International Incident Party: Nostalgia

Baked alaska with banana bread, coconut ice cream and raspberry jamI had high hopes for this month’s International Incident Party – the theme was nostalgia.

I mean, I was the one who suggested the theme.  I love all things retro, as evidenced in last year’s Foodbuzz 24×24 dinner based on recipes from 1976 Weight Watchers’ recipe cards. It was a gelatin fest to end all gelatin fests.  I also happen to own The New Joy of Jello “cookbook” (and yes, those inverted commas are deserved) and I had planned to do a similar type of tasting party for this month’s IIP.

Unfortunately, life got in the way and entering my 4th week of viral nastiness has put a lot of my plans on hold and made me scale back a lot of others.  A party of any sorts was not going to be possible.  Enter my dad who will often send me snippets of information and articles he thinks I might find interesting from time to time.  Just before I got sick, he sent me an article from the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting that food from the 70s is back in vogue after all these years.  It’s a wonderful read (most things by Jill Dupleix are) and evoked memories of my sister and I, banished to the bedroom during my parents’ somewhat raucous dinner parties in the 70s, where we I would jump on the bed and sing into hairbrushes.  Sometimes if we were lucky, the other guests would bring their kids too and we would have our own party.  There is even audio evidence of one of our parties when we recorded ourselves singing. I have this tape, fortunately for Amanda, Damon and Paul, I have no idea how to convert that to anything digital so no sharing will ever happen. Ever.

My mum threw a mean dinner party. She still does. Her dinners back then always featured exquisite food – well it looked like it at the time. I am sure going back there was probably a plethora of curly parsley garnishes, prawn cocktails and After Dinner Mints.  Oh and pewter goblets. Seriously – who EVER thought that was a good idea?  Selangor must have made a killing in the 70s with sales of those – at one time the height of chic but again, I ask you – seriously?  Still, for us kids, it was excitement all round if we were allowed to come out to say hi to the guests and if we were really lucky we got to fill those pewter goblets for them. Right up to the top. Très classe.

My dish for this Party is inspired by Dupleix’s article.  She states that “Bombe Alaska is back on restaurant menus, this time as cute miniatures as at Sydney’s Rockpool.” Wait a minute –  how is it that I have never had a Bombe Alaska?  I can’t believe that with all mum’s culinary skills she’s never tried them out on one of these. Or perhaps she did and we were just asleep at that point in proceedings – their parties did tend to go on kinda late.  So I decided to try my hand at some miniature Bombe Alaskas as my contribution to the Party this month.

I fortunately happened to have some coconut ice cream (recipe below) in the freezer – made by my Grade 6s when we had our Haitian cooking workshop just a few days before I got sick.  They were excited to try out my ice cream maker and I was amazed at how focussed they were watching that thing churn.  Perhaps I should have that in every class LOL!  But I digress!

Said ice cream was pretty solid at this point – am finding that home made ice cream is best if eaten in the first day or so after it’s made (perfect for dinner parties, in fact!) but it worked for me since I was able to cut out tiny squares with no problem.  It also meant that the ice cream took longer to melt once cooked which was perfect for photos!

I paired the coconut ice cream with some raspberry jam smeared on tiny tiny rounds of banana loaf. I had bought these for a morning treat (for Neil) and there were a couple left.  I sliced one up and cut out tiny rounds with a shot glass. I made four “petit four” sized ones, so two normal sized ones.  Normally I would use my mum’s banana cake recipe if I were to make from scratch and should you wish to not be a cheat and make this from scratch, I have provided the recipe below as well)  I froze the cake/ jam/ ice cream bundles for a couple of hours and took them out just before I slathered them with the meringue.

(see how well the coconut ice cream cooperated for me!)


And the result?

I will be honest here and tell you that this is the only one that worked out properly. I first tried slathering the cake rounds with the meringue using a tiny spatula which was a total disaster.  Fortunately, I had an inkling this recipe would not be without its mishaps and had saved one cake round in the freezer.   With that last one,  I tried piping the meringue around the cake round which was so much easier, and, thankfully, worked!  I even got a tiny “peak” atop my meringue!

And the taste?

So here’s the thing. I spent a long time taking these photos (no it doesn’t look like it but have you ever tried to take photos with major vertigo? It feels like you’ve had a few drinks and are on a boat. Welcome to my life right now) and only dug into this about 40 minutes after it came out of the oven. It was surprisingly, really good – the meringue was a nice fluffy consistency and the ice cream had not finished melting but had melted enough to soak the cake layer, infusing the banana loaf with coconut flavour. I was suprised how well it stood up to the time factor since when I was baking it, I was thinking how much this would suck to make for a dinner party since you would be stuck in the kitchen (at the end of the dinner) making these à la minute. I think because my ice cream was so solid and I froze the little cake/jam/ice cream bundles for a while, it helped the dessert stand the time test better so it could sit around for a while before being eaten.

The beauty of this dish? If you already have all your components ready to go, it hardly takes any time at all – 5 minutes beating the egg whites, 5 minutes covering the cake rounds with meringue and 5 minutes to bake. Nice.

Would I make them again? I think I would. I am, after all, a child of the 70s!

I had not actually planned to eat the entire thing (actually it was really tiny) but it went very well with an afternoon coffee. Followed by a long nap. You’ll excuse me, right? I find that if someone has to have a nap at your party, it’s the sign of a good one. Check out what everyone else brought to the party below:

47 thoughts on “International Incident Party: Nostalgia”

  1. oh yes.. the memories of prawn cocktails and my mum used to love using those brown plastic big bowls and cups for cocktails? It was very trendy at that time and I am sure it will make a come back. Thanks for the suggestion. Definitely brought me down memory lane 🙂

  2. Great job with the photos…the one baked Alaska I made was melting faster than I could focus! Looks lovely~hope your vertigo is subsiding!

  3. They look great and it was a great read – singing into a hairbrush, didn’t we all used to do that? I remember being Suzi Quatro with a tennis racket (wooden) as a guitar! Hehe! Vertigo must be horrible, as must four weeks of sickness. I sincerely hope you are better soon. I was sicker than I have ever been at the beginning of the month, some virus or other, but it was just a week, I can’t imagine four.

  4. sorry to hear about your vertigo – i hope you get better quickly! you did a fabulous job under the circumstances. i’ve never had a dish like this, and your experience really makes me want to venture out myself and see if i can pull it off. thanks for sharing!

  5. You may have had trouble shooting the photos but one would never know! Your meringue (I love meringue) looks wonderful but that jam looks amazing!

  6. Oh my gosh, the 70s! I think you and I have a LOT in common! I remember my mom kissing me after getting back from some 70s party (she didn’t usually throw parties, as she was a bit of a neat/clean freak and didn’t like mess) wearing her “fancy” orange maxi dress and smelling of Chanel no. 5. I can’t believe I haven’t had a bombe Alaska either … baked Alaska, yes, cherries flambe certainly! (At a faux opulent restaurant, of course!) But this one. How cool.

  7. You’ve brought back the best of the 70s! Makes me think of something Betty Draper would make for one of her dinner parties on Mad Men.

  8. Mardi, I find with my ice cream maker if I don’t churn it quite as long as required, it manages to stay soft for weeks after (if it lasts that long of course!!)

    Speaking of ice cream, you’ll have to try Nigella Lawson’s simple Margarita Ice Cream when you have your Mexican party – 1/2 cup lime juice, 2 tabs tequila, 3 tabs Cointreau (or Triple Sec), 1 1/4 cups icing sugar, 2 cups double cream.

    Stick the the lime juice, tequila and Cointreau in a bowl and stir in the icing sugar til dissolved. Add the cream and whip until thick and smooth but not stiff. Freeze overnight.

    It doesn’t need softening before serving. It’s super yummy but very very rich.

  9. YUM…. the pictures are gorgeous! 🙂 Your meringue looks amazing and I am now craving a giant bowl of this beautiful tasty delight. 🙂

  10. I can sort of hear Streisand in the background singing ‘Memories’ – I remember making an ice cream bombe in the 70’s when I was young excited about something seemingly contrary. Ice cream? Oven?

    These turned out cute; have never done mini portions, might make it a bit less daunting to consider than one big dessert for a crowd.

    I’m telling you…photo sites need a handicapped section. I’ve been managing with one good leg and having to wield a cane through photos shoots for over a year; be thankful for Neil…I might have considered marriage again if I could have had a helper. 🙂

  11. I am going to have to research this retro 70s food fad he he. To me this dessert is not yet retro enough as where we go with the family Jan 1st for New Years it is the dessert…every year….for the pas XX years we have been going. Yours looks WAY more inviting.

  12. Mardi, I just loved this post. I feel so terribly that you were not feeling well, but the nostalgia and the memories were such fun to read. I will never forget my first Baked Alaska – it was on a cruise ship, which meant that its fashion was probably already on its way out, but I was in such awe at the flaming procession of meringue, and I guess I always will 🙂

  13. mmm . . . giant wooden salad bowls and fondue and blue nun wine and pottery goblets . . . the 70s knew how to throw a dinner party, eh? 😉 your version of baked alaska looks like a lovely improvement upon the original. and i loved hearing the story that introduced it!

  14. This was a great theme – excellent suggestion! Hope the viral nastiness sorts itself out soon and that your retro but great looking dessert helped! 🙂


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