Maple Eggnog

Image My kids are always asking me to write another cookbook for them with all my favorite family recipes for them to share with family and friends.  Well with Christmas coming soon I thought I’d share my maple eggnog recipe with those that enjoy this festive drink.  So here it is.

Home-Made Maple Eggnog                         

                                                                          Courtesy of Brian M. Coffey CEC, AAC

Note: Once made eggnog lasts for several days, refrigerated of course.  So if you are having a Christmas Party of a Christmas Eve celebration you can make the eggnog several days in advance.

Ingredients:

12        ea         eggs, beaten

1          cup      cane sugar

1          each     vanilla bean (or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract)

1          cup      maple syrup (100% Pure)

1          qt         milk

1          qt         half and half

1          pint      heavy cream

1          tsp       ground nutmeg

½         cup      Navan (vanilla flavored Grand Marnier)

 

Method:

In a large stainless steel bowl beat the eggs, add the milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, maple syrup, and nutmeg.

Place mixture in a 4-6 qt double boiler and over medium-high heat bring mixture to 175oF for 15 seconds stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  You will notice the mixture thickens slightly.   Remove the liquid from heat and place vessel in a cold ice bath to rapid chill the mixture.  While the eggnog is chilling whip the pint of heavy cream.  Once the eggnog is below 40oF fold in the whipped cream and refrigerate.  Place the eggnog in a glass bowl and add Navan, sprinkle with a little nutmeg and serve.

 

 

To Screw or Not to Screw

In addition to my passion for food and all the taste sensations I try hard to create wi I enjoy pairing fine wines with my food.  Properly pairing wine with food creates an increased taste sensation, in your mouth, making your dining experience more pleasurable.   I am always looking for innovative ways to make the dining experience incredibly special, as enjoying a good meal is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I have been perfecting wine lists since almost as long as I have been cooking and I am very proud of the way my wine list has evolved.  I try to spend as much time as I can in the dining room as I can as I enjoy the feedback and responses I get from our guests.  A question I am often asked when I start to talk about wines and food is why the screw caps on the wine bottles.  I had a lady refuse to try one of our most popular Pinot Noirs from Willamette Valley, Oregon called WillaKenzie; I also had another guest question the Arrabella Cabernet from South Africa, one of my favorite pours, they both have a screw cap.

So the question came to be, “To Screw or not to Screw?”  After doing quite a bit of research on the topic at hand, my goal is to shed some light on the hottest topic in the world of wine today, the Screw Cap versus the Cork.  According to Fred Dame the President of the Court of Master Sommeliers, the reason for the shift from cork to metal screw caps is that cork is becoming contaminated by a nasty little infection called 2.4.6-Trichloranisole (TCA).  The natural mold found in the cork reacts with chlorine and causes the wine to have a musty smell, dulling the flavor of the wine.  It’s all about taste.   TCA occurs during the sterilization process; as the quality of cork diminishes, and more and more good cork is hard to find, a significant number of wineries around the world are switching to metal screw caps.

With more wine being produced than ever before, in bottles, the wine producers of the world have to find alternatives to using cork; of course another alternative is the synthetic cork. Synthetic cork is already widely used, but as I have experienced when tending bar, they are difficult to remove from the bottle, and even more so, to get off the corkscrew.  Some tasters even complain of a ‘plastic taint’.

With more and more wines being consumed at record levels around the world, coupled with the shortage of quality cork we are sure to see more wineries bottling their wines with a screw cap.  We think our wines have a more casual side to them anyway as we compare the quality of the wines that make up our wine lists.  It is a matter of educating the public whose preconceived perception is that screw cap wines should be served in a brown bag, like when I was in college and a cheap date was a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 in the back seat of my Chrysler Newport.

Bon Appétit!    ~ Chef

Apples

     One thing that I have always enjoyed living in Northern New Hampshire is the change of seasons, and without a doubt changing from summer to fall is my favorite.  I guess that is why I love the Fall harvest so much.  One of my favorite fall activities is apple picking.  I absolutely love apples!  I love picking them, I love eating them, and I love cooking with them. The apples are the best in the Fall months.

Apples are one of the most iconic foods in the world, and we just happen to live in an area that produces some of the best apples anywhere.  According to the local apple farmers it was a good crop this year despite all the rain during the summer, and I can attest that the quality of apples this year is excellent!  Fortunately for all of us, the rain came after the pollination season.  All the rain during the summer added to all the sunny days in September made the apples this year nice and sweet.

The first picked apples are always the best, tart and sweet at the same time.  For my family apple picking is an annual tradition.   This year we took a Sunday and went to Ward’s Apple Orchard and picked a bushel of assorted apples.  My favorites are McIntosh and Cortland’s.  I love eating and cooking with local products; I have built my life around using as many locally grown products as possible.  The quality of the food I eat and work with is incredibly important to me.  You should feel good after you eat and this can only happen if you are treating yourself to quality foods.  Picking apples off a tree is one of the best ways to insure quality.

Moreover apples are the original health food. Did anyone read the cover story article in Time Magazine a few weeks back on The Real Cost of Eating Cheap Food.  To many Americans are eating cheap food and the true cost of a poor quality diet is rising health issues.  Maybe if we ate better our health care crisis could be alleviated.  We are what we eat.  The better we eat the better we will feel.  I am trying hard to do my part. That is why I cook with only the finest products I can find.  Remember the old adage, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”  Apples are so good to have in your diet.  I love cooking with apples.  I use them in so many recipes.   They make so many dishes taste so good!

Taste is so important, as tasting good food is one of life’s simple pleasures. I have in my kitchen a wide variety of spoons.  I guess you could say I love spoons.  I have all kinds, wooden spoons, slotted spoons, French spoons, sautéing spoons, and my favorite spoon, the tasting spoon.  I am a very lucky man as my job is basically tasting food all day long, and I love tasting food.  Tasting and tweaking recipes is what I do all day, and I love what I do for a living.

Speaking of delicious, we are going to feature a new dish to our menu this month, it is called Roast Duck with Apple Tatin.  My good friend Chef Stephen Hunn used to make this dish all the time, and I always loved the way he put it together.  The way I prepare a Tatin is by placing some maple syrup, brown sugar, and butter in a pan layering apples over that, sprinkle on some spices, and topping the apples with puff pastry.  I then bake this in the oven, and when fully cooked I invert the Tatin, top it with some duck confit and roasted duck drizzled with a maple raspberry glaze called Gastrique.

Here is a recipe you can play with at home.  If you need any help or have a cooking question on any topic please feel free to email me at bricoffey@gmail.com.  Bon appétit!  ~ Chef

Recipe for Apple-Cheddar Fondue  (4-6 servings) GF  

courtesy of Brian M. Coffey CEC,AAC

Ingredients:

1 cup               apple cider

½ cup              dry white wine

2 cloves           garlic, crushed

1 lb                  White Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

1.5 tbsp           corn starch

3-4 each           Cortland Apples, cut into wedges

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method: In a 2-Qt sauce pan over medium heat add the cider, the wine, and the garlic.  Bring to a slow boil.  In a small bowl mix the grated cheese and the cornstarch by tossing the cornstarch into the cheese, using a wooden spoon, add the cheese mix slowly to the cider and wine.  Stir constantly, when the mixture is totally melted and blended, continue stirring until mixture is smooth and coats the back of the wooden spoon.  With a tasting spoon, taste and add your desired amount of salt and pepper.  Spoon fondue into fondue dish or bowl and serve with skewered apple wedges.  Enjoy!

Duck Salad

Duck Salad~~

Many food service operations are now offering artisan salads with a variety of proteins.  The trend is growing as more and more consumers are looking for a lighter fare when they dine out.  Artisan salads will be around for a long time.  Everyone should have some artisan salads on their menu.  If you need help thinking of some innovative salads let me know.