A quick post today – it’s Christmas Eve, and the house is bulging at the seams with family, all of whom want something to eat. The Great She Elephant is also spending Christmas with us. Those readers of her blog who would like me to take photographs of her when asleep or looking otherwise ungainly should send bribes to the usual address.
I’m cooking a ham today (the recipe is here). Everybody else seems to be too, it being a Christmas recipe; lots of friends have been asking for the recipe, and my Mum’s doing one at their house tonight. It’s a Christmassy dish, but it’s made all the more Christmassy (Christmasic? Christmasular?) by a good, large glass of mulled wine on the side.
I have spent years perfecting this recipe. If you leave out any of the spices I will set the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come on you, so don’t.
1 bottle Merlot (I got a cheap one from Waitrose, which was discounted because it was a bin end)
1 wine-bottle of water
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 stars of anise
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 grating of nutmeg
Stud one orange with the cloves, and slice the other one. Slice the lemon and the lime, and put all the fruit, the spices, the wine and the water in a large, thick-bottomed pan with the honey and maple syrup. Bring up to the lowest possible simmer, and simmer very, very gently for twenty minutes. Strain through a sieve to get rid of the bits, and serve.
You might want to add a couple of shots of cherry brandy, but I think you’ll find you don’t need to. It’s not that strong, but for some reason it’s dreadfully warming and potent, so don’t give any to the cat.