This morning, as we were all rubbing our eyes and waking up slowly, my daughter said “Mummy, there was a smell in the house last night, and it is here again – what is that smell? It is like oranges, like lemons, cinnamon…what are you making?”
I loved it, it really made me smile – I answered “It is the smell of Christmas”….
The truth is, it is the smell of Christmas! As she was falling asleep I was baking ginger bread houses and in the morning, as she was waking, I was peeling oranges and lemons for a big batch of mulled wine.
The aromas in our house at the moment are soul warming. They hit you as you open the front door – Christmas tree,
cloves in oranges in windows,
ginger bread and vanilla biscuits,
my grandfather’s Emmenthal cheese biscuits
warm roasted chestnuts
– it is like all the food we have been cooking over the past few days have taken over and are seeping into every fabric in the house, under our skin and bringing out smiles and joy. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
The winner of Christmas Scent for me though has got to be Mulled Wine. It stays in the kitchen for days and combines all the flavours I adore – bay leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange and lemon, star aniseed, port wine, red wine….yum!
Here is my version (a mix of a family recipe and Jamie Oliver’s)- I will write down the ingredients you will need FOR 2 BOTTLES OF RED WINE – double, triple or more…up as needed! Hope you will like it – it is full of spice and flavour and has quite a kick!
100g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
Juices and peel of an orange
1 orange, sliced
Peel of a lemon
2 star aniseed
5 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 vanilla pod – sliced open
2 tsp of each – ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg
Tea bags (can be bought in tea shops)
2 bottles of red wine
2 glasses of port wine
1 handful of raisins – soak in port wine for 12 hours
1 handful of sliced almonds
- Place your raisins in a mug and cover with port wine – leave for 12 hours
- Make a little spiced parcel by filling a tea bag with a tsp of each – ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg as well as the whole cloves, cardamom and 1 star aniseed – tie it shut
- Put both kinds of sugar, orange and lemon peel, orange juice, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, vanilla pod, 1 star aniseed and a tsp of each – ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large pot
- Add red wine to cover the sugar – not a lot needed – and bring to a boil
- Stir until sugar dissolves and let boil until a thick syrup is formed – this shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes
- Once thick – and the scent in your kitchen will be to die for right now – turn down the heat low and add the remaining red wine, port and orange slices
- Let it warm through – never boiling (this “kills” the alcohol) – until ready to serve
- About 10 minutes before serving, throw in the soaked raisins and sliced almonds
- Serve with a spoon – to allow everyone to spoon out the flavoured nuts and raisins!