The Rue Caterine is a great place to go to relax for a short break, or longer. Take that stack of books you've been meaning to read, and snuggle around the wood burning stove, or enjoy having the time to cook as you always mean to with good fresh food bought earlier that day.

Although the weather is less clement, with a lot of rain, and even occasionally snow, the qualiy of light is still good.  When the rain stops is a good time for unplanned bracing walks in the quiet countryside, with a cozy home to retreat to at the end, replete with a mug of hot mulled wine or steaming chocolate.



Mulled Wine

There are many different recipes for mulled wine.  Winter guests will find that their cottage includes a box of fresh spices specifically for mulling wine.

Mulled wine is usually prepared from red wine, warmed and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, star aniseed, citrus juice and sugar.   

Mrs Beeton notes that the spices are to be boiled in water or even better citrus juice first to extract their flavour, and that to avoid flavoring the wine the pot must be scrupulously clean, even reserved solely for mulling wine.

For more up-to-date mulled wine, wash your citrus fruit to remove the wax, then remove large strips of peel to add to the saucepan before juicing the fruit into the saucepan. Add a cinnamon stick, a vanilla pod, a few cloves, some freshly grated nutmeg, a half to one teaspoon sugar per glass of wine, and any other spices you feel might be interesting.  Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, then if necessary boil to reduce to a thin syrup.  Strain through cheesecloth into a clean bowl to remove all the spices, then return to the warm saucepan and add the star anise and the wine.  Stir well and heat just enough to get the wine to the required temperature, but DO NOT BOIL. Serve immediately as keeping the mixture hot will encourage the alcohol to evaporate.

Wash the cheesecloth, the cinnamon stick and the vanilla pod while the wine is heating, and set out to dry, ready for your next batch of syrup.

The wine should just be gently warmed to avoid burning off the alcohol.