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Archive for the ‘frozen treats’ Category

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I’ve often wondered about Brown Bread Ice Cream. What was it? Who puts bread in ice cream? In my mind, it was a major disconnect. Bread + Ice Cream = Huh? During my research into Irish recipes, this one came up several times yet I’ve never tasted, much less made it. Why would you do such a thing? Cookies yes, but bread? Brown wheat bread? But you know I was intrigued. My friend Meg once made an amazing ice cream with popcorn so how different could this be? I recalled a post David Lebovitz, the ice cream king, did a few years ago so I thought I’d start there. And you know what? It was really good and what better time than around St. Patrick’s Day to try this one out?

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As usual, I had things that needed to be dealt with.  I’d just accepted a new job and the thought of going back to a corporate-ish world, albeit one with a steady paycheck and things called benefits, sent me into a slight panic mainly due to another thing called vacation policy.  Aww, man.  I need to get a trip in.  Fast.  So I ran away to London to visit friends for one last hurrah.  The morning of my flight, I gazed into my refrigerator mentally sorting out what could stay and what had to go.  87 half filled jars of jam?  Stay.  That formerly beautiful now sadly wilted asparagus I hadn’t gotten to?  Go.  And right in the middle of all this sat a large, very ripe, very beautiful pineapple like some kind of Vegas showgirl.  Crap.

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A few Mondays ago, I was looking ahead to an unusually quiet week. For some reason, my thoughts were consumed with ice cream, frozen custard specifically. I was thinking back to a wonderful place in Milwaukee that I used to visit a few times a year with an ex. Leon’s Frozen Custard is an iconic family owned drive-in and has been a Milwaukee institution since 1942. A stop, sometimes two, was in order every time we visited family in Wisconsin. Though they served basic food – hot dogs and such – it was the frozen custard that we craved. The more I thought about the place, the stronger the pull. So that slow Monday, I hopped in my car and headed north just after the morning rush. Nothing like a day trip for ice cream to start the week off right.

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Finding a perfectly ripe, juicy sweet strawberry, deep red all the way through, can be like discovering a unicorn.  Unless you grow them yourself or know someone who does, there is bound to be disappointment.  Some of us are lucky and have farmers, markets and U-pick sites to visit where whole fragrant flats can be purchased or picked for a price.  We’re the lucky ones.  If you’re stuck with grocery store specimens, well, I’m sorry.  Spending the better part of my life with those tasteless blobs, I never really understood what all the fuss was about.  But I learned.

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Growing up, I ate a lot of fudgicles.  Fudgsicles® is actually the proper term but I always dropped the “s” and  called them fudgicles. They were a frequent after dinner treat, welcome on hot summer days.  Later, swayed by Bill Cosby perhaps, we switched to Jell-o Pudding Pops and I loved the rich, fudgy, almost chewy texture.  Sure, there were other frozen treats in rotation – ice cream, push-ups, creamsicles and the like – but those chewy pudding pops were by far the best.

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1popsicles.lrg.IMG_7818There’s been a vegan/raw chocolate mousse recipe making the rounds that derives its creaminess not from dairy or whipped egg whites but from avocados.  Right.  I’ve never made nor tasted it but have always looked upon it with a half-cocked eye, dubious of the flavor.  I am steeped in tradition and a proper mousse contains melted chocolate enriched with yolks, whipped egg whites and full fat cream. One of my favorite Parisian meals was capped by a towering bowl of chocolate mousse, doled out by an aproned waiter in enormous spoonfuls.  I can guarantee there was no avocado in that mousse.  But I’ve come around on my thinking having since made an avocado based popsicle.  They’re rather delicious and quite surprising.

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Like any American kid, I would whip into a frenzy at the first hint of that tinny, slightly creepy music signaling the ice cream man was on his way down my street.  In scenes repeated in neighborhoods across the country, I would run around in circles screaming “Ice Cream Man! Ice Cream Man!” while my mom scrambled for change.  Tightly clutching that salvaged quarter, I’d fly out the door and sprint down the street like a track star in an Olympic 4×400.  Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not and I’d crumple at the corner (I wasn’t allowed to cross the street), breaking down in hysterical tears as I’d watch him pull farther and farther away.  Insanity.  Sheer insanity.

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Bastille Day is this Saturday – but you knew that right?  The French national holiday commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération that was held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th the year prior.  It’s a day that is celebrated with parades, picnics, fireworks and great shows of nationalism, not unlike our 4th of July.  Last year at this time, I was deep in the Gascon countryside, celebrating a truly unique US-French Bastille Day BBQ courtesy of my friend Kate and a whole crew of mostly American friends at her lovely home, Camont.  It was a fantastic day.

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Every two or three summers when I was a kid, the family would pile into the car and head to California for summer vacation.  We’d go to Disneyland or the beach or Sea World.  Sometimes we do all of the above.  When I was about 11 or 12, I discovered something new at the San Diego Zoo.  It was hot, as it often is during a West Coast summer, and I conned my Dad into buying me a strawberry popsicle.  They were expensive, as popsicles go, so he must have been in a good mood.  It was a moment that transformed my young life.

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I think we’re all aware what today is – a day originally created by Pope Gelasius in 496AD to honor a few martyred Christians, right?  A rather gruesome start.  The romantic notion we now fancy didn’t make an appearance until the middle ages with Geoffrey Chaucer and the practice of courtly love.  I’m not the biggest fan – we pastry chefs have PTSD symptoms around this day – and the pressure to produce something wonderful for your sweetheart is too much.  Dinner, chocolate, roses?  How about you put a good flick on the tube, order out Chinese and rub my feet?  Now that’s a Valentine’s Day I can get behind.

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