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In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk with the cinnamon, vanilla bean, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, cardamom pods and a hefty pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.
Strain mixture through a sieve, discarding solids except vanilla bean. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into milk and discard pod.
Wipe out the saucepan and return the milk to the pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl beat the eggs with the sugar for 2 minutes, until light and lemon colored. Add the heated milk in a stream, whisking gently.
Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not let it simmer or the eggs will scramble.
Quickly add the remaining 1/2 cup milk to stop the cooking. Transfer to a pitcher and chill. To serve, divide among 4 chilled glasses, stir in a dash of brandy or rum and top with a grating of nutmeg. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, (29 percent of total calories), 4.5 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 100 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 7 g protein, 210 mg sodium.
By SARA MOULTON
The holiday season boasts any number of festive libations including my favorite, eggnog. If you’re trying to crystallize holiday excess in liquid form, how better than to combine sweet cream with strong rum or brandy
But what if you don’t want to overdo it? Is there a way to keep it creamy without cream? I tried making eggnog using nonfat milk, both regular and condensed, but it was too watery. I even tried thickening the mixture with cornstarch, but it was more like a loose pudding than eggnog.
Two percent milk did the trick. Then I added chai spices, which contributed exotic notes that work nicely with the traditional nutmeg.
My second concoction, Christmas sangria, is a fairly healthy punch to begin with. All I did was swap out the usual summertime fruits for wintertime favorites — pomegranates, clementines and apples — along with fresh fruit juice.
Sara Moulton is the host of public television’s “ Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and author of “ Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”
For those holiday-season nights when you need something light, I give you this simple, low-carb, high-flavor “quiche” that calls for no grains, no gluten and no heavy lifting. It has, in fact, become my go-to dinner on busy weeknights simply because it is so effortless. It also happens to be pretty versatile.
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