HI! Ohmygah does it feel like it’s been a while. This weekend we celebrated Roy’s 25th birthday with dinner, a movie on our new and rather unnecessary 4K tv (!), bowling, party hats, ice cream cake and banana pancakes because I’ve always wanted to live a morning like Jack Johnson.
Oh, and can I also talk a bit about this thing that happened called a champagne shower–wait and I’m really not talking about the LMFAO song but I guess I kind of am? We frequent a KBBQ spot in Little Tokyo called Manna, which gives you the option to be sprayed with a few bottles of champagne on your birthday. We’ve seen countless people do this over the years and always joked about it ourselves but somehow a chain of events led to him and two of his friends sitting in the middle of the restaurant, holding a candle stuck in a piece of jello, and getting drenched in champagne while “Happy Birthday” blasted loudly in the background. Everyone in the restaurant stares and laughs at you. Everyone. But hey, I guess now Roy can check that off his list!
Now, on to the thing that’s been taking over my food life in the past few weeks! Ice cream!!!! P.s. I didn’t even realize yesterday was National Ice Cream Day so is this great timing or what. Ok I’m going to start by saying that 1) this mint chip ice cream is quite possibly one of the best mint chip ice creams ever and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you guys but b) this ice cream cake was rather no bueno (we’ll get to that in a little).
But super super seriously, I was so wow’d by this ice cream. Please do not look down on the ice cream after I said the ice cream cake was a fail because this ice cream is AMAZING. I did a lot of research prior to choosing a recipe, trying to decide between a mint chip flavored with extract or mint leaf. Everyone had a different opinion. Some people thought going the natural route produced an ice cream with a weaker mint flavor and an unpleasant grassiness. I read another article from someone who couldn’t stand the extract method. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed extract mint chip and the one time I tried the herb version, I was not a fan. But to be honest, this stuff right here is a game changer. It’s got that freshness to it that you can’t find with an extract, but keeps all the mint flavor we love about mint chip ice cream. I mean, I did steep just about two giant bundles of mint leaves! It’s sure gonna taste like mint. The ice cream even turns out a very pale green color too from the leaves! Which can of course be brightened with a little blue food coloring if you want.
So, about turning this awesome mint chip ice cream into a cake… It didn’t go very well. The ice cream started to melt and the oreo crust was way too thick, but Roy was the best sport and said he loved it anyways and it made me feel a bit better about the whole fiasco 🙂 but that’s mainly the reason why I’m only sharing the ice cream recipe! Maybe I’ll figure out the whole ice cream thing in the future, but for now I’ll be sticking to ice cream and cake, served separately.
One of Roy’s favorite parts about his birthday weekend was dinner at Chi Spacca. I don’t even know where to begin with telling you how amazing the food here was. Do the pictures help??? It’s a small sister restaurant to Mozza, and caters to all the meat lovers out there, which is definitely Roy. We ate affettati misti (basically Italian lunch meats–BUT SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT), a salad with the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted, lamb ribs, and a whole chicken. Plus a cherry crostata and melon and cantaloupe gelato. Oh man.
What stood out for me was their not-so-typical foccacia bread. Our waitress told us that one of their chefs, Nancy Silverton, tried this specific type of foccacia bread in Italy years ago. She came back to the states and tried to recreate it but couldn’t get the recipe just right. She took two more trips back to Italy, and learned how to perfect the foccacia with help from the little restaurant below her hotel. And holy moly is this thing sure perfection. It’s flakey and buttery like a pie crust but also reminiscent of a thin crust pizza with all the cheese that oozes out of it. I don’t even think I’m doing it justice with this description. Just, if you ever get the chance to eat here you really, really need to!!!
It’s summertime and I’ve probably complained about the heat way too many times and all I can seem to daydream about is how amazing it would be to travel to a foreign country and learn how to cook new foods from the people who have been doing it for generations. I watched It’s Complicated for the first time (yeah, I know–WHAT???) and fell in love with Meryl Streep’s movie house and oh how I want to make lavender ice cream but I’m getting a little worried that I’ve already made you guys (and Roy) sick of ice cream already. But… we’ll see!
Mint Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Mint Chip Ice Cream
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150g) granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups (80g) fresh mint leaves, packed
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup chocolate, chips or chopped, 60% cacao
1 tbsp canola oil, or any unflavored oil
1. In a saucepan, warm 1 cup of the heavy cream, milk, sugar, salt, and mint leaves. Heat until the mixture is hot and steam begins to rise from the liquid. Cover and remove from the heat. Let sit for an hour to infuse the mint flavor from the leaves.
2. Strain the mint infused liquid into a bowl, separating the leaves. Use a spatula or clean hands to squeeze out any excess liquid from the leaves, then discard them.
3. In a large bowl, pour the remaining cup of heavy cream and place the strainer on top. Set aside.
4. Heat the mint infused milk again in the previous saucepan. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks together. After the mint milk has been warmed, temper the egg yolks by adding a small amount of the warm milk to the eggs, making sure to whisk constantly. Whisk in the rest of the warm milk in small additions. Then pour the liquid back into the saucepan.
5. Cook the custard on medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent it from curdling. The custard has thickened when it coats the back of a spoon and running your finger down the spoon creates an open channel. This should happen around 170°F/77°C.
6. Strain the hot custard into the large bowl with the remaining heavy cream. Stir to combine, then cool down the mixture over an ice bath until it reaches room temperature.
7. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the liquid, and refrigerate overnight.
8. The next day, transfer the cold custard to your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I use the Cuisinart one, which takes about 20 minutes.
9. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or at 30 second intervals in the microwave. Make sure to stir the chocolate between each round in the microwave! Add in the canola oil and combine. Set aside.
10. When the ice cream is almost done churning, drizzle in spoonfuls of the chocolate. You can use a rubber spatula to break up any large chunks of the chocolate. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to use.
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