There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Frank About... Eggnog

One of the best flavors of the Christmas season, in my opinion, is eggnog. No, I'm not talking about the cheap, overly sweet, overly processed stuff at the store. And no, I'm not talking about the alcoholic version you buy in the liquor aisle.

What I'm talking about is the eggnog you make at home, with real eggs, and a tastey bourbon, rum, or brandy. Anyone who knows me knows that my bourbon of choice is Maker's Mark. I've used recipes from the distillery, and one from Alton Brown. I prefer the Alton Brown version, with my Maker's Mark addition.

Here's a fantastic article that Alton Brown penned for Mental Floss about the history of eggnog, along with an updated, aged eggnog recipe.

Here's the older recipe by Alton Brown, that I love to use for my own eggnog:



Alton Brown's Eggnog
 
1/3 C. + 1 Tblsp. sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 C. heavy cream
3 oz. bourbon whisky
1 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
4 large shell eggs


1. Separate the eggs, carefully. Store.  the yolks and whites in separate bowls. Place the 
    whites into the refrigerator.

2. Using a mixer, beat the yolks to a lighter color and texture.

3. While still beating, slowly add the 1/3 C. sugar.

4. While still beating, slowly add the both the milk and the cream.

5. Still beating, add the bourbon and nutmeg.

6. Wash your mixing beaters.

7. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks.

8. Still beating, slowly add the remaining 1 Tblsp. of sugar, and continue beating until you
    get stiff peaks.

9. Turn down mixer to low, and slowly pour in your yolk mixture.

10. Once mixed, chill and serve topped with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Frank About Food Flashback: Soup Season

Originally posted on 1/19/2012...


When the weather turns cold, one comfort food really comes to my mind: SOUP!

Growing up, my mother made a potato soup that I have never been able to replicate, or find a recipe that comes out like hers did. It had a thin, milky base… actual CHUNKS of potatoes (not those mashed up, thick soups)… bits of crunchy white onions… a raft of butter floating across the surface… a nice seasoning of black pepper. I used to practically sop all the broth out of the soup with saltines. (This is probably when my “one sleeve per can of soup” saltine habit developed!) There is just something about that soup memory…

When we got into a cold spell in December, I came across a soup recipe online that sounded very interesting. It came out absolutely fantastic! I will reprint it below for anyone interested. It had some really deep, complex flavors that just meshed so well together, and provided just the thing we needed for a cold December evening. I’ve been ready to delve into some more soups, but it got a bit warmer out, to which we’ve become accustomed in Missouri. However, this week it has gotten frigid, again; and I felt it would be a good time to approach the soup subject with you.

So, tell me... What are some of your favorite soups, in the depths of winter? Do you have a family soup recipe that you just have to make every year? Or even, where do you go for a great bowl of soup?


I’ll be looking forward to your comments and feedback! 




Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Note: This is a recipe that was submitted by a user named Mary P. on allrecipes.com and can be found here. This is not my recipe, and I do not take credit for creating it. 


1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 C. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 C. beef broth
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. red wine
4 large tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
1 C. thinly sliced carrots
1/2 Tblsp. packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1½ C. sliced zucchini
8 oz. fresh tortellini pasta
3 Tblsp. chopped fresh parsley

1.    In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown the sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

2.     Sauté onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3.     Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. 

Notes from my personalized preparation of the soup

1.  You can use hot Italian sausage in place of the sweet version, if you desire. 

2.   I actually used dried basil, instead of the fresh. I used approximately the same amount, although you would normally use a 1 to 3 ratio when replacing dried herbs for fresh. (That is, for example, if you need 3 Tblsp. of fresh, you would use 1 Tblsp. of dried.)

3.   Instead of whole tomatoes, I used whole canned tomatoes, and scraped out the seeds. If you haven't notice in recent years, the tomatoes you purchase "fresh" at the store are horrible excuses for a true tomato. 

4.  I actually added the carrots while the onions and garlic sautéed, to add a little caramelization to them. I won't get into all the science and intricacies about caramelization (I'll save that lesson for another post, at a later time.), but anytime you put a little caramelization, or browning, on a food, it adds a richer, nutty, more complex flavor. It helps add a "pop" or pizzazz to your dish. 

5.  I topped each bowl of soup with some Parmesan-Reggiano ran over my Microplane grater, and served with a nice crusty piece of French bread. ( I split the loaf and put it under the broiler in the oven, until it had a nice crusty surface.) A nice glass of red wine compliments the layers of flavor from this soup very well.