Recipes From The Heart XXXIX

Christmas in Georgia, like so much of the country, is a time for intimacy. Family, quiet gatherings, traditions observed like gifts, songs, remembrances and foods of the season. There are constants that we’ve preserved that when observed and enjoyed pay homage to earlier generations. These remind us through the magic of aromas, flavors and textures that continuity has its special rewards. What is delicious then remains today.

Egg Nog is still prepared and showcased in a beautiful punch bowl to be served in elegant cups. My preferred recipe includes moderate amounts of Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey and Caribbean Rum. Legend reveals that during the mindless days of Prohibition, these elixirs were made available by pharmacists and benevolent moonshiners.

On Christmas Eve, oyster stew is prepared. This is an ancient tradition that launches the anticipation of good things to come.

Fruitcakes prepared at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit near Atlanta.

Then, there’s fruitcake. My favorite fruitcake story is Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.” As warm and as poignant now as it was when I first read it when I was a college kid in Tallahassee. My fruitcake is prepared by Trappist Monks at their Monastery outside Atlanta. A visit cleanses the soul and the special treat inside the traditional tin is loaded with love.

Doc’s Deep South Egg Nog


4 cups whole milk
1 1?2 cups sugar
1?4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp.vanilla
8 egg yolks plus 4 whites
3?4 cup Kentucky Bourbon
3/4 cup Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey
1?4 cup light rum
2 cups heavy cream
1?4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg


Boil milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla beans and seeds in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium until sugar is dissolved, 6–8 minutes. Place yolks in a bowl; slowly whisk in 2 ladlefuls of milk mixture; return to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, 10–12 minutes. Strain though a fine-mesh sieve into a punch bowl or pitcher; let cool. Stir in bourbon, whiskey and rum. In separate bowls, and using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites and cream until stiff peaks form; fold both into eggnog. Garnish with nutmeg.

Crown Pork Roast

A Crown Roast of Pork is a culinary masterpiece.


1 tablespoon paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 pork crown roast (12 ribs and about 8 pounds)

Optional: Apples, fresh rosemary sprigs and dried sage leaves1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 pork crown roast (12 ribs and about 8 pounds)

Optional: Apples, fresh rosemary sprigs and dried sage leaves


Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the first 6 ingredients; rub over roast. Place on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan. Cover rib ends with foil. Roast 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a thermometer reads at least 145°.
Remove roast from oven; tent with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Remove foil; carve between ribs to serve. If desired, serve with rosemary sprigs and sage leaves.

Oyster Stew

One of my most memorable meals was provided by Dean Fowler who made a pot of this classic at his Florida Gulf resort, Steinhatchee Landing.

Traditional Oyster Stew

1 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
? teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
1 pint shucked oysters, liquor included
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

For garnish: chopped fresh chives, sliced green onions, or a dash of paprika


Place milk, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium saucepan or soup pot. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, just until hot (about 10 minutes). Do not boil.

In a separate skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add the oysters, liquor and Tabasco sauce. Sauté until the edge of the oysters just begin to curl (2-3 minutes). Transfer the oyster mixture to the pot of milk, and cook over medium-low heat for about 2 more minutes. Do not boil.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chives or paprika, if desired.

Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestions: A Pinot Gris from Oregon’s King Estate.

             Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Love one another.

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