Suzi's Blog

The Best Eggnog: Period

This post is from last year, but I wanted to give new readers a chance for the experience of a lifetime. This eggnog is exceptionally rich and satisfying. Try this once, and you’ll never turn back to conventional recipes or that store-bought stuff again. Nothing can match the fresh decadence of this eggnog. And now, from last year:

I just want to say that you will thank me for the recipe below. You are very welcome.

I love Christmas. It is meant to be a fun and treasured time of life. I’m not particularly religious, but I can be ecumenically spiritual as the dark nights are filled snow.

When I, a lapsed Catholic, married Suzen, a very moderately observant Jew, we had to reach some compromises. I was happy to call that first tree a Winter Solstice Tree. And, too, for that first tree, I wanted to introduce some humor. As we dragged the tree into the house, I told Suzen to get the vacuum cleaner because you always clean the tree before putting it up. Dutifully, she went to the closet, plugged the machine in, and approached the tree.

My son was there, home from college. “Dad, your first marriage failed. Try not to screw this one up.” He went to Suzen and whispered in her ear. The vacuum was turned off. Suzen gave me a glare. Suzen and my son bonded for life. I’m still trying to connect.

At least I wanted some humor. Unlike the dreaded Christmas Grinches. They are everywhere. And the worst ones, the very greenest ones, are despicable Eggnog Grinches. You’ve read or seen them. “Oh, it’s so bad for you,” they begin. “All those calories!”

It’s the holidays for Christ’s sake. No pun intended.

There was actually an article in The New York Times last week about faux eggnogs. “Healthy” ones. One participating bartender said that eggs were not necessarily. I burned that section of The Times.

No, eggnog is not as healthy as tap water. But you drink it modestly and generally only during that time from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Not surprisingly, eggnog has a great history and total variety in how it is made. It’s a dairy-based beverage with milk, cream, sugar, beaten eggs and some kind of liquor. The ingredients can vary and the assembly variations are endless. You always beat the yolk and stiffen some kind of sugar, but some recipes also call for beating the whites separately and folding them in. The cream, or the egg white, is added to thicken the beverage which traditionally is meant to leave some lasting trace on your upper lip. Brandy, rum, or whiskey can be the liquor.

The beverage originated in England. The “nog” in the name probably stems from “noggin,” a small wooden mug used for alcoholic beverages. There was, Wikipedia suggests, a tradition in England of having liquor in the milk all year round because there were very few refrigerators in London in, say, 1700.

I found this recipe by serendipity. For Thanksgiving, I suggested a wonderful Pumpkin Chiffon Cake. It’s an asymmetrical recipe: 8 egg whites and 5 yolks. I had three yolks left over. What do you do then? You google “egg yolk recipes” and you find recipeland.com with 83 pages of egg yolk recipes. I started on page 1. I stopped on page 3. There I found this recipe there for Grandma’s Swinging Eggnog. This recipe is incredible. Make this and you will never, never ever buy eggnog in the dairy section again. This is a “crossing the Rubicon” experience.

I have adjusted the recipe three ways, so I’m sharing my name on it. First, I have doubled the amount of sugar mixed with the egg yolks. I like the additional sweetness and the additional thickness it provides.

Second, instead of using light rum, I used a dark Caribbean rum, one with lots of spicy overtones — which is wise because this recipe itself does not call for dusting with any spices. If you have a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum hidden on that back shelf and you never figured out what to do with it, now you have a positive solution.

And third, when the cream is being whipped, I suggest adding powdered sugar — powdered so that there is no trace of graininess in the whipped cream.

Most recipes for eggnog suggest using a cocktail shaker. Here you need a bowl and a whisk. This drink is made by folding or gently whisking in the whipped cream.

I hope you enjoy every sip.

Brian and Grandma’s Swinging Eggnog

Yield: 8 breads

Timing: 6+ drinks

Ingredients:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 2 cups dark, spicy rum
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Preparation:

Beat the egg yolks until light with a whisk. Continue whisking and slowly add the granulated sugar. Whisk until the mixture is stiffening. If you taste test, there may be some graininess still evident from all that sugar. That will go away with the additional liquids to come.

Add the milk and rum. Mix well, then chill for at least 3 hours.

One hour before serving, whip the cream until medium peaks form. Beat in the powder sugar. Gently fold or whisk the whipped cream into the chilled egg-milk-rum mixture. The goal here is to get a good mix of cream and chilled liquid. You don’t want to deflate the whipped cream. You will end up with a thick consistency with some globs of whipping cream suspended. That’s fine.

Refrigerate for one hour. Then serve.

Source: Brian O’Rourke and recipeland.com

Poached Eggs on Onion Tartlets

A superior chef and cookbook author is rare. When you find one, your loyalty quickly builds and your interest in all their work intensifies.

Last fall, I blogged Pastry by Michel Roux [cookingbythebook.com/blog/cookbook-reviews/pastry-savory-sweet] because this master chef had created a marvelous pastry book, organized by pasty types and filled with rapturous recipes.  Going back in time to 2005, Roux authored Eggs, and this book is every bit as satisfying as Pastry.  The two books have the same formatting, style and organization. And again, Eggs is filled with magnificent recipes.

You might first think of an egg as just a component of a dish, not the star.  But in Eggs, the eggs literally are the focal point.  In this recipe, Poached Eggs on Onion Tartlets, the eggs beam on top of tartlets that can only be described as the ultimate comfort food.

Poaching an egg? Not the easiest thing?  Something you actually never, ever tried? Well, Eggs has the solution. Organized into chapters by type of egg preparation, you learn — and see, too — the right techniques for boiling, frying, scrambling, baking, and, yes, poaching eggs. Roux’s poaching technique is presented at the end of this blog.

The recipes in Eggs are seductively written, they are delicious from the first forkful, and best of all they are quite easy to make. This recipe does ask you to thoroughly cook the onions for an hour. Don’t rush. The payoff is the taste. As with Pastry, the Egg recipes have been professionally tested. Just follow the instructions and delight in your skills.

This dish is, of course, ideal for a brunch.  But it could surprise friends and family at dinner, too.

Just a bit of a preview for you, this is a rich savory dish from Eggs. Dessert will be blogged tomorrow. Think ultimate cream puffs.

 

 

Eggs

 

Poached Eggs on Onion Tartlets

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 large onions, about 1 lb. 2 oz.
8 tablespoons butter
⅔ cup heavy cream
few thyme leaves, plus sprigs to garnish
salt and freshly cracked pepper
¾ pound ready-made puff pastry [or see Roux’s Pastry book]
flour, for dusting
4 small eggs, poached [poaching recipe below]

Preparation:

Cut the onions into thin slices. Melt the butter in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook gently for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Pour in the cream, add the thyme leaves, and let simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper and tip into a bowl. Set aside.

To bake the tartlets, preheat the oven to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a ⅛ inch thickness. Using a 4-½ inch plain round pastry cutter, cut our 4 disks and place them on a baking sheet. Chill for 20 minutes.

Prick each pastry disk 4 or 5 times with a fork. Spread the onions evenly on top of the disks, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The bottom of the pastry should be well cooked and crisp.

If you have previously poached and saved eggs in a bowl, carefully pour on boiling water on them, and leave them for 30 seconds only to warm through. Drain well.

If you have just poached the eggs, transfer from the poaching pan to a plate and trim the edges.

Put a poached egg on each onion tartlet. Top with a sprig of thyme and serve on warm plates.

Technique for Poached Eggs

Half fill a wide pan about 4 inches deep with unsalted water. Add 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar and bring to a boil.

Break an egg into ramekin or small bowl and slip the egg gently into the pan at the point where the water is bubbling.

Repeat with the other eggs, but do not poach more than four eggs at a time. Poach for about 1-½ minutes.

Using a slotted spoon or small skimmer, lift up the first egg and press the outside edge slightly to see if it is properly cooked

As soon as the egg is cooked to your liking, remove it with the skimmer or slotted spoon. Either serve immediately or transfer to a bowl of ice water and leave for about 10 minutes.

Before serving, trim the edges with a small knife to make a neat shape. This will also cut off the excess white that inevitably spreads during cooking. The poached egg is now ready.

Source: Eggs by Michel Roux