Now that we’ve celebrated the Fourth of July and, for some, Bastille Day, you may think there’s not much else happening in July to throw a party for, except continuing good weather, of course.
Well, you’re wrong; July has quite a list of special days, any one of which is reason enough to come up with cause for a party.
Did you know that July is officially designated as Blueberry Month, as well as National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month and National Anti-Boredom Month?
No, I’m not making that up, nor the recently designated title of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Good luck with that one, folks.
All you truck-lovin’ guys and gals out there have a special day coming up on Saturday, July 20, which is Ugly Truck Day.
My husband’s old yellow heap would have qualified, had it not blown up one day on its way into Langley.
Unfortunately, his replacement truck isn’t ugly enough, I fear, to earn points on Ugly Truck Day, but maybe I can do something to remedy that before the 20th.
The next day, July 21, is much easier, as it’s both National Ice Cream Day and National Junk Food Day, and either one or both of those suggest any number of ways to celebrate.
Curly fries followed by a Dark Chocolate Dove Bar, for example, would do it for me, but if you ask a few friends to come over, bringing their favorite junk food and/or ice cream, think of the buffet possibilities for an impromptu get together. Remember, it’s only one day.
There are others, equally as ridiculous, but hey, if you’re looking for a theme or reason to party, National Hot Dog Day (23rd) and Amelia Earhart Day (24th) are as good as any. Or, how about National Ratcatcher Day, which is on the 22nd, although I have no idea how one would celebrate that. My favorite “special” July day, however, is the 30th, which is National Cheesecake Day, and I know exactly how I’ll celebrate that. I do realize, of course, that for some people cheesecake can also mean hot babes in bathing suits, so feel free to celebrate National Cheesecake Day in whichever way pleases you.
We’ll close out July with one last officially designated special day on the 31st, and if your best friend happens to be your mutt, you need to do something special with or for him/her, because that will be National Mutt’s Day.
“Woof woof” to you, which translates as “happy Mutt’s Day.”
Since July is National Ice Cream Month, and the 21st is National Ice Cream Day, let’s just stick with recipes for ice cream today. Keep in mind, there’s a reason it’s called iced cream, not iced milk nor iced half and half. These are neither low fat nor diet, but if you keep the portion small and don’t indulge every day, it’s worth giving up a bit of something else. I sincerely hope you have an ice cream maker in your kitchen; I wouldn’t be without mine, and it is very active at this time of year.
CHOCOLATE MOCHA ICE CREAM
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (highest quality you can find, please)
¼ cup instant espresso powder
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups half and half
6 large egg yolks
2 T. Kahlua
2 t. vanilla
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cream and half and half. Scald the mixture over med heat, whisking.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and thick. Using a sieve, pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks in a thin stream, slowly, (don’t curdle the eggs) stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to another heavy saucepan and cook it over med.-low heat, stirring, until it thickens and coats the spoon. Stir in the Kahlua and vanilla. Transfer the custard to a metal bowl set in a bowl of ice, let it cool, covered with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent drying. Chill in the fridge for 2 hrs., then freeze the custard in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.
Italian gelato is typically a bit denser than typical ice cream, and melts more quickly as you’re eating it, so on a warm National Ice Cream Day in July, eat it quickly in a wide cone or bowl.
CHOCOLATE CHIP GELATO
2 cups half and half (or use whole milk, if preferred)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (see instructions)
¾ cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 t. vegetable oil
1. Put half and half or milk in a saucepan. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the pod to the pan. Bring to a simmer, whisking often. In a med. bowl, whisk sugar, egg yolks and salt until well blended, about 1 min. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture then return all to saucepan. Stir over med.-low heat until custard thickens and a thermometer registers 170-175, (do not let it boil). Strain into a bowl, stir in the cream and chill until cold, at least 2 hrs.
2. Stir chocolate and oil in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate is melted; let cool.
3. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Slowly add all but 1 t. of the melted chocolate during the last half minute of churning in the ice cream maker. The chocolate will form small chips. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle remaining chocolate over the gelato in zigzag lines. Serve immediately, or if not serving at once, transfer to a freezer container before drizzling the chocolate over the top, then drizzle the chocolate and freeze until ready to serve. Allow to sit out of freezer a brief time before serving. Makes about 6 wide cone servings.