Membrillo – A Labour of Love

Ok, I am going to come straight out with it. THIS IS A LABOUR OF LOVE. It’s my first time making membrillo – Spanish quince paste – you know the one often found on a cheese board that tastes delicious with a slice of manchego cheese. They are found in great abundance in the autumn/fall. My lovely neighbour had a huge glut of quinces from her tree so said would I like a bag. Naturally I said ‘yes’ and after showing me all the glorious creations that she was making in her kitchen – membrillo, as well as quince jelly, I was truly inspired. Her passing words to me was that it was a labour of love, which I didn’t quite fully register.

Look I don’t want to put you off, just to simply say there are a few steps and therefore involves effort to seek a reward. The children’s book about the hen who made bread and asked for help from the other farmyard animals, came to mind when I spent a considerable amount of time sieving the quince through a sieve.

So a few things of importance to note. Quince are not like apples or pears, other than in appearance. Their bitter flesh means they are almost exclusively for cooking instead of eaten raw. To core them is super hard, even with a sharp knife and after grazing my finger I thought that the best way to deal with them was to simply peel them and quarter or half them and then put them in water to boil – along with the lemon rind and vanilla pod. After 45 minutes I turned off the heat and in fact left them overnight to rest until morning. If you do this earlier in the day then you can simply removed the vanilla pod and then blend them, pips and all. What comes out of the sieve – with a bit of hard work with the back of a spoon –  is a very smooth paste, that resembles baby puree. At this stage the colour is a mellow yellow.

Then you need to weigh the amount of pureed quince and then whatever the amount is, you place the same amount of granulated sugar in a large pan. Keeping on a low heat you stir at intervals for an 1h 15 mins. The quince changes from yellow to more of a red hue. Then the final stage is to put it into an ovenproof dish, which you line with parchment paper, greased with a very little coating of butter. Pour the contents of the pan into the dish and place into a low oven 125 degrees F for a further hour, by this time it will be a deep blood red colour.  Leave to cool completely before removing the greaseproof paper and the now hard membrillo from the dish. Cut it up into the sizes you wish to portion up. I cut mine into 9 large cubes, which I wrapped in foil and placed in the fridge. According to my neighbour, they can last for a year in the fridge. If any mould appears in time, it’s simply a case of removing the top layer and continuing to eat. Waste not want not springs to mind. I will give these out as some of my edible Christmas gifts, maybe accompanied with some Manchego cheese.

 

Membrillo – Spanish Quince Paste

best eaten with a hard cheese such as Manchego, or game or pate.

1 bag of quince (mine weighed in at this stage to 2.5kg)

1 vanilla pod, sliced in two

juice of one lemon

2 strips of lemon peel (yellow part only)

granulated sugar (the same amount exactly as your pureed quince – mine came to 1.254kg)

 

  1. Peel the quince and cut them in half or quarters if you can. Place in a large pan and cover with water and add the vanilla pod and lemon peel. Boil away gently for 45 minutes, or until they are soft.
  2. Strain the water, remove the vanilla pod and discard, but keep the lemon peel with the quince and then blitz in batches in your blender.
  3. Take the blended quince and put into a sieve and using the back of a spoon sieve through the contents. The pips and cores will remain, but what comes through the sieve is a really smooth paste, similar to baby puree. This part takes effort to do persist and don’t give up.
  4. Once it has all being sieved (congratulations the hard bit is over), weigh it out and then place in a large sauce pan. Place the same amount of granulated sugar as quince puree into the pan along with the juice of a whole lemon. Simmer, stirring at intervals, for the next 1h 15 mins, by which time the quince puree will have gone a reddish colour – but not the colour of the final membrillo, that only comes when it goes in the oven.
  5. Using an ovenproof dish – I used a large square baking dish 25cmx25cm – line it with greaseproof parchment paper and coat with a little butter. Place the quince paste into the dish and then place in a low oven at 125 degrees F for a further 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the oven to cool completely before removing from the tin and sectioning up into large squares or rectangles. Cover individually with foil and place in the fridge.
  7. Perfect as gifts and eaten with some delicious hard cheese such as Manchego.

 

 

 

 

 


Merry Christmas and Chilli Crab Linguine

Presents are wrapped, the Christmas cake made months ago, the tree decorated and the house smelling of pine trees and Christmas baking, all cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. Maybe you have done a spot of ice skating at the Natural History museum or seen some of the glorious window displays or lights in town.

Whilst not particularly festive we did love the carnival themed lights on Carnaby Street.

and the Karl Lagerfeld tree in Claridges Hotel was so impressive and rather original being turned on its head, reminiscent of a silver stalactite. It was rather magical, whimsical with a touch of Dr Seuss.

If however you are still searching for the ‘perfect’ Christmas gift, I can highly recommend the baking courses at Bread Ahead.

 There is a huge range of courses – even a donut making course – these are their donuts above: blueberry jam, hazelnut and almond praline, velvet chocolate caramel and caramel sea salt honeycomb. My father, brother and I have all done the sourdough, which we loved and would recommend, I’d definitely go back and do another course.

Over the Christmas period there is always lots of feasting and whilst all the traditional dishes are wonderful, it is refreshing to have the odd meal which is, lighter, zingy with a touch of chilli notes. As such I wanted to show you a super easy recipe, which is more a case of compiling than actual cooking but good to feed a crowd.

I adore crab, its definitely up there amongst my favourite things to eat. Not so long ago I devoured a whole crab over the course of an hour. I got really stuck in and was determined to get every last bit of crab out of its shell. A squeeze of fresh lemon and a cold crisp white wine, simple and yet heavenly. My kind of food.

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Now don’t worry this recipe does NOT require you to dissect a fresh crab. Its far simpler than that.

You need to buy two 170g  tins of white crab meat, which you can do at all supermarkets (it’s in the tinned tuna section).

chilli crab linguini

When you are ready to eat, boil the water for the linguine and finely chop the garlic, chilli, parsley or coriander and remove the crab from the tin/pot. When the pasta  is cooking, heat some chilli oil in a pan and place the garlic  and chilli in first and let it sizzle for 20 seconds before adding the crab bring the heat down and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. As you bring the crab mixture off the heat squeeze the juice of one or two lemons and zest, depending on how much of a lemon kick you want to give the dish and a splash or two of olive oil along with either the parsley or coriander.

Once the linguine is cooked, drain thoroughly and immediately pour the crab mixture over the linguine. I tend to then mix it all together so that the crab is evenly spread through all the pasta.

Serve immediately and season with black pepper and rock salt and wait for the mmmmmmmm reaction. It will happen, trust me.

I have also tried this dish using chilli flakes instead of fresh chilli. Both are good, but I think the fresh chilli has the edge. I cook this dish for my children, but obviously omit the chilli and they love it.

I hope you do too.

Chilli Crab Linguine

serves 4

dried linguine (see packet for amount per person)

2 x 170g tinned white crab meat

2 large red chilli, finely chopped

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large bunch of parsley, coriander/cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 or 2 lemons

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp of chilli oil

2 tbsp of olive oil

rock salt and black pepper

1. Finely chop the garlic and chilli and chop less finely the parsley or coriander.

2. Boil the water for the linguine and place in the pan. In a separate pan heat the chilli oil and then place the garlic and chilli in the oil for 20 seconds to sizzle away before adding the crab. Cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. As you take the crab mixture off the heat add the juice of one or two lemons, the zest and the olive oil.

4. Drain the linguine and then mix the crab mixture into the pasta thoroughly.

5. Serve and season with rock salt and black pepper

Enjoy.

Right I am going to check out now for a few weeks but I will be back on form in the New Year with some interesting posts and recipes from where I am heading. Follow my instagram @chilliandmint to find out more. Have a wonderful Christmas one and all and thank you so much for continuing to follow me on my blogging journey.


Mini Post – 24 hour Guide to Christmas Past in London

For the Christmas season I have written a short – 24 hour (or possibly 48 hours if you don’t want to overindulge too much in one day) guide to Christmas Past in London for the virtual food journalism magazine ‘Binge’

Photograph by Addie Chinn

It is suited for all ages and one thing it will guarantee is that by the end of the day you will be feeling very festive. All the places I have chosen for the guide can be done on foot as they are in walking distance from one another, albeit over a mile or so. It concentrates on the areas of Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Spitalfields, with its cobbled streets and ghosts of Christmas past. One of the events I mention is taking place THIS Friday and the good news is that it is totally free to attend. Indeed a couple of the suggestions I have made are free, which is always a bonus. The guide costs £3 and you can sign up here. 

If you do decide to purchase a guide I would love to hear what you end up doing, so either leave a message below or you can leave a comment on my instagram page @chilliandmint

I have a lovely recipe for you which I plan to post in the next few days, so will be back soon.

Merry Christmas

 

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Culinary delights and inspiration over the Christmas period

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So my fridge – my relatively new fridge in fact (still under guarantee phew) – decides to die a dramatic death on 22nd December. Great timing. I mean it could have died in November or in the summer but no it decides to die just as I want to start cracking on with preparations for Christmas.

I will not let my fridge dampen my spirits however. On the bright side I have a freezer and a cold coal cellar so I am going to rise to the occasion and go back in time when freezers did not exist. I now have all the contents of my fridge in storage boxes with ice bags surrounding them. Some jars are in the garden in boxes in the rabbit hutch. Our rabbits passed away recently…..that’s another story….so there is room in the hutch away from prying urban foxes.

So I thought you might need some last minute inspiration of things to cook with turkey leftovers, meals after christmas and before new year and canapés etc. So first up is turkey, ham and leek pie. Very straightforward and a great way to use up the turkey and ham.

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On boxing day or 27th I will be cooking my crispy skin cod with white beans, padron peppers, spinach, dill and aioli. You can use monkfish or hake instead, whichever you decide it’s a lovely dish to serve after the filling fare of Christmas day.

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This wintery warm lentil and goats cheese salad with a fresh basil dressing will also be making an appearance. Slow cooked tomatoes are a favourite in my household and we are all rather fond of goats cheese. I also like the fact that is vegetarian, filling and incredibly tasty.

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Perhaps you have friends or family coming over for a glass of bubbles or mulled wine. Both these canapés are very straightforward and don’t take too much time to prepare. The pastry for the parmesan caraway biscuits can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. When you are ready to cook them you simply slice them thinly, lay them out on a tray and place them in the oven for around 10 minutes, or until they are lightly bronzed. Let them cool slightly and then they are ready to be devoured.

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The rosemary spiced walnuts are wonderful to snack on and are not too filling before the main event. We love them and I am sure you will too.

Whilst we are all very fortunate to have the love of family and friends around us at Christmas a great way to give a little back is reserving a place for a homeless person at one of the crisis shelters. £22.32 reserves a place for one person but also allows them to have:

 – a health check with a doctor, dentist and optician

 – shower, freshen up and clean clothes

– three nutritious meals including christmas dinner

-an introduction to Crisis’ year-round services for training and support for the future.

You can find out more and how to donate here. I think it is a wonderful charity and one that I support each year.

So that’s it from me for 2016. I wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year and I hope to be able to inspire you with some exciting recipes in 2017. Thank you for your continued support and readership, it means a lot to me.

Torie xx

 

 


Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

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Christmas beckons and you are now, most probably, all sorted on what you are going to cook over the coming days, well on Christmas day at least. I don’t know about you but I find the week between Christmas and New Year is filled with feasting and if you have family or friends stopping by you want no fuss food that tastes divine with minimum preparation effort.

This is where my sautéed chicken livers come in. They are so darn tasty and can be rustled up in 10 minutes. Seriously folks, 10 minutes and you have a perfect appetiser or relaxed lunch. If you have a mental block over chicken livers I urge you to put it to side this once and dive right in. Sauteed in Madeira and capers these chicken livers are totally transformed and I love the flavours coming from the crunchy red onions and fresh flat leaf parsley. Served on toasted sourdough and you have yourself a real treat.

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If, like me, you adore chicken livers then do try my chicken liver curry here.

I’m going to be checking out now until mid January, but you can find me on Instagram and twitter as I work my way around Kerala in Southern India. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year full of festive cheer, merriment and of course feasting.

I’ll be back in 2016 with lots of Keralan treats to share with you.

Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

400g chicken livers

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Madeira or Sherry

2 tbsp capers

1 red onion finely sliced

a generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

4 this slices of sourdough bread, toasted under the grill on both sides

  1. Turn on the grill so that it is ready to toast your sourdough bread in a few minutes.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and then add the diced shallot and garlic.
  3. After 3 minutes add the chicken livers and a little salt and pepper and let them brown in colour. Gently turn them over so that they heat through evenly. This will take around 6 minutes.
  4. Whilst the livers are browning, slice the red onion and remove the leaves of the flat leaf parsley. Place to one side.
  5. Place the  sourdough bread on a baking tray and lightly sprinkle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Grill it so that it is lightly bronzed on both sides. It happens quickly so keep an eye on it.
  6. Add the Madeira and capers and gently moved around the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further couple of minutes.
  7. To plate up cut the toasted sourdough in half and lay evenly on a serving plate. Sprinkle with a few red onions and parsley. Lay the chicken livers and capers over the toast and then scatter with a little more red onions and parsley.

Eat immediately so that it is still hot.

 


Foodies Christmas Wish List

Where has this year gone? Faster than the Japanese bullet train out of Tokyo, if you ask me. Before you know it Father Christmas will climbing down the chimney, so I thought some gift inspiration for your foodie loved ones might be rather helpful. I have included a wide range of present ideas: from those you can eat, drink, serve, read and experience. Hopefully there will be a few that will jump out at you. At the bottom of the post I have listed the order of the products with a bit more info and if you click on the name of the product it will send you through to the website where you can buy the product. They range in price from stocking filler ideas to more extravagant presents to hopefully suit everyones budget.

I’d love to know what stands out to you so do leave me a quick comment below.

 

 

Nikkei Cuisine by Luiz Hara Competent homecooks will adore supper club guru and food blogger ‘Luiz Hara’s’ first cook book, recently published by Jacqui Small. It has been described as ‘the first cookery book outside of Latin America to explore the exciting marriage of Japanese and South American cuisines’. The photographs are a feast for the eyes and the recipes so different and exciting that just leafing through the pages itself is wonderfully exciting.

Cheeky Smelly Garlic Pickle Recently in Selfridges as part of ‘Meet the Makers’ campaign this tasty little pickle is utterly moorish and I love a dollop of it on most savoury things. Cheeky Food Company also have some adorable pickle, chutney and sprinkle hampers for £14. Other pickles and chutneys  include: messy mango and tickly tamarind. I also adore their tasty sprinkles: silly sesame, pecky peanut and nutter coconut. Perfect stocking fillers. Check out their site on the link of their name.

Stone Pestle and Mortar by Tom Dixon – How beautiful is this? This is the Queen of all pestle and mortars. Stunningly crafted it would fit right in in a contemporary kitchen. Big love.

Sipsmith Quarterly Sipping Service – For those who like surprises this is a fabulous gift for gin lovers. Every 3 months Sipsmith select the 4 best gins they have trialled that season – and send them directly to you. It will mean you get first dibs on knowing what these gins are, finding out what’s happening behind their blue Distillery Doors, getting to taste them, and letting them know what you think.

Dreambirds Pitcher – My brother and his ladylove bought me the cake stand version of this and I absolutely adore it. It’s designed by South African artist Ruan Hoffmann. A veritable master at combining traditional craftsmanship with modern art, the Johannesburg artist continues to span the surfaces of everything from ceramics to paper goods with his exquisite motifs. Gorgeous gift for someone special.

Turmeric, Original, Cacao and Berry Almond Milk by The Pressery – The Pressery is THE almond milk company to purchase your almond milk beverages from.  Set up by dynamo duo Chi-San Wan and Natali Stajcic they will soon be launching a high-quality and pure, long-life almond milk. They sell in a number of London based outlets but watch this space as it won’t be long before you will be seeing this brand of almond milk all around the UK and beyond.

Lulu Cocktail Glasses Set of Four – I rather love these miss matching cocktail glasses. Fun, quirky and yet elegant, they make cocktail drinking that bit more fun.

Acacia Honey with Black Truffles – Award winning honey with black truffles is a gift from the gods. How exciting would it be to receive this as a gift. Definitely on my radar to pick up a pot or three. Easy to order online through Fine Food Specialist

Citrus Squeeze Bottle Opener – at £10 this is the perfect stocking filler. Stylish, sophisticated and handmade.

Taste: The Infographic Book of Food by Laura Rowe & Vicki Turner – This book is refreshingly different and original in that it charts history and predicts trends with the help of naturally-styled imagery and fact-packed illustrations. It’s the type of book that you’ll want to pick up and dive into from time to time. Perfect for a coffee table as well as in the kitchen.

Form Square Tray by Tom Dixon – Beautiful crafted tray made from spun and welded brass sheet. It has then been polished and dipped in a warm gold wash. Sophisticated and decadent I think this would be the centre piece of any occasion with Christmas cocktails, mulled wine or champagne.

Tikapur Oven Mitts – The Kantha stitching on these mitts won me over. I think they would look perfect in any country cottage or city dwelling.

Perello Pitted Olives THE tastiest olives around. Seriously they are so good I could eat cans of them. Perfect stocking fillers. Deliamo offer a wide range of goodies perfect for the foodie in your family and can deliver.

Palmeral Mug White/Green – If you are into prints and patterns, House of Hackney, is the epitome of cool. Making a trip to the Shoreditch High Street store itself is highly recommended although you will find it hard to drag yourself away.  I adore the whole Palmeral range from the mugs to the plates and teapot. Start the collection by purchasing a mug and then build from there, but trust me when I say you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Nudo Adopt  We all have family members or friends who are tricky to buy for as they have everything. This gift is perfect for said individuals.  I have, in fact, bought it a couple of times for friends and they’ve loved it as it is so original gift. It’s simple. All you do is choose olive oil or tea. If you go for the former you adopt a tree in Italy and receive three 500ml tins or an ongoing subscription – whereby they send you three tins 4x a year. You can also visit the olive grove should you happen to be in Italy (I see a good ruse for a holiday here ;o) and 20% off Nudo products. If you opt for the tea you adopt a tea garden in Darjeeling. Like the olive groves you can also visit it as well, which would be pretty special. You receive either 125g tea sachet as a one off or you can have it sent to you quarterly. What’s not to love.

Easy Tasty Magic – Truffle Salt – Stocked in Selfridges this truffle salt sounds wonderfully decadent and I adore the turquoise packaging – it is certainly eye catching.

A Year in Cheese by Alex and Leo Guarneri – This beautiful cookbook come from the team behind the  famous artisan cheese shop Androuet, which was established in Paris in 1909 and opened in fashionable Spitalfields in London in 2009. Did you know that cheese like vegetables are seasonal? This wonderfully crafted book walks us through what to eat when sharing delicious recipes along the way. The photographs are wonderful – matt and atmospheric and make me actually want to cook the recipes. An absolute must for any lover of cheese. Published by Frances Lincoln.

Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Round Casserole – in Cool Mint (of course) – Many moons ago I received one of these casserole dishes from Le Creuset as a wedding present and I can honestly say that I use it all the time. Cast iron, whilst obviously heavy, does actually cook the food really well. It is perfect for stews, casseroles and curries as it holds in the heat well and is large enough to feed a number of mouths. At £145 it’s not cheap but the fact that they really do last a life time it is certainly a very worthwhile investment. I adore the cool mint colour that they have bought out. Which is your favourite colour?

Gleaming Feather Cocktail Shaker – I thought this cocktail shaker would be perfect to accompany either Good Things To Drink or Wild Drinks and Cocktails.

Nudo Olive Oils – I have been a fan of Nudo oils for years. This set of three is a gorgeous spoiling present. Extra virgin olive oil with lemons, extra virgin olive oil with Sicilian chillies and extra virgin cold press. Great packaging to boot.

Good Things To Drink – Tis the season and all so what better way to get in the festive mood than to have a tome to help guide you. Ryan Chetiyawardana (the man behind award-winning London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan) is the man to help you guide you with his user friendly cocktail recipes to create in the home. As well as winter feasting and fireside serves he has chapters focusing on ‘morning buzz’, ‘market fresh’, ‘summer social sips’, ‘pre-dinner’, ‘friday nights’ and ‘rambles’. Published by Frances Lincoln I can see it being a christmas hit.

Portland Bar Set  – You have the book and the cocktail shaker so may as well look like a pro with this Portland bar set. Cocktail making has never been so stylish.

Gimmer Ring Coaster – I adore copper and think these coasters are perfectly formed in every way.

Vida Sky Salad Set  – Simple and elegant. I have my heart set on a pair of these for christmas.

High As A Moon Mug – Stylish mug for the coffee/tea drinker.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Tan – It’s time folks to embrace drinks featuring local, fresh, or foraged ingredients and craft drink expert Emily Tan’s new book will show you how.  She’ll teach you the techniques you need to know to handcraft you own infused waters, syrups, vinegars, tonics, spirits, wines and sodas.

Glass Teapot With Porcelain Infuser 700ml – A graceful glass design, the Weave teapot is designed to celebrate the ancient Chinese art of tea brewing. Designed and made in Shanghai by Loveramics, this simple piece combines smooth modern style and functionality to produce a cup of tea tailored to your taste buds. I adore it and think it would make the perfect gift for any tea enthusiast.

Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer – Fermentation expert Amanda Feifer serves as your guide, showing you, step by step, how you can create traditional, delicious fermented food at home, using only simply ingredients and a little time. Using only veggies, a few spices and a glass jar, you can make zucchini bread pickles, curried cauliflower pickles, the simplest sauerkraut, green bean kimchi and more!

Squirrel Nut Cracker  Christmas is all about cracking open nuts around the fire. So this whimsical squirrel nut cracker is both charming and useful.

Pimp my Rice by Nisha Katona – Nisha is a food writer, Indian cookery teacher and founder of Mowgli Street Food in Liverpool and Manchester. Her first cookbook focuses on rice as its star ingredient. The world loves rice right and Nisha has come up with a wide array of exciting recipes incorporating rice in refreshingly original ways. From Lebanese rose petal rice to pimped rice piri piri, her recipes breath a new lease of life into plain boiled rice. Published by Watkins Publishing it is out now.

 

HAPPY SHOPPING

 

Don’t forget to leave comment below to let me know what takes your fancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Foodies Christmas Gift List Ideas 2014

This ‘Foodies Christmas Gift List’ may be a little late in the day, but if you are anything like me you may still need to get some Christmas pressies and would appreciate some inspiration. I could in fact compile endless lists of wonderful edible treats, but I thought I would condense it into a manageable number. Most are perfect little stocking fillers or perhaps you are making up your very own hamper for your loved one? Either way I hope you find some goodies that appeal.

 

 

food ideas 2014

 

1. Merry Go Round Musical Tin  2. Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup  3. Milk Chocolate with Masala Chai 4. Smoked Chilli Paste  5. Black Truffle Salt

 

Food Ideas 2

 

6. Pure Maple Syrup  7. Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour  8. Vegetable Patch Tea Cosy  9. Black Garlic  10. Halva with Cocoa Beans  11. Dried Barberries  12. The Bubble – the world’s smallest bottle of sparkling  13. Golden Shred Marmalade

 

I know I promised you a chutney for this post….don’t worry that will be coming later this week I haven’t forgotten.

 

 

 


Prague Adventures and Spiced Mulled Wine

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I’ve been on a little jaunt across to Prague since my last post. As is customary around this time of year my family like to spend a few days somewhere really cold where we can wrap up warm (I wore five layers most days), visit the christmas markets, eat lardy food and soak up a bit of culture. Prague hit the spot and besides I have always wanted to return as my last visit was interrupted the whole time by work calls from London. This time I vowed to turn off my phone and all communication with the outside world.

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The best way to explore any city is by foot or bike, although across cobble stones the former mode of transport is by far more advisable. So for three full days we walked around the old city across the bridges, through the various squares, visiting the cathedral, churches and palace and taking in some art – both old and new. Our days of walking were interspersed with tasty pit stops. My girls loved to eat these wonderful hot pastry rolls that were dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Whilst Mr B and I enjoyed sipping some festive mulled wine/gluhwein/vin chaud/glogg. Nothing beats drinking mulled wine when the outside temperature is close to zero. It warms you up from the inside out and gives you that renewed energy to keep exploring a little longer in the cold elements.

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It’s brilliantly easy to make yourself and is a great winter warmer for the holiday period. Over the Christmas break you can guarantee that I for one will be drinking a glass or two after our Boxing day walk. The warming smell of the cinnamon and cloves bubbling away in the red wine on the stove evokes so many happy memories.  I recommend using the cheapest bottle of red plonk that you can get your hands on – save your Chateaux Margaux for another occasion!

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Spiced Mulled Wine

Serves 6 (a couple of glasses each!)

2 bottles of cheap red wine

150g (or 100g if you prefer it less sweet!) caster sugar

1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 sticks of cinnamon split in two

100ml port (optional)

a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

200ml water

orange peel strips to serve

1. In a large pan add the caster sugar and half a pint of red wine and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Add the remaining ingredients aside from the orange peel strips and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid before serving and gently pour the hot spiced mulled wine into individual glasses or mugs and add a orange peel strip to each one.

You can make in advance and then reheat when needed. You can also store in the fridge overnight to be reheated the following day.

Note: If you have some muslin cloth you could add all the spices to this cloth and then simply remove before serving, instead of straining. 

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I bid you all a very happy Christmas and will be back with my next post in the New Year. Thank you for always stopping by and supporting me with your comments and likes over the last couple of years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Torie x

Take a sneak peek at a few of the other sights we saw in Prague below.