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!!
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.
prepare cake bases
check your freezer to make sure you have enough space for three trays (4 to a tray) desserts.
cut 6 parchment paper squares approximately 6" x 6"
In the meantime, sift the cake flour and set it aside.
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.
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.
Place batter in parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until done.
Set cake aside to cool. While the cake is cooling, cut a new parchment sheet into twelve 4″ squares.
When the cake is completely cool, cut into 2 3/4″ rounds. Place one cake round on each parchment square.
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.
Place tray of cake bases with ice cream in freezer for several hours to re-freeze the ice cream.
Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a small pot on the stove and heat until boiling.
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.
Slowly add 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
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.
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).
This 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 prebiotics 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.
Russian Summer Salad Soup
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.
When potatoes are cooked, remove from the water and set aside to cool. When cool, peel them and chop into small pieces.
Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs.
Chop radishes into small chunks (quarters).
Peel and chop cucumber into small pieces.
Chop scallions into rounds.
Mix all vegetables in a large bowl. Pour kefir over the top and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper.
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.
If desired, add ½ - 1 Tbsp. of mustard for additional flavor when you add the kefir.
Several 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…
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).
A 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.
CARROT ORANGE WALNUT MUFFINS
Defrost the carrots overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare muffin tins with paper muffin liners.
Puree the defrosted carrots in a food processor.
Gently mix carrots, flour, eggs, baking powder, salt, orange juice and maple syrup in a large bowl. Do not overmix.
Fill muffin tins approximately half- full with batter.
Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 15-20 minutes until done.
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).