“Punch! ’Tis my Morning’s Draught, my Table-drink, my Treat, my Regalia, my every thing.” So speaks the title character in 17th century English dramatist Aphra Behn’s play The Widow Ranter, and apparently Behn was a big fan herself. After trying her beloved milk punch, I get what all the fuss is about. This blog has been focused on desserts for the last few years, but I’m going to make an exception for this drink, which is practically a liquid dessert anyway.
There are two kinds of milk punch. Better known today is the New Orleans version, in which you mix cold milk or cream with bourbon or brandy, and sugar or simple syrup, then serve the drink over ice. The result is creamy, sort of like eggnog.
That drink is good, but I feel it’s no match for the Widow Ranter’s “Table-drink,” which is now called clarified milk punch, or English milk punch. For this beverage, liquor, lemon, and sugar are mixed with very hot milk, which curdles as a result. The mixture is then filtered to remove the curds but allow the milk whey to remain. This may not sound appealing, and when you see the pictures below, you may have serious doubts. But this punch is amazing. It’s smooth, silky, and pleasantly sweet, with citrus and spice flavorings — served cold over ice, it’s perfect on a hot summer day.
This post was originally going to be about posset, an 18th-century tonic made with alcohol, hot spiced milk, and eggs. It sounded like therapeutic eggnog, just the thing for those of us already worn down by the holidays — and the cold weather in New York right now.
Well, I made two posset recipes, and neither turned out too well. I won’t go into the gory details about that (curdling and so on), but fortunately, while researching possets, I came across a recipe for mulled wine made with eggs. I was intrigued and decided to give it a try, and I’m so glad I did! Continue reading →
We visited Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia estate, with some friends a few weeks ago, and had a good time touring the house and gardens. I then made a beeline for the exhibition “Hoecakes and Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington,” which is on display at Mount Vernon’s Reynolds Museum through August 11th.
This exhibition explores the work that went on behind the scenes to feed the Washingtons and their many visitors. Some of the original pots and pans and tableware are on display, as are a number of Martha’s cookbooks and recipes. There are recipes for hoecakes (George’s favorite breakfast), sturgeon, a “ragoo” of asparagus, and Martha’s “Great Cake.” But the one that appealed to me most was for a drink called cherry bounce. Continue reading →
My family visited Philadelphia over President’s Day weekend, and although it was too chilly for much sightseeing in the Old City historic district, we did eat at City Tavern. Owned and run by Chef Walter Staib (host of the TV series A Taste of History), this fun restaurant is a reconstruction of an 18th century tavern where George Washington and other Founding Fathers dined during the First Continental Congress in 1774, and for decades afterward. Continue reading →