Nightcaps and a Morning Dish

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If cold weather and the busy holiday season have you longing for nothing more than to lounge around a blazing fire (which is, hopefully, in a fireplace!) with a good book in hand, soothing music on your Sonos, and sipping on something stronger than hot chocolate – we’re here for you.

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As for good books, we can’t recommend A Gentleman in Moscow enough.  Yes, it’s been around a couple of years, but it’s the perfect novel for a long winter’s night.

 

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For music, how about something of Leonard Cohen; Closing Time might be nice; Democracy is Coming to the USA might be better yet.  The video is great, too – an official one from Cohen.  FYI – Cohen began writing the song after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall – and finished it in 1992.

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“Leonard Cohen,” this very cute dog, lives with our Portland friends.  It appears he’s snuggled into bed after a cozy night around the fire with his people-mates.

For adding a bit of humor to the season (“ho, ho, ho,” or “ho hum” is TBD) be sure to read today’s Andy’s Corner

As for nightcaps, the sentiment of most bartending pros seems to be “stick with brown liquor, ” so we’ve picked dark rum, cognac, brandy, and rye for our nightcaps.  We’re big fans of the 2″ silicone ice cube trays for the cold nightcaps.  And we’re believers that less is more when it comes to nightcaps, so tend to like ones that aren’t more than about 3 oz total (except for the hot drinks).

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Bulleit – our choice for rye

The next morning, when you’re still feeling lazy after your warm and cozy and relaxing night (hope there was at least a dog – and maybe a cat – but not two cats – in bed with you :)),  there is nothing easier than popping a savory bread pudding into the oven.  You make it the day before; refrigerate it. Bake it the next morning.  If it’s the holidays and you’ve got overnighters, it is the perfect breakfast recipe.

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The Nightcap nightcap

The Nightcap

Food&Wine published a nightcap recipe entitled, simply, The Nightcap. We like it a lot – but you have to be sure to use a great quality Italian sweet vermouth.

  • 2 ounces Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or other Italian sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce rye whiskey
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Ice
  • 1 orange twist, flamed, for garnish (flaming optional).

In a chilled rocks glass, combine the vermouth, rye and bitters. Fill the glass with ice  – preferably one large cube – and stir well. Flame the twist over the drink and drop it in.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Hot Toddy nightcap

Hot Toddy

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 ounces dark rum (or brandy or whiskey)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste (we prefer the toddy less sweet so use just 2 tsp per drink)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 lemon round
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 star anise (optional, for garnish)

In a teapot or saucepan, bring the water to a simmer. Pour the hot water into a mug.

Add the whiskey, 2 teaspoons honey and 2 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir until the honey has disappeared into the hot water. Taste, and add 1 teaspoon honey for more sweetness, and/or 1 teaspoon more lemon juice for more zing.

Garnish with a lemon round and cinnamon stick or star anise (if using).

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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French Connection nightcap

French Connection

  • 1 1/2 oz cognac
  • 3/4 oz Amaretto

Add ingredients to an old fashioned glass – with ice (preferably one large cube); stir and serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

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Hot Milk Punch nightcap

Hot Milk Punch

  • 6 oz whole milk
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • ground cinnamon, to garnish
  • nutmeg (freshly grated, if you have it) to garnish

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the milk and brown sugar.  Cook, whisking now and then, until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is frothy and hot.  Stir in the brandy and rum and pour it all into a coffee mug.  Garnish with the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Make-ahead Savory Bread Pudding…in a vintage purplish Pyrex baking dish

Make-ahead Savory Bread Pudding

I always cut up the loaf of bread and then allow my bread cubes to dry overnight.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3/4 lb fresh mild or hot Italian sausage, casings removed (if using hot Italian, be sure you’re familiar with the brand and know you’ll enjoy the heat it has; we used some that ended up much too spicy)
  • 1/2 onion peeled, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz spinach, chard or escarole; if using greens other than spinach remove the tough white parts and thinly slice
  • 3 c whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 10 c French bread ( about 1 lb), cut into about 1″ cubes and dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg

Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook and stir until it’s no longer pink.  Add the onion and garlic, lower heat, and continue cooking and stirring until the onion is limp.

Add spinach to sausage mixture in pan. Stir until spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk and eggs until combined. Stir in Gruyère, bread cubes, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Add sausage mixture and stir to mix well. Scrape mixture into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish and smooth the top.  At this point you can refrigerate it overnight – or put it directly into the oven.

If you refrigerated the bread pudding,  remove it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before putting it in the oven.

Bake in a 375° oven until top is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, about 45 minutes.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving – or serve barely warmed.  Leftovers will heat up nicely in the microwave.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

5 Comments

  1. ROBERT CARLETON says:

    The Cohen link reminds me that ’89 was a hopeful time for many of us. We thought that the political battles we’d fought and the war we’d put behind us guaranteed a brighter future. We were still assimilating refugees from Viet Nam and environs with mostly decent cheer. We were enjoying clearer skies, fresher air, and cleaner water. At the same time, the “never apologize” captains of industry and arbitrage were destroying many foundational parts of our economy. The twin mantras of “Always Lower Prices. Always!” and “Always Lower Taxes” were destroying our industries and our infrastructure. Still, many were looking toward a future where fear, loathing, and hate would be increasingly marginalized. Our gains proved fragile and were trashed in the aftermath of ’15 and ’16. Maybe we can recover that sense of hope in a future era. Winter solstice in 71 hours. Perhaps the re-birth of daylight will bring light to more of us. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Food looks great! ThanX!

    Like

  2. Nancy Doval says:

    I made the bread pudding tonight using Goguette pain de ville. Delicious!

    Thanks for the recipe.

    Nancy Doval (a mountain goat wanna be 😉

    Like

  3. theRaggedys says:

    Andy here: Goguette bread is certainly wonderful, even if you have to wait in line when they open. Glad you liked the recipe. We had the left-overs for two more breakfasts and it seemed to get better each time. Also, I consider you to be more than a mountain goat “wanna be” (we will leave what we mean by the goat references to the imagination of the readers).

    Like

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