.

Meanwhile, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until very stiff but not dry. Mix the hot, thick farina mixture into egg whites. Work fast and with a light hand, folding to retain air bubbles of egg whites. This makes the pudding light and fluffy.

Pour immediately into ring mold or fluted cake mold which has been rinsed with cold water. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

Prepare fruit sauce about 2 hours before serving: Rinse strawberries in colander and place on paper towels to dry. Hull and slice or crush them. Add sugar, cover, and chill until serving.

When ready to serve, take pudding out of refrigerator, loosen edges with tip of knife, and shake slightly. Cover with chilled serving platter and turn over. Serve with sugared whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

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