Mulled wine has become as integral to the UK holiday tradition as chocolate rabbits have to our idea of Easter, but the basic idea - add spices and serve warm - is too good not to look beyond the grape. Cider may be a popular choice for drinking out of a brown paper bag on a park bench, but if you're willing to pay more than 45p per litre you can pick up something that serves as a great base for a traditional warmer.
500ml cider (Aspall's Dry Suffolk Cyder)
3 x 1cm wide orange zests
1 x 1cm wide lemon zest
6 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, scored
2 small slices root ginger, finely diced
3 teaspoons heather honey
Combine all ingredients in a pan and place over a low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and serve with a cinnamon stick and an orange zest. Alternatively, bottle the mixture - it should keep for at least a couple of weeks. Reheat either on the stove or in a microwave.
As good as the mulled cider is, I'm not letting a post go out without a mention of high-strength liquor and this recipe goes really well with the previous one or on their own.
Honey & Bénédictine Apple Crisps
50ml Bénédictine DOM
1 bar spoon heather honey
1 Raeburn apple
Combine the Bénédictine and honey in a mixing glass and stir until the honey is completely dissolved.
Cut the apple into thin slices and place in a shallow tray. Cover the apple slices with the liqueur/honey mixture and leave for at least two hours.
Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees C. Transfer the apple slices to a baking tray and cook until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes to crisp up.