Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Anomaly and Eggnog

Tom says:
The holidays. The calls to deck the halls, make merriment or spend time with loved ones go unanswered. If you’re in hospitality, you work ‘em. You can sleep after New Year’s. That’s how it’s always been for me, so this particular holiday season was a special anomaly; it was our first back in New England and our first Christmas Day together (when we lived in California, Maureen flew back East to be with family). This holiday season will also be the last with an abundance of free time on my hands. That’s the intention anyway.

So what did we do with the time and energy? Maureen put me to work, of course. There was the Christmas Eve open house at her sister Elaine's to attend. Would I make tiramisu? How about the Pave Potatoes I’d made at Thanksgiving? There’s a good chance, actually, a better-than-good chance, that I’ll be in Z’s kitchen in more than an Executive Chef capacity. Meaning, at the start anyway, I may be doing the vast majority of the cooking. I’ve spent the last two years in general management roles so I’m eager to return to my roots.

So. Tiramisu. The key to a superior one is the quality of the ladyfingers. You need to have a ladyfinger that will retain its shape after soaking in espresso, otherwise the entire dish turns to mush. I've found that only imported lady fingers fit the bill and even then brands vary. We were fortunate to find the perfect ones right here in town at Angela’s Pasta and Cheese Shop. My recipe, however, is secret and so I won't be posting it on the blog; ditto the Pave Potatoes (it's going to be a side dish on Z's menu).

One recipe I will share is the eggnog I decided, last minute, to make for the open house. Maureen had never had it made from scratch and I, believe it or not, had tasted the store bought only once (once was enough to tell me not to sample it again).

Homemade eggnog was a holiday standby in my family and, on occasion, my mother might have let me sip from the “adult” version when my father wasn’t looking. I'll never tell for certain. The following makes a tremendous amount of 'nog --about two gallons--so adjust accordingly. Don't think for a second I'm going to tell you the nutritional values. Besides, once a year won't do you in.


12 fresh, organic eggs, separated***
1 quart heavy cream
1 quart light cream or half-and-half
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c. brandy (optional)
ground nutmeg to taste

Using either a KitchenAid or hand mixer, combine all 12 egg yolks with 1 cup of the sugar. Beat well until mixture is pale yellow and ribbony. Transfer mixture to a larger mixing bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry your mixer bown, then add 2 cups of heavy cream, ½ cup of sugar and the vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form. If you're using brandy, now's when you drizzle it slowly in, while still beating. Wait until the soft peaks reform, then gently fold the cream into the egg yolk mixture you've set aside.

Wash and dry your mixer bowl (last time, I swear). Add the egg whites and mix on low until frothy. Increase mixing speed and gradually add remaining sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and whip the whites until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over whip. Gently fold the egg whites into cream and egg yolk mixture. Stir in remaining cream and all of the light cream. Refrigerate until serving time but at least two hours.

Don't worry if immediately after you finish the eggnog looks too thick to drink. After a couple of hours it will begin to weep and separate, naturally thinning itself. If after a couple of hours it's still too thick for your taste, stir in more light cream or whole milk.

Serve in mugs with nutmeg sprinkled on top. You'll never drink store bought again. Promise.

***Lots of supermarkets now carry pasteurized egg whites and yolks. If available, these are the safest option. Simply follow the conversion guide printed on the carton. For my own recipe, I used fresh, organic eggs from a local, traceable source.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The egg nog rocked!!! You are right store bought pales in comparison.