Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holiday Eggnog

 Eggnog in one form or another has been around since the 18th century. In Europe eggnog was a concoction of different wines,eggs, and cream. In the 13 colonies, rum and rye whiskey were much more prevalent throughout society then wine, being much cheaper and readily available. So the colonists used rum and whiskey in their eggnog rather then wine. Rum was also known as grog so you can get an idea of how the word eggnog was derived from the words egg and grog.
 One of the biggest fans of eggnog was George Washington who supposedly "devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try".
I Love Eggnog

 The recipe I use comes from an expatriate living in Shanghai China in the 1920s who used to attend a yearly Christmas party that would have the greatest eggnog he had ever had. After 7 years of wrangling he finally got the recipe out of the host.
  This recipe should be made at least 3 weeks minimum before consumption, and actually is even better if you age it for a year. Dont worry about spoilage there is enough alcohol in the eggnog to make it stable, but just to be safe I age mine in the refrigerator instead of  a cool cellar.

So without further ado here is the recipe.


For the eggnog:

  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 quart (4 1/2 cups) whole milk
  • 1 liter (about 3-4 cups) of good bourbon, such as Jim Beam. (Use Rye for historical authenticity)
  • 1/2 cup Myers’s dark rum
  • 1/2 to 1 cup good Cognac or other brandy
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 whole nutmeg
1. Separate egg yolks from the whites.
2. Mix sugar with egg yolks  till smooth and frothy.
3. Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and a pinch of salt, whisk until well combined.
4. Age the eggnog in your fridge for a minimum of 3 weeks the longer the better.
5. Grate nutmeg over eggnog when serving.

There you have it, a fantastic eggnog recipe that I hope you will give a try for your holiday festivities.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ben & Jerry's Carrot Cake Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington Vermont after Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from Penn State University. Since then they have become one of the most successful ice cream purveyors in the world, with their success being based on unique flavors and providing large donations from their sales to various social causes throughout the world.
Hey dude, pass the Magic Brownies

ONE Cheesecake Brownie
Some of my favorite flavors in the past have included One Cheesecake Brownie, Smores, and Dave Mathews Magic Brownies.

 So you can imagine my delight when I came across Carrot Cake, an exclusive flavor. Your probably wondering how I came into a flavor so exclusive that its not even mentioned on the Ben & Jerry's web site. Lets just say that when your a high powered food blogger whose reviews can crush a product and rattle the entire food industry establishment, companies tend to be nice and send out samples for review.
  The Carrot Cake flavor is made up of caramel ice cream, cream cheese icing swirl, and pieces of, you guessed it, carrot cake. The flavors really worked well together in this. The caramel ice cream was indulgently creamy and sweet with not the slightest bit of iciness or water which is a sure sign of a cheap ice cream. The cream cheese icing was swirled throughout, and gave a nice background flavor. The star of the show is the pieces of carrot cake. I just love it when you get pieces of  cake or brownie in your ice cream. It gives the ice cream a much better mouth feel due to not getting just plain ice cream in every bite. The carrot cake pieces were spongy and nicely spiced in the typical way with cinnamon, cloves,etc.

 Ben & Jerrys once again hits a home run with their Carrot Cake Ice Cream. While there are no real surprises as far as the flavors go, everything works well with each other. Just imagine eating some carrot cake with ice cream on top, and there you have Ben & Jerry's Carrot Cake Ice Cream.

Ben & Jerry's Carrot Cake Ice Cream

Sunday, October 10, 2010

China Star Restaurant

There has been a lot of talk recently of a relatively new Chinese Restaurant in the North Hills area. China Star has been getting a lot of positive word of mouth for their authentic Chinese menu. China Star has your typical American/Chinese hybrid menu, but they also have a special menu with specialties of the Sichuan region of China. Some of the specialties include Tan Tan Noodles, and Tea Smoked Duck.

Before getting into the review, I am just getting over the flu, so I decided not to be to adventurous this time around, and I decided to order some of the more traditional items off there regular Menu. My order included Cold Sesame Noodles, Pork Egg Foo Young, and General Tso's Chicken. Called in my order for takeout and was told it would be ready in 30 minutes.  A half hour later I arrived and found my food waiting for me. The restaurant had quite a few people waiting for tables when I arrived. The dining room is rather small so expect a wait on Friday nights if you plan on eating at the restaurant.

Cold Sesame Noodles $3.95
Well to start off I tried out the Cold Sesame Noodles. These wound up being the highlight of my meal.  These were your typical oriental rice flour noodles, but the sauce that these noodles came in was excellent. The sauce was Thai influenced with flavors of garlic, peanuts, sesame, and red chili oil. All of these flavors accompanied the noodles nicely. The noodles are also available hot for those that prefer it. My thought when I finished these noodles was damn I should have got two of these. 
Pork Egg Foo Young $8.95

Next up was the Pork Egg Foo Young. The Foo Young came in a portion of 4 large patties accompanied by an oriental brown sauce. The sauce tasted like a typical brown gravy with notes of soy, ginger and garlic.  The Foo Young patties were full of napa cabbage, carrots, sprouts, a generous amount of pork, and heaven forbid peas. As a note, your beloved reviewer hates peas. Dont know why, its always been that way for me. Sorry, cant help it. Despite the peas best effort to ruin the Foo Young, I found it to be one of the better Egg Foo Young's that I have tried. Being that I did not want to go through the whole dish avoiding those disgusting little green things, I gave it to my Mother. She was also of the opinion that the Egg Foo Young was very good, and she even ate the peas.
General Tso's Chicken $9.95
 The General Tso's Chicken was the biggest disappointment of the meal. The serving was a generous amount, enough  to feed two people. The sauce was typical of a General Tso's sauce, sweet, and slightly spicy. Matter of fact I was wishing that it could have been a little more spicy. The chicken in my opinion had a little too much batter on it, which led to the chicken being more gummy then crispy. The General Tso's at the Sesame Inn down McKnight Rd from China Star is the gold standard for this dish, and this version of General Tso's just didn't measure up.

 In conclusion I found my dishes from China Star to be pretty darn tasty. Im looking forward to going back for another order of their Sesame Noodles, and I think I will try something off their authentic Sichuan menu.


Cold Sesame Noodles: 9/10 

Pork Egg Foo Young: 7/10

General Tso's Chicken: 5/10

OVERALL: 7/10 

China Star Restaurant
100 McIntyre Square
7900 McKnight Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237

China Star on Urbanspoon