Milk punch

Have you ever enjoyed a milk punch? It's a milk-based adult beverage commonly drunk on holidays in Louisiana. A combination of said milk, bourbon and/or brandy, sugar and nutmeg, served cold, it is a sublime cocktail and definitely feels festive. I love to drink one on Christmas day and there is certainly nothing wrong with starting things off on New Years Eve with a glass of this frosty brew.

Today, we had some friends over for brunch and leftover pie, and it seemed fitting to serve milk punches too. These are friends always willing to drink midday and since none of us had anywhere to be, and our kids are friends, we each raised a glass. In addition to this simply being fun, I do believe T and I now possess the best milk punch recipe out there.

Searching for it commenced because T suggested maple syrup as the sweetener instead of the powdered sugar I've traditionally used. I balked, he pushed back, I said search for a recipe that utilizes this (so we could see if ever this had been done; you gotta think before tweaking an already-excellent drink), and lo, he unearthed this one published three years ago in the NY Times. I urge you to concoct one for yourself post haste.

Milk Punch, serves 4

  • 1/2 cup bourbon (we used Buffalo Trace)
  • 1/2 cup brandy or aged rum (we used a mid-tier Cognac, the one with which I brandy peaches)
  • 2 cups of milk (use whole, or a 75/25 blend of 2% and cream), the NYT also suggests freezing milk in ice trays and using those as your "ice" so as not to water things down
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (per the usual, I suggest Grade B)
  • grated nutmeg (freshly grated is best)

Stir everything but the nutmeg together in a pitcher and pour into double old-fashioned glasses or short tumblers. Add frozen milk cubes or ice cubes and sprinkle grated nutmeg over the tops. You can make the mixture in advance, including the nutmeg, and keep it in the fridge!

Le polpette

The meatballs; Le polpette!

Just why, you might wonder, are these meatballs so show-stoppingly divine? Well, for starters, the lemon zest elevates things to new heights. In my opinion, any meatball that takes itself seriously should be required to include a subtle foundation of zesty yellow snow.

Secondly, the combo of beef and pork is critical. Coming from me, a gal rather ambivalent about pork (excepting bacon, of course), this is really saying something. But the pork lightens the mixture, in both color and density, and makes more complex the flavor of meat in the ball.

There is just enough milk-drenched bread to hold things together, and in fact, it lightens the mixture up too. The sauce could not be simpler but, as are so many of the most basic recipes, it is perfect. No more than onions sauteed in oil, some garlic and lots of canned tomatoes plus their juices, it's a slowly simmering sauce that sumptuously enrobes the meatballs and slicks the pasta.

Lots of parmesan, many eggs, parsley and salt are the critically important supporting actors in this show, and you skimp on them to your detriment. The last great thing about these meatballs is how well they freeze. To make the whole batch in its entirety will take you at least two hours, probably three, maybe four. It's worth it. Make the whole thing at once, and then you can look forward to many a good meal that evening and well into the future.

Gobble gobble

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Despite below-freezing temps, we had a great time at the Turkey Trot this morning. More than 10,000 people were registered for the various races, and what SOME (So Others Might Eat) can do with all the money raised, all the people they can feed, well, it feels really good to be a part of it all. I feel unbelievably grateful for all with which I've been blessed, and I feel that giving back, in any small way, is the best way to start a day of thanks. On our drive downtown, we talked about how good it would feel to volunteer in a local shelter on Thanksgiving one year. The boys were really keen on the idea, and I beamed inside and out.

It's a gorgeous day, and we were well-dressed. The cold simply felt crisp, though my toes would disagree. Jack and I decided to run together while T and Ol walked; we finished the mile in 9:40 and cheered the rest of our team on as they came through ten minutes later. Then it was back home for warm baths, hot chocolate and popcorn. The boys are watching Myth Busters while I finish a few things up and -sshh!!- peruse online sales.