Labor Day is an all-American holiday, and what better way to celebrate the long weekend than with ice cream.
True, we Americans did not invent ice cream. The Chinese, according to legend and food historians, were the first to transform ice into delicious treats.
They were cooling drinks and sweets long before the Christian era. It was the Chinese who were the first to introduce refrigeration, and they eventually taught the art of making cold drinks and sweets to the Arabs.
The Italians got into the act when Marco Polo ventured into China and returned to his native country with “tales of exotic Orientals reclining on embroidered cushions, devouring ice that had been brought from the mountains on camel back and flavored with exotic fruits.”
The French got caught up in the ice cream frenzy when Catherine de’Medici married Henry II of France in 1553.
Instead of Champagne flowing at their marriage celebration, which lasted 34 days, they served a different flavor of ice cream each day.
While Asia and Europe may want to take all the credit for the introduction of ice cream, it is also maintained by food historians that there are accounts of the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, consuming his own brand of ice cream.
He engaged servants to pour liquid chocolate into snow from the mountains. The chocolate, when frozen, was rushed to the emperor, who then consumed the first Fudgsicle, Good Humor or Dove Bar.
Perhaps Americans did not invent ice cream, but the most popular flavor, vanilla, is purely an American product.
Cortes and his merry band of explorers found the vanilla bean in Mexico and took it back to Spain. They gave it its name, vanilla, which comes from the Spanish “vanilla,” meaning little sheath.
The long, thin shape of the vanilla pod grows on a climbing plant and, although its origin is Mexico, it is now grown in the islands of the Indian Ocean and in the West Indies. Hawaii also grows a very flavorful, delicious vanilla bean.
While we may not have originated the first ice cream, we can say with pride that no country has done more to enhance the tasty treat.
There are hundreds of flavors of ice cream and unlimited ways of serving it. While vanilla is preferred by 35 percent of ice cream consumers, there are those who dress it up and create such great desserts as:
Ice cream sundae: This treat leaves it to the imagination of the maker, limited only by the available ingredients and the size of the dish. A sundae is usually made with a single scoop of ice cream to which you add chocolate sauce crowned with whipped cream and a hodge-podge of nuts, syrups, toppings, fresh fruit, crushed candies, cookies and more whipped cream.
Banana split: Adding a banana transforms a sundae into a banana split or royale. It has three flavors of ice cream, three different toppings, a banana sliced lengthwise, whipped cream, chopped nuts … and don’t forget the maraschino cherries.
Ice cream soda: There are three basic parts of an ice cream soda: ice cream, club soda and ice cream. To make the perfect ice cream soda, choose a large glass and put in about 2 to 3 tablespoons of flavored syrup. Fill a glass with carbonated water to within 2 inches of the rim. Mix well. Position a scoop of ice cream on the edge of the glass, balanced so that its bottom touches the surface of the soda. Add whipped cream, if desired.
This holiday weekend, treat your family and friends to an ice cream buffet, offering various flavors of ice cream and rich and tantalizing sauces to make that treat of all treats a magnificent and creative culinary adventure!
Yes, it’s mango season and no self-respecting Floridian would consider not including something of mangoes as part of the Labor Day feast.
1 medium-sized, ripe mango, peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup mango nectar (available at supermarkets); orange juice may be substituted
2 teaspoons lemon juice
■ Combine mango and nectar and cook on medium heat until mango is soft.
■ Add lemon juice. Makes about 2 cups sauce.
Hot fudge sauce
½ cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup light cream (half and half) or evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
■ Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan.
■ Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Boil briskly for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
■ Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla.
■ Serve warm. Makes about 2½ cups.
1 cup dark corn syrup 1 cup sugar, or ½ cup white and ½ cup light brown sugar ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup light cream (or half and half) 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
■ Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.
■ Boil briskly five minutes, stirring occasionally.
■ Remove from heat and add vanilla. Best served warm. Toasted pecans or peanuts add flavor and fun to this sauce.
This is a recipe using the microwave for a fast, easyto- fix sauce. It may also be made on top of the stove in a heavy pan, combining the ingredients and cooking over medium heat until the mixture is thick and creamy.
4 egg yolks
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup bourbon*
■ Combine the egg yolks, sugar and bourbon in a microwavable 2-quart bowl.
Beat until light with a whisk.
■ Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk thoroughly, then repeat for 30 seconds more. Repeat, microwaving and whisking at 30-second intervals until the sauce is thick and creamy.
■ Pour into a sterile jar, cover and refrigerate until serving time. Serve cold.
Keeps up to 2 weeks under refrigeration.
*Rum and a variety of liqueurs may be used instead of bourbon.
Q: I am a newly divorced bachelor and am enjoying cooking for myself and friends. One of my favorite salad dressings is Green Goddess. I have been unable to find a recipe that includes anchovies. Hope you can provide one.
— CHL, Marco Island
A: This is a zesty, tasty recipe and not only delicious on salads but may be used as a dip for vegetables.
Venerable Green Goddess dressing
2⁄3 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
2 ounces canned anchovies, including oil
1⁄3 cup chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic or more, if desired
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
■ In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except the romaine. Blend until smooth.
■ Toss with romaine lettuce or greens of choice.
Doris Reynolds is the author of “When Peacocks Were Roasted and Mullet was Fried” and “Let’s Talk Food.” They are available for sale in the lobby of the Naples Daily News. Also available is a four-part DVD, “A Walk Down Memory Lane with Doris Reynolds.” Contact Doris Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org