It was a wonderful gift; to begin with. I do like cookbooks, and a love love love books, so a cookbook with recipes mentioned in or inspired by books was a great Christmas gift. I spent part of the holiday with coffee in hand, browsing the recipes and reading the stories accompanying them. Oh, and the photos! What delicious photos!!
Now let’s talk a bit about the books mentioned shall we? One in particular, why not? As it happens there are several recipes in this one of dishes mentioned in A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Fancy that. Obviously I got right on it and made the hot drink called Smoking Bishop; it being cold winter nights and all.
As a wise man said; first time you do it by the book. So I did follow Young’s instructions to the letter. In the back of my head there was a voice, making comments based on all that time I’ve spent research vintage cocktails and Victorian punches but ignore that for now. The end result was a great success. If you do it according to what’s written in The little library cookbook you will have a brilliant time reading and cooking and drinking Smoking Bishops. You are sorted for food and book recommendation.
However, I can never leave well enough alone and made it a second time, according to my own mad ideas. This is how it went down. I’d like here to issue a note of caution and a disclaimer; this recepie contains instruction to set something on fire. If you do not know how to handle it, skip that step. Have a lid ready to put out the flame should it be needed.
Smoking Bishop; makes 2 very generous servings, or 4 small ones
1 stick of cinnamon
3 cm ginger; sliced into 6 slices or so
a couple of crushed allspice berries (4-5)
(the odd cardamom pod should you have it around)
3,75 dl Port wine
1,75 dl red wine (plonk is fine)
3+1 tsp granulated sugar
1,5 dl water
fresh nutmeg, to serve
waterproof glasses or cups
- Divide the orange in half. Stick cloves in one half and place it in the oven at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for around 30 minutes (I put the flat side down) until the orange is slightly brown or the kitchens smells like Christmas. Mine was nicely caramelized on the side that was cut (that had been placed downwards).
- In the meantime; peel the other half of the orange thinly. No white, just the orange. Chop it in rough bits and place with 3 tsp sugar on like a saucer. This is a mini version of a classic Victorian oleo-saccharum (a sort of citrus sugar), usually used as a base for punches. The oils in the zest will give the sugar a lovely fresh orange taste, use the back of a spoon or a proper muddler to give it a bit of a bash to get things going.
- And as two things isn’t enough; in a saucepan, combine the water, ginger, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and one teaspoon of the sugar. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat somewhat, and let reduce to about half. The little bit of sugar releases the flavors (things you learn when making cocktail bitters). Then turn of the heat and let it steep for an additional 10 minutes, then strain it. I use a vintage tea strainer with a fine metal mesh, but a seasick or a coffee filter is fine.
- At around the same time the orange and the spiced water should be ready. Then you proceed to mix wine and port in a sauce pan and place it over a low heat. Now comes the fan part; when it is hot you take a match, light it and gently set the port/wine mix on fire. It burns with a blue flame. After a few seconds, blow it out. Add the spiced water and the orange with cloves. Let it simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, slice the clementine and add to the glasses (I like a lot of citrus). Squeeze the juice from the other clementine and have it ready.
- When the 10 minutes have passed, take the saucer with sugar and zest and add to the hot liquid. You will probably have to scrape it of the saucer.
- Take the orange out of the saucepan, fish out the small bits of peel too (or use the tea strainer again). Dived the clementine juice between the glasses, then pout the hot wine/port mix over. Grate a little nutmeg on top.
- Serve piping hot.
My version also worked well and so this is how I will make it, and it has less cloves in it, which is an advantage as I see it. Not thrilled about cloves (which might have something to do with me fiddling with the recipe to begin with).