Wine Wednesdays — Mulled Wine Recipe for the Holidays

Photo by Bekathwia

Mulled wine is a traditional holiday drink throughout the colder countries in Europe from glogg in Sweden and gluhwein in Germany to vin chaud in France.

The origins for mulling wine are based more in practical matters than festive and romantic holiday traditions. Once upon a time, wine was not something to be collected and aged in cellars. It was an everyday product that was meant to be consumed soon after it was bottled. Less than perfect bottling methods meant that wine, which was traditionally bottled after harvest in the early fall, had started to go off by winter. Spices were added to postpone spoilage and, well, make wine that had gone off taste a little less nasty. Hence, the consumption of mulled wine became a mid-winter, holiday tradition. We now drink mulled wine for tastier reasons. Plus it makes the whole house fragrantly festive!

The exact combination of spices change from country to country, but mulled wine generally starts with a red wine base —like Merlot or Cabernet — and adds cinnamon, cloves, star anise, juniper, ginger, citrus or cardamom. Think seasonal, warming spices and add orange or lemon peel for brightness. It’s kind of like a warm winter sangria. Play around to find the combination that you like best.  Here’s a historical British recipe adapted from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (first published in 1861)

Mulled Wine

  • To every 600ml (1 pint) of Wine allow:

    Photo by maoquai

  • 235ml (8 fl oz) Water
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Spice (Cloves, Grated Nutmeg and Cinnamon or Mace), to taste

Per Mrs. Beeton: In making this, it is very difficult to give the exact proportions of ingredients like sugar and spice, as what quantity might suit one person would be to another quite distasteful. Boil the spice in the water until the flavour is extracted. Add the wine and sugar and bring to boiling point, then serve with strips of crisp dry toast or with biscuits. The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg and cinnamon or mace. Any kind of wine may be mulled, but port and claret are those usually selected for the purpose and the latter requires a very large proportion of sugar. The vessel that the wine is boiled in must be delicately clean and should be kept exclusively for the purpose.

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My Latke Recipe

Plates from my Judaica collection.

Hannukah is a very big deal in our house. I’m not Jewish, but my former husband was and so are my children Ava and Taylor. Each year we gather with a group of friends and family to celebrate the holiday.  Since I did not have a family latke recipe of my own to fall back on, I use a recipe that I got from Cooking Light magazine. The flavors appealed to me and what made it even more of a perfect fit for us was that the article that the recipe came from featured a table set with Annieglass and the woman in the photo was wearing jewelry designed by my good friend Alexis Bittar! Here is the recipe which is now a part of our tradition.

Yogurt Sauce:
1 1/2 cups plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I use more)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

cooking spray
4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3- 4 or 1 1/2 pounds)
6 tablespoons water, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided
1- 20 oz. package refrigerated or frozen and thawed shredded hash brown potatoes
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
8 tsp Canola oil, divided

To prepare yogurt sauce: Mix all ingredients together. Cover. Chill

To prepare fritters: Heat a skillet at medium high, coat with cooking spray and saute leeks with 2 tbsp. water and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper for about 10 minutes or until golden — it usually takes me longer than that. Add more water if needed to prevent sticking to the pan.

Place the leeks and potatoes in a large bowl. Set aside.
Mix eggs and egg whites with  1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp pepper well with a whisk. Add to leek/potato mixture.

Heat 4 tsp. oil in skillet on medium high heat.( I use 2 and serve them hot to waiting guests as first course) Use about  3 Tbsp. for each fritter. Brown on each side. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Serve with yogurt sauce.

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It’s A Wrap

Share-a-recipeFor reasons of sustainability, I’m a fan of fairly minimalist gift wrapping for the holidays. Wrapping paper from holiday gifts is largely to blame for a 25 percent spike in curbside trash volume between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA.  And in the U.S., the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags adds up to over 4 million tons of garbage. That makes a prettily wrapped present seem a little less festive, doesn’t it? But not using lots of paper doesn’t mean that I don’t present my presents in the their most flattering light.

Cookbooks can be wrapped in a brightly colored kitchen towel, pinned around — there’s no waste and it becomes two presents in one. Reusable bags, tins, or other containers can be used over and over, or for storage. And I use lots of ribbons! I love the simplicity of presenting Annieglass with just a beautiful bow or ribbon, which can then be reused or repurposed. But this idea from a customer makes it even  more personal — she attached a recipe that matched the dish, an easy and elegant chocolate chip pound cake to go with a rectangular tray. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? And you could give a favorite soup recipe with some bowls, your famous onion dip recipe with a chips and dip set. The possibilities are endless. Happy wrapping!

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Happy Hour Snacks: Margarita Popcorn

photo (11)It’s the holiday season, which means lots more entertaining, parties, and snacking. Cheeses, chips and dips are delicious, but it’s great to offer up a lighter, healthier option as well. Popcorn has a lot of bulk for its calories, so it helps fill you up. Plus, 3½ cups of popcorn contains one of your three recommended daily servings of whole grains. And a study from Scranton University found that a single portion of popcorn contains more antioxidants than all the fruit and vegetables most people eat in a day. The best way to keep popcorn a healthy snack, is to pop your own kernels at home. Air popped popcorn will have the least amount of calories, but cooking your popcorn in a healthy oil is good as well. Too uch butter is a trap that many of us fall into as well, but plain popcorn can be delicious, or sprinkle some of you favorite spices or some grated parmesan for flavor. Or try this cocktail-inspired Margarita Popcorn.

2 quarts freshly popped popcorn
1 pat butter, melted
3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon tequila
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small bowl combine the black pepper, salt, red pepper, and cumin. In a medium-size bowl whisk together the butter, lime juice and zest, and tequila. In a large bowl, pour in half of the popcorn.

Drizzle half of the butter mixture over the popcorn, the half of the pepper/salt mixture. Mix well. Then add the rest of the popcorn and top with the rest of the butter and pepper/salt mix.

Pour into beautiful serving bowls and place around the room. An easy & elegant snack for happy hour or any celebration. Hope you are kicking off a great weekend!

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Wedding Wednesday: Dos and Don’ts Of Your Bridal Registry

1_TableGallery-masters_0007__DSC4785_TraditionalGold2Holiday season is also engagement season. More proposals happen in December than any other time of the year.  Once you’ve spread the news to your loved ones and started thinking about dates, one of your first tasks is the Bridal registry. Here’s a few preliminary dos and don’ts to help you navigate your way through this exciting but somewhat daunting task:

Do register at least six months before your wedding date to give your guests the chance to shop from your registry for bridal showers and engagement parties.

Don’t register during your lunch hour — that’s not enough time to peruse and choose. Allow plenty of time to decide what your wedding gift wish list will be. Call ahead for an appointment with the bridal registrar.

Don’t bring along your mother, sister or best friend. Too many opinions will make this even more confusing. You and your partner should be the ones registering. You are starting a life together and sharing a home, it only makes sense to figure this out together. Don’t forget to practice the fine art of compromise together!

Do sit down with your fiancé and talk about your likes and dislikes, how you envision yourselves entertaining, if any, differently than how you do now. Think about future holidays and family get-togethers as well as parties and Sunday dinners.

Don’t limit your wish list. Go ahead and register for that one of a kind hand blown vase. Or limited edition Annieglass! It’s called a wish list for a reason.

Do get organized. Treat your bridal registry with a professional attitude, the way you would a work project. Keep track of what you receive and from whom, and check off your thank-you notes as you send them.

Do ask your bridal registrar for help with gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. And don’t forget thank you gifts for those who gave showers or parties in your honor. I think that engraved messages of thanks on Annieglass make some of the most special gifts. Consider giving hearts engraved with your names, wedding date and thanks to your bridesmaids for sharing your big day.


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