French mulled wine - Vin chaud
As Christmas isn't a big tradition in Vietnam, I don't have much experiences with the food there. So I turn to French dishes and what a treasure I found! Plenty of rich and flavorful dishes to choose from, and there’s something that I made a point to taste each December: mulled wine.
I seldom try red wine as I don't tolerate alcohol well but this one is a must! The wine is infused slowly with Christmas spices and sugar. The end result is a slightly sweet red wine with heavenly smell and low level of alcohol as it evaporates over low heat. The recipe is pretty simple and leaves space for creativity: you can choose the Christmas spices that you like.
Ingredients: (for 4 – 6 persons)
1 bottle of red wine of 75 cl (no need to choose the best quality, the taste of the wine will be modify anyway)
200 gr sugar (more or less to satisfy your sweet tooth)
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
The zest of 1 lemon
2 slices of ginger root
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
- To make "vin chaud", combine the wine with all the ingredients (use the juice of the orange and its zest for this recipe) and put on low heat.
- When it starts to boil, let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Always serve it warm, decorate to your liking.
Spiced corn bread
Traditional "vin chaud" is to be savored with spiced bread. I make a variation of spiced bread though: spiced corn bread. It turns out fluffier than the traditional spiced bread, just what I like.
Ingredients: (for 4 persons)
300 ml milk
4 tblspoons of honey
1 tblspoon of sugar
1 pinch of salt
300 gr corn meal
1 ½ tspoons of baking powder
1 ½ tspoons of cinnamon powder
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tspoon of vegetable oil
1 small cube of soft butter
- Preheat the oven at 160 degree.
- Warm up the milk in the microwave for 1 minute then mix in honey, sugar and salt. Wait for the mixture to cool a bit then incorporate the corn meal, vegetable oil and the egg (you don’t want the egg to be cooked in warm milk). Mix them until well combined and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add in the cinnamon powder, grated nutmeg and baking powder. Mix again.
- Prepare the baking mold by rubbing the soft butter around it. Pour in the mixture and bake for 35 minutes.
- Serve the spiced corn bread with mulled wine.
- The spiced bread, true to its name, is about adding spices and honey to your bread. You can get as creative as you want with the spices. The traditional way is to use cinnamon powder, some versions even add ginger root powder, nuts as hazelnuts or pistachios.
- Warm milk helps to dissolve honey faster but if you’re not impatient like me, just use ordinary milk and stir really, really well :) .
- You may think that the corn meal makes the corn smell overwhelming, but when you cut into the bread, the cinnamon and nutmeg smell comes out. The bread is fluffy and spongy, much lighter than the traditional spiced bread. It also has a yellow color, unlike the brown color of the traditional version. You can substitute corn meal with any kind of flour that you like.
- As you can see the mulled wine and the spiced corn bread both have a sweet taste, so if you don’t want to taste two layers of sweet on sweet, adjust the sugar in one of the recipes. From my experience, less sugar in the mulled wine will be just the thing: sweet bread, tangy fragrant mulled wine and sour berries.
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!