Way back when at our Italian feast Corinne and Alyssa handed out our invitations to the next dinner.
These adorable "boarding passes" were sealed in a doilie wrapped envelope. We were so excited to be "granted permission to board the Titanic"!
When we arrived we entered through the "First Class Entrance" into the first class dining room.
This sign was made by Alyssa with a wood burning tool she bought online. It is made to look like the exact sign on the entrance to the actual first class dining room on the actual Titanic! Wow!
The table was set in very formal attire, with creams, whites, red roses and red candlesticks.
They had curtains draped all around the dining room to create more intimacy, and to separate it from the staging area. Believe me, they had a lot of "staging" to do for this dinner. (That is Kevin behind the black curtain, Alyssa's husband, who was also dressed as a waiter. He did an excellent job of serving us!)
On the wall they had framed a replica of the original menu that was served to first class passengers on the Titanic, on the last night. That was a fun reference!
They were fortunate to be able to borrow many things, including this silver tea set, from Alyssa's Mom and Aunt.
They displayed this book that they used a lot in planning the dinner. It included first hand accounts from the guests on the Titanic describing the dining room, the menus and recipes cooked on board, biographies of the guests and even ideas on how to decorate and prepare for a Titanic themed dinner party.
The music playing was actually played on the Titanic. It helped set the mood perfectly.
Corinne and Alyssa - Our waiters and chefs.
On the Titanic there was a different wine or champagne served with each course. Since our group does not drink alcohol they served "mock cocktails" and sparkling cider types of beverages. In order to accommodate all those drinks, each place setting had several beautiful goblets. Corinne bought the silver ones from the antique shop owned by Tori and Holly's brother. (They had borrowed them from him for the Downton Abbey Christmas Party.) They were perfect, and added a lot of beauty to the table.
On the mantel they had framed photographs of the Titanic, the musician's who played till the end, and bowls of fruit. The guests on board described "large cut glass bowls of fruit placed all around the dining room."
Each place setting had a picture and bio of one of the first class female passengers placed in a cork. Luckily we all survived the sinking. The napkins were folded like little boats, and the place cards were simple and formal. (The cut glass formal goblets came from the Dollar Store - so if you are in need of some nice goblets check out your local Dollar Store!)
The original menu from the last night on the titanic was much longer than this, but we are not as glutinous in our modern culture. Dinner is not the same event that it used to be. They were kind to our belt lines and condensed the down to eight courses from ten.
For example they combined the "wine and cheese" course with the hor d'oeuvres course and did a cranberry mocktail with a Brie Crostini Trio. Strawberry basil crostini, roasted grape & brie crostini with honey and sea salt, grilled pear, honey and brie crostini. These were so delicious with the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
The Mushroom Barley Soup was very flavorful and hearty.
They even made labels to put on the bottles for the sparkling cider. They are a mimic of what the pictures they found of the personal label that the Titanic had for its wine. They also had a photograph of our Captain.
In order to match the custom and culture of the time, they had every course come out on huge silver platters, and let each diner serve themselves the portion they desired. Their platters with the garnish and artistry was amazing! We were excited to see how each course was going to come out.
For the Fish Course they did a shrimp stuffed salmon. It was not what was served on the Titanic. This is Corinne's mother in law's recipe, and it is much better than the steamed salmon they served on the Titanic. It was SO good!!!
The honey glazed balsamic roasted carrots went deliciously with the salmon.
For the poultry course they served the exact recipe from the Titanic. It is described as the most famous and delicious dish served on the first class menu. The chefs on the Titanic were all French, and this dish, Chicken Lyonnaise, derives from the south of France. The vegetable marrow farci is basically a stuffed zucchini. It is also the exact recipe from the Titanic. The flavors of this course were so perfectly blended.
For the palette cleanser between meat courses, the Titanic served "Punch Romaine" which was sorbet with a little champagne poured over it. Corinne and Alyssa made a virgin punch romaine, with a strawberry peach sorbet, that Corinne made from scratch, and some sparkling cider.
For the main event they plated the filet mignon with bernaise sauce on mashed potatoes piped on with a star tip (in honor of the White Star Line) with a garnish of water cress. The plates were brought out on a silver platter, and each diner chose their plate. The flavors of this dish were so sophisticated. I loved trying all the classic French sauces on this menu.
For the salad course they deserted the actual Titanic menu, and went for this Nectarine Caprese. The real menu served a cold asparagus salad at this point. It was custom to serve a cold vegetable or fruit salad with a simple composition of flavors after the main course, which was always complex and flavorful.
I am so glad they did this! These not only looked so amazing, but were truly delicious and satisfying. Who knew that a stack of nectarine slices with fresh mozzarella and drizzle of balsamic reduction could be so heavenly? (They also plated these for us to make the process of transferring them more smooth.)
Dessert was fancy and exciting! Creme Brulee, French Painted Eclairs and Waldorf Pudding with candied walnuts. They warned us that the Waldorf Pudding might not be a favorite, but that they wanted to serve it to give a taste of authenticity. It was good, but once you had a bite of the creme brulee it was too hard to go back to the pudding. And of course, the eclair was perfection!
Our beautiful group. We were sad to miss Holly, who was on vacation, but thrilled to have Tara there as a substitute.
Top row - Brittany, Alyssa, Corinne, Tara, GG, Katie, Brenda, Carrie, Mandy, Emily
Sitting - Alisha, Tanya, Tori
For take homes we were each given a White Star Line Angel Food Cake on these cute little cake stands that they made. On the back of the tags it said, "till we meet again..." Angel food cake because they are all angels now, get it? And they covered the cakes in Italian Meringue using a large star tip, and then toasted with a kitchen torch. They were beautiful!
We were also given this hand written segment of the song "Nearer My God to Thee", which was the last song that the band played on the deck that night as the ship was sinking.
"Still all my songs shall be, Nearer my God to thee..."
32 oz. cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups ginger ale
Mix all ingredients and serve chilled.
STRAWBERRY BASIL CROSTINI
Yield: Makes 12 crostini
- 12 thin slices French baguette (sliced on diagonal)
- 4 oz. Brie cheese, cut into 12 slices
- 6 medium strawberries, sliced
- 1 to 2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
- 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lay the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Top each piece of baguette with a slice of Brie cheese.
- Bake in oven until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Top each with 2 slices of strawberry, 1/2 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey and a few slices of basil. Serve.
Roasted Grape & Brie Crostini with Honey + Sea Salt
Prep time 5 min / Cook time 25 min / Total time 30 min
Serves: approx 12 crostinis
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 whole grain demi french baguette found at Trader Joe’s or about 1/2 a loaf of french baguette, sliced in half, lengthwise
- 4-6 ounces of brie cheese, thinly sliced
- Honey, for drizzling
- coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place grapes on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Toss to coat grapes evenly and roast for about 15 minutes or until grapes begin to look like they might burst and shrivel a bit. Set grapes aside to cool. Keep oven temperature.
- Place bread on separate baking sheet and brush each half with remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Top each with brie cheese slices and bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil for 30-45 seconds until cheese melts and bubbles. Add grapes on top of cheese and drizzle honey all over. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Cut bread into wedges and serve.
Grilled Pear, Honey, and Brie Crostini
Yield: Serves 6-8
1 French baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Brie cheese, thinly sliced, rind removed
2 pears, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the baguette slices on a large baking sheet. Place one slice of cheese on each baguette slice. Bake slices in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the brie is melted.
2. While the baguette slices are baking, brush the pear slices with honey and grill on each side until soft.
3. Place a slice of pear on top of each cheesy baguette slice. Drizzle with honey and garnish with fresh rosemary.
Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup
*We doubled this soup and it fed all 11 of you :)
Yields 2 hearty, meal-sized servings
- 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used grapeseed, but Olive or Vegetable will do)
- ½ Medium Onion, slivered (about 1¼ cups)
- ½ Cup Dry Barley, rinsed (I used the inexpensive pearl barley)
- 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (or about 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic)
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 8 Ounces Sliced Button or Cremini Mushrooms
- 4 Cups (1 quart) Beef or Mushroom Broth
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ¼ -1 Teaspoon Salt to Taste
- 1 Teaspoon Miso Paste (or simply more salt to taste)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Reduce the heat just a touch, add the barley, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, followed by the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaf, and I would start with ¼ teaspoon of salt and the miso if using. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the barley is nice and tender. Season to taste with additional salt (see my notes in the post above) and black pepper to taste.
From Corinne's Mother in law
1 large Salmon skinned and boned, butterfly filet about 4-6 pounds
1/2 lb. salad shrimp
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1/4 medium onion chopped fine
salt, pepper, dill weed, thyme
1/4 cube butter melted
Spread melted butter inside salmon. Sprinkle seasonings inside. Mix shrimp, cream cheese, onion, celery - place inside salmon.
Bake at 375 degrees on foil covered cookie sheet (OR without foil on a demarle flexipat) for 30 minutes or until done. Serve with Lemon slices.
Honey Glazed Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes with some seasoning and a little olive oil. Then drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of honey, and about 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Pop them back into the oven for about 5 more minutes to achieve sweet, salty, still slightly crunchy perfection!
“The Last Dinner on the Titanic”
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Pinch granulated sugar
1. In sturdy plastic bag, shake together flour, 1 tablespoon of the thyme, salt and pepper. One at a time, dip chicken breasts into egg, and then shake in flour mixture.
2. In large deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Place chicken in pan, skin side down. Cook, turning once, for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and place in 225-degree oven.
3. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil to skillet. Stir in onions, garlic and remaining thyme; cook, stirring often, for five minutes or until onions are translucent. Increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook onions, stirring often, for five minutes or until golden brown.
4. Add wine to pan; cook, stirring, to scrape up any brown bits, for about a minute or until reduced by half. Stir in stock, tomato paste and sugar. Boil for two minutes or until beginning to thicken.
5. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat, and cook for five minutes or until juices from chicken run clear.
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Recipe by Dana McCauley
This Vegetable Marrow Farci is the vegetarian option from the first entrees on the First Class Menu from the Titanic. Vegetable marrow is a green, oval summer squash that is closely related to the zucchini in appearance and taste. If you can't find vegetable marrow, zucchini is a great alternative.
1 vegetable marrow or 2 large zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2/3 cup cooked rice
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1. Halve marrow lengthwise; scoop out flesh with spoon leaving 1/4-inch shell. Discard large seeds. Chop scooped flesh into small dice; reserve.
2. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Stir in basil, oregano, reserved marrow, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until vegetables are well browned; stir in vinegar. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the cheese.
3. Spoon into hollowed vegetables, packing lightly with back of spoon. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and remaining cheese; drizzle with butter. Place in greased baking dish in 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until marrow is fork tender and topping is well browned.
4. To serve, slice marrow diagonally in 3-inch slices. Garnish with fresh basil.
One scoop of sorbet with sparkling white grape juice (ginger ale and white grape concentrate mixed gently) poured over top.
2 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
- Place the peaches, strawberries, orange juice, and brown sugar in a food processor. Puree until smooth.
- Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions until firm
- 1 large end piece of beef tenderloin (about 3 pounds), tied and trimmed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Assorted fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, and rosemary)
- Hydroponic watercress (optional)
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle the tenderloin with oil. Season well with plenty of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with assorted fresh herbs. Allow the tenderloin to come to room temperature before cooking. Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and sear tenderloin on all sides (add additional oil, if necessary). Place the skillet in the preheated oven and roast the tenderloin for about 15 to 17 minutes. (At this point, a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat should read 135 degrees F for medium rare; for medium, roast for 3 minutes more.) Remove from the oven. Tent tenderloin with foil; allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with Blender Bearnaise (see below). If you like, garnish with watercress.
To make the reduction for the bearnaise sauce, combine vinegar, wine, shallot, and half of the tarragonin a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Blend yolks and bearnaise reduction together in a blender on low speed until combined. With the blender running on medium speed, add one-third of the butter in a slow, steady stream. Once the mixture emulsifies (it will become thick and satiny), turn the blender speed up to high and add the remaining butter. Add the remaining tarragon, season with salt and pepper, and pulse in the blender. Transfer to a dish; hold in a warm spot until ready to serve.
Peel and cut up potatoes. Boil till a fork easily pierces through. Drain water off.
Add in 1-2 TBSP butter. Mash with a potato masher or do what I do and use a hand mixer. Add in 1-2 TBSP of milk to help make smooth. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Nectarine Caprese with Honey Balsamic Reduction
For the balsamic reduction:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
For the salad:
2-3 ripe nectarines, sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh basil, for garnish
Sea salt, to taste
1. For the balsamic reduction: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and the honey until combined.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about 50% (it took mine only a minute or so once it boiled, so watch it carefully-it should thicken up.)
3. Carefully stack the nectarines and mozzarella and lightly drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Garnish with basil.
4. Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste. Enjoy.
Creme Brulee I always double this when making this for my family. For Gourmet Club I quadrupled this recipe.
Makes 4-6 Creme Brulee’s (depending on size)
2 cups half n half
5 egg yolks, beaten
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
⅛ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar for topping
Heat half n half in saucepan till slightly foamy/bubbly. In a separate bowl combine egg yolks, ⅓ cup sugar, vanilla and salt. Slowly add half n half to eggs, while mixing.
Pour evenly into ramekins placed in a large baking dish. Bake in a water bath (pour water in and around the ramekins in the baking dish) at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Chill for at least an hour. Sprinkle a couple tsp of sugar evenly over the top and fire with a kitchen butane torch till caramelized.
**If you do not have a torch - Lay a single, solid layer of white sugar in a hot frying pan. DO NOT STIR. Wait for it to caramelize, watching carefully. As soon as it turns brown, drizzle of the tops of the creme brulee’s in a as light a layer as possible.
Waldorf Pudding From The Last Dinner on the Titanic
2 large tart apples, peeled and chopped ½ cup sultana (golden) raisins 1 TBSP lemon juice 1 TBSP finely chopped crystallized ginger (We tasted it this way, and thought the ginger was way too strong. For gourmet club we halved it.) 1 TBSP butter ⅓ cup granulated sugar 2 cups milk 4 egg yolks, beaten Pinch of ground nutmeg 1 tsp. Vanilla extract ¼ cup toasted walnuts, halved (we used candied walnut pieces)
Stir together Apples, raisins, lemon juice and ginger. In skillet melt butter, stir in apple mixture and cook for 1 minute. Stir in 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until apples are lightly caramelized. Scrape all the fruit and juices into a 10 inch round baking dish.
In a saucepan heat the milk over medium heat. Heat until the milk becomes bubbly on top. Beat together in a separate bowl the egg yolks and rest of the sugar. Add a little bit of milk into the yolks at a time, while mixing. Add in all the milk, nutmeg, and vanilla. Pour over the fruit mixture.
Set baking dish in a water bath (inside a large baking dish with hot water around the pudding dish as it bakes.) Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until custard is set, but still jiggly. Carefully remove the baking dish to a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature. Serve with candied walnuts on top.
Easy Painted Eclairs
Prep 20 mins / Cook 45 mins / Total time 1 hour 5 mins
An easy and impressive dessert that tastes even better than the bakery version!
Recipe type: Dessert
- CHOUX PASTRY:
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 large eggs
- CUSTARD FILLING:
- 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
- 2 cups milk (or as called for on pudding package)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- CHOCOLATE ICING:
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate (or ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp hot water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. LIghtly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.
- In medium saucepan, combine ½ cup butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough.
- Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly, especially with the first one, to prevent it from cooking into scrambled eggs on the bottom of your warm pan :)
- With a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a large tip, spread/pipe the thick dough onto prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips approximately 1½ x 4″ each.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 20 minutes, until puffed and golden and hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. When removed from oven, IMMEDIATELY pierce the ends almost through to the other side to let steam escape and prevent any sogginess in the middle. This hole is also where you will be piping your filling into. Let cool completely before filling and icing (this will only take about half an hour).
- For CUSTARD FILLING: combine pudding and milk in a bowl and mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in ¼ cup icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Fold whipped cream into pudding.
- Scoop mixture into pastry bag fitted with a smallish tip (I enlarged my steam holes a bit to make my tip fit, so do whatever works) and pipe mixture into centers of eclairs until full. This is a bit of a messy business, but worth it for ease of eating and pretty appearance. You could certainly also just slice the eclairs in half horizontally, fill the bottoms with cream, and replace the tops. Either way, you will probably have some custard leftover.
- For ICING: Melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter over low heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and giving additional 10 second increments as needed until fully melted). Stir in 1 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in hot water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle, pipe or spread over filled eclairs.
- Store in the fridge. (Can be frozen as well. We made these almost 3 weeks before the dinner, and froze them. I’ve also made a huge batches to keep in the freezer for my family and friends birthday’s etc.)
Lemon Meringue Angel Food Cake
Angel Food Cake
from Martha Stewart
I got this recipe, when I was first married, from Martha Stewart. I love making this one. It is so good! The taste and texture way surpasses any mix or store bought Angel food cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift 1 cup of flour 2 times
Sift 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 time
1 3/4 cups large egg whites (about 13 large eggs), room temperature.
1 Tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add in 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar.
Preferably in an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and warm water on low speed until foamy.
Add salt, cream of tartar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat until soft peaks form.
While beating gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until small peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry, about 2-3 minutes, do not overmix.
Take bowl off mixer and and gently fold in the sifted flour/sugar mixture in six parts, using a rubber spatula.
Pour into ungreased angel food cake pan. Cut through batter with butter knife to get rid of air bubbles.
Bake 35-40 minutes. When done it should spring back to the touch.
Cool inverted, 1 hour before removing.
Cake can be kept up to 4 days in airtight container.
LEMON CURD FILLING:
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (2 lemons) strained lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 6 pieces
In a 1 1/2 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk briefly to combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the pieces of butter, and place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly over the entire bottom. Cook the mixture without boiling until it begins to develop body and thicken. Remove from heat and pour through a stainless steel sieve into a bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, poke a few small slits in the plastic with the tip of a paring blade allowing steam to escape while cooling. Refrigerate (curd will thicken).
ITALIAN MERINGUE FROSTING:
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (about 3) large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a 3-cup saucepan, combine the water and 2/3 cup sugar. Place over low heat to dissolve the sugar, then increase the heat to medium high and boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees. (Wash down any sugar crystals slinging to the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water.) Near the end of the boiling time, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar, and continue to whip until the whites are stiff but not dry. With the mixer running, pour the syrup onto the whipped whites. Continue to whip on medium speed, about 3 minutes more. Mixture will thicken, cool and form glossy, stiff peaks. Add the vanilla. Cool to room temperature, about 8 to 10 minutes, then frost cake right away.
ASSEMBLING THE DESSERT
Cut cake into three layers. Spread the lemon filling equally between the two layers; top with remaining layer. Frost top and sides of cake with Italian Meringue Frosting.
Yield: 12 to 14 servings