Mulled Wine

mulled-wine

Mulled wine is lovely, warming, and festive. I first made it for a Christmas party my husband and I were having the year we moved in together. None of our friends were familiar so I described it as warm sangria. Feel free to spike it with rum or brandy, and if it’s for a party, I recommend doubling the recipe and floating a clove-studded orange for effect. I didn’t do either this time; I didn’t have any rum, and I made this for a regular old Friday night in December.

Mulled Wine

1 bottle cheap red wine
generous splash of juice (such as apple, apple cider, or orange. I used apricot nectar since I still had some in the fridge)
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom
1 star anise pod
several each of: cardamom pods, allspice berries, cloves, black peppercorns
honey to taste
peel of one orange, tangerine, or clementine

Combine everything in a sauce pan, stirring to dissolve honey, and heat on low (don’t allow to boil!) for an hour and a half to two hours.

Note: if you don’t have all these spices, don’t despair! Use what you have, even a pinch of powdered spices.

Holiday Quick Breads

holiday-quick-bread

One way to get the holiday spirit swirling through your home is through scent, especially scents wafting from your oven – warm spices, fresh citrus, sweet vanilla.

Quick Breads are perfect for this time of year; flour and baking powder are like a blank canvas to be painted with any flavor that reminds you of Yule. They are simple to throw together and perfect in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon with a cup of tea, and easy to wrap up and transport to holiday brunches or to leave in the break room at work as a gift from the Sugar Plum Fairy.

So far I’ve whipped up this Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread from Food52 – divine! As a ginger fiend I love the use of both dried and fresh ginger.

I also used my leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving to make this Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread on Rufus’s Food and Spirits Guide (which I found after a quick search). My cranberry sauce has apricot and cardamom, so I tweaked the recipe to go with my sauce, using apricot nectar instead of apple cider, walnuts instead of pecans just because I had them, omitting the cardamom since I already had it in the sauce, and using brown sugar just for fun. I also topped it with demerara sugar since that was so nice on the gingerbread. Quick breads are nothing if not flexible. Here’s my version of the cranberry sauce bread:

Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread

My cranberry sauce had apricot nectar, chopped dried apricots, cardamom, and honey, but any kind would work fine

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/c cup apricot nectar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
8 tbsp cranberry sauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Heat oven to 350° and grease and flour a loaf pan.

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, apricot nectar, butter, egg, and 2 tbsp of the cranberry sauce. Stir in walnuts.

Spread half of batter in the loaf pan, then make a layer of cranberry sauce. You can do this evenly, I tried to swirl mine into the batter a little bit but don’t think it worked. Spread rest of the batter evenly on top, sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing the loaf from the pan.