As regular readers will know, I’m a bit of a food snob. And as such, I’m a little sniffy about bottles of pre-mulled wines and sachets of mulling spices. On the other hand, I’m not enough of a food snob to be too sniffy about jars of spices bought from supermarkets. If you can’t get to Moroccan spice markets yourself, Schwartz’s output will do fine for now.
But rather than spending £4 on mixed spice sachets or bottles of flavoured wine, I really think it’s worth investing in the ingredients and making mulled wine from scratch. It’s really not difficult, and the stack of spices you buy will last you all year and improve the other things you cook. Once you’ve got an array of jars of interesting flavours, you’ll use them again and again.
So here’s my mulled wine and cider recipes for you to use and improve upon yourself, and some suggestions of other uses of the spices you’ll buy.
2 bottles, 1.5 litres red wine
Sugar (or honey)
1 orange, thinly sliced
root ginger, thinly sliced
Handful of cardamom pods
Handful of cloves
Healthy teaspoon of mace
Freshly grated nutmeg
Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring slowly almost to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum to keep warm. If you actually boil the mix, you will lose the alcohol, so heat it slow and keep it low.
If your guests are thirstier than you imagined and deplete all the fluid, you can pour more wine and port onto the same spice mixture.
Use the same spice ingredients with
6 apples, cored and roasted at 190 deg C for 45 mins
2l cheap cider, 1l nice cider
0.5 liter apple juice (use this instead of sugar)
2 finely sliced oranges
sliced ginger root
Other things to do with the spices
Cloves – flavour roux based sauces by studding half an onion with cloves and boiling in the milk with bayleaves before continuing. Cloves also go well with ham – try scoring a ham with diamond shapes and spiking the cloves into the vertices.
Cardamom – flavour rice for curries, grind into curry powder
Cinnamon, nutmeg, mace – all make good additions to rice pudding, cakes and pastries. Cinnamon pairs particularly well with any apple dish including crumble and tart. Cinnamon also has uses in savoury dishes like this beef stew.
It’s definitely worth seeking out the spice souks when you do go to suitable countries. When I go to the middle east with work, I take a spare suitcase with me and use my extra 20Kgs of luggage allowance on spices…
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