December 20, 2012

proof whisky, A Canadian Christmas, Vol. 114

Maple is our special Canadian ingredient in today’s recipes. We are also listing a couple of homegrown gift suggestions, if you have not yet finished your Christmas shopping. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

maplenog 4 cups milk • 3 extra-large eggs • pinch salt • 2/3 cup dark maple syrup • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract • freshly grated nutmeg • 6 oz proof whisky

Whisk together the milk, eggs, salt and maple syrup, in a bowl that can go into the microwave, or else in a bowl that can be used as the top of a double boiler. Cook the eggnog for 2 minutes on high in the microwave, then stir well. Repeat until the eggnog is slightly thickened - 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. OR cook the eggnog over a pot of gently boiling water, whisking constantly, until thickened. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. To serve, shake or stir the eggnog well. Mix in the vanilla. Add proof whisky to taste, stir well, and top with a good dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. (makes 8 - 10 servings)


Traditions can be adjusted for variety. This year, try something different with your eggnog. Set up a flavour counter, much like the one at your favourite coffee shop. Place an assortment of simple syrups and spice shakers at a station near your pre-spiked nog-bowl and let your guests mix their own flavourings. Here is a basic eggnog recipe and a couple of syrup recipes to use at your counter.
TIPS For responsible hosting purposes, we do not recommend that your guests add their own alcohol. Also, you can purchase eggnog if you are limited for time.


traditional eggnog 6 large eggs, separated • 2/3 cup sugar • 1 vanilla pod • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• 2 cups 2% milk • 3 cups 35% cream • 4 oz proof whisky 

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow ribbon forms. Heat cream, milk and vanilla pod over medium heat. Remove vanilla pod. Pour 8 ounces of warm liquid into egg yolk mixture and whisk (this is called tempering the eggs and it prevents eggs from curdling). Add egg mixture into pot with the remaining warm milk and cream. Whisk over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Cool mixture to room temperature and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours. Beat egg whites into stiff peaks. Whisk egg whites into chilled egg mixture.
Add proof whisky and mix. (makes 12 servings)


gingerbread syrup 2 cups water • ½ tsp ground nutmeg • 1 tbsp molasses • 1 ½ tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and scored • 2 tsp vanilla extract • 6 cloves • 1 cinnamon stick • half a teaspoon vanilla extract • 1 cup white sugar • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
Place the water, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture. There should be about 1 ½ cups of liquid. Add more water to make up the 1 ½ cups. Stir the sugars into the flavour infused water and stir until dissolved. Return to the heat and reduce to a runny syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes). Pour into clean bottle or jar.

salted caramel syrup 2 cups sugar • 1 cup boiling water • fleur de sel
Pour sugar in a heavy skillet that heats uniformly. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When the sugar becomes a clear brown syrup, remove from heat. Stir in boiling water. Return to low heat and stir until syrup is smooth again. Cool, sprinkle with a good pinch of fleur de sel and pour in to a clean jar, cover tightly. Keeps at room temperature for 6 to 8 weeks. You can also leave out the salt, and sprinkle it on the individual cups when serving.

other options Try dark chocolate syrup, vanilla syrup, blood orange, what about maple eggnog and bacon whisky – yum!

We’ve talked about the great Toronto skating rinks in the past, but we're doing it again – because they are so awesome. Slap on your skates and hit the ice at any one of these rinks. Skating makes a great activity on Christmas or New Years Eve (especially if there is no snow). Some of the rinks even play music. The best thing about Toronto, is that you can find a little rink in every corner (ie. Ryerson rink) (Toronto Parks Rinks Schedule,,,, (Ryerson-indoor)

Although we still love the Brickworks rink, one of our favourite newer discoveries is the Samuel Smith Park Rink in Etobicoke. Music is played at a large outdoor figure eight rink, surrounded with rocks and trees – definitely worth a trip. Another brand-new rink is located at Sherbourne Common – part of the waterfront Toronto project (


Here are a couple of maple appies to serve at your festive party.

baked camembert with maple & thyme • 1 - 9 oz camembert round  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped • 1 tablespoon maple syrup • 1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 in slices • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing • crushed sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the camembert from the box and discard any wax paper packaging. Take a 10-inch square of foil and place in the box. Place the camembert inside. Pierce the top of the camembert with the tip of a knife and push in the slices of garlic. Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the top and drizzle with the maple syrup. Loosely scrunch the foil up over the cheese. Set aside. (can also top with chopped pecans) Brush two 12-inch square sheets (the size of your baking sheet) of parchment paper with oil. Line a baking sheet with one of the oiled parchment sheets, oil-side up. Spread the slices of baguette over the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed sea salt. Place the remaining sheet of parchment, oil-side down, over the bread. Place in the oven with the camembert and cook both for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has risen and the bread is crisp. Open up the foil and dip in the hot baguette for a simple snack.

maple piggies 1 package little smokies • 1 lb bacon slices • ½ cup maple syrup • 1/3 cup brown sugar • I tbsp Dijon mustard
Cut bacon slices into 1/3 lengths, just long enough so they will wrap around a smokie with a little overlap. Wrap pieces of bacon around each smokie and secure ends with a toothpick - place wrapped smokies on a baking sheet. Whisk together maple syrup, brown sugar and mustard; heat about 1 minute in the microwave to start sugar dissolving. Drizzle syrup mixture over bacon wrapped smokies. Bake at 425 degrees until bacon is browned (but not too crisp) and syrup is caramelizing, stirring the smokies with a large spatula a couple times. Baking usually takes up to 35-40 minutes, but watch closely (the syrup will eventually burn).

This shopping year, we were really impressed with two of our favourite Canadian stores – the bay & roots. Not only did both shops offer a selection of smart designs, they both sent us on our way with nice bags, gift boxes and good service. (Roots is handing out fabric bags) Unfortunately certain stores have used the BYOB (bring your own bag) as an excuse for throwing a wrinkly mess into your eco-bag – not pleasant when it is for a gift. The Bay has gone back to its roots, with its original Hudson Bay Company branding and historical imagery. And what a great decision that was!

And if you have not visited the Yonge Street store in some time, check out the basement. Here, O&B has set up an artisanal chocolate shop and next door, you can find the full collection of HB stripes. Top Shop & Top Man have taken up significant real-estate on the the 2nd and 3rd floors, with attractive boutiques.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of 0 degrees.
Sunday: Partly cloudy and a high of -1 degree

And may all your Christmases be white...

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