Vin Chaud [Hot Wine]

December 30, 2008

In France in cold weather you can order vin chaud at any café or brasserie. This spicy punch is perfect for New Year’s celebrations. Simmering the wine cooks away much of the alcohol, making it very easy to drink.

2 quarts red table wine
2 whole oranges, cleaned, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 whole lemons, cleaned, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 sticks cinnamon
12 whole cloves
1 large bay leaf
2 tablespoons honey
Whole grated nutmeg to taste

In a large chef’s pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, combine the wine, oranges, lemons, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and honey. Simmer for 30 minutes or longer, if desired. DO NOT BOIL. Serve hot in glasses with slices of orange and lemon garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.
Makes 16 4-ounce glasses.

TIP: To sanitize the whole oranges and lemons, scrub them with white vinegar and water.

Fudge Quick and Easy

December 27, 2008

Got a bunch of children hanging around your home this holiday week? Set them to work making fudge. This microwave variety is so easy even a small child can proudly say, ‘I made this!’

1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 stick salted butter, melted (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped raisins or candied fruit

In a microwave-safe dish, stir together the sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Beat with a pastry fork until smooth. Add vanilla and fruit. Pour into a lightly greased 8- x 8-inch pan. Chill until firm.
Makes sixty-four 1-inch squares.