November 22, 2014

Mulled Wine, The Perfect Holiday Drink!

The first time I ever heard the term mulled wine, Clarence, the angel in Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" ordered it while sitting in a bar with George Baily. I was about 7 or 8 years old. Mulled wine, hmmmm it's fall, winters coming, let's take a look see.

In medieval times, sanitation was poor and many believed it was far healthier to drink mulled wine than risk drinking water. There is some truth to the health benefits, as drinking wine in moderation has been linked to reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Lemon and orange both contain vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant.

Mulled simply means heated and spiced. So you can have mulled wine, mulled cider, mulled mead, etc. No one knows the true history of mulled wine, but there was medieval mention of Ypocras or Hipocris named after the physician Hippocrates. These drinks were thought to be healthy and served as tonics in the Roman Empire. Fast forward to around 1500 and British cookbooks speak of mulling Clarrey. This was Bordeaux wine infused with honey, cinnamon and cardamom. Those Victorian English enjoyed their mulled wine, and even served a version of it, called Negus, at children’s birthday parties. If you boil the wine when making it, you can burn off the alcohol and I’m sure that’s what the Victorian parents did before serving it.

Most likely, the drink got its origins from wine sellers who found themselves with some spoiled product. These innovative manufacturers heated their sour merchandise, flavored it with honey and spices and a new drink was born.

No matter what European country you find yourself in around the holidays; you are bound to come across a local version of their mulled wine. The Swedes serve glögg, while the Germans enjoy gluhwein. The French sip vin chaud and the Poles polish off grzane wino. The Hungarians brew up forralt bor and the Italians hand round vin brule. While the basis of mulled wine is nearly the same for everyone, regional differences give each one a special taste. The Swedes add raisins and almonds to theirs, as well as more sugar and usually a bit of extra alcohol like vodka or cognac than most. In Germany, you’ll find a lighter, less sweet version. Gluhwein has less sugar than glögg and more spices like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.

Glögg
The Swedish word for mulled wine, Glögg, comes from the verb ‘to heat up.’ The term glödgat vin, literally meaning ‘heated wine,’ first appeared in Sweden in 1609. By that time, many European countries had stopped drinking spiced wine, but the tradition has survived in some places, including Sweden. In the 1890s mulled wine became a Swedish Christmas Tradition and spread more and more widely.

Glögg is the Nordic form of mulled wine, similar to Glühwein in German-speaking countries. Glühwein is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. Almonds and raisins are often added to the Scandinavian version, though not to the German. Fruit wines such as blueberry wine and cherry wine are sometimes used instead of grape wine in Germany. The oldest Glühwein tankard is documented in the high noble German and first Riesling grower of the world, Count John IV, of Katzenelnbogen around 1420. This gold-plated lockable silver tankard imitating the traditional wine woven wooden can is called Welcome. In Romania it is called vin fiert ("boiled wine"), and can be made using either red or white wine, sometimes adding peppercorn. In Moldova the izvar is made from red wine with black pepper and honey. In Italy, mulled wine is typical in the northern part of the country and is called vin brulè.

Glögg is a traditional drink of the Swedish & Finnish Advent season - Advent being the six weeks leading up to the Birth of Christ on the 25th of December. Glögg is traditionally made with red wine, and each small glass has a few almonds and raisins in it as well as the drink. December in this region is a dark, wintry time, and this hot drink helps keep the spirits cheered.

Glögg's origins are with mulled wine - wine heated with spices. Mulled wine was known to medieval Europeans and celebrated from at least 400AD. In the 1800s, a special mulled wine was popular in Europe known as "Glühwein," which began to incorporate the special Glögg ingredients - raisins and almonds. Glögg also tends to have more sugar as well as a heavier alcohol content. Given the frigid winters seen in Scandanavia, this can be quite necessary! Gingersnaps, Gingerbread, and cinnamon rolls are pairings associated with glogg.

Flaming Glögg
1 bottle red wine
1 bottle aquavit (like a flavored vodka)
10 whole cardamoms
5 whole cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 figs
1 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
1 orange skin, dried
1/2 lb sugar cubes

Put wine, aquavit, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, figs, raisins, almonds and orange into a pot. Simmer until almost boiling. Remove from heat. Put sugar in sieve, dip into liquid. Light with match and burn until gone. Cover to put out flame. Serve liquid warm, putting a few raisins and almonds into each glass.

Recipes
The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg and cinnamon or mace. Any kind of wine may be mulled, but port and claret are those usually selected for the purpose and the latter requires a very large proportion of sugar.

It's a Wonderful Life Mulled Wine

2 bottles red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 orange
1 lemon

Zest the fruit, avoiding the white pith. Put this, the sugar, cinnamon and cloves into the water. Bring this to a slow boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Now add the wine. Add in the actual orange and lemon fruit part, sliced up. Warm this on low heat for 40 minutes (do NOT boil). Strain out the wine and serve!

1600s England
In medieval times, mulled wines were called Ypocras or Hipocris, named after the physician Hippocrates. This recipe is from The Accomplisht Cook, written in 1660 by Robert May. The recipe is for Ipocras with Red Wine.

1 gallon wine
3oz cinnamon
2oz ginger, sliced
1/4oz cloves
1oz mace
20 peppercorns
1oz nutmeg
3lb sugar
2qt cream

"Take a gallon of wine, three ounces of cinnamon, two ounces of slic't ginger, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, an ounce of mace, twenty corns of pepper, an ounce of nutmegs, three pound of sugar, and two quarts of cream."

In essence, mix all ingredients and heat slowly in a large pot. Serve warm. You can also let it 'settle' for a few days and serve it cool, depending on which way tastes better to you!

Brown Sugar Mulled Wine
2 bottles dry Cabernet Sauvignon
Peel of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
8 whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Orange slices

Pour wine in slow cooker. Wrap orange peel, cinnamon stick halves, cloves, and nutmeg in cheesecloth. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 2 to 2.5 hours. Discard spice bag; ladle into glasses. Garnish with orange slices.

Clove and Nutmeg Mulled Wine
3 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered clove
2 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over very low heat. Warm carefully, stirring frequently. Serve warm.

Bon Appetit!

Lou

October 01, 2014

From Weird Science to Kelly's Kitchen: Reinventing Kelly Le Brock


Life is a journey. High points, low points all melding into the path we call our lives. Those strong of heart and mind, realize at some point that to get to the high points, we must start at the low points and climb. Sometimes those hills are outside, sometimes, they are inside. For actress, model, mom, rancher and foodie Kelly Le Brock, it seems the hills are almost something she looks forward to now. A self testing if you will. Overcoming obstacles.

I recently sat down with this iconic lady to discuss her new passions, her incredible life and as she put it, "her new found voice." She opened up about finding peace in her life and reinventing herself, well outside the lime-light and glitz of Hollywood. I remarked on her recent reemergence.
"Well, I have a rather passionate, and sometimes painful past. It's time to tell my story. I have a book coming out soon and I think that with it, I'm going to empower people who say, 'I'm too hurt to get out of bed in the morning.'" She explained, "they'll get out of bed in the morning after they've read my story and say '...if she can do it, so can I.'"

Her recently launched Kelly's Kitchen, while about food, is more about a lifestyle, with its center, the kitchen and the table, as the 'core of the family' as she put it. "Getting people back to the table," she stated, "is really the bones of any relationship in any family. I think that good healthcare actually starts at the table and I encourage and am actually disappointed in the mothers of America for not taking their kids to the table."

An accomplished horse-woman, most days will find her riding one of her horses, either, Ruby, Kiwi, Tess and Chubby. "He is," she laughed. She rides on her 700 acre farm where she grows her own produce, raises and butchers her own beef and is now, as she put it, "going into the pig business." Far flung from the pages of Vogue, and the 'glitz' of Hollywood this is the Kelly LeBrock who took her horse and spent a week with the grizzlies of Yellowstone Park...with a homeless person.

"I really wanted to be a veterinarian," she stated, "how I got into Hollywood I'll never know. I was raised in England and I spent a lot of time in the field by myself. I'm really a very simple girl. When I had my first child, when she turned 3, I was outta there (Hollywood), I headed for the hills. I wanted to raise my children in an atmosphere where I did not lose control of being a parent. I am happy that I grew my kids up in an atmosphere that was not all, Facebook, tv and online."

I asked her to elaborate on her love of the outdoors and about raising her own beef, produce and now, pigs on her 700 acre ranch. "I have a large spread, one might say," she quipped. Her British accent becoming a bit more pronounced. "I've been living in the wilderness for the last 20 years. We have cattle, and I've just gone into the pig business. Raising pork. We have a freezer full of beef and a freezer full of pork. I will not eat meat out. We treat our meat correctly. No corn and we finish off with barley. We actually make our own little things to finish off, using apples, or carrots, or beets. When you eat our meat you feel happy. I love collecting eggs, butchering meat, growing the produce. I even learned how to make my own cheese!" she claimed proudly, her inner foodie coming out. "I make yogurt too!"

Her love of all things natural started when her children were young when she took to making her own baby food. "It just came from wanting the best ingredients for my children. Seeing how contaminated our food system is, the want and need to be more proactive in my health. 'Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.' I really live by that."she stated. That led me to questions about one of her new passions,  "Kelly's Kitchen" and her love of cooking and being in the kitchen.

She explained, "You know, for a time in England, I did Health Kitchen for a number of years, and I was lucky enough to be in the kitchen with 3 Starred Michelin Chef, Marco Pierre White and that was the most exciting two weeks of my life. I learned how to burn myself," she laughed, "I was known as the screamer because I kept burning myself, but I was on the line and we got out service for 76 people every night. I did it. From 7 in the morning til 1 am. I got to do all the stations, but my favorite thing was Prep. You work all day getting these ingredients ready and then the dish is cooked and served eaten in 25 minutes. But, the prep is the kitchen to me" she added. "It's a quiet time, to think about the people you are making the meal for. You look at the colors, how beautiful and all the work you put in, and that it's going to be given to the people you love."

With Kelly's Kitchen, Kelly is all about healthy eating and good healthcare, starting in the kitchen, at the table. "It came about within the last four years," she offered. "I am just horrified at the way people are eating and I really want to get out there and show people how to make a delicious meal out of a bag of beans or a bag of brown rice. It doesn't have to be expensive to eat well. Yes it is expensive in time, but that is something that people have come to confuse with eating healthy being expensive in dollars. Seems that people don't have time anymore," she lamented, "but you can make a decent meal in 30 minutes. Families should have to drop their phones in a little basket when they come through the door and sit down every night at the dinner table and look at each other. Really talk to each other."

She has lent her voice and become an ambassador for a cause she believes in, foodtweeks™ and has re-emerged from a self imposed cocoon with a new-found, vibrant voice. "It's time to give back,"she declared. "We don't need to leave our country to help people, they are right here in our face. I know what it's like to struggle for food or not have enough to eat. There are people in this country a paycheck away from hunger. I am the ambassador for this great new app that is affiliated with 50 food banks across the country. The beauty of it is that there are people who are always trying to get healthy cutting calories, they take those calories and put them into foodtweeks™ and those calories go into the food bank and translate to available food."

Here's how the program works;
For every calorie users "tweek" from their food, foodtweeks™ makes a donation to a local food bank so they can distribute the same number of nutritious calories to feed a hungry child and their family. There’s no cost of any kind to the foodtweeks™ user and it's easy for food banks to participate. You remove calories. They give them away!

To get involved, simply enter the promo code KELLYLEBROCK and foodtweeks™ will double all of your donations! Here's how:
  • Download the foodtweeks™ mobile app for your Android or iPhone. It's free!
  • Create an account in the foodtweeks™ app. Also free!
  • When creating your free account, in the promo code area, enter: KELLYLEBROCK
That's it. Every time you remove calories from your food using the foodtweeks™ app, foodtweeks™ will double all of your donations. And it doesn't cost you anything! Get started today helping yourself, food banks across the country, and the people they nourish in their communities.

"Finally there is an app out there that's doing good for everybody." she explained, getting excited, "People are losing weight and getting into better shape and what they are losing, people are gaining in real food. I had been working with a friend and she was doing some work with Jay Walker, founder of Priceline and she thought I'd be a good ambassador and she put us together. It's two fold, people eating healthy and feeding the hungry.

As to what the future holds, for herself and for her new project, Kelly's Kitchen, she stated, "It's all about the journey. If I can come out with some simple things that can help people then that's what I want to do. Kelly's Kitchen can go anywhere. It's about healthy eating. About bringing people back to the table wherever that table may be. Right now, she expanded, "I've rented a little room in Maui. I have one burner and don't need much else to make a healthy meal. It's an ongoing process. My biggest concern is to get moms and dads back to the table again cooking for their family again. Teach the children how to cook for their moms and dads. There are little people out there that can maybe help with the parents."

Agreed. In speaking with Kelly, I reflected on how fortunate I am to be surrounded lately, by those who are about tradition of back to basics as it were, and who come from a mindset that it all starts with the food, the product, but more importantly, our connection to the land and each other. It's about that connection we get from "the table" and that human interaction that we seem to have lost with today's technology. Face to face interaction. 

With a new book coming out, a new cooking and food platform and her advocacy in feeding the hungry, with foodtweeks, it certainly seems that Kelly has indeed found that new strong inner voice, and that focus of directions and passions that blend to create the journey we call life. Her day-to-day life with her children, grandchildren, tending to the ranch, the back to nature lifestyle, all seem to have healed old wounds and given her a clear perspective on life and what's truly important. Talking with her I sensed a peace and contentment. With life and her family, but more importantly...herself. 

I look forward to more chats with Kelly as she follows her new path. I recall some talk about coming out to the ranch. Now, I'm a city boy.....can you see me on a horse? Yea, me either.....
I hope you enjoyed this informal chat with Kelly Le Brock. You can find out  more about Kelly's Kitchen on facebook: Kelly's Kitchen twitter: @AtKellysKitchen.

Till next time, 
Lou