Winter is great and charming - sometimes it is also frozen. A little inspiration, creativity and invention can help go that extra mile when reality is cold and grey outside your window. One way to be creative or fuel our mind and body is... relying on magic potions. We all have our own, believe me.
You may not be aware of their magic powers, but think for a second: don't you have a favorite drink that matches perfectly one of your moods these days, a liquid concoction you always resort to because you know it will work in a given environment or at a given moment and because you know that in the end it will soothe you? Wait, I am not sponsoring booze here, trust me and read on, thirsty reader.
Tea is one of my passions: I love going tea hunting, walking in a tea parlor and being taken into a different dimension by the fragrances and the soft atmosphere that pervade everything, from delicate tablespoons to hushing customers. This is for me the traditional life savior, the true milestone of my day and if I am lucky I then have to hand a packet of Mariage Frères tea, the best in my book. A warm and amber cup of their tea and I can start the day with a smile on my face and many daydreaming perspectives in my mind. During the day, a cup here and there keeps me going and brings comfort and solace when needed, not to mention the practical hand warmer when holding the precious cup. Why look for more, I wonder?
Well, curiosity killed the cat and so I was in the end tempted by other drinks that became more regular companions, when possible. In the Italian Dolomites, in the fantastic and authentic Valdanna inn, I tasted the sweet and spicy "brûlé di mela"; as simple to make as delicious, this warmed up appel juice is miraculous and makes your mouth and heart melt while watching the skiers coming down the slope in slow motion between the huge green pine trees. Meanwile you are comfortably seated in one of the deck chairs, your legs carefully tucked under a green and red plaid. My latest twist to the warm version of this golden apple juice is the addition of a magic powder: the Aspen Mulling Spices. This little packet contains a cream colored powder, a tasty spice mix that will add mellowness and depth to the apple potion. You can also use it for cakes, yogurts, pancackes, waffles and many more sweet little pleasures.
And since we are going through the spice rack, this is my all-time favorite mulled wine recipe; a magic recipe that will warm you up from head to toe while walking through the busy streets of the Haarlem Anton Pieck's day... The potion comes from Nigella's cauldron, unsurprisingly!
1 bottle red wine
60 ml dark rum
125 ml Earl Grey tea (I also use powdergun tea sometimes, it is harsher, a bit more "metallic" in its taste, but it still works)
1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
1 orange, quartered and each quarter stuck with one clove
1 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (the ones I received from Madagascar are still so strong that one is enough)
1 tablespoon runny honey
It could not be easier: simply put all the ingredients into a saucepan, and heat through; right before it starts bubbling, lower the heat and keep it warm until you serve in heat proof tumblers or cups.
Choose your favorite night cap and hop in the bed!