Sunday, September 19, 2004
IMBB 8 - Wine and Spirits
Donna of There's a Chef in my Kitchen announced a theme of "Wine and Spirits" for the eighth IMBB event.
Now that is a subject near and dear to my heart, but at the time I learned about it, California was undergoing a heat wave and I wasn't interested in putting together beef burgundy, or my Italian-style pot roast (simmered with tomato sauce, onions, red bell peppers, and a glug or five of red wine), or lamb shanks. (Although maybe someone will post an excellent recipe for sangria.) I also thought that a lot of people might be making "dinner", so my thoughts turned to another subject near and dear to my heart: breakfast. With that in mind, I offer two early-morning items, one suitable for high festivals (Kahlua Eggnog) and one for "everyday" (Banana Bread a la Domestic Goddess). These can be either the hair of the dog, or a great start to the day, depending on how you look at it.
Recipe Number One: Bill's Kahlua Eggnog
I mentioned earlier in this blog that my mom had typed up a binder with her favorite (and some of my favorite) recipes. (Which is a great idea and please do so with your cooking relatives, and pass it along.) She has been a frequent contributor to fundraiser cookbooks, but one of the recipes that often appears is ALWAYS credited to my father. (Who is actually fairly competent in the kitchen, although he usually deals with the Grilling, Carving, and General Dogsbody departments.) It is a highlight of our Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings and puts us in a right festive mood. You will need a sturdy electric blender. Notes on ingredients follow.
Bill's Kahlua Eggnog
For each person:
1 1/2 fl. oz. Kahlua (use a jigger if you have one)
1 1/2 fl. oz. half and half (light cream) (1)
1 teaspoon vanilla (2) (or half jigger)
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup (3) (1/4-1/3 jigger)
1 large egg (4)
3 heaping tablespoons crushed ice (5)
Blend together. There will be some teeny tiny pieces of ice but you want the big chunks gone. Serve immediately in a fancy glass. This makes a full goblet or double-old-fashioned glass' worth. I usually describe it as a coffee milkshake with a kick.
Notes on Ingredients:
1. You can improvise by mixing milk and cream.
2. You don't have to use the extra-good stuff. Reasonable supermarket will do.
3. If you can't find it commercially (Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup is one brand), make your own by combining one cup sugar and one cup water, and bringing to the boil. Store the result in the fridge.
4. We use regular eggs and we buy them fresh for this. You can use pasteurized or egg beaters, or just not serve it to the raw-egg sensitive.
5. Mallets, hammers, and rolling pins all make good instruments for crushing ice (double plastic bagged) and it's kinda fun. You might want to do that ahead though.
Recipe Number Two: Banana Bread a la Domestic Goddess
Silly note: This is doubly appropriate today, Talk Like A Pirate Day. You'll see why in a moment.
I had heard that the banana bread recipe in Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess was very good, and on trying it, I found it to be so. It is in most respects what I consider to be a bog-standard all-American banana bread, but the rum raisins elevate it from ordinary okay to Most Excellent. The booze bakes out, so you can feed it to children (etc.), but the flavor remains. This is one of my standard breakfast breads, along with the raspberry muffins I got from DG, and the Orange Nut Bread I got from Williams-Sonoma Muffins. I don't follow the recipe as-is, but will give it as written, with my usual tweaks.
Banana Bread a la Domestic Goddess
Nigella Lawson, with variations by Charlotte
1/2 cup or more raisins
3 oz (6 TBS) bourbon or rum
1 cup plus 2 TBS all purpose flour (I use 1 1/3 cup)
2 tea baking powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1/2 tea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (to be melted) (1 stick or 4 oz)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Very ripe bananas, mashed - 4 small (bananas in the UK must be tiny by US standards, I use 3 regular or 2 large and will adjust flour up or down as needed)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I always use more)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
An hour or more before you want to make this, put 1/2 cup (or more if you like it, and I do) raisins (Nigella says golden but I use Thompson Seedless) and the bourbon or rum (yo-ho-ho) in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let plump for an hour or more. Drain.
Important Safety Tip! Rum has a low ignition point so once it comes to the boil, take it off immediately. It ignited once on me and burned my hair. Fortunately there was no injury except to my vanity. And, yes, I have made this since.
When you are ready to get on with the rest, preheat oven to 325 F. Butter and flour a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaf pan (Nigella says 9*5 but I find the smaller size better).
Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas.
Then (Nigella specifies a wooden spoon, and it works) stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture 1/3 at a time to combine.
Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, till it tests clean(ish). Cool the pan on a rack and slice to serve.