Nicholas Morgenstern is like if Willy Wonka were hot and his desserts were cold. His factory is the basement of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, where he churns out 88 flavors, ranging from Yuzu Yamazaki to Salt & Pepper Pine Nut. And his ethos is simple: When life gives you lemons, make lemon curd poppy seed ice cream.
Morgenstern is more than an ice cream maker. He’s America’s foremost ice cream historian. The same way Jill Lepore could tell you about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 or I could regale you with all of James Dolan’s high crimes and misdemeanors, Morgenstern could wax poetic about the creation of the ice cream sundae for hours on end.
Order a Tin Can Roof at his sundae bar to feel like you are behind the counter at a pharmacy in the early 20th century—becoming one of the first human beings to enjoy the gestalt of vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and, of course, a single cherry. Or order one of Morgenstern’s avant-garde sundaes like the New God Flow, featuring Japanese white bread, raw milk ice cream, and caramelized honey, to see how he’s built on the tradition.
When Nicholas picked up the phone, I thought I’d ask him my standard questions about what he has in his pantry. But then, he interrupted me, and said what at the time felt like the truest thing I’d ever heard: “We really need to come up with an ice cream sundae for quarantine.”
Can you even make an ice cream sundae in quarantine?
Well, The Ice Cream Man can. The Ice Cream Man can cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.
Here’s what we covered:
*How to make a Morgenstern’s Apocalypse Sundae
*How to recreate The New God Flow at home
*Bonus Recipe: The Sardine Snack
*Words of wisdom
How to make a Morgenstern’s Apocalypse Sundae
I always have The Brown Banana Issue, because I buy bananas a lot to eat when I work out. Inevitably, I buy too many or I’m too busy, and they start to go brown. I do not like to throw food away, so the door of my freezer has, at any given time, six to twelve frozen bananas.
If you have enough of them, you can stick them in the blender with a little bit of a fat—like milk or soy milk. Frozen banana blended has a lot of starch and it’ll turn into something that’s pretty creamy, with a smoothish ice cream consistency. If you add peanut butter to it, you have a banana-peanut butter version.
If you have any kind of chocolate products, you just need to throw it in the microwave to melt it and then drizzle that on top. Anything crunchy can be added to this Apocalypse Sundae. You can add potato chips. You can even add corn chips. Any kind of nuts, obviously. And stick to your banana-peanut butter theme if you can, but since we’re facing the apocalypse, don’t worry if you can’t. It’s all gonna come out the same end anyway.
How to recreate The New God Flow at home
If you have bread in the freezer, you definitely can heat up a sauté pan, put honey in the sauté pan, and then press the bread down into the honey, and treat it like a grilled cheese. You’ll caramelize the honey into the bread and create a crispy outer edge. If you have any kind of ice cream and you put that on top, you can create a New God Flow at home. Or you could top it with that banana-peanut butter ice cream.
Listen, I’m gonna go as far as to say that’s not only a sundae; that’s like a meal. It definitely could pass for a breakfast or lunch, and if it’s late enough at night, it’s like a late-night supper.
Bonus Recipe: The Sardine Snack
All chefs have eaten crackers, butter, anchovies or sardines with any number of hot sauce condiments. It’s really good on a Wasa cracker. I always have Crystal [Hot Sauce] in the fridge. If you’re really doing it and you’re not in apocalypse mode, you want to have chopped herbs on top of it.
If you eat a whole can of sardines, you’re getting tons of protein. It’s almost enough for lunch. It’s approximately the equivalent of a can of tuna.
Hacks from Homecooks
Ben Krauss: Make huge batches of really filling soups and stews. Nothing makes you appreciate the end times like Ukrainian food—and there's probably not a huge run on beets at Whole Foods. So make a huge batch of borscht with whatever meat, potatoes, and other veggies you have lying around. Then, over the next few weeks of contemplating oblivion, just open your freezer for an on-demand moment of solace.
READ: Veselka-Style Winter Borscht Recipe [Editor’s Note: Feel free to ignore the vushka (dumplings) if you don’t have all of the ingredients to make them.]
Sarada Peri: While you can, freshen up on your spices. Buy chilis and freeze them. Same with curry leaves, which last a long time in the freezer, because they grow like weeds and you can’t use them all at once. (My mom grows them because #IndianAuntie.) Also: Indian pickle is the stuff of gods and lasts forever.
Local food banks desperately need donations. Locate yours here through Feeding America—and give what you can.
I know this week has been difficult, but I hope you make the most of your Sunday... and your Sundae. (Sorry.)
Until next time…