This month for his random recipe challenge Dom asked us to delve into our cupboards and pull out an ingredient that had been lurking there for some time. Fellow random recipe-ites, I have a confession. I don’t have anything lurking in my cupboards. What? Is that really true? I hear you ask.
OK, if I’m honest, its not true. I have a few jars of chutney and a box of waffle ice cream cones – but random recipes isn’t about listing recent cheeses I have eaten and I don’t have an ice cream machine (hint hint Santa). For a while I thought I’d be sitting out this month – until one morning I found myself taking stock of my freezers. Yes, you heard correctly – taking stock of my freezers (plural).
Once upon a time a fridge freezer was bought by a married couple in Redcar, Yorkshire. Many years later it travelled to Nottingham to live with their grandson and his new wife in their first home (moving a year later a little closer to the city and the grandson’s work, for he travelled on a pushbike and didn’t like getting out of bed so early in the morning). The fridge freezer served the grandson and his wife well for six years but then the wife took a job in Newcastle and uprooted the grandson and his fridge freezer (the grandson looked for a new job and the fridge freezer had a three month holiday in storage).
Not content with moving the family to the grim north, the wife also questioned the place of the fridge freezer in the new house. It is old she said it has travelled far and spent three months in your parents’ garage. Plus its light doesn’t work and its a bit small. So the fridge freezer was relegated to looking after the wine and the lager and the bread and the stock. And a fine new large fridge freezer moved into the kitchen.
But lo! The fine new fridge freezer was less than fine and after a few years it took the hump and half of it stopped working. And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and words with the retailer and numerous visits from the serviceman. Although the fridge continued to serve the freezer would not and all of it was written off by the serviceman. But still the faithful first fridge freezer continued to serve quietly in the garage.
And so a third even larger fridge freezer joined the grandson and his wife. The second fridge freezer was relegated to the other side of the garage and given power only when a mad party was planned and the wife was not allowed to take the wine and the lager out of the faithful first fridge to chill chocolate mousse and lemon meringue tarts. And in time the second fridge freezer got over its hump and both the fridge and the freezer stepped up and were rewarded with the vodka and dessert wine and the dashi stock and the bread, leaving room in the faithful first fridge freezer for sausages and pastry and chicken stock and casseroles.
And all was well in the house of the grandson and his wife and their primary, secondary and tertiary fridge freezers…
…however it has to be said that the flip side of three separate freezers is remembering exactly what you’ve frozen and where, hence the need for a stocktake. At least that’s my OCD excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Boy was there a lot of lurking. Mainly in the kitchen freezer, where I clearly just chuck things in the hope I will find use for them one day. So Dom, I hope you’ll forgive me for tweeking your challenge a little bit but I needed to find a use for some of the sixteen egg whites I found. Yes, you are reading that correctly – sixteen egg whites. Bring it on, baking books, bring it on.
The books brought me Baked Alaska. The cookbook I randomly selected was Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes. Their recipe involved sugar thermometers and blow torches but as I’d elected to make this for good friends on an occasion when there would be much champagne, wine and laughter, the day job of risk assessments and safety took over and I used the method from Feast and my Good Housekeeping book (sorry for tweeking again Dom, but it wasn’t worth the risk of losing my eyebrows – or worse!).
Soft meringue, cold ice cream, alcohol soaked sponge, no major accidents and only ten egg whites left in the freezer – it was wins all round!
- 1 x 20cm sponge cake (see notes)
- About three tablespoons PX (Pedro Ximinez Sherry)
- 500ml chocolate ice cream (see notes)
- 6 egg whites
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put your sponge on a plate and pour over a few tablespoons of PX sherry (G&B say 'until nicely boozed up but in no way sodden', which rather amuses me).
- Preheat your oven to the hottest it will go - and make sure you've left enough space between the racks to put a huge heap of meringue.
- Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add sugar and beat until shiny and sticky. Add vanilla extract (Nigella says fold it in but I forgot and turned the mixer on again - didn't seem to matter).
- If your ice cream isn't soft enough to scoop, have another glass of wine and think about how little time you have to photograph the damn thing before the ice cream melts. Alternatively, take the ice cream out of the freezer before you whisk the egg whites.
- When its soft enough, scoop the ice cream into the centre of the sponge, leaving a decent circle of sponge around the outside.
- Smother the lot (another G&B term) with the meringue - it needs to cover all the sponge and all the ice cream.
- Put the unbaked Alaska onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 3 to 5 minutes - watch it carefully and rescue it when it starts to go brown.
- Serve immediately with the rest of the PX sherry.