Friday, December 25, 2009

Use You Nogg'n! (Make Homemade Eggnog)

I adore eggnog. I like it extra thick, so it's like a milkshake. I like it cut with 7-Up so it's thinned. I like it with nutmeg. I like it with cardamom. I like it with some whiskey. I like Silk-nog. I like eggnog any which way.

But I didn't know for sure until this Christmas if I'd like homemade eggnog. The kind they refer to in Christmas movies as "the good stuff," and with an "Auntie sure makes tasty eggnog! [wink, wink]"

But I so did.

Here it is. The Good Stuff. From Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure


12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 qt. rich milk
1 cup cognac
1 cup dark rum
1 large orange
1 lemon
1 qt. heavy cream
grated nutmeg

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, then stir in the milk, cognac, and rum. Beat the egg whites until they just hold a peak, and fold them in. Put this mixture away to chill for a few hours.

Peel the orange and cut off the white pulp from the inside of the peel until only the pure orange rind is left. Cut this into matchsticks, as thin as possible, and about 1 1/2 inches long. Grate the fresh lemon rind.

Whip the cream until it only just begins to thicken, not so much that it actually holds peaks. Stir this half-whipped cream into the milk and egg mixture, and beat a few more strokes with the whisk. Stir in the lemon rind and half of the orange rind. Pour the eggnog into a serving bowl. Over the top of it, sprinkle the remaining orange rind and plenty of grated nutmeg.

Serves 25-30.

A few notes:

As you may have noticed, you'll be drinking raw eggs and so, assuming you don't want to die of salmonella poisoning, you need to be certain that the eggs you're using are fresh fresh fresh and from healthy happy chickens (choose a local, cage-free farm). 

The recipe as written serves 25-30. Unless you're expecting that many guests or your smaller group loves eggnog as much as I do (I had 3 or 4 mugs) and won't be driving afterward, you might consider making a half-batch. Using the measurements provided makes a LOT of eggnog and, being mainly raw eggs and cream, it won't keep well.

Serve with swizzle-sticks or spoons. The cream will separate from the nog and being fresh from that relationship and looking for fun will cling to the very next nice person it meets (i.e. you and your nose).

Keep some Ibuprofen on-hand for the next morning. No, not because of the cognac & rum, but because after whipping the egg whites and cream you won't be able to turn your wrist the next day, which is something I find inconvenient. 

When I make this again (and I will make it again) I will not be cutting the orange peel into matchsticks. Or, if I do ('cause you never know, maybe I'll change my mind and feel matchstick-y) I'll cut fewer. As it was, with the entire orange peel cut and in the nog, the peel ended up in my mouth as I took sips and I had to pull it out and stick it back in my mug and then on the next sip it happened again. Annoying. I liked the orange flavor, but I'll be grating the zest next time, just like I did the lemon rind.

And there you have it! Creamy, delish, sweet, cold from the fridge but very 'warming' homemade eggnog.

Perhaps your New Year celebration could use a batch?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pump[kin] up the Muffins!

So you want a healthy[ish] breakfast bread that's sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth but not covered in chocolate chips or granulated sugar like my normal breakfast a coffee shop muffin?

Enter another winner from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe:

Pumpkin Muffins

nonstick spray
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (rounded)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
3 to 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp chopped orange zest
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly spray 8 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray.

  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, spices, granulated sugar, and orange zest in a med-size bowl. Crumble in the brown sugar and mix with a fork or your fingers until blended.

  3. Measure the pumpkin into a second med-sized bowl. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat with a fork or a whisk until smooth.

  4. Slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.

  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill them up about four-fifths full. For larger muffins, fill them up to the top. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with non-stick spray and fill with the remaining batter.

  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

It's not perfectly wholesome goodness with that 1/3 of a cup (plus 4 Tbls) of refined sugars, but it's not all that bad.

Best of all, the baby girl loved them! So, score!

And, of course, not necessarily just for breakfast. They'd be too sweet (imo) to serve with soup or salad, but they'd be great for dessert. It wouldn't be, like, a wildly sumptuous decadent dessert, but a sweet ending to a meal nevertheless.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Let them eat cake!

    I hesitate to even type this one out.  I did make this cake, so I might as well share the info, but unfortunately, we didn't get to eat it.

    There was so much food on Thanksgiving that after I'd frosted this cake I covered it and put it in the fridge and forgot about it. Ack!  By the time we were hungry and could have been ready to enjoy some cake, days and days had passed and, lacking a proper covering in the refrigerator, the cake was a dried-out and hard as a rock. Sadness.

    Here's what I think would have been my declaration about the recipe: While the cake itself was tasty, I didn't enjoy the frosting.

    Both my husband and I sampled the frosting before I put it on the cake, but while he said it was okay (though he admitted he could taste the tofu), I thought it was sour and rather yucky. I only frosted the cake with it because I hoped that once on the cake the tofu-y-ness wouldn't be as obvious as it was when snacking on the frosting alone, but I think I might actually have felt led to grab the cake out and slice it up if I hadn't been so apprehensive about the frosting I'd slathered on it.

    Apple Cardamom Cake with Lemon-Maple Frosting
    from Vive le Vegan! by Dreena Burton

    1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup ground oats
    1/4 cup unrefined sugar
    2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 1/2 tsp cardamom
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    3/4 cup vanilla or plain non-dairy milk
    2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/4 cup canola oil

    Preheat oven to 350F. In a lg bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, sifting in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, non-dairy milk, vanilla, and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir through, mixing until just well combined (do no overmix). Pour into two lightly oiled cake pans and bake for 22-24 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in teh center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

    Frosting (since I didn't really like the frosting I'm just listing the ingredients, not the actual measurements nor instructions on how to make it):
    silken firm tofu
    vanilla extract
    canola oil
    maple syrup
    unrefined sugar
    sea salt
    freshly squeezed lemon juice
    lemon rind
    plain non-dairy milk
    agar powder

    Frost your cake and refrigerate for at least a few hours to set. Serve cake slices with some vanilla or chocolate ice-cream.

    It was easy to make and smelled delish. I really do wish I'd had a taste. Oh well. I'll just have to make it again.  {smile} And I'm making a promise to myself:  the next time I bake a cake and am concerned about the frosting I'll just sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the crumb or make a quick sugar glaze to drizzle over it. I will NOT risk ruining the entire cake with gross frosting.


    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Bring us some figgy pudding [or, really, any kind of pudding]!

    I have no idea what figgy pudding really is, but I like that song. You can chant it very loudly and really sound kind of crazy (we won't leave until we get some, we won't leave until we get some) but still be Christmas-y and cheerful.

    So, lacking figs or a recipe for figgy pudding, I made a different kind of pudding today using two leftover sweet potatoes. From the breakfast recipe bonanza that is Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen, here's a delish breakfast treat, perfect for a Sunday brunch (or perhaps even a nutrient-rich weeknight dessert).

    Sweet Potato Pudding
    yield: six servings

    Nonstick spray
    1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
    1/2 tsp salt (scant)
    1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
    1/8 tsp cinnamon
    1/8 tsp ground cloves
    1/8 tsp nutmeg
    1/8 tsp powdered ginger
    4 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1 1/2 cups milk
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    squeezable lime wedges (optional)
    blackberries (optional)

    1. Half-fill a 9x13" pan with water and place on a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray six 6-oz ramekins with nonstick spray.
    2. Place the mashed sweet potato in a medium bowl, sprinkle in the salt, sugar, and spices, and continue to mash until very smooth. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs and mix until they are completely blended in. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and mix everything until uniformly combined.
    3. Spoon the pudding into the prepared ramekins, distributing it equally. Gently place the ramekins in the panful of hot water in the oven. 
    4. Bake for 35-40 mins, or until a knife inserted halfway between the edge the center of the ramekin comes out clean (the middle might still be soft, but it will continue to cook once pulled out of the oven). Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan of water and place them one by one on a rack to cook. (Tongs are very useful for this awkward process.)
    5. Cool to room temperature or chill before serving. This pudding is best at room temperature or cold, with some fresh lime juice squeezed onto each serving and a few choice blackberries on top.
    Seems straightforward, though of course I messed up a bit. I had only two ramekins, so after I filled those I also poured the pudding mixture into a small ceramic dish I have as well as a larger shallow piece of pottery that I made a few years ago in my class. I put the ramekins and the small ceramic dish into the water bath just fine, but when it came time to add the larger, shallow dish I realized I'd made a grave error. The level of water inthe 9x13 pan had rising higher and higher as the dishes were added and the larger dish I placed in there was too shallow:  the water overflowed into it and mixed with the pudding. Total ruin. Of that particular dish, anyway, which was about half of the recipe's worth. The other three smaller (taller) dishes were just fine and baked up nicely.

    I squeezed some lime juice over the remaining three dishes (which, since there are three of us, really worked out well) and added some powdered sugar to the tops for a touch of sweetness. Really, really good!!!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    You probably didn't notice...

    ...but there's a new cookbook on my shelf!

    I picked-up Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe the other day. I haven't cooked anything from it yet but I'm enjoying devouring the chapters in my spare time (which, I feel, isn't much lately, now that my daughter is walking, running, and climbing!)

    So far I'm impressed by Ms. Katzen's detailed descriptions about cooking grains, eggs and breads. I'm looking forward to getting into the kitchen and taking some of her advice.