Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nutmeg & Mace - Margaret Ullrich

It's almost Christmas.
So, I'm giving you a two-fer.
Merry Christmas!!

What with all the fancy coffees that are out there, even at good old Micky D, 
a cup of egg nog - or a coffee with whipped cream - looks downright naked 
unless it has some brown flecks on top of it.

This is nutmeg's moment to shine!

Ah, but what do you know about nutmeg?

The seed is known as nutmeg, and the red membrane around the seed is mace.
In the tropics, natives eat the pulp of the fruit.

This spice was once so costly that people would carry a nutmeg and a small grater 
that could be folded to the size of a lipstick.
Guess they drank a lot of fancy coffees.

Freshly grated nutmeg (you can use the fine holes of a metal grater) has a 
more intense flavor.
Nutmeg and mace can be used interchangeably.
Still, mace is more potent than nutmeg.

A bit of trivia while you're nogging...
In Egypt mace is sometimes used as hashish.
Maybe that's how it gets us into that holiday spirit!

The nutty flavor of nutmeg goes well with sweet desserts, custards, 
fruit cakes, pies and cookies.
Sprinkle nutmeg onto vanilla ice cream before serving.
You can also flavor an apple or pear pie with nutmeg in place of cinnamon.

Add a pinch of nutmeg to the crust of a meat pie for a gourmet touch.
Stir a pinch into cream sauces or soups.
It's great with winter squash, mashed sweet potatoes, glazed carrots or parsnips.
Sprinkle some on green beans, spinach or into mashed potatoes.

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