Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

Ice Cream!

There is not much better than an ice cream sundae! Ice cream is also one of the easiest desserts for a crowd. You can make an ice cream sundae bar as fancy or as basic as you want. Make your own fudge sauce or use the bottle of Hershey syrup that you already have in the fridge. Cut up some bananas or just put out a jar of maraschino cherries. Make your own whipped cream or buy a can of it.

Whipped cream is something I love to make. Don’t get me wrong, we buy the Redi-Whip cans sometimes (they are gluten-free!) and have been known to spray it into an open mouth 😉 but I LOVE fresh whipped cream. It is very easy to do.

Fresh Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 pint of whipping cream

2 Tablespoons of confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions

Place metal mixing bowl in fridge the morning you want to make whipped cream. Take out when you are ready to mix. Pour entire pint of whipping cream into bowl. Start whipping. When it is frothy, add confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Put the bowl out with your other sundae toppings, fudge, sprinkles, cherries and an assortment of ice cream flavors. For our holiday dessert we had Hood Peppermint Stick, Vanilla and Fenway Fudge (all gluten free).

Whether you are running around returning things, doing more shopping or relaxing around the house, this is a fun way to do dessert! Especially would be fun for a kids party. A dessert both kids and kids at heart will love!

 

Fresh food and summer fun for you and your family…and I conquered Calamari!

Farmer’s Markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and local farms are just some ways to can enjoy fresh produce, meats, seafood and dairy, this summer.  Going with your family can be an enjoyable way to spend a summer day and get kids excited about food.

I love going to the Farmer’s Market with my family. Walking around different stands, sampling products and buying fun new vegetables and cheeses to enjoy is relaxing. Many markets have music and activities for kids. Here is a link to find a Farmer’s Market near you. http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/There is pretty much one every day somewhere within driving distance.  Last summer I enjoyed the Wilmington Farmer’s Market (Corner of Middlesex Avenue & School Street, Sundays 10:30 – 1:30 June 17 – September 30, 2012). The Marblehead Farmer’s Market (Marblehead Veterans Middle School rear field off Vine Street, Saturdays, 9 :00 to 12:00 June 9 – November 17) is small but a fun place to pick up some fruit and baked goods for a little picnic on the coast for a day trip. I hope to check out some other markets with my family and friends this summer. There are also many during the week.  I have heard great things about the Lexington Farmer’s Market (Corner of Mass Ave and Woburn and Fletcher, Tuesdays, 2:00 – 6:30, May 30 – October 30). If you’re traveling this summer outside of Massachusetts check out this national directory to find a farmer’s where you are going, http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/. It is a fun place to grab a picnic lunch and really get into the local scene of your vacation destination.
What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture. It is a way for you to buy a “share” of a local farm and get great produce all summer (some all year round).  This is a great way to support local farmers and have lots of fresh delicious produce to cook with. Usually you go to pick it up at a specific location once a week or every other week. To find a CSA near you, visit:  http://www.nofamass.org/programs/csa/csa.php. If you are daunted by this and are afraid you might have too many vegetables to use up in one week, split a share with a friend or neighbor and take turns going to pick it up.
Another way to support your local farms and get some entertainment out of it for your children is to visit one. You can go to a working farm for a tour or go to a pick-your-own farm to gather strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and whatever else is in season. To find farm to visit, see the link above for CSA’s. Many offer tours. Here is a link to pick your own farms in the area: http://www.pickyourown.org/massbluerasp.htm. Also check out http://northshorekid.com/category/directory/parks-recreation/farm/pick-your-own/blueberries-pyoNorth shore kid’s blog for more information, as pickyourown.org can be spotty with information. 
Here is a link for what is in season now and throughout the year, wherever you may travel: http://www.fieldtoplate.com/guide.php  and here is the link for MA: http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/farmersmarkets/get_fresh_seasons.htm)
Regardless of where you get your fresh vegetables this summer (getting them at Stop and Shop or local farm stand like Calareso’s in Reading, http://www.calaresosfarmstand.com/, is ok of course!) here is one example of a fun summer menu:
Roasted Corn on the Cob, Mixed Potato Salad and Boerewors inspired Cheese Burgers with Strawberry Ice Cream
Corn: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Shuck corn. Place corn right on oven rack and roast for about 20 minutes and serve. Yes, that simple.  Serve with butter and salt.
Mixed Potato Salad:  Peel and dice the same amount of sweet potatoes and white or yellow potatoes. Boil in salted water until fork tender. Drain and cool. While potatoes are cooling, mix about 4 parts Miracle Whip or mayo to 1 part Dijon mustard (adjust amounts depending on your taste).  Add potatoes to dressing mixture and add salt or pepper to your taste. You can add scallions, onions, shallots or celery if you like.
Boerewors inspired Cheese burgers: Boerewors is a South African sausage that I LOVE! I haven’t been able to find it yet around here, so I have found ways to recreate the flavor. Mix 1.5lb ground beef and 1.5lb ground pork with about a ¼ cup of milk, 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, ¼ cup panko bread crumbs, 2 eggs, salt, lemon pepper, 2 tsp ground cloves, 2 Tbsp ground coriander, and ½ cup of finely diced cooked vegetables (I use leftover what ever I have on hand, eggplant and onions or carrots and zucchini) .  Tip: always cook a small patty of your ground meat mixture and taste it for seasoning before making burgers. Once it tastes the way you want, make patties and separate them with wax paper and refrigerate until you are ready to grill. Let them come to room temp before grilling.
Serve with your favorite cheese and toppings. Chutney is a fun condiment to use with this burger. 
Easiest Strawberry (or whatever berry you like) ice cream (requires ice cream machine):  Based on http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-eggless-strawberry-ice-cream/

 
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed fresh strawberries (or whatever berries you have on hand. Even frozen berries that have been mashed).
  • 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional for a twist)
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, strawberries, and food coloring. Pour the mixture into the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
The number  of recipes out there for fresh summer cooking are endless! Caprese Salad, peas, lettuce, zucchini and more. Here some links to some more veggie recipes: http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/farmersmarkets/resources_consumers_recipes.htm
 
Enjoy the amazing farms and markets this summer. The kids will love it and you will love the food. Maybe you will even get your kids to eat a vegetable! 
Cooking Bucket List Update: I’ve conquered fresh calamari! I can cross that off my cooking bucket list!  I made fried calamari that everyone in my family ate. Very easy. Just chop the squid tubes and dredge with  flour mixture (flour, salt, lemon pepper, thyme and oregano) and fry in vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes or until gold brown. Drain on paper towel and serve with lemon. We ate it with caprese salad and some leftover mixed potato salad for dinner Sunday night.