Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table
While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.
“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792
Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon
Mulled wine has been popular for hundreds of years, imbibed not only on festive occasions but also because of its healthful ingredients. The inclusion of egg yolks in the hot, spiced drink seems to have disappeared by the nineteenth century, as that ingredient is rarely found in later recipes. When using this eighteenth-century recipe from Elizabeth Raffald, take care in combining the yolks with the hot wine and in pouring the mixture back and forth between two saucepans; this will quickly stop the egg yolks from cooking as well as aerate the thickened drink. Raffald recommended pouring the wine “several times till it looks fine and bright.” When correctly prepared, the mixture will indeed appear smooth and velvety.
This hot, rich wine is delicious served on its own. It can also be served, as Raffald recommended, in the traditional manner—in chocolate cups (small mugs) with “dry toast cut in long narrow pieces.”
This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups dry red wine, divided
About 1 cup sugar, plus more as needed
6 large egg yolks
Dry toast strips for serving (optional)
1. Stir the nutmeg into 3 cups of the wine. Add the sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat as soon as the mixture boils. Taste the sweetened wine and add more sugar, if desired.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and lemon-colored. Mix in the remaining 1 cup of wine. Slowly add the egg mixture to the hot, spiced wine, stirring constantly to prevent the egg yolks from curdling. When the mixture is well combined, pour it back and forth between two saucepans to cool it quickly and incorporate some air.
3. Heat the mulled wine over low heat, stirring constantly until it is hot and begins to thicken. Make sure the wine remains just below a simmer to prevent the egg yolks from curdling. As soon as it thickens, pour it back and forth between two saucepans several times to cool it quickly and incorporate some air.
4. Serve the mulled wine immediately in mugs or heatproof glasses, accompanied by toast strips, if desired.
Research & images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website, MountVernon.org.