I only make eggnog once a year, for a big party at Yuletide. The word orgy comes to mind. I've never seen so many people's eyes roll back in their heads, simultaneously.
You want the recipe? You shall have it. It's not hard, just a bit time-consuming. You have to break a lot of eggs. And you will be spoiled. That supermarket eggnog is going to taste like Elmer's Glue after this.
My recipe is adapted from the first cookbook I ever bought with my own money when I was 16: The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas. I have learned more from this book about food and cooking than any other; it was my kitchen teacher... still is, actually. Before I die, I want to make every recipe in it. More about Anna Thomas after the recipe!
12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 qt. milk (regular, not lowfat or nonfat! preferably organic!)
1 c. cognac (optional)
1 c. dark rum (optional)
1 large orange
1 quart whipping cream
Special Things Needed:
a very sharp butcher knife
extra eggs in case you screw up the separations (easy to do)
two big bowls to make it with
one nice bowl to serve it in, and a ladle
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, then stir in the milk, cognac, and rum.
Beat the egg whites in another bowl, until they just hold a peak, and then fold them into the first ingredients.
Put this mixture away to chill for at least 3 hours. (Overnight is fine, just put plastic wrap over bowl).
Use a potato peeler to peel the very outside of the orange skin, so you have barely any white pulp on the back of the skin. You just want the pure orange rind. Cut this skin into matchsticks, as thin as possible and about 1 1/2 inches long. Yes, you need a sharp knife for this.
Grate the fresh lemon rind.
Whip the cream until it only just begins to thicken, not so much that it actually holds peaks. Stir his half-whipped cream into your chilled milk and egg mixture, and beat a few more strokes with the whisk. Stir in the lemon rind and half the orange matchsticks.
Pour the eggnog into a serving bowl. Over the top of it, sprinkle the remaining orange rind and plenty of grated nutmeg.
Serves 25 reasonable people, but only a dozen or so fanatics.
If you make it "virgin," it's easy to offer your guests liquor to add separately; just let them pour and stir.
Anna Thomas, who wrote the original of this recipe, was the author who brought "health food" into the gourmet realm. Her book came out before "Chez Panisse," before nouvelle cuisine was part of our vocabulary. And yet her recipes and philosophy were at the beginning of the whole movement.
The book was published in 1970, and in her author's bio— that touches me so— it says: "Anna Thomas... is strongly committed to the women's liberation movement..."
The book combines the techniques of French cooking with the organics of American heritage. This book taught me, as a teenager, how to make a "roux," how to bake bread, make a crépe, a curry, and the best soups I've ever tasted. If it had been difficult to understand, I never would have attempted it at the time! She makes very nuanced techniques seem graceful to accomplish.
It only occurred to me rather late that it was all indeed "vegetarian." You don't notice it, if you're not thinking about it. This is an excellent book to move into a carnivore's home— they'll never know what hit them.
Thomas also published two sequels, The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, and The New Vegetarian Epicure— which are excellent as well. I have them all. But I am stubbornly hung up on her first one. I bought a second one after I scorched the first!