Enjoy mulled drinks and roasted nuts...

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As the festive season approaches, How about trying a mulled drink with a twist - why not give mulled cider a try?

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Private chef, author, presenter and former River Cottage head chef Tim Maddams gives his recipes for two mulled drinks.

Mulled wine: he says to start with a fairly decent bottle of wine. “You can use whatever spices you like - allspice, ginger, honey, a little chilli, cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass, or whatever. But I always add a little whisky, or apple brandy or port even, to pep it up a little.”

Once you’ve added the spices, then let the mixture stew a while just below a simmer and keep tasting it to see if the flavours need adjusting.

Mulled cider: Tim also suggests this drink as an alternative and Heron Valley Drinks sell mulled spice sachets to help you along. You simply warm up a bottle of still cider with sugar to taste, half a lemon and a spice sachet – or you could make a non-alcoholic version using just the sachet and apple juice.

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Roasted nuts

For a seasonal snack to stuff in a paper bag and carry on winter walks, try making your own roasted nut mixture. Coat a selection of shelled nuts in melted butter and honey, then cook in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, you can add extra flavourings like salt, cinnamon or chilli.

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Biscuit decoration

Simple homemade biscuits can be turned into a little festive treat. Once you’ve cut out the biscuit shape from the dough, make a small hole using the tip of a knife near one edge. Make sure it’s big enough as it will shrink a bit in the oven. Once cooked and cooled, dredge with icing sugar, then thread a ribbon through the biscuit and hang on the tree.

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