t is for tofu

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An invite to play with tofu was too good to pass up. Today’s food for fun post is a collaboration with three other fun-loving bloggers. Shanna, of Curls and Carrots, pulled me into a “cooking through the alphabet” game she … Continue reading

eggnog blog (plus granola bars, too)

While eggnog is held in higher regard than say…fruitcake, it’s still not always respected. It’s old-school. It’s quaint. It’s the kind of party drink Clark Griswold enjoys.

Then again, all things “old-school” seem to be enjoying new-found popularity. (Can you say “retro”?) Old-fashioned cocktails are making a comeback and I’m betting eggnog is poised to do the same.

This train of thought led me to my most recent Blog of Funny Names post. Would you please hop over to read about funny eggnog names (bonus comic included)? Then return for a recipe and a snack!

***

Researching the BoFN post made me thirsty for eggnog, though I wanted to try my hand at DIY instead of buying store-bought. An Alton Brown recipe (Anyone else an AB fan? I love this man.) came to mind, so I googled and hit the kitchen.

Brown offers uncooked and cooked versions of this holiday punch. Knowing full well that consuming raw eggs is not recommend, I went with uncooked anyway, mainly to save time. (Pasteurized eggs are an option, though the whites won’t whip as fully.) Without whole milk, I subbed in soymilk and also used rum instead of bourbon. As well, I cut the recipe down to make only one serving.

Though I expected the eggnog to turn out nicely, I had no idea it would be amazing. After just five minutes of prep time, this eggnog poured up light, fluffy, cool, creamy, and refreshing. I would have downed the entire serving (and it was a big mug) in one swallow if I hadn’t had a meeting to run off to. (Though you’d better believe I stored it in the fridge for later consumption.)

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

The cooked version would have been thicker, I’d imagine, but still creamy and decadent in its own way. What matters most here is how unbelievably easy it is to whip up your own batch of eggnog. Even without the booze, this is a lovely holiday beverage: Think of it as (melted) ice cream for winter.

With a mug of eggnog at the ready, we’ll need a snack. Preferably something healthy to balance out the cream and sugar. How about granola bars?

A few weeks back, food for fun offered a granola bar recipe. Soon after, Shanna of Curls and Carrots surprised me by sharing her AMAZING granola bars and crediting me with helping to inspire her recipe. These granola bars looked better than what I’d made and I looked forward to making a batch.

No surprise–Shanna’s Favorite Granola Bars were phenomenal. With room for all sorts of improv, they can be made repeatedly without ever being the same: I used dried apricots in place of some of the dried cherries and almonds instead of pecans. I also chopped up chocolate bars instead of hunting down chocolate buttons. Shanna had also mentioned trying cinnamon along with the other spices, which sounds lovely to me.

packed with goodness

packed with goodness

Now that we have our food and drink plated and ready to go, I offer you a warming winter beverage and a deliciously healthy snack.

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

Thanksgiving in the blogosphere, French bread, and lots of blog links

The past week has been an especially tasty one in the blogosphere as forward-minded bloggers published post after post of amazing dishes that would make any Thanksgiving table proud. Simply Bitten Kitchen gave us cornbread dressing (along with the cornbread for said dressing), cranberry sauce, and turkey wings. A Pug in the Kitchen also offered cranberry sauce and dressing along with potato rolls, a centerpiece-worthy turkey complete with gravy and sides, pie, and even wine suggestions. These are two of oodles of blogs that published Thanksgiving recipes in a timely manner. If you are hosting a Thanksgiving meal or providing at least a component, you would have read their posts and still had plenty of time to whip up the recipes.

Then there is food for fun. My blog. Where you will indeed find a stand-out recipe for a lovely baguette–developed by a Jesuit priest, for goodness’ sake–posted very late in the eve before the day that is Thanksgiving. This is the bread I will be bringing to my mom’s Thanksgiving feast. We will slice it and slather it with butter and maybe spread some cranberry sauce on it or even dip it in gravy. It will be heavenly. I will also slice up a loaf and turn it into Sweet Potato Crostini as seen in a Taste of Home back issue and offer it as an appetizer.

But sadly, Brother Curry’s recipe will not help you this November 28. For who has time to make this bread–with its 10-hour rise time–for their Thanksgiving meal? I apologize for this. My bad.

Just the same, I offer you a photo, recipe, and hopefully a feel for how easy it will be when you do have time to make this bread. It doesn’t need a holiday to be enjoyed, no. Make a batch (you’ll be richly rewarded with three loaves) and enjoy for breakfast, lunch, supper, and any time before or after any of those meals. Eat it plain, spread it with butter/jam/honey, make turkey sandwiches with it, float thin slices atop soup. You’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy these baguettes.

three French loaves

three French loaves (recipe below)

Though I am unable to help American folk fill their Thanksgiving table, I still want to wish all a blessed Thanksgiving. The blogging community–readers, Likers, commentors, followers–is high on my list of what I am thankful for. Blogging has brought amazing friends and helped me stretch my writing wings, take a few more risks. I’ve learned how to use my camera’s photo editor and my recipe collection has expanded exponentially. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the blogosphere to be so rich. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all.

In that vein, I’d like to especially thank Ada, of More Food, Please and Shanna, over at Curls and Carrots. Both ladies, besides offering first-rate content on their respective blogs, have supported my endeavors with their thoughtful and enthusiastic (and just plain fun) comments both here and over at deLizious facebook. Over the past few months, they’ve honored me with their nominations for Dragon’s Share, Versatile, Sunshine, Blog of the Year 2013, Dragon’s Loyalty, WordPress Family, and Best Blogger Ever of All Time (haha, just made that last one up) Awards. I love that you enjoy what you read here, Ada and Shanna. Many many thanks. You ladies rock.

While there are official rules for accepting these awards, I’m going to mix it up food blogger-style. Instead of answering questions and nominating others, I offer you a recipe.

Recipe for a Culinary (and otherwise) Tour of the Blogosphere

Makes as many servings as you think you can handle.

Click on links. Read, then laugh, drool, swoon, ponder, smile, etc as appropriate. Click Follow if you want another serving.

One more thing: I already sent you to Curls and Carrots above, but if you haven’t yet clicked over, I’ll send you directly to Shanna’s recent granola bar post. She claims she took inspiration from last week’s food fun for granola bar post, though even if that’s the case, she’s far surpassed anything I could have done. You must see these!

And now for that bread…

French Bread

From The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking by Rick Curry, S.J.

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115ºF)
  • Pinch sugar (my addition)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 cup water, and the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add remaining 3/4 cup water, the salt and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture; beat vigorously 3 minutes. Beat 5 minutes longer, continuing to add remaining flour until dough pulls away from side of bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed to prevent stickiness.

Lightly oil large bowl; place dough in bowl. Turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in refrigerator 10 to 12 hours or overnight. (or at room temperature for half that, which is what I did due to lack of foresight. see paragraph 2 above)

Let dough come to room temperature (lucky me–mine already was). Heat oven to 450ºF. Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide dough into thirds; shape into baguettes. Place dough on trays. Cover with tea towel; let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Spritz loaves with water. (Original recipe recommends spraying with vinegar, which I didn’t understand. Anyone know why this would be a good thing?) Make seven slashes in each baguette (so says Brother Curry). Bake 10 minutes; spray with additional water. Bake 10 minutes longer or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.