Thank you all for your lovely support the past year!
I wish you good food and love for the new year
Archives for December 2013
And then it is suddenly christmas again… it seems only yesterday that it was september and now we are only moments away from januari. It will be march in the blink of an eye and when it’s august you will be wondering where those months have gone to.
When you are a child, the days seem to drag on like weeks and the weeks like months but when you are all grown up… you wonder where that hour of free time went to and when you are finally able to start reading that book you’ve got to read in the summer.
To warm your spirits after the last busy weeks of the year 2013, a year that has brought me excitement, friendship and a new venture of which I will tell you all about very soon – I had mulled wine on my mind.
The sweet scent of the warm wine and spices always transport me back to the christmas markets in Aachen. My parents and I would drive to Germany especially for it each year. Even from a young age I would be allowed half a cup of mulled wine to warm my hands and to bring a rosy blush to my ice cold cheeks. It was one of the highlights of my year, to take in the different scents in the air, the aniseed of the artisan candy being made, the greasy smell of Reibekuchen, the aroma of spices blended with chocolate from the Aachener Printen biscuits and the mulled wine and rum.
Sometimes the very unlikely of foods and drink can be the ones that have been around for centuries and some recipes never changed very much.
Mulled wine or ypocras as its name was for centuries, has been around since the Middle Ages but mulled spirits pre-date Medieval times. I found a recipe for a fine spiced wine in a Roman cookery book that looks a lot like the recipe for ypocras. It is commonly thought that the drink is named after the Greek physician Hippocrates, however this is not so. It is more likely that ypocras has this name because the herbs and spices were strained through a conical filter bag known as a Manicum Hippocraticum – sleeve of Hippocrates. The Old French name for Hippocrates was ypocrate which explains the etymology of the Middle English name ypocras, hipocras, ipocras, ippocras, hvpocras, hvppocra, and many more variations.
The spice mixture for ypocras was known as ‘Gyle’ and usually contained cinnamon, grains of paradise, long pepper and cardamom pods. These spices were bruised with a pestle and mortar and then left to steep in the red or white wine overnight or possibly even longer to soak up all the flavours.
One can assume that ypocras was used for medicinal purposes rather than for feasting as in recipes it is often mentioned as the perfect tipple after dinner to aid digestion. The oldest recipes therefore include many more herbs which will have given the spiced drink more of a cough syrup flavour than the enjoyable winter warmer we know today.
The first English recipe for Ipocras dates from approximately 1390 and goes as follows:
Pur fait Ypocras,
Treys Unces de canell. Et iij unces de gyngener. spykenard de Spayn le pays dun deneres. garyngale. clowes, gylofre. poivr long, noiez mugadez. maziozame cardemonij de chescun i.qrt douce grayne de paradys flour de queynel de chescun dimid unce de toutes. soit fait powdour and serve it forth.
The recipe is more a list of ingredients and assumes the cook knows the proportions and that a red or white wine is to be used. Sugar was a precious ingredient and only for the lord and master so Ypocras would only contain sugar in the wealthy homes while the common folk sweetened their drink with honey.
Ypocras was common enough to be mentioned in literature as Chaucer wrote In his Merchant’s tale in the 14th century “He drynketh Ypocras, Clarree and Vernage Of spices hoote t’encreessen his corage.” and John Russell’s The Boke of Nurture even contains a ypocras recipe in verse.
Through history we find a vast amount of recipes for this spiced drink, but not only for the spiced wine. Before hops were being used in beer, there was a mixture of herbs known as the ‘Gruut’ that was used to flavour and preserve the beer. Mankind has always been searching for flavourings to tinkle the taste buts.
After the 16th century recipes become more richer including more sugar, oranges, lemons, almonds and apples. My recipe uses cinnamon, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg and clementine juice with a few tablespoons of home made sloe gin. I used raw cane sugar which worked rather well instead of white loaf sugar.
Sometimes I will add marjoram and cardamom like in the first recipe but because of the marjoram it started to taste rather savoury. It is still very pleasant and not a flavour you’d expect in a mulled wine so it is a definite option to add it if you want something different. The long pepper added enough spice so I didn’t need to use the dreaded ginger but if you are a ginger lover, feel free to add it as you please. I would have loved to add Grains of paradise but I had no way of getting my hands on them.
What do you need
- 2 bottles of red wine, not your cheapest, not your most expensive.
- 4 buds of long pepper, crushed – email me if you can’t find it, I know where you can get it.
- 5 cloves1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, freshly grated please
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 100 g raw cane sugar
- the peel and juice of 1 clementine
- 3 tablespoons of sloe gin, or cherry brandy, you can omit this
- 1 sprig of marjoram
- 1 pod of cardamom, bruised
heat up 200 ml of red wine with the sugar and the spices, juice and peel until it dissolves, boil for 10 minutes and then simmer for 5 more. Add the marjoram if you are using it and leave to cool, when nearly cold or cold, add the rest of the wine and the sloe gin and leave to take up those lovely flavours overnight. You can even freeze the wine and spice mixture before adding the rest of the wine.
Strain, bottle and keep in the fridge until needed then gently heat up before use – don’t allow it to boil or you will loose the alcohol and we won’t want that.
I have something very exciting to share with you… my first ever video!!!
During the summer I was contacted by the guys from Grokker, a new online video network. They wanted me on board for a challenge with Loyd Grossman and because I had never really considered doing video, I thought this would be the perfect moment to get some experience in that area.
Although I was very tired after only 3 hours sleep and nervous of answering questions while trying to explain a recipe in a language other than my own without any form of rehearsal I must say I’m quite happy with how it turned out. The film crew really was a fabulous bunch of people. -Thanks guys- The video here is a trailer, the whole thing is on Grokker here > for which you have to create an account to see it – and if you do… don’t forget to click on the heart below the video to let me know you liked what I did there! 🙂 It’s a bit of a challenge with a few other fabulous blogger involved, check them out while you are there too.
A small -delicate- detail though… my name isn’t pronounced like you can hear in the video, so please don’t all start calling me ‘Regoela’ it’s more like ‘regular’ without the ‘R’ at the end and a more delicate ‘G’ like in Italian. It is Latin after all. 🙂
Anyway back to the dish, we had to choose a typical main dish of our niche that was able to be cooked in 30 min, prep to finish. So I choose Kedgeree, a recent favourite in our house.
Kedgeree is believed to find its origin in the Indian dish called Khichri and we can say it is the the first Anglo-Indian fusion food. During the British Raj, the Brits in India were craving a dish that would remind them of home.
Khichri is considered a sick person’s food in India, being less spicy and easier on the digestive system than other curries. It was perfect for the Britons who were still spice-shy back then and couldn’t take the heat of a curry like they do today.
But the British like to tweak recipes, so they added protein where as in an original Khichri there was none. The colonials added fish and eggs and embraced it as a breakfast dish. But why a breakfast dish, firstly because the Brits are used to protein rich breakfasts but also because the heat in India made it so the fish had to be eaten for breakfast in order to keep it from spoiling. This means that the original Kedgeree was made with fresh fish rather than with smoked fish.
Back in Britain the Victorians loved kedgeree and the novelty feel it had. It was perfect for the fancy breakfast table and a change from the usual.
How the smoked fish, came into the equation is another story.
It is generally believed that the arrival of kedgeree in Britain in the 18th century coincided with the introduction of a stagecoach from the Scottish village of Findon to Edinburgh and then further south. Findons’ cottage industry was the smoking of haddock and Kedgeree was the perfect way to balance the fish’s strong salty flavour with ingredients like rice and hard-boiled eggs.
Below is an explanation of Kedgeree from Colonel A. R. Kenney-Herbert, Wyvern’s Indian Cookery Book – 1869
“Kedgeree (khichri) of the English type is composed of boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, and a lump of fresh butter: these are all tossed together in the frying pan, flavoured with pepper, salt, and any minced garden herb such as cress, parsley, or marjoram, and served in a hot dish. The Indian khichri of fish is made like the foregoing with the addition of just enough turmeric powder to turn the rice a pale yellow colour, and instead of garden herbs the garnish is composed of thin julienne-like strips of chilli, thin slices of green ginger, crisply fried onions, etc.”
Eliza Acton uses not hard-boiled but raw eggs to create a Carbonara type of sauce and Elisabeth David adds a lot of spices and raisins. My version is something in between the recipes of these clever ladies and the gentleman above, my eggs are boiled semi runny and I only use cayenne pepper as a seasoning. The smoked haddock gives enough flavour to make this dish an excellent comfort food, or as I’m told it works wonders for a hangover!
What do you need
• 400 g smoked haddock
• 500 ml water
• 2 sjallots
• 150 g basmati rice
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 3 eggs, boiled semi runny or hard boiled if you prefer – shell removed
• sea salt to taste
• a pack of butter, unsalted
• fresh parsley, chopped
Bring the water to a boil in a deep pan with a lid, ad the fish and make sure it is completely covered and simmer – not boil – for about 10 minutes or until flaky
Remove the fish from the pan – keeping the liquid aside – transfer to a warmed dish and cover
Add the rice to the pan with the cooking liquid, cover with the lid and bring back to the boil for 10 minutes and regularly stirring the rice. Keep the lid on.
Now flake the fish into bitesize pieces using a teaspoon
Remove the shells from the eggs and cut up one of the eggs and leave the other two whole
After 10 minutes, turn down the flame and leave the rice covered with the lid until needed.
Heat a generous amount of good quality butter in a large deep pan, add the finely chopped shallots and glaze while stirring
Now ad a large knob of butter and ad the cayenne pepper, the rice and the fish with a generous pinch of salt.
Stir well so the pepper colors the rice an add two eggs, cut in pieces before stirring a last time.
Get your warmed serving plate out, transfer the food to the plate and halve the last boiled egg to put on top as decoration.
Finish of with the chopped parsley
A great dish for using up leftover rice or fish, it can be made with any kind of white fish or even prawns. Serve with a side salad to ad some vegetables to the mix.
Some people like it with mango chutney but I find it too sweet.
Drink with a nice IPA beer.
|So jealous of those wheels!|