I’m sure this happens to every expat American. You see something or you meet someone that triggers a memory from “back home”. That happened to me today. I received a comment on my post about free range chickens from Norma Chang. Now I’ve never met Norma but that’s how these triggers work. I saw her comment and went to visit her blog – Garden to Wok. I hope everyone goes to visit the blogs of people who comment to them. It’s the right thing to do.
Norma lives in Rhinebeck about 90 miles north of New York City and that’s where my sister has lived since leaving college. It’s not too far from the Culinary Institude in Hyde Park. One of my favorite eating spots. Or how about the london broil at Fosters.
** Okay I just received an email from my sister and she said, “Norma lives in Rhinebeck? I think she lives near Poughkeepsie if we’re talking about the same woman. She’s written a few cookbooks, does cooking demonstrations and has a son that played violin (and very well) with Em. (my niece)” So I apologize to Norma for assuming she lived in Rhinebeck or virtually moving her. Maybe I should have investigated before writing this post. heh
Rhinebeck is a delightful town and I have great memories of my visits there. In September 2001 I took my in-laws to the US for their very first visit to the states. All they’ve ever seen of the US are what’s on TV and as we all know TV isn’t how we all live.
“Do all Americans live in big cities and chew gum?” Want to swap inlaws?
Seriously they are fantastic people. Average age of 90 and they still take care of themselves and a 10 acre property. I can only wish to be like them.
After a visit to the local elementary school to read some Australian stories to the children, we went to a local diner for lunch and this is where the memory kicks in. You knew it was coming, right?
Schemmy’s (now closed) was in a 150 year old building in downtown Rhinebeck that had been a dry goods store before becoming a drug store with a soda fountain. Just going through the door was like going through a time machine and the inlaws loved it.
I can’t remember what I had for lunch but I DO remember the ice cream sodas we had for dessert. We had a lovely time and the next day we went back to the city and took a helicopter ride over the World Trade Center and that night we went to the top to enjoy the view.
The following day we flew from New York to Washington on our way back to Australia. Dulles Airport, September 11th, 2001. Yes, really. It took us a while to get home because our plane was pulled off the runway and taken back to the terminal.
Anyway, back to my chance meeting with Norma. All I’ve thought about all day was an old fashioned chocolate ice cream soda. I don’t think I’ve had one since the one at Schemmy’s.
I try not to do things by halves so I started out by making the chocolate ice cream. Some people make a chocolate ice cream soda with vanilla ice cream. I just roll my eyes — it’s all about the chocolate, folks! and yes, you can buy your ice cream, nothing wrong with that at all. Nobody at your table will care.
There are heaps of recipes for chocolate ice cream and I don’t suppose mine is any more special but I’ll add it below. I made the chocolate custard, chilled it and then mixed it with cream. I poured it into the little tin that goes into the machine and magically 30 minutes later it went from the first photo to the 2nd. Note the spoon.. every cook must taste everything, right? I tasted. I approved.
I hate waiting for the ice cream to harden because when I want something I want it NOW. (maybe I wouldn’t want one later – fat chance!)
Finally the moment had arrived. Time to put it all together. Now you can go to Ina Garten’s place and get her recipe for chocolate sauce or you can use Hershey’s or your own recipe if you have one. I’ll admit that I was given some Hershey’s syrup from a fellow American and that’s what I used.
I poured about a quarter cup of cream into the bottom of the glass and then gave it a really big squirt of sauce. I like my ice cream sodas to be very chocolatey but make your soda the way you like it, that’s what enjoying food is all about.
Mixed it up with a spoon and it was ready for the soda.
This is the best bit. You put the soda water in and WHOOSH all these delightful bubbles and then you get some of that beautiful, creamy chocolate ice cream and you plop a scoopful in the glass. It sinks but only a little. That’s so you have room to put a second scoop. Voilà!!
Now folks, if you’re thinking, “Maureen is a lovely person, I bet she gave that chocolate ice cream soda to her husband.” Sadly, you’d be wrong. I enjoyed every single slurp of it all by myself. I would have made one for him if he’d known what I was doing but hey, he was upstairs in his office working. Maybe he’ll want one for dessert and then I could have another one. Yes, I would do that and I’d feel very guilty. I’d wear that 2nd soda on my hips for weeks but I’d do it with a smile.
Seriously, I drank and ate the whole thing myself.
Mmmmm it was exactly how I remembered it. So to Norma from Garden to Wok, thank you for making me feel very American today.
- 5 egg yolks
- ¾ cup of sugar
- ¼ cup of cocoa powder
- 6 oz of good chocolate
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups cream
- 2 tbs cream
- Soda water
- Chocolate Syrup
- Put the milk in a sauce pan and sift the cocoa into the pan. Sometimes there are hard bits and they won't dissolve, so sift. It will take less than a minute and you'll be happy.
- Add the sugar and the salt and heat til nearly boiling. Stir to combine the chocolate.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks together.
- While whisking the egg yolks, slowly and I do mean slowly, add a bit of the hot chocolate mixture into the eggs. If you put it all in at once you'll scramble your eggs and that makes pretty poor ice cream.
- After about ¾ of a cup has been put into the yolks, you can add the chocolate more quickly but continue to whisk.
- When all the chocolate has been added to the egg whites, Place the mixture back into the pan and put it back on medium heat.
- Continue stirring until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can run your finger through it and it leaves the trail.
- Don't overcook or again, you'll get scrambled eggs.
- When the custard is done add the vanilla extract and strain it into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and chill.
- I know this sounds complicated but honestly, it takes less than 10 minutes to get to this point.
- When the custard is chilled add the cream and place into your ice cream freezer and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Mix cream and chocolate syrup in the bottom of a tall glass
- add soda water and stir just enough to combine
- Add a scoop of homemade chocolate ice cream