I planned to post a different recipe today but this week life has been sweet. Very sweet. I went to Flora’s three times at least partly to celebrate my birthday with my two of my dearest friends. It was so much fun. They are great company and two marvellous ladies. So this year I didn’t bake a cake – I mean, with so many indulgent cupcake and pancake trips there really wasn’t. Even I have to admit that! And frankly I just didn’t feel like spending a whole day in the kitchen like I did last year. I cooked for days, to celebrate three family birthdays on three consecutive days. This time round I knew I deserved and wanted a break.
I think the day has finally come. The day when I can dare to say that the air is crisp and fresh and autumn is here. Can this be true? I don’t know about you but to me this kind of weather makes me want to eat mushrooms. And pancetta. And pasta. Thank goodness these three stars go so well together. All they need is some kind of sauce. Now I’ve got a little confession to make. When I’m in a hurry I make a simple tomato one with a few other ingredients thrown here and there, but I’m not a huge fan. I will eat it because I like it. That’s all. What I really really like is a good cream sauce. Alas, that’s not the healthiest thing on Earth (what a huge disappointment) so instead, that is when I have the time I make bechamel.
These past few days have been good. The clearing process of our extra bedroom in preparation for our very special guest next month is almost in full swing. I say almost because it’s really kind of stop-and-go. Tuesday was my most productive day so far. I cleaned, cleared, swept, mopped, dusted and my vanity area now smells of perfume – in the bad sense though! I was so tired by the end of the day
as I am right now after an intense baking and photography session that I broke a perfume bottle. It flew right across the furniture, over my head and onto the floor. Boo. Glad to say it wasn’t anything expensive but it was a gift and still I was a bit upset. Those bottles are resilient though – I’m truly impressed. I don’t know anything about their manufacturing process but the bottle just cracked in half. There was a minimal amount of glass shards in the end so there were no unfortunate accidents, thank goodness. However the smell…woah…it has been making me dizzy and no amount of cleaner has made the smell dissipate. It’s still there and still going strong. How my insides felt this morning as I woke up I really cannot describe.
Among the most popular recipes you can find here on C&T is Baked Rice. Yes, it’s already up and has been up for quite some time now. The feedback has been so good – you cannot imagine how pleased I am at how it turned out. Although the photos on that post are decent, I still have a few more I want to show you just because they turned out better.
Spring has not quite arrived in the UK. I’m not going to say anything else about this – I’m really afraid I might jinx it, but I must post this before the weather becomes warmer. Two weeks ago it snowed here. OK. Stop. But in case you’re wondering, that’s why we’re still drinking mulled wine in April.
In general I think it’s best to go for a fruity full-bodied red, but this depends on personal taste. If you like to drink the wine you choose on its own, then you will like it when it’s mulled. This is J’s simple recipe which always worked for us. The roles were reversed this time: he was by the stove, I was taking the photos. Except the one with the glasses. (Was going to forget that! He wouldn’t have minded but I said it for the sake of completeness.) I don’t really need to say this but If you’re in Malta, forget about this until December!
We started to use this recipe with these quantities while in Michigan; that’s why I have also given cup measures. The equivalent ml measures are an approximation, but still valid. A slight variation will not make much of a difference here.
- 2 cups/500ml water
- ½ cup/100g caster sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 small star anise
- 2 large oranges, cut in slices
- 1 bottle of red wine
Place the water, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise in a deep pot, on medium heat, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat. Steep the sliced oranges into the syrup mixture for around 15 minutes. Pour in 1 bottle of red wine (the deeper, the better).
Reheat the wine and fruity syrup mixture, but do not boil. Strain the wine, using a sieve and serve hot.
The recipe is here, ready for the cold weather, whenever that hits you! You guys in Oz – are you next? Enjoy.