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Savory eggnog French toast bake

From the kitchen of Susan McLean
 
½ Vidalia onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons butter
6 eggs
2 cups eggnog
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 cup chopped ham
1 loaf French or challah bread (depending on size of baking dish, up to two loaves of French bread may be used)
1½ cups shredded Gruyère (or other good melting cheese, like Fontina)
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
 
Spray shallow 1½ quart baking dish. In sauté pan, melt butter and cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In mixing bowl, whisk eggs, eggnog, mustard and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange half of bread in bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping slices to fit. Sprinkle with ham. Pour half of egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle about 1 cup cheese over egg mixture. Layer remaining bread and pour remaining egg mixture on top. Gently press down so bread slices absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cover and bake about 1 hour, or until golden. At about 45 minutes, check by inserting knife in center; it should come out clean. If not done, and if top is browning quickly, cover with foil and cook about 15 minutes. You don’t want to burn the top. Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes to allow custard to set.




Cooking with eggnog
Bring holiday flavor to your food

12/24/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 It’s Christmas morning and although you’ve indulged in candy canes, hot cocoa and sugar cookies galore, you still want to keep the holiday spirit going. You look in the fridge and spot a partially empty carton of eggnog. Drinking a glass at breakfast may be a bit much — but you could pour it into a batch of French toast. That’s exactly how Susan McLean, blogger at laptop2tabletop.com, started cooking with eggnog.

“It was breakfast, [I] needed something festive, and that seemed to bring that festive flavor to traditional French toast,” she said in a phone interview. “It was so simple. [I] just replaced the milk, added a little cinnamon.”
Cooking with eggnog is easy — if a recipe calls for milk just replace it with the same amount of eggnog, McLean said. Since basic eggnog recipes consist of eggs, cream or milk, and sugar, it’s a well-suited alternative. 
“I would stick with the eggnog as a liquid to get the real flavor,” she said.
Thus far McLean has only used pre-made eggnog in her recipes and hasn’t altered the cooking times or noticed any changes in the finished dishes. 
“If someone is using fresh homemade eggnog, it could make a difference,” she said.  “I haven't braved making my own, but I’m going to try.” 
When deciding what dish to add a little eggnog to, it makes sense to think of the sweet side of the spectrum first. 
“Eggnog has a sugar content to it that automatically lends itself to being incorporated into sweet dishes,” she said, noting that it would be good for crepes, pancakes, frozen shakes, banana bread, ice cream and panna cotta.
However, it can also add a nice twist in the flavor profile of a savory dishes like a bread pudding with sausage or bacon, complementing the saltiness.
“One of the farmers from the Salem farmers market has a sea salt and sage sausage,” McLean said. “[Adding] that will change the dish to be so savory, and then toss in some cheese and that will create a more fulfilling dish [with] a nice green salad on the side.”
Keep in mind that cinnamon and nutmeg will bring a dish back to its sweet roots, so try some other spices in savory dishes. Also, just because you’re using eggnog instead of milk doesn’t mean you can omit the eggs from a recipe. The eggnog should only replace the liquid in a recipe, whether it be milk, cream or even water. 
“I’ve even replaced water in oatmeal; just add some eggnog to it and get a different flavor,” she said. “It’s been especially good in pumpkin oatmeal.” 
So be creative in terms of finding ways to add eggnog to your dishes, as some ingredient combinations will appeal even to non-eggnog drinkers. 
“I think eggnog straight up in a glass is very thick and creamy and maybe a bit too filling for many,” McLean said. “By incorporating it into something else, the diner isn’t  focused on the eggnog itself but the other outcome, [like] when it’s in a French toast or something else where it helps take on other flavors.” 





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