UPDATED – Baked Alaska – An elegant dessert for a celebration

New Year’s eve is coming soon and to celebrate the day, I thought it would be fun to make something special like Baked Alaska. This is a family favorite that I have been eating since childhood and making for almost 30 years.

Who invented Baked Alaska?

Alaska was purchased in 1867 from Russia for $7.2 million (a little over $100 million in 2016 dollars).  To celebrate the acquisition of the new territory, Chef Charles Ranhofer at Delmonico’s steakhouse in New York City created this dessert.  (March 30 1867)

When did I first eat this amazing dessert?

One of my first memories of eating Baked Alaska was at summer camp when I must have been about 10 years old.   I still vividly remember the waitresses (counselors) parading through the mess hall with Baked Alaska for all of us to celebrate some special occasion I can no longer recall. What an introduction to this wonderful dessert!

My mother started a new tradition of making Baked Alaska at home as a special birthday treat soon after I regaled her with tales of what had happened at camp.   This was certainly a tradition I endorsed.  Back then she made it with regular meringue with unpasteurized eggs, not the Italian meringue I now use in my recipe.  We didn’t worry as much about food safety in those days.   I guess we didn’t know as much about the potential perils of eating raw unpasteurized eggs as we do today.

Start a day or two in advance so the cake and ice cream are fully frozen

To make this dish you need to start a day in advance (or more), and before you start make sure you have adequate space in your freezer for the individual desserts.  Be forewarned, once you make this one time for your friends or family, they’ll never let you off the hook again.  In fact, you’ll probably find yourself making it over and over again for birthdays, holidays and the occasional family treat.

Do I personally eat Baked Alaska?

In case you are wondering, yes, I eat Baked Alaska on special occasions, despite being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).   Some things in life are just too good to miss…savor every moment and I hope you always enjoy good food, good health, and good friends.

 

Happy New Year!!

Have a wonderful 2020!!

 

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Baked Alaska - An elegant dessert for a celebration
A festive dessert for nearly any celebration. To cut down on the preparation time, use slices from a commercially prepared pound cake.
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Course Dessert, Holidays
Cuisine American
Prep Time 55 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake Bases
Italian Meringue
Course Dessert, Holidays
Cuisine American
Prep Time 55 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake Bases
Italian Meringue
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Instructions
prepare cake bases
  1. check your freezer to make sure you have enough space for three trays (4 to a tray) desserts.
  2. cut 6 parchment paper squares approximately 6" x 6"
  3. In the meantime, sift the cake flour and set it aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. When soft peaks begin to form, slowly add 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the yolk and stir gently. Carefully fold the remaining egg whites, flour and salt into the yolks. Do not over mix.
  6. Place batter in parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until done.
  7. Set cake aside to cool. While the cake is cooling, cut a new parchment sheet into twelve 4″ squares.
  8. When the cake is completely cool, cut into 2 3/4″ rounds. Place one cake round on each parchment square.
  9. Working quickly, place one scoop of ice cream (approximately 1.5 oz. size scoop) in the center of each cake round. I often use coffee flavor, but you can use any flavor you prefer.
  10. Place tray of cake bases with ice cream in freezer for several hours to re-freeze the ice cream.
Italian Meringue
  1. Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a small pot on the stove and heat until boiling.
  2. Continue to heat. When temperature of the sugar syrup gets close to 220 degrees F (use the candy thermometer) begin beating egg whites in mixer until soft peaks are formed.
  3. Slowly add 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. When temperature of sugar syrup reaches approximately 240 degrees F, pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites while the mixer is on high.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Information (per serving): 189 calories; 17 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 107 mg cholesterol; 173 mg sodium; 67 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 10 grams protein (values are approximate).

Russian Summer Salad Soup

russian summer salad soupThis Russian Summer Salad Soup is another delicious recipe from my friend Nataliia. It makes a nice and refreshing dish to serve as we move into the warmer months of the year.  This recipe is a cross between a soup and a salad. While it is called Russian Summer Salad Soup this version actually comes from the Ukraine.

What is Kefir?

This recipe is made with a fermented milk drink called Kefir. It is derived from the Caucasus region, between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and bordered by Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Kefir continues to spread to other cuisines and has been incorporated into the diets of a broad range of consumers and populations. It is thinner than yogurt but also synbiotic. A synbiotic food is one which contains both probiotics and prebiotmap of ukraineics which help to maintain healthy bacteria in the intestines.

Find kefir at your local grocery store

You can generally find kefir in the dairy section of your local grocery store as it has grown in popularity. If you have trouble finding it, please email me,  and I will try to help you identify a local source or a suitable substitution.

How to serve a salad soup

Similar to other cold soup dishes such as gazpacho, serve this salad soup chilled in the broth created by the kefir. It also resembles a salad as it contains larger portions of fresh vegetables with the addition of the radishes and cucumbers. Although it is different from a traditional hot soup, the unique freshness of this recipe adds another option for a late spring or early summer meal.

Give it a try and leave a comment about how you like this salad soup combination.

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Russian Summer Salad Soup
Russian Summer Salad Soup
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Russian Summer Salad Soup
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Instructions
  1. Place potatoes (do not peel) in a large pot and cover with cold water (fill to about an inch over the tops of the potatoes).  Heat until gently boiling and  cook for 20-30 minutes until done.  Check the potatoes by piercing them with a knife after about 15 minutes to avoid overcooking.
  2. When potatoes are cooked, remove from the water and set aside to cool.  When cool, peel them and chop into small pieces.
  3. Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs.
  4. Chop radishes into small chunks (quarters).
  5. Peel and chop cucumber into small pieces.
  6. Chop scallions into rounds.
  7. Mix all vegetables in a large bowl.  Pour kefir over the top and gently mix.  Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve immediately with garnish of ½ hard boiled egg and sprig of fresh dill, if desired.
  9. If desired, add  ½  - 1 Tbsp. of mustard for additional flavor when you add the kefir.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 8 grams fat; 1 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 105 mg cholesterol; 290 mg sodium;  21 grams carbohydrate;  2 grams dietary fiber;  11 grams protein (values are approximate).

 

References:

Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet? MayoClinic.

Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Green Borscht

green borschtSeveral years ago I had a series of conversations with my friend Nataliia about Ukrainian foods.  Borscht is one dish that came up on several occasions — both traditional style and this version, Green Borscht. I had never heard of this version of borscht.  I have always thought of it as a specific type of soup always made with beets. It turns out that borscht can take on different flavors and be made from different ingredients.

What is borscht?

Larousse Gastronomique, a culinary encyclopedia, defines borscht (borsch) as “a beetroot (beet) soup, eaten hot or cold”. It also notes that there is a “green borsch made with sorrel, spinach and either loin of pork or oxtail.”  In any case, this green borscht makes a wonderful hearty winter meal, and is a good source of vitamin A . If you make it with pork,  a serving supplies around 16 grams of protein.

I couldn’t find sorrel in my local markets, so I’ve made this with spinach. If you follow a vegetarian or plant-based eating pattern, you can substitute white beans for the pork.

Here is Nataliia’s recipe…

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Green Borscht
Green Borscht
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Course Main Dish, Soups
Cuisine Ukrainian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
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Course Main Dish, Soups
Cuisine Ukrainian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Green Borscht
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Recipe Notes

If you'd like a simple white soup bowl to serve this dish, click here to go to the shop.

Nutrition Information:  180 calories per serving.  7 grams fat; 2.5 gram saturated fat;  125 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 15 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 16 grams protein (values are approximate).

Coconut Pecan Double Chocolate Brownie Bars

coconut pecan double chocolate brownie barsSometimes you just want something chocolate like these coconut pecan double chocolate brownie bars.  I believe that to have a sustainable healthy eating plan and lifestyle we all need balance in our diet, and balance includes the occasional treat.  Note the word occasional, and watch your portions to keep things from getting out of hand.

Adjustments for better nutrition content

I’m not about to suggest that these are the healthiest food choice you will make this week, but I have also made a few adjustments to the recipe to make the nutritional profile slightly better than what you would find in  a traditional double chocolate brownie bar. Olive oil is used in place of most of the butter and white whole wheat flour is used instead of traditional white flour.

Heart healthy eating and cholesterol

I could have also used 6 egg whites instead of 3 eggs to get the cholesterol content down a bit more, but most of the research on heart healthy eating for lowering your cholesterol suggests that it is the saturated and transfat content in the diet that is more of the issue than having a small amount of cholesterol coming into your diet from foods.  After all, the body naturally makes a lot of the cholesterol we find in our system… but I digress, and will save that discussion for another day.

Try cutting the bars in half

One more thing…if you are trying to lose weight, try cutting the bars in half before serving – that way you can still enjoy having a bit of chocolate for dessert without completely wrecking your day calorie-wise, and you end up with twice as many bars.

 

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Coconut Pecan Double Chocolate Brownie Bars
Coconut Pecan Double Chocolate Brownie Bars
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Coconut Pecan Double Chocolate Brownie Bars
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Recipe Notes

Nutrition information per serving:  320 calories;  24 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat;  40 mg cholesterol;  25 mg sodium;  27 grams carbohydrate;   4 grams dietary fiber;  5 grams protein (values are approximate).

Carrot Orange Walnut Muffins

carrot orange walnut muffinsA few years back I was thinking about muffins, and came up with this carrot orange walnut muffin.  I hope you enjoy it. It is a little on the savory side yet a terrific addition to your breakfast lineup.

Made with frozen carrots, each muffin provides vitamin A, beta-carotene and 3 grams of fiber

Packed full of vitamin A and beta-carotene, and containing 3 grams of fiber, the recipe uses frozen carrots, which gives them their bold color.  These muffins  also contain walnuts, which are a source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that we need in our diet. Try these muffins this weekend, and let me know what you think.

Technique Tip: These muffins are easy to make in a large batch and freeze well, stored in a plastic bag.  Make sure to put the date on the bag so you’ll know how old they are when you get ready to reheat them and serve.

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CARROT ORANGE WALNUT MUFFINS
Carrot Orange Walnut Muffins
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Course Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Carrot Orange Walnut Muffins
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Instructions
  1. Defrost the carrots overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Prepare muffin tins with paper muffin liners.
  4. Puree the defrosted carrots in a food processor.
  5. Gently mix carrots, flour, eggs, baking powder, salt, orange juice and maple syrup in a large bowl. Do not overmix.
  6. Fold in the walnuts.
  7. Fill muffin tins approximately half- full with batter.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 15-20 minutes until done.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition information per serving:  142  calories;  6 grams fat; 0.5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat;  25 mg cholesterol;  210 mg sodium; 18 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams protein (values are approximate).