Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mulled Wine

A year ago I took a trip to Austria and Germany, cruising down the Danube, to visit the Christmas markets with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and aunt-in-law. Many of you may cringe at the thought of that trip, but then, you didn't have the good fortune to marry into the Scott family. On this wonderful trip, we discovered mulled wine, and while usually the wine tasted pretty similar from one town to another, in one particular place (I will venture to say Linz, Austria, but please don't hold me to it), it was outstanding. Here, they offered fresh raspberries as an addition. It was the best thing I tasted on the trip, though that's damning with faint praise as the food was mediocre. Regardless, it was delicious, and today, after an afternoon of driving across town multiple times on a few wild goose chases, I suddenly remembered this sweet holiday drink and did my best to recreate it.

Mulled Red Wine with Fresh Raspberries

makes 3 large or 4 medium servings

1 bottle red wine (it can be inexpensive)
2/3 to 3/4 cup white sugar, depending on your sweet tooth (I used 2/3 and it was gently sweet, not cloying)
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange or clementine peel, broken into a few pieces
5 or 6 whole cloves
12 to 15 fresh raspberries

Heat all ingredients except berries in a sauce pan over low heat until hot, ~ 15 to 20 minutes.

Put berries in 3 or 4 mugs and pour wine mixture into mugs. I poured the mulling spices into the mugs, too, though you could strain it. Dave made a nice cocktail with his dregs, shaking the berries and spices with vodka and ice.

Variations: use honey instead of sugar (add slowly until sweetness is right for you); use previously frozen berries

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roasted Chicken and Squash Soup

A recent issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food had a whole section on soups made out of pre-roasted vegetables.  I wondered, is it really worth the effort?  Isn't one of the things I love about soup that you can do it all in one pot, in a very few steps?  But then I happened to have in the fridge both leftover roasted chicken, and leftover roasted squash, so I threw them together along with a few other things and discovered, oh yes, as usual, Martha knows what's good.  She has a recipe for a roasted chicken and squash soup too, but hers is creamy and has quite different ingredients beyond the chicken and squash.  I might try it some day, but it'll be a long time before I'm tired of this one!

The chicken and squash can be roasted up to several days in advance.  The actual soup cooking on this is super fast.

Roasted Chicken and Squash Soup
Serves 4

6 cups stock
3 leeks, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper until very tender and beginning to brown (30-45 minutes at 350)
1 chicken leg, roasted with salt and pepper (30-45 minutes at 350)
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1 T olive oil

Saute the leeks in the olive oil until the begin to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken and squash and return to a boil.  Add the swiss chard and simmer 10 minutes.