Number 2 in the Birthday Trifecta

Last month I celebrated a milestone birthday. My family made me a lovely, memorable few days of celebration. It’s August and time for Constant Companion’s birthday. As usual, we make it more than just one day. And, of course this year, our festivities were limited to being at home.

For Constant Companion’s birthday, I have always deployed my cooking skills and made a something special him. In the past, I’d make the famous Moroccan pigeon (in my case, chicken) pie (see August 14, 2019 post). During our locked-down state, in other words – now, I’ve been watching lots of food zoom presentations. Israeli/Philadelphia chef, Michael Solomonov, has welcomed us into his kitchen several times with instructions to make a selection of his signature dishes – including hummus and schnitzel.

Constant Companion grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where food environment is influenced by the cuisine of early German immigrants. One of his favorite dishes from his youth is schnitzel. I’ve successfully (po po, po po) tried my hand at chicken schnitzel following Solomonov’s recipe (see 20 July post).

Schnitzel was the main course for our birthday dinner, along with rice, and a nice salad of chopped Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, and our lovely Florida avocados (known as alligator pear).

This year’s pièce was dessert. For some crazy reason at the start of the pandemic a crazy idea crossed my mind of a dish I’d like to try. Remember, the key word here is CRAZY – baked Alaska! What craziness overcame me, no one can say. The stars were aligned. Talenti gelato (remember he’s not really good with dairy) was on sale at the local supermarket. The fridge was full of eggs after a short time of shortage and hoarding. The challenge was on.

Step 1 – Start with a freezer-safe bowl. Spray with Pam and line with plastic wrap. Soften your ice cream (I used 2 chocolate and 1 raspberry); pack into the bowl – I did the chocolate first with raspberry last. Top with plastic wrap and freeze.

cake and plastic-wrapped gelato

Step 2 – Bake your cake – I used Duncan Hines chocolate.*

*Many years ago, I took a Wilton cake decorating class at Michael’s. Duncan Hines was the recommended brand and I’ve stuck with their mixes ever since.

back to the freezer

Step 3 – Unmold the ice cream; use the bowl to cut the cake the diameter of the ice cream. Put ice cream on cake, rewrap in plastic wrap, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refreeze.

Step 4 – The meringue – separate 4-6 eggs+, beat at high speed, adding ¼ tsp cream of tartar and about 1 cup of sugar, til stiff peaks are reached.

+I used 2 yokes in my egg wash for the main course schnitzel.

ready for the oven

Step 5 – Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unmold the frozen cake and ice cream, put on parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with the meringue. If you are so moved, use a piping bag and points to make a beautiful pattern, or simply cover and spread using an offset knife. Bake in oven for 4 minutes to brown.

just a little browning

Happy Birthday!

Oh, a note on limbo (see Aug.10 post) … part of my limbo was alleviated … Over the past weekend, my watch had stopped at 9:05. I was in suspended animation! At least twice a day the time was right. On my weekly shopping trip two days ago, I passed a pawn/jewelry shop and took a chance … and came out with the right time! Thank you very much. Life goes on ….

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