It is pretty rare for me to have a dish in my kitchen arsenal without a concrete recipe. I am not the kind of cook who throws ingredients in a pot and hopes for the best. I am methodical, and I enjoy having a plan; I think this is why I like baking so much. Even so, there are a few informal dishes in my arsenal that I can put together on the fly, like a simple frittata, or fried rice. Small as this list is, it has grown even smaller this week, as I have apparently created a definitive recipe for mulled apple cider.
I like to make mulled cider whenever I'm hosting a get-together in the cold weather months. Not only is it delicious, it also makes your home smell amazing and especially welcoming to visitors. So far this year, I've made it three times; once when I had Lauren over to hang out, once for my Halloween party, when my guests supplemented it with rum, and now for my cookie exchange yesterday.
While people enjoyed it the first two times, and have always seemed to enjoy it in the past, this last time they raved about it. People asked me what I had done differently, and told me I should do it again. They were so adamant, in fact, that I sifted through the debris left in the bottom of the crock-pot to retrace my steps. Since so many people asked for the recipe, I finally wrote one down, and now hopefully all of us can recreate the magic of this week's mulled apple cider for years to come...
Mulled Apple Cider
1 gallon apple cider (use the kind that they sell in the produce section, not the juice aisle)
4 cinnamon sticks
peel of one orange, cut into one long strip, if possible (try to avoid the pith)
grating of fresh nutmeg
8 allspice berries
3 star anise
Fill up the crock-pot with cider. Add the cinnamon sticks and orange peel. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top. Place the allspice, cloves, and star anise into a tea infuser and place into the pot. Add the lid, and simmer over high heat for an hour. Reduce heat to low to keep warm for serving.