Blind Tasting Night: June 22, 6:30 p.m., Wine 101, 1220 Whitney Ave., Hamden, 475-202-6657, bit.ly/2rTCurT, $ 10. What happens when we don’t know the price, producer or region of the wine in our glass? How much do these factors influence our perception of quality in a wine? This fun class is designed to help you understand different characteristics of wine based solely on sight, smell and taste. Advanced ticket purchase required.
Grilling for Dads: June 24, 6:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, bit.ly/2s7446N, $ 60. This class will teach Dad all the tricks and tips he needs to become a true grill master. Bring a cooler of beer or his favorite beverage. Menu: Grilled cornbread with jalapeño honey butter, grilled Cajun buffalo chicken wings, grilled steak fajitas, grilled bacon-wrapped corn on the cob.
Summer Ravioli Cooking Class: June 25, noon, Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, bit.ly/2rAKlsS, $ 50. Once you learn how to make classic fresh pasta dough and how to work with it, the choices of fillings are limitless. The chef will help you to create two different types of ravioli with a summer influence completely from scratch. Bring a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage. Menu: Homemade pasta dough, sweet corn ravioli with brown butter basil sauce and warm cherry tomato compote, beet and chevre ravioli in a blood-orange fennel sauce.
Wine Thief French Wine Tasting: June 29, 5:30 p.m., Barcelona, 155 Temple St., New Haven, 203-772-1944, bit.ly/2sxmLBr, $ 25. Taste over 30 wines from France. Light tapas provided.
Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner — “Silver Death”: July 7, doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7, Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489, bit.ly/2cyB02Y, $ 55 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on as you enjoy a three-course dinner. The cast mingles from table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. They are at it again. Auctioning off a cursed piece of jewelry. Bid…but do not touch!
Worth Tasting: July 22, 10:45 a.m., downtown New Haven, reservations required, 203-415-3519, 203-777-8550, bit.ly/1UUyyA4, $ 64. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven’s favorites. You won’t be hungry after this tour. I will lead this one.
It sure is hot outside as I write this column. I remember as a child those sweltering days when the Good Humor man rang his bell on the bicycle-powered cart, and I would run outside at 3 p.m. (his usual time of arrival) to buy an ice cream on a stick; usually strawberry shortcake, toasted almond or chocolate fudge cake with the candy center. Remember those?
No matter your age, ice cream is a treat, especially on a hot summer day. Some don’t stray from the basic chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, yet others, me included, are curious to try newfangled flavors like sweet potato maple walnut, sweet corn or caramel popcorn. For those that like a bit of heat, what about horseradish, Sriracha or white chocolate habanero ice cream?
Spoonuniversity.com published an article titled “The Weirdest Ice Cream Flavor in Every State in America.” Milford’s Walnut Beach Creamery’s “Sandy Annie” made the list; blue vanilla, chocolate-covered pretzel Goldfish and graham cracker sand. What about New York’s listing, the Coolhaus truck’s fried chicken and waffles (brown butter maple ice cream with maple-candied chicken skins and caramelized waffles)? For the other 48 states’ listing, visit bit.ly/2rwu0Fu. You too will be amazed.
As strange as it seems, Max & Mina’s Ice Cream in Flushing, New York, has in its repertoire lox ice cream (vanilla ice cream with bits of the smoky fish). I guess the sky is the limit in innovative flavors!
Whatever flavors please your palate, few things say fun like ice cream, but too many cookbooks make ice cream serious and difficult. Not “Ice Cream & Friends: 60 Recipes and Riffs,” by the editors of Food52 (© 2017, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, $ 22.99). The book is packed with exciting creations, several of which I will be making.
Think cinnamon roll ice cream, coffee frozen custard, and grilled watermelon cremolada, and spins on favorites such as spiced fudgesicles, cherry-mint snow cones, and a chocolate-hazelnut baked Alaska. There are Saltine-brownie ice cream sandwiches, boozy floats, and something called “spoom.” And check out the innovative recipes below for burnt toast ice cream and fresh ricotta ice cream.
I liked the tricks for making the desserts without an ice cream maker and spiffing up the store-bought stuff, and the Hail Marys for when things go wrong, like when, whoops, the ice cream melts. After going through the book, you too will realize making frozen desserts doesn’t need to be a special-occasion endeavor; many of the recipes are easier to whip up than most cakes. Even if you have never made frozen treats before, you’re in good hands with this no-fuss, all-fun book, just in time to celebrate National Ice Cream month in July.
As the editors say, “consider it your permission to play (and eat a ton of really good ice cream).”
The editors write: “If burning toast is something you’ve been avoiding since the first time you used a toaster, think about how much you like toast and butter. Then consider that “burning” is pretty much the same thing as caramelizing, which is a really good flavor to have in an ice cream. Now take our word when we tell you that putting burnt toast bits in an ice cream makes it — there’s no better word for it — toasty. It’s the slightest bit savory, buttery from the cream, and flecked with fine toast crumbs or ‘dust,’ as Cristina Sciarra calls it. Plus, think of how devilish you’ll feel burning the heck out of toast on purpose.”
Burnt Toast Ice Cream
2¼-inch slices country-style white bread
1¾ cups heavy cream
1¼ cups whole milk
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
½ cup skim milk powder
4 egg yolks
Toast the bread long enough to develop a deep brown color, even black in spots. Blitz the toast to dust in a food processor.
In a pot, whisk together the cream, milk, ½ cup of the sugar, and the milk powder. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar for 1 minute. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the yolks. Pour the milk-yolk mixture back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the base thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add ¼ cup of the burnt toast dust to the ice cream base (use any extra for garnish).
Let the warm base steep for 30 minutes, then pass it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Chill the base completely in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight.
Pour the chilled base into an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1¼ quarts.
The headnote says: “When Pat Aresty tasted ricotta gelato for the first time in Florence, she experienced ‘gelato nirvana,’ then promptly took it upon herself to re-create the dessert. She used a ricotta ice cream in Gourmet magazine as her launchpad, throwing in candied citrus peel, chopped pistachios, and chocolate to mimic the filling of another classic Italian dessert: cannoli. With a homemade sugar cone wafer to stand in for the cannoli shell, you might as well be in a piazza in Palermo.”
Both homemade and purchased whole milk ricotta are fine — as is sheep’s milk. But if your ricotta is grainy, your final ice cream will be, too.
Fresh Ricotta Ice Cream
1 2/3 cups fresh whole milk ricotta
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped candied citrus peel (such as orange, lemon or citron)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped bittersweet chocolate
Blend both cheeses, the milk, sugar, rum, lemon zest, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add the heavy cream and blend until the base is just combined.
Pour the base into an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last minute of churning, add the candied citrus peel, pistachios and chocolate. Makes a scant 1 quart.
For the recipe for rhubarb-gin sorbet with rose cream, visit bit.ly/2tv8zG2.
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Contact Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.