How to turn cheap wine into a fancy drink

In alcohol, drink on January 22, 2018 at 1:29 am


I like sweet wines, like port. But they are quite hard to find at the duty-free shop, where I usually get my alcohol, so I was happy to come across this recipe for ipocras. It’s great for turning dry wines into something easier to drink. Of course, you shouldn’t do this to an expensive bottle of wine.

I didn’t have a bottle around for this, so I bought a cheap red one (you can also use white) from the supermarket for around RM50. 150ml of it went to a recipe for pears cooked in red wine. The rest was perfect for this, minus one glass for immediate drinking to make space for the ingredients:

350g caster sugar   |  half a cinnamon stick   |   10g fresh ginger   |   9 cloves   |   6 peppercorns   |   1 nutmeg, crushed   |  1 sprig of rosemary

Just put everything into the bottle and invert it a few times until the sugar is mixed around. The ipocras is ready to drink in 24 hours. Pour it over a coffee filter or tea strainer to catch the spices. Do turn the bottle every now and then if you’re keeping it for longer. Ipocras makes a nice end to a meal, and an impressive contribution for a home party. “I made this wine!”

Shopping list: Red or white wine, rosemary, fresh ginger, nutmeg

From the pantry: Caster sugar, clove, cinnamon stick, pepercorns

Can I do it?: If you’re not drunk, yes

Hardware: Funnel to pour in the sugar and chopstick to push the sugar through (or make your own paper cone)

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)


Pears cooked in red wine for the New Year

In alcohol, dessert, fish on January 21, 2018 at 7:29 pm

pear in wine

I’ve been neglecting my ‘try a new recipe’ mission for quite some time. Whenever I had a free weekend at home, I just wanted to vege out. Cooking has become a necessity for sustenance rather than an experimentation of new recipes. As 2018 edged closer, I decided I owed it to myself to make an attempt. This was the first of two, only because one bottle of wine was involved. The second one is here.

I chose this recipe because it’s easy and festive. And it’s from one of my more intriguing recipe books, A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion.

The most important things you need are four pears and 150ml of red wine. These should be on the top of your shopping list. You’ll also need some sugar, a short stick of cinnamon and three cloves.

The preparation is simple. Cut each pear into four quarters and peel the skin if you want. Then put everything into a saucepan (I used Corningware glass ceramic cookware) and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. After that, remove the pears and continue simmering the spiced wine until it thickens into the consistency of syrup. Pour this over the pears when serving. This dessert can be served hot or chilled. I prefer the latter.

Shopping list: 4 pears and 150ml red wine

From the pantry: 4 tablespoons of sugar, 3 cloves, 1 short stick of cinnamon

Can I do it?: Yes, even if you claim you can’t cook anything.

Hardware: Saucepan or pot

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)

Candied root vegetables and fruits in the Tudor fashion

In dessert, fruits, vegetables on March 22, 2015 at 12:44 am

candied root vegetables in the Tudor fashion

The Tudor period of England and Wales stretched from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. I had to Google that because I have no interest in anything Tudor, not even the TV series The Tudors.

I’m not curious about eating a partridge from a pear tree or three blackbirds baked in a pie either. Thankfully, the recipes from A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion comes with modern interpretations. It was a gift from a former boss, a souvenir from her visit to the UK.

As there were no refrigerators to store food back then, preserving food with sugar was one of the ways to keep it longer. This recipe was part of a banquet serving.

Making it is fairly simple. Just cut the vegetables and fruits to a thickness of about 3mm. If you are diligent, you could go the extra mile and use pastry cutters to fashion them into fancy shapes. I was more concerned about finishing up fast so I could eat, hence the plain-looking result.

Heat 225g of sugar with 300ml of rose water in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the fruits and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar syrup caramelizes to a light brown. Then move the slices to a rack to drain and dry.

Shopping list: root vegetables and fruit such as apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips; rose water

From the pantry: granulated sugar

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have the patience not to leave sugar to burn over a stove

Hardware: saucepan and wire rack

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)

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