Thursday, January 7, 2021

CHRISTMAS AND 2020 ARE BEHIND US!

I try always to stay positive, but at times in the last year, that has not been easy. So much loss and sadness for so many families. I pray that 2021 is a better year; a time of healing, both from Coronavirus, and as a nation. 

I want to share a few of our Christmas memories. Once again, my husband and I hunkered down and enjoyed the best of the holiday. We did a lot of eating, listened to Christmas music non-stop, and enjoyed a huge fire every day during the season.

Our cat, JoJo enjoyed those fires, too!

First I want to start with one of my favorite holiday treats...

EGGNOG

Growing up, we made homemade eggnog every Christmas. It's easy to make and tastes quite different from what you buy in the store. It actually tastes like...EGGNOG!

This is not in the dietetic category, but it IS the holidays!

Ingredients:

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla 

More nutmeg for topping

Preparation:

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy. 

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until the mixture reaches a bare simmer.

Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding big spoonfuls of the hot liquid one at a time to temper the eggs.

Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove. 

Whisk constantly for just a few minutes until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches 160 degrees). It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or other container and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled. 

Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Store in the fridge for up to one week, but bet it won't last that long!

Many enjoy eggnog with a little rum. I prefer bourbon.

Since I had the homemade eggnog, I decided to make an Eggnog Cheesecake. I had never heard of Eggnog Cheesecake so thought it was an original idea. Of course, when I googled it there were hundreds of recipes. Why invent the wheel. I found this recipe on the Allrecipes site. 

EGGNOG CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter. I used 4.
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup eggnog
2 eggs
1/4 cup bourbon. Original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. rum.
1 tsp. nutmeg. Original recipe calls for pinch of nutmeg.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, nutmeg, sugar and butter. Mix well and press in the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. I did this the day before and stored in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 425. In a food processor combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and eggnog. Process until smooth. Blend in eggs, rum (or bourbon) and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. 
Reduce heat to 250 (I reduced heat to 275. 250 seemed too low.) and bake for 45 -50 minutes until center of cake is barely firm to the touch. Allrecipes recommends removing from the oven immediately. I suggest turning the heat off; opening the oven door and let the cake set in the oven for about 30 minutes. This almost always avoids cheesecake cracking. Remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack before removing the rim.
At first, I was disappointed this cake was not thicker, but it really is perfect just as it is. Rich, creamy, eggnoggy and delicious!
I considered topping with whipped cream, but decided that would be gilding the lily so served as is. 
It was a hit with my husband, Jerry!

The next Christmas recipe I want to share is Shrimp Bisque. I decided our Christmas menu was so big and Shrimp Bisque is so rich, that I would serve the Shrimp Bisque on Christmas Eve. I started this recipe the week before by making a luscious fish stock. My dear brother and his wife sent us live lobsters from Maine for my birthday back in the summer. After devouring the lobsters I saved the 'bones' with this bisque in mind. You could use all shrimp shells or a combination of any seafood shells and I think it would be as good, but the lobster lends a very beautiful and unique flavor. Like so many soups you can improvise!

SHRIMP BISQUE


FOR THE FISH STOCK:
2 lobster bodies
4 cups shrimp shells
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
Salt/Pepper
1 bay leaf
Enough water to cover all shells. In a large soup pot bring all ingredients to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Strain. 

FOR THE BISQUE:
4 Tbsp. flour
6 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup very finely diced shallots
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup Marsala wine*
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/4 white pepper, or more to taste
Dash of Old Bay Seasoning
Dash of smoked paprika
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt
1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined, roughly chopped. Keep 2 shrimp per serving whole for garnish.

Preparation:
In a large pan melt 6 Tbsp. butter. Add shallots and saute until soft. Whisk in flour and continue cooking over medium heat until the roux becomes golden brown; about 5 minutes.  
Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of fish stock to the roux, whisking constantly to ensure that it stays smooth.
Whisk in 4 Tbsp. tomato paste. Add creams, Marsala, lemon juice, Worcestershire, pepper, salt, Old Bay, and smoked paprika. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add both the whole and chopped shrimp and cook over low simmer until shrimp just turns pink; about 7-10 minutes. Garnish with the whole shrimp. Chives or chopped fresh tarragon would add a nice garnish, as well.

*You do not need a fancy or expensive sherry or marsala, but please do not use cooking sherry. This is what I use.

This is one of my favorite soups! 
I'm going to close today with a few more photos from our Christmas...


Deviled Eggs and Polish ring always appeared at Christmas Eve growing up.
We would not have had smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese garnished with green olives!




The traditional Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.


JoJo enjoys doing jig saw puzzles. So does his Mama!



Christmas morning sunrise.

LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE JOY, HEALTH 
AND HAPPINESS IN 2021!

...AND, MORE COOKING!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

www.cookwithcindy.com