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Douro Valley

Douro Valley is at its best off season - I went there last October and would definitely recommend this place for a fall trip. Get ready for postcard-pretty vineyards (famous for they ports, but pretty skilful when it comes to other wines as well), delicious food and picturesque views. Stay in one of the charming vineyards and spend your days on walks in the vines, scenic drives along the river and picnics on the hills.

Mulled white wine

December is a perfect month to enjoy all kinds of hot, delicious, warming drinks. Mulled wine is a winter classic! Usually prepared with red wine, it tastes equally great with white chardonnay or riesling. With an addition of cinnamon, rosemary and oranges, it tastes like winter. Have fun warming up!

Recipe: Mulled white wine

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 500 ml dry white wine
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • a few branches of rosemary
  • one tbsp brown sugar
Method
  • Slice one orange and squeeze the other one..
  • Place cinnamon sticks, rosemary and orange slices in a pot.
  • Add sugar and white wine.
  • Bring to simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add wine and reduce the heat to low. Heat the wine, but do not bring to boil.
  • Serve immediately.

Chorizo and chickpea stew

If you keep dreaming about hearty, warming dishes (l do), this recipe will help you follow your dreams. These might not be the most audacious desires you have, but, let's face it - they're not that time consuming either. The preparation is 15 minutes tops and having done that, all you need to do is sit and enjoy the rich aroma that fills the kitchen. You could even devote that time to some other dreams you have - to rule the world or to bake a chocolate fudge cake. A warming, slightly spicy stew with chorizo, chickpeas, kale and red wine is a perfect start to a cold Thursday afternoon.

Recipe: Chorizo and chickpea stew

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • one large onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red chili pepper, sliced
  • one tbsp. of butter
  • one cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 2-3 Spanish chorizos (300 g), thickly sliced
  • 2 cups of peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • one cup of dry red wine
  • 250 g of kale, sliced
  • one tsp. of coriander seeds
  • one tsp. of cumin seeds
  • one tsp. of brown sugar
  • 2-3 bay leaves
Method
  • Roast coriander and cumin seeds and grind them using a mortar.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter, add garlic, onion and chili and cook through. Add chorizo, cumin and coriander, cook for another minute.
  • Add chickpeas, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and wine. Simmer to thicken, for about 30 minutes.
  • Add kale 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
  • Check the seasoning and serve.

chanterelle stuffed round zucchini

Recipe: Chanterelle stuffed round zucchini

Serves: 9 (as a starter)
Ingredients
  • 9 round zucchinis
  • 300 g of buckwheat
  • 300 g of chanterelles, washed and cleaned
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • a few branches of fresh rosemary
  • one tbsp. of butter
  • 1/3 cup of dry red wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Method
  • Cut tops off the zucchinis and scoop the flesh - you can use it to make another dish.
  • Sprinkle the inside with salt and set aside.
  • Cook the buckwheat.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet, add onion and saute it.
  • Add rosemary leaves. After about a minute add chanterelles.
  • Cook over moderate heat for about 5.
  • Add wine and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add buckwheat and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  • Stuff the zucchinis and cover with tops.
  • Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes.

rhubarb syrup

It’s one of the best ways to capture the taste of summer in a glass bottle. Rhubarb syrup is extremely easy to make and can be used in multiple refreshing ways. You can add it to homemade iced tea or simply serve with sparkling water and plenty of ice cubes. I highly recommend a cocktail made of rhubarb syrup and wheat beer, with a hint of lemon and fresh mint. If you plan a summer evening on a terrace, make a spritzer with crisp white wine and sparkling water or pleasantly chilled prosecco.

Recipe: Rhubarb syrup

Makes about 400 ml of syrup
Ingredients
  • 1 kg of rhubarb, chopped
  • one cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • juice of one lemon
Method
  • Combine rhubarb, sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan.
  • Bring to boil and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.
  • Let cool and sieve to separate the liquid from the rhubarb (you can use it to make a cake).
  • Transfer the syrup to a bottle.
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