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That nutmeg time of year

Nutmeg shortbread

If obliged to name my favorite spice, I’m pretty sure I would say nutmug. Everyone likes cinnamon. But there’s a kind of magic in nutmeg that no other spice can match, especially during the winter holidays.

My nutmeg shortcake was less than perfect. I used this recipe. Though the egg yolk makes the dough easier to deal with, I can’t say that the egg yolk improved either the texture or the flavor of the shortbread. The shortbread doesn’t melt when you bite it, the same way proper Scottish shortbread does. The egg makes a sturdier shortbread, still very good, though. Also, I only have unbleached bread flour, which may not be the best choice of flour for shortbread.

I buy eggnog once a year. Maybe this year I’ll buy it twice. It occurred to me that eggnog, if poured into an ice cream maker, would make a very nice ice cream without all the fuss required for making proper ice cream from scratch.

Mace is made from a different part of the nutmeg seed, and it’s nutmeg’s milder cousin. I usually use mace for dishes that aren’t sweet, and nutmeg for dishes that are. Year-round, if you can afford the calories, nutmeg-banana smoothies are fantastic.

Nutmeg grows in hot climates and thus would not have arrived in Europe until ships were capable of opening the spice routes. I can only imagine how much those spices cheered up European cooking, starting around the time of Elizabeth I.

Eggnog, from Whole Foods

Tomato-leek soup with coconut milk, seasoned with mace (and pepper)


  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    Tomato leek – YUM!
    As a teenager 1956 I worked in a neighborhood grocer. When EggNog season came around, I always gave Mrs Theiler $.50¢ for a quart jar of eggnog – she would set it aside and always gave me $.25¢ back. Goodness in those days is was wonderful

    Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  2. Amy wrote:

    Recipe for tomato leek soup please, David!

    Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 12:05 am | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Amy… As usual, I don’t really use recipes, I’m afraid. But, roughly: two medium leeks, washed with the tough part of the stalks removed. Chop the leeks coarsely and sauté them in butter or olive oil, over fairly low heat, until they’re soft. Add the water. I used about 12 ounces of tomatoes that I had canned. My secret ingredient, instead of liquid stock, is Better Than Bouillon, which comes in several flavors. I used vegetarian chicken flavor. Simmer that for about an hour in a covered fait tout, not too hot, maybe 190 degrees. Whiz the soup with a hand blender, adjust the seasoning, and add about a quarter teaspoon of mace. Add either a can of coconut milk or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Simmer for about 15 more minutes. I prefer cream to the coconut milk, but both are good!

    Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  4. amy wrote:

    thanks, david

    Saturday, December 18, 2021 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

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