Food with Phelan: Memorial Day Fireworks

By: Aaron Phelan

It’s time to get the summer kicked off right. You should start Memorial Day by thanking any veterans in your life. They risked their neck so we can have the opportunity to have this day to spend with family and friends.

For my whole life Memorial Day has been a time for hanging out. Hanging out with friends and family is my favorite way to start off the summer. There is nothing like being with the people you care about having a good time in a backyard or by a pool. We shouldn’t only remember the fallen veterans, we should remember all the people we have lost and celebrate the life we have. I look at Memorial Day as a day to create memories as much as reminisce. Pool parties are all the best memories I have from Memorial Days past.

One Memorial Day in particular comes to mind. It was any regular Memorial Day party until I decided to turn it up a notch. My brother was, as always, the DJ at this party and he had the perfect tunes. He can always get everyone going. From Journey to Jay-Z, like a playlist savant he always hits the spot with his summer playlists. Then I had the great idea of daring one of the parents to bong a beer with a pool noodle! It was all great times after that. Somewhere between the pool volleyball matches, impromptu beer pong tournament, and a pool noodle beer bong hit, here and there, it may have gotten out of hand for some people but it was perfect for us. The thirty or so regulars at the party were the definition of Lil’ Rob’s song Summer Nights. “Summer days just sittin’ around but when the sun goes down. We ready to party. Ain’t nothin like them summer nights.” I hope everyone’s Memorial Day party turns into one of those nights that you won’t forget.

I suggest you find a pool, some adult beverages and the right playlist. Memorial Day isn’t complete without some burgers and dogs on the grill. A simple dessert to add to your spread is the recipe this time. Also a bonus Drink I call Liquid Fireworks rounds out two patriotic recipes you can make all summer long and represent the Red, White, and Blue.

Fresh Berries and Crème Anglaise, and Liquid Fireworks

Crème Anglaise is a simple vanilla custard that goes great with any fruit. This recipe makes enough for 8, here’s the what you’ll need.

  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 6 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 6 oz. Whole Milk
  • 2 Vanilla Beans or 2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries

To start you need to turn the stove on to medium heat. Then measure out all of your ingredients while it heats up. Add your milk and cream in to the pot. Don’t let the milk and cream boil because it will begin to curdle and you will have to start over. Separate your egg yolks from the whites and add the yolks and the sugar in bowl and mix with a whisk or fork. It will look pale yellow when it is mixed enough like the picture below.

Stir the milk and cream vigorously to make sure the thickening is even. When there are bubbles forming around the walls of the pot you are ready to temper the eggs. This process is simple so just check out the picture below.

You need to add about half of your hot cream and milk mixture to the eggs and sugar mixture, while stirring the whole time. You can’t just add the sugar and egg mixture to the cream and milk mixture because it will scramble the eggs and this would ruin the custard. After you temper the eggs you can add them into the pot. And cook for two minutes while stirring vigorously. Then remove it from the heat. Now we can add the vanilla. If you have vanilla beans you need to cut them down the middle longwise, from end to end. Once you cut the pod in half scrape the beans down the middle and add them to the pot with the pod,(or just pour in the vanilla extract) and stir it hard for 30 seconds.

Then let it sit while you get a container like a big bowl or a container big enough to hold the custard, I used a pitcher. Strain the custard into the container to get out any scrambled eggs and the vanilla pod.

Now you just need to let it cool. When it is ready wash your berries or any other fruit you choose to use.

Now its plate time!!

You don’t have to go for the fancy plating. This dessert is great in a plastic cup.

Liquid Fireworks

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Any clear alcohol you like.
  • 1 cup Strawberries
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • Lemon Lime Soda
  • Red, White and Blue Popsicles
  1. Rough chop the strawberries and them to a bowl with the sugar.
  2. Mix the sugar and strawberries so that the strawberries are coated in sugar.
  3. Let that sit for 30 minutes and you will have homemade strawberry syrup.
  4. I'm not about to tell you how strong to make you drink, but please be responsible! Add the alcohol and lemon lime soda in your cup and a spoonful or two of the strawberry syrup.
  5. Drop a Popsicle in and that’s it.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Memorial Day! Make sure you invite that crush you have been too scared to ask out on a date for the last few weeks! Impress them with your berries and cream and Liquid Fireworks so that maybe just maybe your Memorial day will be Fireworks!


Photo Credit: Sydney Schmitz