I woke up this morning and realized that it is Thanksgiving week. I started this blog to encourage people to make memories with food and then I drop out of my blog for 3 of the most critical days. I have been fighting a flu and so even thinking about food has not been high on my list (toast, Coke, crackers... not exactly culinary highlights) However, as I have said previously, any occasion at the Dowd house is cause for a party and so you can imagine the countdown to Thanksgiving is a veritable festival.
For us, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and certain things must be done. First, the cornucopia must come out and be filled with gourds, little pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables. We started with a wicker one years ago but as it got a bit grody, we found a wire decorative one and so that is now the official cornucopia. It represents the plenty that comes with harvest time (even if now our harvest comes from the Kroger or Harris Teeter) and I highly recommend it to get into the Thanksgiving mood. If you don't have a cornucopia, you can just use a nice basket. Of course, the house needs to be cleaned... including the oven, in preparation for the orgy of cooking to come. Then there is the selection of the bird. We always have to go to at least two stores to find the best bird,and then determine where we can get the best buy on the best bird. My husband says its the closest he gets to being the hunter-gatherer therefore it is part of our tradition. The other thing we have to do each year is buy the cotton string to truss the bird. Each year we buy a new roll of cotton string, but the week before Thanksgiving we can never find it. It has found its way out to the garage, into a crabbing bucket, or God knows where, so off we go to the Ace Hardware to get a new ball of cotton string, and you know what? Next year we won't be able to find this one either!
The real kick-off to the holiday season that has to happen this week, and that I am now going to share with you is the making of the "White House" eggnog. I warned you that many of my recipes have their own story and to get the recipe you have to listen to the story, so here goes. For years and years, my only experience with eggnog came from a cardboard carton, and I was no fan. My sister in law had a party and served a homemade eggnog that she said was from the White House recipe (at the time she had connections that made this believable) and it was incredible. They should not even allow the stuff in the cartons to be called eggnog when compared to this concoction. She would not give away the recipe, but I worked with several recipes and techniques until I got the desired result. I guarantee you that this is absolutely the best eggnog ever, and if you make it for your Christmas party or open house, it will be a hit. Then you can send your friends to this blog to get the recipe themselves. I know it sounds complicated, but don't skip steps or take shortcuts or it won't turn out as well. Some things are worth the trouble. And the calories.
Dowd "White House" Eggnog
12 eggs, separated (I use pasteurized eggs so I don't have to worry about the dangers of raw eggs)
1 lb confectioner's sugar
2 cups bourbon (nothing from the cheap bottom shelf of the ABC store)
2 cups rum (See above tip)
1 quart heavy cream
1 quart half and half
Freshly grated nutmeg
Beat egg yolks until light in color and slowly beat in the confectioner's sugar. Very slowly, beat in one cup of bourbon and 1 cup of rum. Once liquors are incorporated, let this mixture to stand at least an hour before continuing. This will help get rid of the "eggy" taste.
Next beat in the remainder of the liquor and one quart of half and half, and then refrigerate for at least three hours.
Next beat the egg whites until stiff and beat the whipping cream to soft peaks (This will take longer with the pateurized eggs, but add 1/4 tsp cream of tarter and keep whipping-it will happen ). Fold egg whites into egg yolk-sugar and liquor mixture until incorporated fully, then fold in whipped cream thoroughly. Grate nutmeg over the top.
I store mine in large plastic pitchers with lids so that each time, you can shake up the eggnog to make sure everything is well incorporated. Makes about 1 gallon eggnog.