Chicken Biryani

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When I first made biryani a million years ago, or so it seems, it was a fun dish for me because it was a perfect vehicle for leftovers – leftover rice, leftover chicken, even a leftover curry. But one can also make it purposefully from scratch, creating a custom version of what you like.

Biryani is an Indian dish, with many variations, which is perfect for the way I like to cook. It’s basically rice and meat, and you can sprinkle the dish with cilantro or green onions, serve with sour cream. It’s fun and flavorful and filling.

I’m not using an actual recipe, simply so I can show you how to make it from scratch and how easy and straight forward biryani is. I’m using the basic Indian-inspired seasonings, basmati rice, and prepared chicken.

After I’d created the seasonings for this biryani, I discovered an actual biryani seasoning mixture that I bought a few years ago. I need to go through my spice drawers!

Chicken Biryani
Printable recipe below

3 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 – 1” piece of ginger, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups basmati rice, I’m using brown
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Approximately 3 1/2 cups of good chicken broth
4 grilled chicken breasts
2 tablespoons ghee
1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, cut into slices
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Melt the ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, give it a stir, then pour in the rice followed by the spices.

Add the broth and give everything a stir. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. Brown rice takes a bit longer so test it. If your rice is done and there’s still some broth, give it a stir, keep the lid on, and give it about 10 minutes; the rice will absorb the liquid. Set aside and keep warm.

Cut up the cooked chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I put sweet paprika on mine before cooking, which is why they’re red; paprika is not an Indian spice. Set the chicken aside.

In a skillet, heat the ghee over medium-high heat, and sauté the pepper slices for about 5 minutes, getting some good caramelization on them, turning once. You might have to do this in two batches. Set the slices on a plate.

Add the chicken pieces, turn off the heat, put on a lid, and let the chicken heat through.

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and slice in half; make sure they’re at room temperature.

To serve, place the aromatic rice on a serving platter, then cover with the peppers and chicken. If you prefer, you can mix the chicken with the rice instead.

Decorate the biryani with the egg halves, and sprinkle the dish with cilantro.

If you don’t want to grill chicken breasts, pick apart a rotisserie chicken and coarsely chop the meat.

If you want to use less chicken, include a can of drained chick peas to the rice.

Now you can see how you can come up with your own recipe for biryani. It’s fun and easy!

 

 

Potted Ham

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I love all forms of charcuterie, but I’m especially enamored with pâtés, terrines, and rillettes. It’s something about their rustic, picnic-like nature.

On my sister-friend’s cooking blog a while back, I saw something I’d not made before – potted ham! I knew I’d love it. It’s a simple recipe, not much different than making rillettes. And to make it simpler I used my food processor.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Linda Duffin, whose blog is Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen, you are missing out. First of all, besides being a professional cookery teacher, recipe developer, and writer, she’s a hoot!

I often read her blog posts out loud to my husband, mostly because we can’t figure out what she’s saying, with all of her Britishisms, but we still laugh out loud!

Here is Linda posed by her infamous Aga, and a shot of her beautiful English kitchen.

A post of Linda’s from May 3, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, had us rolling on the floor. You can read it here. My favorite line from the post is, “Get me a lobster thermador or I’ll cough on you.”

Potted Ham
Printable recipe below

5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small garlic clove, peeled
14 ounces lean ham, trimmed
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Clarified butter or duck fat

Add the butter, cream cheese, and garlic clove to a food processor. Run until the garlic is well dispersed. Chop the ham and add it to the mixture in the food processor, along with the parsley and spices. Pulse until combined, but not lose texture. This should be spreadable, but not baby food.

Taste for salt.

Add to crockery jars and top with clarified butter.

I considered getting fancy with mustard, but then just decided on a whole grain Dijon.

Serve at room temperature with toast and cornichons.

Lift off the chilled butter and dip into the wonderful ham spread.

Personally my adaptation of Ms. Duffin’s recipe is perfection. I’m sure hers is perfect as well, I just went a little fattier and a bit spicier.

Potted ham is basically ham rillettes. Add butter, spices and parsley to a meat and that’s what you get.

The potted ham would be fabulous with cheeses as well. Especially on a picnic by a creek in the Cotswolds. But for now I’ll just enjoy my potted ham in quarantine.

 

 

Ultimate Christmas Pudding

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We have a new member of our family – our British son-in-law. My daughter and he have been at our home for Thanksgiving the last two years, but because of the pandemic, they won’t be back in 2020. In fact, they married in Brighton, England, and of course we couldn’t attend. My daughter said I could include a wedding photo in this post. I just couldn’t pick one. Aren’t the pics beautiful!

I’ve been wanting to make a steamed Christmas pudding for years, not just now with a Brit in our family. Ironically, he doesn’t like Christmas pudding! (I’m actually trying to figure out who does!)

I don’t enjoy alcoholic desserts, but Christmas pudding isn’t similar to American fruitcakes, in that they’re not slogged with brandy or rum weekly before being served.

It’s recommended that one start a Christmas pudding up to 3 months in advance of serving, which I did. I chose Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Christmas pudding from her book Nigella Christmas, which is my favorite book of hers, probably because I love Christmas so much. And I love Nigella.

This took me a while to understand, but desserts in England are called puddings, like sticky toffee pudding isn’t a pudding, nor is this Christmas pudding.

Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding
From Nigella Christmas

150 grams currants
150 grams sultanas
150 grams roughly chopped prunes
175 millilitres pedro ximenez sherry
100 grams plain flour
125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
150 grams suet
150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
2 tablespoons honey
125 millilitres vodka (to flame the pudding)

You will need a 1.7 litre/3 pint/1½ quart heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid, and also a sprig of holly to decorate.

Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes into a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.

When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the vodka), either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.

Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly, then fold in cola-cleaned coins or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking-induced fatalities at the table, do leave out the hardware.

Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid.

Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer (this size of basin happens to fit perfectly in the top of my all-purpose pot) and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.

When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.

On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours combined cooking time might seem a faff, but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time.

To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the Massively Matriarchal Mono Mammary is revealed. (Did I forget to mention the Freudian lure of the pudding beyond its pagan and Christian heritage?)

Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan (I use my diddy copper butter-melting pan) and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests.

If it feels less dangerous to you (I am a liability and you might well be wiser not to follow my devil-may-care instructions), pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. In either case, don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze the Christmas pudding for up to 1 year ahead. Thaw overnight at room temperature and proceed as recipe on Christmas Day.

Maplev Bourbon vButter

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar bourbon, or your choice of liquor
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice

With a mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix while scraping the sides of the bowl, so the sugar and butter come together evenly. Add the vanilla, bourbon, and spices.

Mix, scraping the sides again, to combine. Spoon the sauce into a bowl.

This is brown sugar bourbon.

Serve warm or at room temperature, along with some of the maple bourbon butter.

Well, I do like Christmas pudding. And I really like this butter, which I adapted from Ms. Lawson. They’re a great combination.

Well, I liked it!

Gingerbread Liqueur

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Well, it’s that time of year once again, with sugar plums dancing in my head. I love all of the flavors of the holidays, yet, not so much gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not one of my top holiday flavors.

That is, until I discovered a recipe for gingerbread liqueur, on a now non-existent blog.

I guarantee that this liqueur will make your spirits merry!

Gingerbread Liqueur
Printable recipe below

1/2 cup chopped ginger
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole allspice slightly crushed
5 whole cloves
Fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup spiced rum

Put everything in a clean jar.

I doubled the recipe, because I’ve made this before and I know how good it is!

Give the jar a good swirl to make sure the brown sugar and molasses are well stirred, then set the jar in a dark cool place for at least a week. When ready to use, strain into a clean bottle.

Since I’m so creative with cocktails, I add 1/2 & 1/2 to some of the liqueur and called it done.

If you really want to be fancy, add a rim of flavored or just pretty sugar. This was cranberry sugar, but I just did it for the photos!

I don’t let the liqueur sit longer than a week. I find that cloves and cinnamon sticks can lend bitterness if too much time passes.

And I found these adorable gingerbread cookies! Redundant, but cute!

I think the liqueur would be good not only with 1/2 & 1/2, but also with a splash of club soda. Next time, because it’s all gone!

 

 

Berberé

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Before one can make any traditional dishes of Ethiopia, it is necessary to make the wonderfully complex spice paste called berberé. It is paprika based, but also contains onion, garlic, and many wonderful spices that add to the complexity of this unique seasoning mixture. These include cayenne, ginger, coriander, cloves, fenugreek, cardamom, and more.

The recipe I use is from the Time-Life series called Foods of the World.

It doesn’t take much time at all to make berberé, and the toasting spices will make your whole house smell wonderful.

Once you have this spice paste, as well as the other unique seasoned butter called niter kebbeh, you will be able to make a number of authentic Ethiopian dishes.

Berberé
Red Pepper and Spice Paste
Makes about 2 cups

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons dry red wine
2 cups paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a heavy skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat for a minute, stirring constantly.

Then remove the skillet from the heat and let the spices cool for 5-10 minutes.

Combine the toasted spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt and the wine in the jar of an electric blender and blend at high speed until the mixture is a smooth paste.

Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the saucepan and toast them over low heat for a minute, until they are heated through, stirring the spices constantly.

Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time, then add the spice and wine mixture. I used some of the water get get more of the wine mixture from the blender jar.

Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the Berberé to a jar or crock, and pack it in tightly.

Let the paste cool to room temperature, then dribble enough oil over the top to make a film at least 1/4″ thick.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. If you replenish the film of oil on top each time you use the Berberé, it can safely be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 months.

Now, you can buy powdered berberé, like I did when I visited Kalustyan’s in New York City, but you can see I’ve never opened it. I’d much rather make the paste from scratch.

Spiced Gammon Cooked in Cider

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Ever since my daughter had a cider-cooked gammon on Christmas in England with her now-husband, I’ve been chomping at the bit to make it. It sounds so British, but also so autumnal. First I had to figure out the American equivalent of gammon.

Thank goodness I have British blogger friends, who worked tirelessly with my predicament, and it wasn’t easy. Linda Duffin, of the blog Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen, finally figured out, with some help, that it is an uncooked Virginia ham. Below are Linda by her infamous Aga, and her gorgeous kitchen where she teaches cookery classes.

I chose an uncooked country Virginia Felts brand ham.

Then I found this, from the blog The Nosey Chef:

The etymology of ham is truly confusing, and it is not helped by trans-Atlantic variations in use. Put simply, a hind leg of a pig is a leg of pork. If that leg is brined, then it becomes gammon. If you cook a gammon, you end up with ham. But if the gammon is served hot from the oven and cut thickly as a main protein in a meal, then it is still called gammon. Let it go cold and slice it thinly, then we are back in ham territory. In the US, the uncooked meat is called a ham, and the word ‘gammon’ never arises. So, in the UK, you can ‘make’ a ham, but in the US, you can only really buy one.

The recipe I used is from Sainsbury’s Magazine online. Sainsbury’s is a large supermarket chain in the UK.

The recipe uses dry cider, which I also had to research, and discovered is what I know of as hard cider, which fortunately is now widely available in the US. My favorite is Strongbow.

You know the joke… “I love cooking with wine. And sometimes I even put some in the food! Well, that’s also me with Strongbow! Cheers!

Spiced Gammon Cooked in Cider

For the gammon:
1 – 2 kg boneless gammon joint (about 4.5 pounds)
1 onion, peeled, quartered
2 whole star anise
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 liter dry cider (about 34 ounces)

For the glaze:
Handful of cloves
100 g of dark brown sugar (3.5 ounces)
50 g honey (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Scrub the gammon to remove the moldy parts.

Place the gammon in a large pan along with the other ingredients, and top with cold water to cover the gammon by an inch.

Bring to a boil, skimming off and discarding any impurities as they rise to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Remove the gammon from the stock and transfer to a board. Remove the skin; score the fat into diamonds and stud the fat with the cloves.

Mix together the sugar, honey, mustard and spices. Transfer the gammon to a foil-lined tin and brush the fat with half of the glaze. Since I think I trimmed off a little too much fat, I added a few dabs of butter.

Roast in the over for 20 minutes, spooning the remaining glaze over the top halfway through.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes if serving warm. Slice thinly into the fattest part of the leg, slicing cross-wise.

Cool completely to eat cold. Duh.

I served the gammon with roasted potatoes and my Festive Cumberland sauce.

It was a lovely combination.

So, was it worth it? I enjoyed the process, but I didn’t really taste apple flavor, although the glaze is especially good.

Maybe next time I’ll try another recipe.

Lamb Balls in Red Sauce

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A while back I saw a recipe for lamb meatballs, cooked in a red sauce. It really appealed to me because I love lamb. And, I think I could eat shoe soles cooked in red sauce.

But did I print this recipe? Or even take notes as to where I found it? Stupidly no, although I’m typically organized about such important things as recipes.

So I’m creating the recipe for slightly Greek-inspired lamb balls, baked in a red sauce, along with goat cheese. The meat balls are gently seasoned with oregano, allspice, and a hint of cinnamon.

Lamb Balls in Red Sauce with Goat Cheese
Makes about 36 meatballs

Approximately 42 ounces favorite red sauce or simple Marinara
2 pounds ground lamb
3 eggs, mixed well
1/3 cup panko crumbs
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 medium onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Panko bread crumbs, approximately 1/2 cup
10-12 ounces soft goat cheese
Freshly chopped parsley, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the red sauce into a 9 x 13″ baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the lamb, egg, panko crumbs, parsley, salt, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper.

In a large skillet, (you’ll be using it for another purpose), sauté the onion over medium-low heat until soft. Stir in the garlic, then remove the skillet from the burner. Let the mixture cool, then add to the lamb mixture.

Using the same skillet, add approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Have a bowl of panko crumbs next to the meatball mixture. Form the lamb into medium-sized meatballs, I used a 1 1/2” scoop, roll in the bread crumbs, then sauté them in the skillet, about 8-10 at a time.

When the balls have browned well on all sides, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the skillet and place them in the baking dish with the red sauce. This should only take about 5 minutes over medium-high heat.

Repeat with remaining meatballs. If you have any bread crumbs leftover you can sprinkle them over the meatballs in the red sauce.

Bake the meatballs for approximately 20-25 minutes and remove the baking dish from the oven. Turn off the oven.

Add the goat cheese to the meatballs, adding a generous tablespoons interspersed amongst them, eturn the baking dish to the oven to allow the cheese to melt, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Before serving, sprinkle the lamb balls with freshly chopped parsley.

Serve directly from the baking dish, if desired, along with crusty bread.

Make sure there’s a generous amount of red sauce served with the lamb balls.

If desired, the meatballs and red sauce can be served over pasta or polenta, but today I used pasta.

The meatballs are tender, with a slight crunchy firmness on the outside.

The goat cheese is spectacular with the lamb and red sauce.

The crusty bread is a must!

Raisin Bread Stuffing with Cranberries

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The recipe below is one I’ve saved for years to remind myself to use raisin bread as a stuffing base, a great option from cornbread or sourdough. And finally I decided to try it.

However, I could only find raisin bread with cinnamon, which isn’t an ingredient I wanted in the stuffing, mostly because I wanted it for turkey, not duck or goose. Did there used to be commercial raisin bread without cinnamon?

I considered making my own cinnamon bread by making panettone or challah and adding raisins, but then discovered a cheat mix for brioche online (at Amazon, of course) from King Arthur’s flour. It makes 1 – 1.5 pound – 9 x 5” loaf and turned out delicious. All you add is butter and warm water; the yeast came with the mix.

So in the end, I’m not really using raisin bread as a base for this stuffing, but I refuse to change the name of the recipe! One day I will find cinnamon-less raisin bread. Or, am I weird and do you think cinnamon belongs in stuffing?

Raisin Bread Stuffing with Cranberries
printable recipe below

1.5 pound loaf prepared brioche
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Scant 1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup raisins
Heaping 1/2 cup dried whole cranberries
Chopped parsley, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the crust of the prepared brioche if necessary. Cut into cubes about 1″ in diameter and place the cubes on a jelly-roll pan. (In retrospect I’d make 1/2″ cubes.)

Bake the bread cubes until golden and slightly crusty, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t include raisins in the brioche, since I was so gung-ho on using raisin bread, it was because I decided I didn’t want the cranberries dried out from the toasting step. Adding them at the last minute assured that they remained plump. The cranberries I use are from nuts.com. They are whole dried cranberries.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.

In a medium-sized skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, allspice, salt, and white pepper, and remove the skillet from the heat.

Place the cooled bread cubes in a large bowl. Add orange juice, drizzling over all of the cubes as much as possible. The bread should be soft, but not soggy.

Stir in the vegetable mixture.

Gently incorporate the raisins, cranberries, and cream. You can add the parsley at this point, but I decided to sprinkle it on before serving instead.

Place the dressing in an 8 x 10.5” baking dish covered tightly with foil.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove the foil, then continue until the top is golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.

I served the stuffing with turkey from a whole turkey breast I roasted in the oven. A perfect pairing.

This stuffing came out absolutely perfect, in spite of the absence of actual raisin bread.

Overall the stuffing isn’t sweet except for the brioche and the bit of orange juice. Even the raisins didn’t pop out as sweet. I think I could have added more allspice, but the savory components were perfect.

I hadn’t yet made cranberry sauce or chutney this year, so I opened a jar of NM prickly pear and jalapeno jelly I bought in old town Albuquerque a while back. I discovered the maker of this jelly here. It’s good stuff!

Please tell me if you know of raisin bread without cinnamon!

 

 

Mulled Wine

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When I think of mulled wine, I think of my daughter and I visiting my other daughter in December of 2010 in London. Everything was Christmassy, and it was cold, as expected. The first thing she did when we met up at her flat was to prepare mulled wine. It was so charming and thoughtful.

But I had no idea that mulled wine is so popular in London, at least during the cold months I presume. In fact, every single pub we visited, which was daily, served mulled wine.

Here is a special photo of us three gals at The Marylebone, after warming our spirits with mulled wine.

Those memories, of the beautiful quaint pubs, the Christmas markets, the mulled wine, fabulous meals, but mostly of being with my two daughters at a special time of year, were so important to me, that once home, I haven’t wanted to make mulled wine. I needed to preserve those memories some how. Until now.

Out of curiosity, I sought out recipes for mulled wine online, and they’re basically all straight forward. In fact, you can simply mull wine with purchased mulling spices! If you don’t know, the act of mulling is simmering or steeping the wine or cider.

I found a recipe on Epicurious along with a blurb written by Katherine Sachs that offered a bit more information when proceeding with mulled wine, with more options.

Katherine writes that “In Germany it’s called Glühwein and it’s occasionally made with with fruit wine; it’s Glögg in Scandinavia, and usually served with a spiced cookie or cake; in Quebec they mix in maple syrup and hard liquor and call it Caribou.”

I need to look into a Caribou. But on to mulled wine…

For a stronger pot, add some liquor, such as brandy or spiced rum. Mulled wine can also be made with white wine, such as a Riesling or Grüner Veltliner, if you prefer that style.

Mulled Wine
Serves 2, 3, 4…

1 bottle of good red wine, like a pinot noir
2 cups apple cider
1 cup ruby port
A couple slices of orange rind
4 cinnamon sticks
20 whole cloves
2 crushed allspice
Star anise and cinnamon sticks and orange slices for serving

Pour the wine, cider, and port into an enamel pot. Add the orange rinds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice.

Start heating slowly on a low-to-medium setting. You want to steep the wine, not boil or reduce it.

After about 30-40 minutes it will be done. Sieve the mixture if you don’t want the little spice bits.

Serve in cups with a cinnamon stick, star anise, and slices of orange.

I purposely didn’t shake the bottle of apple cider. I didn’t want the mulled wine to look murky.

This is especially important if you chose to serve the mulled wine in a glass cup. You want it pretty and burgundy, not brown and murky.

The mulled wine would work well in a carafe, so you don’t have to keep it on the stove. Just serve!

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

I have prepared mulled port before and that is slightly sweeter than mulled wine, but definitely still warming and flavorful. It was mulled with clementines.

Pipián Rojo

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The story behind my discovery of Pipián Rojo is an interesting one, because my husband told me about it. His massage therapist is of Mexican descent, and obviously they were discussing food during his massage. That in itself is interesting. I mean, I’d do that, but I didn’t think my husband would! In any case, she told him about this sauce, Pipián Rojo, and he asked me to find a recipe for it.

Before going to my Mexican cookbooks, I looked online and found a recipe by Mely Martinez, whose blog, Mexico in My Kitchen, I already follow. It sounded exactly how my husband described it, with peanuts, pepitas, sesame seeds, chile peppers, all combined in a red sauce.

Here’s a photo from Mely’s blog post on Pipián Rojo, and one that shows her lovely face!

Turns out this sauce belongs to the family of sauces called mole, (pronounced mo-lay), which means sauce. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia: Mole (/ˈmoʊleɪ/, /ˈmoʊli/ Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmole]; from Nahuatl mōlli, “sauce”) is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces.

Outside Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red/colorado, yellow, green, almendrado, de olla, huaxmole, guacamole and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut and such spices as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate.

Mely writes that this classic sauce originates from her home town of Tampico, Tamaulipas, and although she’s been blogging for years, she only posted on Pipián Rojo in 2016. It just didn’t seem so “fancy” to her I’m guessing!

Well I’m glad she did, because it was fantastic. The first time I made it I cooked chicken in the sauce. Next time it might be beef, or pork, or shrimp…

Pipián Rojo Sauce
by Mely Martinez
printable recipe below

2 Ancho peppers
2 guajillo peppers
1 chipotle pepper
1/4 cup peanuts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1″ stick cinnamon
2 cloves
2 allspice berries
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small tomato
1/3 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

Have a pot with 2 cups of water standing by the stove.

Begin by toasting the peppers in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds per side. Notice I was so excited to start making this that I forgot to de-stem the peppers! So I did it after they cooled down. Then place in the water.

Then toast the nuts and seeds. The peanuts will take about 90 seconds, the pumpkin seeds toast fairly quickly; get them out as soon as they brown and start wanting to jump.

The sesame seeds take a few seconds. I actually used my seed toaster for them because I’ve experienced them popping out of a hot skillet all over the kitchen!

Place all of the toasted nuts and seeds in the water.

Next, slightly toast the cinnamon, cumin seeds, cloves, and allspice berries. Also place them in the water.

Finally, roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic, turning occasionally to obtain even roasting. Place these in the water as well.

Place the pot on the stove and cook over a medium-high heat. Simmer for about 8 minutes, then set aside to let the ingredients soften.

Place the sauce ingredients in a blender and process just enough to blend the ingredients. Then pour into a skillet.

When the sauce is hot, add pieces of meat, pork or chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If the sauce seems to thick, thin with water or broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the meat with the sauce with rice and warm corn tortillas.

The only mistake I made with this recipe was not to make a quadruple recipe. This sauce is so good I could drink it.