Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue) + Culinary Torch from my Husband

Layers of ice cream, sponge cake and topped with lightly browned meringue! 

      Baked Alaska is like an ice cream cake, only better. With a layer of cake, two layers of ice cream and covered with a luscious and light meringue that is torched to golden perfection.

What can be more fun than having a culinary torch and using it to make delicious desserts?

For our wedding anniversary, one of the gifts that my amazing husband got me is a culinary torch. This special culinary gadget is what makes the Baked Alaska get perfectly browned and honestly, it is my favorite part of making this dessert. The culinary torch is also especially useful for making creme bruleé. It is responsible for creating that crispy caramelized sugar layer that makes it so special.

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What I love about Baked Alaska is that it really looks so beautiful and it tastes so good. With a little prep ahead of time, it is also great to make ahead of time and then just add and torch the meringue when you’re ready to serve it.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue)

For the Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 c sugar

For the ice cream:

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream (softened)
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream (softened)

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 c white sugar

Preparation: 

Pre-heat the oven for 180C/350F. Grease a springform pan and set aside.

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For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until well incorporated. Then add the almond extract and continue to whisk just until is mixed in. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Then add half of the flour mixture at a time into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well in between each addition.

Pour the cake into a springform pan and pat it against the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Note: I use a toothpick to test to make sure the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done. If not, it needs to bake a little longer.

Allow cake to cool overnight (if possible) and then using the base of the bowl that the ice cream will be filled in, cut out a circle piece of the cake. Note: it is kind of like tracing, think of the bowl as the tracing paper for your cake.

To prepare the layers:

Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 30-40 minutes ahead of time (depending on the weather where you live it might melt faster or slower).

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Then line the bowl with plastic wrap ensuring that the plastic wrap is firmly pressed against the bottom and sides of the bowl and that there is sufficient plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Note: don’t omit this step. It is a lifesaver when you actually go to remove the ice cream cake from the bowl.

Then spoon the softened ice cream into the bowl allowing each flavor to create its own layer.

Then take the circle piece of cake and firmly press it on top of the ice cream. Cover the cake with the plastic wrap overhanging on the sides of the bowl. Then place it in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours or for several days (depending on when you want to serve the cake.

To make the meringue:

Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly to ensure that the sugar does not stick. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the egg whites and white vinegar in a very clean bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Then while the beaters are still running, slowly pour in the sugar syrup mixture and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Take the cake out of the freezer and peel back the plastic wrap. Using a serving platter or plate, turn the bowl over and then gently lift the bowl. Then remove the remaining plastic wrap.

Using a butter knife (or a pastry bag if you prefer) spread the meringue on top of the cake until it is fully covered.

Then using a culinary torch, torch the meringue until it is evenly golden brown.

Serve and Enjoy immediately!

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Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

The Simplest Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

Making lentil soup is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with this great recipe. Everything goes in one pot and it is minimal prep, minimal clean up but with maximum flavor and taste.

I have more than one lentil soup recipe but I love this one because it is much simpler than my other one (made with brown lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, etc.) All you need are the lentils, chicken broth and an onion.

It’s quite a healthy soup, low in fat and packed with nutritious vitamins and fiber. Plus it’s really affordable to make especially if you’re feeding a crowd. Also, it’s so simple. Even if you despise cooking, I think you might like this recipe.

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Here’s the recipe:

Simple Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

  • 1 c dry red lentils
  • 4 c chicken broth*
  • 1 onion (diced)

*Vegetarian? No problem, just substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth.

Preparation:

Sort through the lentils to ensure that there are no small stones or anything else (yes, it can happen).

Finely dice the onion and set aside.

Pour the chicken broth in a large pot.

Add the lentils and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Cover partially and allow it to simmer for 15-25 minutes or until the lentils and the onions are tender.

Then using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Garnish with some red pepper flakes and a lemon wedge.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Swiss Chard Bulgur Rissoto (Pancarli As)

Tender swiss chard is cooked with peppers, onions, bulgur, tomato paste and bulgur to create this comforting dish. 

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 1 bunch of chard (cleaned and chopped)
  • 1/2 c medium sized bulgur
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 green pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • 1 red pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sauté the ground beef until browned.

Add the olive oil and butter and then stir in the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Sauté until the onions and peppers are tender.

Then add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, salt and pepper.

Add the chard and over with 2 cups of hot water. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the bulgur and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

When it’s ready, it will be a thick mixture with little water remaining. Also, it will smell amazing.

Serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

Turkish Style Hummus

Traditional cuisine meets modern with this Mediterranean classic! 

What I appreciate about hummus is that it is just so simple. All you need is a few minimal ingredients and then you have something really special. The tahini is an absolute must! A paste made from ground sesame seeds, tahini compliments the flavor of the chickpeas and creates layers of flavor within the hummus.

Here’s the recipe:

(Hint: you’ll need a good food processor or blender for this recipe)

  • 2/3 c dried chickpeas
  • 1/3 c tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Drain, rinse and boil for 2 hours (until the chickpeas are tender).

Drain, rinse and remove the skin from the chickpeas (Note: this is not a necessary step but it creates a smoother hummus).

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, stopping the food processor from time to time in order to stir and scrape down the sides.

Once the hummus is smooth, pour onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts for 1 minute and then add the butter and melt. Remove from the heat and pour over the hummus.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Stovetop Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Creamy, comforting and delicious homemade macaroni and cheese! Comfort food at its finest and a throwback to childhood.

Macaroni and cheese in my household was an art. In fact, I never knew about the box version until I went to my best friend’s house at the age of 5. Her mom was making a the box version of Macaroni and Cheese and our conversation went a little something like this:

“What are you making?” I asked.

“Macaroni and cheese,” replied my friend’s mom.

“But you’re making it from a box and on the stove. That’s not how you make it,” I replied.

“It’s how you make it at our house,” replied my friend’s mom.

Kudos to my friend’s mom for giving a sassy answer to my sassy question, lol! But seriously, the way I learned to make macaroni and cheese always involved an oven. It was BAKED macaroni and cheese the Southern way (if ya’ll know what I mean).

Anyway, although there is NOTHING quite like my mom’s baked macaroni and cheese (passed down from Grandma’s recipe, hello!), my version of a stove top homemade mac and cheese is a close second for me. Plus… it’s really quick and simple to prepare so that’s a bonus. Especially since this recipe was curated from my old NYC apartment when I was super hungry and in need of some comfort food. Just a few basics and voila, deliciousness! (Is deliciousness a word? Hmmm, I don’t know but you know what I’m saying).

Here’s the recipe, it’s love at first bite (seriously, it’s legit!)

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Stovetop Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1.5 c dry macaroni (pre-boiled)
  • Bechamel sauce (per my recipe–find it here)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 c cheese (your favorite of course –cheddar, provolone, mozzarella or even all 3! Let’s get crazy, lol!)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Follow the instructions for the Bechamel Sauce Recipe.

Bechamel STEP 7 Final Whisk

Then add 1 cup of milk to the bechamel sauce and bring back to a simmer.

Reduce the heat and stir in the cheese and keep stirring until it’s melted. Then add the cooked macaroni and stir thoroughly until it is well coated with the cheese sauce.

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Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper (as needed).

Serve and Enjoy!

Mmmmmm….

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How to Make a Bechamel Sauce

Creamy and silky smooth, a delicious bechamel sauce is the perfect base to many culinary creations, especially a really quick and yummy stove top macaroni and cheese.

Bechamel Sauce. From the moment I heard the name of this sauce as a kid, it sounded so fancy. It was something that I saw French chefs talking about on television.

But when I finally made bechamel sauce myself, I was relieved to discover that I already knew how to make it. If you can make gravy, then you can make bechamel sauce and as a kid I learned early on from my mom who to make a really good, yet quick gravy.

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So here’s the recipe:

Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T all purpose flour
  • 2-3 cups of milk
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.

Bechamel STEP 1 Melted Butter

Then sprinkle the flour on top and whisk thoroughly. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and lightly toasted (Note: it will become a little fragrant and you will smell especially the butter).

Bechamel STEP 2 Flour

Bechamel STEP 3 Whisk

Then slowly add in the milk as you keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth.

Bechamel STEP 5 Add Milk

Bechamel STEP 6 Whisk Milk

Bring back up to a light boil, whisking frequently, until it is thickened.

Bechamel STEP 7 Final Whisk

Then immediately remove from the heat, unless you’re making Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese, then you’ll want to keep it on the heat but reduce it considerably.

Enjoy!

Dolangel (Flakey Pastry with Pistachios & Cream)

Flakey, crisp and just sweet enough –dolangel is a must try Turkish dessert! If you like Turkish baklava, then you’ll love this dessert!

It’s the type of dessert that when you take a bite, the flakey pastry bursts in your mouth. Crispy and so light, it’s so delicious.

The yufka (a dough similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry) is what gives it that delicious flaky texture.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of yufka (approximately 6 sheets)
  • 3 1/4 c chopped pistachios
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 L water
  • 1 L milk
  • 1/2 c semolina
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 3/4 c sunflower oil

Preparation:

Combine the semolina and the milk to form a thick paste. Scoop into a pastry bag and set aside.

To prepare the simple syrup: combine the sugar, water and lemon in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until it forms a light syrup. Set aside.

Take 1 piece of yufka. Fold it over to reveal a top, bottom and a double layer in the middle.

Using the pastry bag, pipe about 1-2 TBSP of the creamy milk mixture.

 

Then cover it with 1 TBSP of the chopped pistachios.

Then drizzle over 1 TBSP of oil.

Fold over the top and the bottom. Then twisting the edges, gently shape into a roll and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil.

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Continue until all of the dough or materials are used.

Place the dolangel in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Top with the sugar water, serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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