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ADVOCAAT: DUTCH EGGNOG

“So it doesn’t have any dairy in it?” a friend asked.

“No, just eggs.”

“Then…. it’s not eggnog. There’s no nog.” I agreed, though I wasn’t actually sure about the etymology of the term and wasn’t in a position to look it up at that moment.

Since then, I looked it up. It appears that nog may come from noggin (a wooden cup) which comes from nog, ale from Norfolk, England. Hence: eggnog = eggs + booze = delicious.

I didn’t like eggnog for most of my life. Every year or two I’d buy a carton at Christmas and round it out with some brandy or rum or both, and be unable to finish it. It was just… gummy, weird-tasting, and nasty. I decided I was an eggnog Philistine and that I would probably get along just fine the rest of my life without it.  I now know that I was buying cheap-ass eggnog that wasn’t worthy of the name.  I don’t remember just how we discovered Clover-Stornetta brand eggnog – dear knows at the price it wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment extravagance – but it’s become our Christmas heroin. Eggnog is one of those things that you get what you pay for. It’s a good thing it’s only available about seven weeks a year because it would kill us to drink this stuff year-round.

In the Netherlands they make this thing called advocaat, which is sort of a Dutch eggnog.  The name may or may not have come from a drink of Suriname made with avocados (the Dutch ruled Suriname for 300 years and there are quite a few Surinamese in the Netherlands). Personally, I can’t get too enthused about the idea of an avocado-based drink, but maybe you had to take what you could get in Suriname.

You can buy advocaat in liquor stores here in the liqueur section and apparently it’s pretty good, but I decided to make it. I found a number of recipes online and they all followed pretty much the same format, varying only by a few ingredients.  This is what I came up with. This cannot be considered healthy, but it is delicious.

ADVOCAAT

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brandy (use good-but-not-great stuff)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Break all the eggs into a sturdy pan. You can use only the egg yolks if you want, but then you’re stuck with a dozen egg whites. Unless you have plans to make angel food cake and divinity, it might take a while to use all of them.

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Add the sugar, brandy, and salt. Place pan over medium heat, whisk to combine, and keep stirring constantly.

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If you run into problems with the eggs cooking too fast – i.e. you see bits of scrambled egg – remove pan from heat and employ the stick blender, or pour the mixture into a blender and blitz it.

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The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but don’t sweat it if it isn’t quite that thick.

Add the vanilla and store in covered jars in the refrigerator.

005To serve, shake or stir, then pour into liqueur glasses or small cocktail glasses. Top with whipped cream if you like. If your advocaat turns out very thick, eat it with a spoon (as is done in the Netherlands).

You can substitute rum for the brandy. I suppose other liquors like bourbon or  Amaretto would be quite tasty also.

This will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

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WHISKEY SAUCE

Oh dearie me, where does the time go? Poor little blog, neglected for so long. But now that summer has moved onward (bye! Have a nice time! Stay as long as you like!) toward the Southern Hemisphere, it’s time to actually cook again rather than just assemble another in an endless stream of salads.

Last night we had dinner guests. I  didn’t think about what to make for dessert until a few hours before they arrived, and the oven was mostly full.  No room for a big pie or cake.  I finally settled on bread pudding made with telera rolls.

My mother used to serve lemon sauce with bread pudding, and it is delicious, but I thought a whiskey sauce would work too.  Most recipes include heavy cream and butter. Since we’re trying to lower cholesterol in our diets, I experimented and came up with this one. It worked really well.

WHISKEY SAUCE

  • 2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • pinch salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • few drops vanilla extract

Combine cornstarch and brown sugar in saucepan. Mix until thoroughly combined and lump-free. Add salt and nutmeg.

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Add water, stirring to scrape up all the dry ingredients. Put pan over medium-high heat and continue to stir,

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The mixture will suddenly turn from white to brown. If it looks curdled, just keep stirring serenely and it will smooth out.

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Pour in 1/4 cup whiskey and stir.

CIMG2925Remove from heat and add a few drops vanilla extract. Serve warm over plain cake, bread pudding, rice pudding, ice cream, apple or pear pie, apple dumplings, cheesecake, and so forth.CIMG2926

You could also make this with dark rum, brandy, or other booze of your choice.. Add more liquor to taste – i thought 1/4 cup was enough, but you may disagree. If you aren’t worried about cholesterol, stir in some butter and/or heavy cream at the end.

WINE JELLY

Wine jelly used to be a common dessert in the England of Olden Days. I once had a particularly delicious version at J. Sheekey in London, made from Elysium black muscat dessert wine and served in a puddle of cream.

This wine jelly could be served as dessert, but it also is nice on toast, as a glaze for chicken, lamb, or pork, or served on the side as a sort of cranberry-sauce-like condiment. It goes well with cheese and crackers. You could infuse the wine with herbs like rosemary or thyme (strain them out before making the jelly). Any kind of wine can be used, including sherries and fortified wines like Madeira, Marsala, and port; late-harvest wines are delicious as well. Eiswein would be stellar if you have money to burn. Those low-alcohol wines with fruit juice mixed in make good jelly too, which is a good thing as God knows they aren’t fit to drink.

True story: About 18 years ago I made this recipe with white zinfandel – not my favorite wine by any means – and entered it in the local fair, where it won Best of Show.

This is another Sunset Magazine recipe.

WINE JELLY

  • 1 3/4 cups wine
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 3-ounce pouch liquid pectin

Mix wine and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Place over boiling water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the top pan) and stir until sugar is completely dissolved, about five minutes.

Remove the entire double boiler from the heat (leave top pan over the hot water) and stir in the entire pouch of pectin all at once.

Pour into four 8-ounce sterilized canning jars.

Skim off any foam with a metal spoon. Wipe rims of jars with damp paper towel. Seal with lids and ring bands; cool on a towel.

THE PERFECT GIN AND TONIC

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Until I met my husband, the only gin and tonic I had was at the bar of a casino in Reno. I was with a co-worker, who seemed to know a thing or two about drinks. She took a sip and smiled. “Ahhh, now that’s a good gin and tonic,” she smiled. I took a sip. “Oook,” I said, “uh-huh.”

About 15 years later, my now-husband announced he was making me a gin and tonic. I smiled and nodded happily, privately vowing to drink it and not grimace.

It was perfect.

Since then he has made me many a G&T, always perfect. Even on hard-hitting evenings when we drink four each, neither of us has a hangover the next day, or any ill effects at all. A good G&T goes well with spicy food like Indian or Mexican. It’s an adult limeade on hot summer nights. And it’s just a damn fine drink.

But as my husband says, you have to use good ingredients. When there are only three ingredients, it’s important to use the best available. Don’t even think of using cheap gin and bottled lime juice.  And keep in mind a gin and tonic ain’t called The Panty Remover for nothing.

First, fill a bucket glass with as much ice as possible.

Then add one jigger high-quality gin. We use Bombay Gin (not Sapphire) or aged Dutch genever. Whatever you choose, get the good stuff. This is a case where you need to spend a little more. If it’s in a plastic bottle, don’t even think about it.

Squeeze half a fresh lime into the glass. If you’re unlucky and the lime is a bit dry, use all the juice of a whole lime.

Then squeeze in another half a lime and add that wrung-out peel to the glass.

Fill glass with Schwepps Tonic Water. If you don’t like Schwepps, get a decent tonic water, but NOT generic, and make sure the bottle fizzes when you open it. If it’s flat, it’s no good.

Stir with a swizzle stick and serve.

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