Not everyone loves eggnog, or even likes it. Yet it remains the ubiquitous winter holiday drink, and people often look askance when you decline it, much as they look at you if you confess that, honestly, you’re not all that wild about chocolate.
It’s not the same as saying you hate puppies or confess to being a serial killer, but sometimes the looks make you feel like that’s what you just said. Yes, I speak from experience.
On Christmas morning, I love coffee with chicory, alongside beignets. If my flight to New Orleans is on time, I should be sipping a bowl full and covering myself in the powdered sugar that drenches beignets at Cafe du Monde as the sun sets on the day.
If you’re home for the holidays, there are many delicious options for holiday drinks that don’t involve milk, cream and eggs. Cider, sparkling wine, pomegranate juice, pomegranate liqueur, and even that most magical potion, absinthe, are all great options, provided, of course, that you’re not driving.
If you don’t like absinthe, there are plenty of sweet, not hard, ciders. It’s a nice time to treat yourself, your family, and your friends to something a little special, which is what today’s recipes offers.
But first, here’s an important reminder: With Christmas on a Monday, you have several farmers markets available before the holiday, along with the entire weekend to plan what you’ll enjoy at the table, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three meals. You’ve got time to stop by a well-stocked liquor store, as well.
If you’re thinking about, say, French toast for breakfast, stop by the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market (in the western parking lot of the Luther Burbank Center) for Costeaux’s cinnamon bread, which makes amazing French toast. You can pick up pomegranates at the market, too, as well as beautiful flowers and full bouquets for your table.
Whatever you do on the holiday, take a minute to raise a glass to a difficult year that is, thankfully, almost over.
Lamb’s Wool, named for the baked apples that take on a fluffy wool-like look when baked and passed through a potato ricer, is a traditional Twelfth Night drink in Great Britain, where a bit is poured onto apple trees to ensure a good crop in the upcoming year. It is a delicious and festive drink on Christmas, too, especially if it is chilly. If there are children who may enjoy it, make it with non-alcoholic cider, of course. Adults can always add a shot of Bourbon, Scotch, or Calvados if they wish.
Serves 6 to 8
— Boiling water
2 750 ml bottles apple cider (sweet or hard)
1 cup sugar
1 3-inch piece vanilla bean
1 2-inch piece ginger, cut into thin rounds and crushed
1 2 -inch piece cinnamon
— Whole nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
— Cinnamon sticks, for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set the apples in a baking dish with a lid, add enough boiling water to come 1/4-inch up the sides of the dish, cover and bake until the apples are very tender, from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on variety. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.