Thursday, December 22, 2005

Warm Holiday Drinks: Hot Buttered Rum, and Tom & Jerry

Even though it doesn't exactly become a winter wonderland in Redwood City, California, it does get dark and rainy around these times. Which makes a nice hot drink a must-have for the holidays These two drinks are unusual in that they are made from a "batter". One then adds the alcohol, hot liquid, and stirs.

I've seen versions of hot buttered rum that floated a pat of butter on top, but honestly I don't see the appeal of drinking a separated layer of melted butter. The batter version uses less butter per drink and enough alcohol to hold the butter in solution so that the drink doesn't separate.

This recipe comes from Drinkboy.

This recipe makes a HUGE amount of batter, so I halved it.

Hot Buttered Rum

* 1 lbs Brown Sugar
* 1/4 lbs butter
* pinch of salt
* 1/4 tsp nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp cloves
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and strir together until well blended and creamy.

In a pre-heated coffee mug, drop in 1 heaping teaspoon of the above batter.
Add 2 ounces of Rum. (Bacardi Gold)
Top with Hot Water.
Stir well. Garnish with grated nutmeg, or dash of cinnamon.

The great thing is that if you keep a kettle of water on the stove on simmer, these drinks are incredibly easy to make. And even after halving the recipe and making quite a few during the party, I have plenty of the batter left over. The batter is just sugar and butter, so it will keep for a good long while in the fridge.

It's pouring outside, it's my first day off work for Christmas vacation, it's 3pm, and I'm having one right now. Mmm.

Tom and Jerry

The Tom and Jerry is rather like a hot egg nog. It's definitely a special occasion drink, as the batter does not keep very well. I believe that this one came to me through my friend Julian, who I think found this in the New York Times magazine. I cut this recipe by a third, which turned out to be enough for 10 drinks or so.

For the batter:

12 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 ounces Bacardi rum
4 dashes Agnostura bitters
2 pounds sugar (about 4/3 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For service:

1 gallon whole milk
Rum (Bacardi Gold)
Brandy or Cognac (Raynal VSOP)

1. To make batter: seperate the egg yolks and whites and place in
separate bowls. Beat yolks slightly, then add vanilla, rum, bitters,
sugar and spices. In the other bowl beat egg whites until stiff.
Fold egg whites nto mixture until it has the consistency of pancake
batter. Batter may be made ahead of time but must be refrigerated
and used in the same day.

2. To serve: heat milk in saucepan or electric kettle to just before
boiling. While milk is warming, pour 2 ounces into a toddy mug (the
spices in the batter will settle at the bottom so stir the mixture
first) Then add 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce Cognac. Fill toddy mug with
boiling milk and stir. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

Warm Holiday Drinks: Wassail

We had a holiday party this past weekend, and I really wanted to serve "traditional" holiday drinks. So I scoured the internets and came up with three excellent concoctions. Here's the first: Wassail.

You know the song, "Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green..." But what the heck is wassail?

When I was growing up, my family attended a rural Midwestern Methodist church. Every year after the Christmas sermon, we would exit to the lobby for piping-hot "wassail" served in styrofoam cups. This wassail was something composed of apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cinnamon. And probably a healthy dose of sugar.

This recipe, found on Epicurious, seemed adult enough to fit the bill. It called for whipped raw egg to be added to the mixture, but all the reviewers said that it wasn't worth it, so I left them out as well. Here's the modified recipe:

10 small apples
10 teaspoons brown sugar
2 bottles dry sherry or dry Madeira (We picked up a brand called Olorosso, at Whole Foods)
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cloves
3 allspice berries
1 inch stick cinnamon
2 cups superfine sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup brandy (Raynal VSOP)

Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
Combine the sherry or Madeira, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar and water in a large, heavy saucepan and heat without letting the mixture come to a boil. Add the brandy. Pour into a metal punch bowl and float the apples on top.

This turned out to be a fantastic recipe, if very alcoholic. It disappeared very quickly.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Cosmopolitan

I don't care if it's pink. I like pink. I don't care if you think it's a "girlie" drink. I'm a girl.

And one of my old standby cocktails is the Cosmopolitan. I've probably made more of these than any other drink.

Now if you do an internet search, you'll find a wide variety of recipes. Most agree that the main ingredients of the drink are vodka, cranberry juice, an orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau), and lime.

But as for other ingredients, none of these should ever, EVER be included:
-Sugar syrup
-Rose's Lime
-Citron vodka
-Crème de cassis

My usual recipe goes something like this:
-1 oz cranberry
-1 oz vodka (Smirnoff or Stoli, usually)
-juice of 1/2 lime
-1/2 oz Cointreau, sometimes Triple Sec

Shake with ice, pour into a cocktail glass, garnish with a twist of lime.
The twist is pretty important here, as it complements the color nicely and give a nice strong lime aroma impact when first sipping.

I tried this recipe last night by not shaking with ice, but using the vodka in the freezer and a frozen cranberry juice ice cube in order to get the cold. I actually prefferred this version, as it didn't get too watered down with the ice. I hate having a cocktail that won't fit in the glass, as sometimes happens when too much ice melts in a recipe that already has about 4 oz of fluid in it. So far I'm very happy with the juice-cube idea!

I also tried a non-alcoholic after-sports refresher drink with a couple of mixed juice cubes in a glass of club soda. I drank it a bit fast and ended up with a little fruit slushy at the bottom, which made me think that just throwing the cubes in a blender to make a granita-y smoothie would be good, too.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Homemade Eggnog

I attended a dinner party this weekend, for which I had volunteered to make eggnog. Given time constraints, I was sorely tempted to pick up a carton of Nog from the grocery store and pass it off as my own. But pride and/or ethics got the best of me, and I went through the trouble of making it by hand.

And I was well rewarded.

Coincidentally, earlier this week Alton Brown had an eggnog show, so I used his cooked eggnog recipe.

Alton Brown's Eggnog:
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.

I had forgotten the loveliness that is homemade eggnog. Carton eggnogs usually have some sort of artificial thickener, which is never quite right. And I imagine that their nutmeg flavor is from extract, not from freshly grated nutmegs. But the key ingredient that a glass of carton nog is missing is the frothy, foamy eggwhite. It's a completely different experience. Quite a few people commented on it.

I had made a double batch--one "Naughty", one "Nice". Only the naughty version had bourbon in it. Strangely enough, that one disappeared first. So I corrupted the remaining virginal eggnog with the gold rum that was on hand. (I am agnostic as to the proper liquor for eggnog, be it brandy, rum, or bourbon. All have their benefits. I quite liked the bourbon flavor, however.)

And as Safeway continues to have their 18ct eggs at 2-for-1 prices, I'll have to make more. Anything that doesn't get drunk can go right into the ice cream maker, too.