Egg Nog, a history in several recipes

Eggnog is far older than most suspect.  It wasn’t invented recently. It has many forms, and many, many names. Historians and Etymologists bandy back and forth about the name, wondering if it originates from one of about ten different sources from Germany to Scotland, to the colonies. The simple truth is, that it is all and none. “Noggin” or “nugge” is a very old word, and it refers to the glass in which hot drinks were served, a “mug”. You may listen to men of science, debating when the exact word “eggnog” must have come about, but that would be silly, in my opinion, because it came about through constant reintroduction of old memories, old ways, and old languages, then was jumbled up again and again in the slang culture of the early Americas.

Warm eggs and alcohol have been a standard since antiquity. They were drunk in the colder months for obvious reasons. Their types range from drinks made with wine, to biersuppe, a German warm soup made from beer, to very loose custards, to curled concoctions that are strange to the modern eye. Here, I will give you a long history of my favorites. You will see the spices shift as the spice trade with he east died and then was reforged with sea power, you will see the introduction of fine white sugar and rum from the Americas. You may wish to make them all, and watch the progress of time through one single food.

Please assume that for all the following recipes, you will need the following:

  • a mixer (hand held works fine in this case)
  • a saucepan
  • egg separator
  • fine grater
  • a whisk

Caudell, a recipe

Very few cook books have survived the eras to mark the existence of the great variety of dishes and their countless preparations, and so no source exists for this recipe. You will have to take my word that it was a drink of choice, particularly for the ill. Saffron was seen to have mystical qualities to the Medieval mind, and it was used in almost everything. Keep in mind that this saffron was not the sort you see today in your grocer’s spice aisle. This was the saffron that now costs hundreds of dollar per ounce — true saffron— and we worked it by the handful.

I recommend eating this with the notion that it is a semi-savory soup. It might assist the modern palette to adjust.

Ingredients:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of ale or sack (white wine) I recommend ale for authenticity. The poor could
  • often not afford sack
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • i leaf of mace
  • several tablespoons of sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. Beat the yolks into the ale, and then put the pot over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken and become frothy.
  2. Once this comes to a boil immediately drop the heat to low and beat in the other ingredients, adjusting to taste

Serve in an open, bowl-like mug

Posset, a recipe

Possets were a kind of custard, sometimes loose enough to be drunk in a mug. In my day they were used primarily as medicine for the sick, or as fortifying drinks for travelers or for the clergy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • cinnamon
  • several blades of mace
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • 18 egg yolks, plus 8 egg whites
  • 1 pint of sack (white wine)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar

Instructions

  1. Put the milk into a pot and add some cinnamon and mace, and bring to a simmer
  2. While the milk is heating through, in another pot beat the eggs thoroughly. add the wine, a grated nutmeg, more fresh cinnamon, and the sugar
  3. Heat the eggs through and then incorporate the cream once that comes to a boil
  4. Cover and allow to simmer for a time on the lowest heat, stirring occasionally

Serve in a mug with a little sugar on top

Eierpunsch, a recipe

This was a holiday favorite all through the Holy Roman Empire, when I was living in Strasburg

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of white wine (keep in mind that Germany has an excellent tradition of sweet white wines like reisling)
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 c strongly brewed tea
  • 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Brew the tea and let it cool
  2. Whisk the eggs and add in the sugar and some of the white wine until it begins to get frothy
  3. Add the rest of the wine, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice
  4. Put in a pot and allow to heat through, but remove immediately before boiling
  5. Fish out the cloves

Serve in a mug with a little fresh whipped cream

Milk Punch, a recipe

From the early 1700’s the British and French had forged a somewhat calm trade relationship, despite all their bickering, making sherry and brandy fairly common and accessible. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz. brandy
  • 4 tsp cream
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground clove

Instructions

  1. Whisk the ingredients together until foamy
  2. Spice to taste, while whisking

Serve at room temperature, or turn it into something of a cocktail in these modern times by shaking over ice.

American Nog, a recipe

Trade between the colonies was largely one way for a very long time, that is to say, it was largely a circular endeavor. The British shipped goods to the entire western world, stole slaves from Africa, brought them to the Americas, and then took products from us for sale in Britain and the rest of Europe. This system was entirely focused on the wealth and excesses of England, and cared very little about the colonists. As such, it was tedious getting any items directly from Europe, which meant there was hardly ever brandy to be had. And so, the egg beverages commenced to be cut with rum from the Caribbean.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. brandy
  • 1/2 c. dark spiced rum
  • 1/2 c. sherry
  • 1/2 c. whiskey
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 qt milk
  • a dozen eggs
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix the alcohols. Separate your eggs, setting the whites aside
  2. Put the yolks into your mixer and beat until the the yolks are foamy. Slowly incorporate the sugar and spices.
  3. Add the alcohol slowly
  4. Add the milk and cream
  5. Pour this mixture into a separate bowl. With a clean bowl and whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the alcohol mixture

You may serve immediately at room temperature, or warm it through as needed and top with a little whipped cream. If storing it in the refrigerator, be sure to mix it regularly so that it doesn’t separate.

Modern Eggnog, a recipe

Modern humans are terrified of raw eggs, even when pasteurized. Now they buy rubbish in a carton and microwave it, throw in a shot of bourbon and call it finished, but to me this is a crime. So, allow me to help you out a bit. Here is a modern eggnog cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. baker’s sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c. Amaretto or Grand Marnier (I prefer Grand Marnier, as it gives a nice sweetness)
  • 1 1/2 c. brandy (I use Remy Martin VSOP as it is inexpensive, but meshes well)

Instructions

  1. Whip the egg yolks in the standing mixer, then incorporate the sugar. Then the milk and cream until the mixture is frothy and pale.
  2. Slowly incorporate the alcohol

Serve warm or shaken over ice. I would top the warm version with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg, and the cold version with a twist of candied lemon rind.

I very much hope this brief history of eggnog has pleased you. I hope you can track the similarities, and admire the variety. Perhaps you even have ideas of how to craft a new recipe that borrows from history.

If you do try any of them, please do send me a picture. I post all images of my recipes sent in by readers, as a general rule.

Simon’s Hot Toddy, a recipe

This is a medicinal drink. You can have it just as a cocktail, but since so many of my readers are ill, I thought it might be nice to publish the recipe I use, so that I can refer them to it. This is a hot, alcoholic beverage. It has Vitamin C, antioxidents, natural expectorants, antiseptics, anti-allergens, relaxants, and so is good for cough, sore throats, and help with sleeping. It is an excellent alternative to NyQuil.

Tools:

  • Pot
  • Tea pot
  • Microplane or cheese grater with a fine mesh

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 shots of Whiskey or Brandy
  • 1 lemon
  • Rooibos Tea (You can purchase bagged tea, but personally I purchase the highest quality I can, as it tends to be stronger
  • Honey (Preferably locally sourced, as it will be made with pollens from your area. This helps your immune system cultivate a resistance to local allergens.)

Instructions:

  1. Brew a pot of Rooibos tea, triply strong. Pour this into the saucepan and reduce. And brew a second pot at regular strength.
  2. When half the liquid has evaporated out of the saucepan, thicken with honey into a syrup and heat through.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon
  4. Take out your teacup. Put in your shot or two of alcohol. Add as much lemon as you can take. Sweeten with as much syrup as you can handle, Top up with fresh tea. Put the zest atop the cup. Inhale as much of the steam as you can while drinking.

And, if you (are sassy) wish to stave off a secondary infection, pop a clove of raw garlic into your mouth and swallow whole (DO NOT CHEW – This means you, Molly Anne). I also recommend pairing this with zinc. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and zinc binds to the receptor sites of the virus and effectively prevents it from attaching to the cells. In essence, it cannot reproduce.

Stay well, my gentle readers. And while I realize it is a bit odd, for a people eating monster to give advice about health…well, it’s not really so odd, is it?

Candied Pork Chicharrones and Ice Cream, A Recipe

Today is National Eat What You Want Day — when humans concerned about their waistlines must schedule a day to cheat on their diets. I would point out the humor in this prearranged lapse in discipline — since the entire point of discipline is to be disciplined — but I won’t. So eat what you want. I certainly do. Though, you are bound by the confines of law and order.

It is also the publication date of my journal, such as it is. I thought I would celebrate by doing something different.

If you have been following my work, or if you are a new reader, it will become clear that I never eat the skin. I am not entirely happy with the idea of eating a fried meat-sack, since that is really the best preparation of the integument. Neither do I much go in for sweets, but I will never be accused of being myopic. I have decided to branch out, to expand my horizons.

And so, I offer up this treat, a savory dessert.

Tools:

  • Baking pan with inset wire rack
  • Sharp knife
  • Dredging bowl
  • Mixing bowl
  • Two medium saucepans
  • Mixer (Hand held or standing, whisk or electric)
  • Frying pan
  • Ice cream making kit for a KitchenAid standing mixer (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs pork back fat with skin (As may be obvious, I do not use pork. Instead I choose a specimen with a particularly high body fat index, and a fairly wide torso. I have adjusted the recipe to fit your tastes, however,  this ingredient may be difficult for you to find in a normal grocery store. If you go up to the butchery counter and ask them if they have any sitting around, you will probably be in luck. Asian grocers, specialty butchers, and even farm-to-table place may have it.)
  • Brown sugar
  • White sugar
  • Cinnamon (You may use pre-ground spices, for expediency, but fresh is best)
  • Cardamom
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • Chocolate ice cream (I will not include the instructions for making your own ice cream. If you have the standing mixer and the attachment, it comes with a recipe guide. Simply make up a batch of your favorite ice cream and freeze over night.)
  • 1 package raspberries
  • Chambord (Raspberry liqueur. Optional, but a very good option)

Instructions:

  1. Make your ice cream the night before. If not making your own, skip this step and purchase a dark chocolate, organic variety. We want to keep the savory-sweet profile, so less sugar is better.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200.
  3. Cut your pork into thin strips, about two inches wide, and carefully remove the subcutaneous fat. The best way is to lay the pork skin-side down, and resting the knife flat, slide it across the strip away from yourself, as if scraping or shaving. Remove as much fat as you can, as it will interfere with the crispiness of the skin. Set fat aside.
  4. Cut the skin strips into 2-3 inch segments. Lay these on top of the baking rack, and put into the oven. The low temperature will dry out the skin over the course of the next few hours. When the skin is completely dried out, Remove and set aside to cool completely.
  5. Take the fat you have set aside and render in your frying pan by cooking at a low temp for a couple hours, while your skin is drying out. (I mean the pork skin of course. If your skin is drying out, please indulge in a moment of moisturizing at this time.)
  6. In  medium saucepan, combine raspberries, 1 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup Chambord (Or juice or water) and allow to cook down to a syrup. Strain the seeds from this when it is liquefied, and set aside.
  7. When the skin is close to being fully cooled, combine 2 cups brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamon to taste in your dredging bowl, with just a pinch of sea salt.
  8. Heat your rendered fat or lard in your pan until it is perfect frying temperature, and spits a bit.
  9. Using tongs, drop the skin pieces into the oil and fry until they puff up and get crispy. Immediately remove, give a cautious shake, and then dredge in the sugar spice mixture. Set aside to cool.
  10. Whip your cream until it is perfect whipped cream texture, adding a sprinkle of sugar here and sea salt there. We want this whipped cream to be savory, not sweet, so only add the sugar to bring out the cream, not to mask it. It should taste something like salted butter.
  11. In a small saucepan, heat one cup of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of sea salt on medium heat, stirring constantly. The sugar should begin to melt and turn a light golden brown. When it is completely liquefied, it is finished. Remove immediately or it will harden.

To serve, scoop a small amount of the ice cream into a bowl or cup, add a generous stripe of raspberry sauce. Another scoop of ice cream. A dollop of your savory whipped topping. Drizzle all over with salted caramel. Stack the chicharrones atop like a cookie, or serve in a separate dish for dipping.

If you are so inclined, you may now find my published diary, entitled The Creature’s Cookbook, online, or via the Tapas Media app. I do hope you will enjoy.