My Grandma’s Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

22 Nov

With Christmas around the corner, ’tis the season to be making pudding. Personally, I haven’t always been a massive fan of dried fruit cakes, but I always have a soft spot for my Grandma’s famous Christmas pudding.


She has been making it for as long as I can remember and it has always been well received by all who cross its path. Absolutely delicious warmed, with or without custard, cream, maybe a scoop of ice cream for the guilty. When she discovered she was a coeliac nearly 20 years ago, she adapted the pudding so she could continue to indulge in its warming rich fruity goodness.  To this day, it still the best Christmas cake/pudding I have ever, ever enjoyed. I hope you do to..

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(This recipe should happily feed 20 to 30 people, and gets better over the last days of the year)

Ingredients:

375g butter plus extra for greasing cooking mold/bowl

3 cups dark brown sugar

6 eggs

1kg dried mixed fruit (try mixing your own so your pudding can feature your favourites)

1 1/2 cups plain gluten free flour (found in most grocery stores)

6 cups of white gluten free bread crumbs (if you can’t find them, make your own using gluten free bread)

pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda

pinch of nutmeg

3/4 cup brandy or rum

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Firstly, soak your mixed fruit in brandy (or rum) over night.

Next day, brush your pudding bowl (approximately 4L give or take), thickly with butter so as to avoid sticking.

Cream your butter & sugar, then add your eggs one at a time. Mix in your brandy soaked fruit, then your breadcrumbs.  Sift flour, spice, nutmeg, salt and bi-carb soda, then fold into your fruity mixture (don’t over work).

Place pudding mixture into greased bowl and cover with a clean cloth (tea towel is fine if you can’t get hold of muslin cloth).

Cook for 6hrs in boiling water in a large enough pot to fit your pudding and allowing enough space for you to be able to pull out the bowl without getting water in it or burning yourself in the process.

Once the bowl is removed, allow to cool then place into the fridge until Christmas Day (Christmas puddings are able to be stored for many moons so you can make this one well ahead of Christmas, just be mindful of fridge space if that is an issue).

On Christmas day, place the pudding back into a pot of boiling water (like before) for 2hrs.

When you are ready to remove the pudding and present it, run the blade of a knife around the inside of the bowl to loosen from the edges. Firmly hold a large plate on top of the bowl and invert (this can be tricky and you may need a second pair of hands to assist). Slowly lift the bowl away from the pudding.

Serve warm with custard for the next month 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Bex

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Giant Choc Chip Cookies

22 Feb

Everyone should have their own favourite cookie recipe and this one is mine. They are super easy to make, and delish! Amazing if eaten when still warm. Be warned, they can become very addictive!

Giant Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups plain flour

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 1/2 cups choc-chips

250g unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

Few drops of vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 190C. Grease two baking trays, and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, combine flour and choc-chips.

Chocolate & Flour

In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar with hand-held beater until the sugar has pretty much dissolved (It should lighten in colour slightly and be quite creamy at this stage). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well (it should now be a coffee colour and fluffy).

Cream Butter & Sugar With Eggs

Add butter mixture to the flour and choc-chips. Mix with hands until it just combines, make sure not to over work it.

Cookie Dough

Use dessert spoon or soup spoons and heap mixture to measure out onto the cookie sheets (mixture should be quite sticky/messy). There should be space for a maximum of 6 spoonfuls to each tray.

Ready to Bake


Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or as soon as you see they are lightly browned on top (depends on oven). Make sure you check them frequently because they can cook really quickly in the last minute or two. 
Let cookies stay on tray for about 1 min then transfer to wire rack with spatula to finish cooling.

Yeilds  about 20-25 medium cookies or 12-18 Giant ones

Yummy!

ENJOY!

New Shanghai ~ Brisbane CBD

30 Jan

The husband and I dropped into the New Shanghai restaurant in Queens Plaza earlier today to try out their dumplings. If you don’t know me well, then you may not know of my dumpling obsession.

As we arrived, it was apparent that there was going to be a wait. Not too long a wait though for a CBD lunch break (about 10mins).

The dumpling kitchen had large windows to peer through while you waited. This however didn’t make for good viewing. Watching uncoordinated staff scrape away and stab with wooden spatulas at oversized mounds of raw mince doesn’t get my appetite going.

New Shanghai

We were seated on a corner of a large round table (the place was packed, so good of them to be utilising the space). New Shanghai’s decor is quite lovely, actually. From the Chinese wall art, to the colour coordinated tea pots, lanterns and replica firecrackers, the ambience was well executed.

New Shanghai Interior

As we were having our order taken, at approximately 12:15pm, we were told that the top 5 Dim Sim items were no longer available. This was rather frustrating because we were planing on ordering 3 of them. Quickly we chose alternative dishes that included Shallot Pancake, Pork & Chive Dumpling, Beef & Coriander Dumpling, and a serve of the Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup.

Shallot PancakePork & Chive Dumpling

Beef & Coriander DumplingChicken & Sweet Corn Soupl

To be quite frank, almost everything we received was ordinary if not disappointing. The Shallot Pancake was a little on the burnt side and over seasoned. The dumpling wrappers were rolled too thick which lead to us being served up overcooked gluggy noodle pastry, which was haphazardly wrapped around uninspiring chewy meat centres. The soup was ok.

The condiments were scarce. One bottle of soy and one of vinegar. I tried to get attention of one of the wait staff during our visit to ask for some chilli, maybe a shred of ginger..but no luck in stopping anyone for more than the second it took them to deposit the food in front of us without so much as a glance.

Drinks were hit and miss. I ordered a Mango Blended Ice and Timbob ordered a Pineapple Blended Ice. They came out looking completely different (more than likely screwed up the order). Mine was awesome.. Tim’s not so much.

Mango Blended Ice

Speaking on behalf of dumpling lovers everywhere, New Shanghai really isn’t the place to get your steamed delight fix. The service was fast but impersonal, the food poorly executed and a bore, the ambience pleasant but not enough for a return visit. Try alternatives like Bamboo Basket across the river for a truly tasty dumping feast. Bex

Food: 1.5        Drink: 2.5       Service: 3       Ambience: 4

New Shanghai

LG 23 Queens Plaza
226 Queen St
Brisbane QLD 4000

07 3108 7652

7days Lunch & Dinner
New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Nagomi ~ Eagle Street Pier

29 Jan

Looking for quick and tasty bite for lunch by the river? Then you must go check out Nagomi at Eagle Street Pier.

You can choose between Bento Boxes (traditional box shaped dish that contains a selection of rice, meat or fish, pickled vegetables), Don Buri (bowl of steamed rice with a section of toppings such as teriyaki or Japanese curry), or from a range of sushi, salads and sides.

I myself have tried both the Chicken Karaage Bento Box and Chicken Teriyaki Don Buri on separate occasions.

Bento Box

Both were delicious, containing high quality ingredients, and were ready for the taking in under 10 minutes. Great place to visit for those quick CBD lunch breaks.

Nagomi caters for a reasonable number of patrons with ample seating and provides friendly and prompt service.

Nagomi indoor seating

These guys are now open for dinner & drinks on Thursday & Friday nights featuring a new Izakaya  inspired menu (Japanese drinking establishment for casual after-work drinking).

Nagomi outdoor seating

Pop in for lunch, or a sneaky after work drink and graze. You wont regret it. Bex

Food: 4        Drink: 3.5        Service: 4       Ambience: 4

Nagomi

Shop 7
Eagle Street Pier
45 Eagle Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

07 3229 6886

Mon to Fri Lunch from 1130am
Thu to Fri Evenings from 530pm

Nagomi Bento on Urbanspoon

Lee House Korean BBQ ~ Sunnybank Hills

18 Jan

Tucked away in a local Sunnybank Hills shopping centre , is the ambient Lee House Korean BBQ restaurant. A great setting for our 2nd Bytes of Brisbane Dinner Club.

IMAG0573

“It was a meat extravaganza!” Aiden, BBQ enthusiast.

This restaurant does catch your eye, both with decor and their bustling patronage. I remember walking past this one a couple of times and seeing the happy faces of the customers greedily tucking in and enjoying the cook your own concept.

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“Great food, service was quick and friendly. Great company 🙂 ” Natalie, Mother of Three.

Fresh and tasty, the meat combination platters were generous and came accompanied by traditional home made Korean sides and sauces. Chilli Rice Cakes, Potato Salad, and a deliciously pungent Kim-chi.

Each table has its own ventilator above the charcoal powered grills – not electric woohoo! The staff were attentive, changing the grill mesh regularly.

IMAG0577 IMAG0578 IMAG0579

Lee House has a few Korean beers on offer such as Cass and Hite if you are keen to keep it Korean, unfortunately there is no BYO.

The owner came out to check that everything was well received and spoke of how all the dishes were traditional and home made.. clearly very proud and enthusiastic of his establishment.

“Authentic menu options, friendly service.” Kylie, Animal Lover.

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Lee House Korean BBQ doesn’t take reservations so be sure to get in early with larger groups. A worthwhile visit and a big thumbs up from me.

Food: 4        Drink: 3        Service: 4       Ambience: 4.5

Lee House Korean BBQ

Shop 29 Pinelands Plaza
663 Beenleigh Road
Sunnybank QLD 4109

07 3423 8875

Tues to Sun  10am till 10pm

Lee House Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Pawpaw ~ Woolloongabba

11 Jan

If you haven’t had a chance to get to Wooloongabba of late then you are definitely missing out on a range of great coffee and brunch spots (not to mention some of the best antiquing to be had in the Brisbane area).

A favourite of mine would have to be Pawpaw, the little cafe attached to the back of the Green Papaya on Stanley Street. Pawpaw has definitely been making a lot of noise around the local scene, packing out on a regular occasion.

Pawpaw InteriorPawpaw Interior

What I love about this place is that the menu is not only delicious, but exciting too!

Pawpaw Specials Menu

When we visited the bustling cafe on a random Sunday morning, we were greeted warmly and seated promptly. Not only is there an exciting specials menu for the adventurous, there is also a standard menu that will hit the spot with most punters.

I ordered the Baked Eggs slow cooked with spiced sofrito (a Latin American sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs), organic feta, chorizo & dukkah. In a word – Awesome.

Baked Eggs

Timbob ordered the California Breakfast Burrito (shock), which included black beans, cheddar, scrambled eggs and a tomato & coriander salsa. Also well received.

Californian Breakfast BurritoCampos Coffee @ PawpawPawpaw

Their coffee was good and the cake cabinet looked rather enticing. We will definitely be back for lunch and dessert in the very near future. Cheers!

Food: 4.5        Drink: 3.5        Service: 4.5       Ambience: 4

Pawpaw Cafe

Cnr Potts and Stanley Street
Woolloongabba
Brisbane QLD 4101

07 3891 5000

Tues to Sun 6:30am till 3pm
Pawpaw on Urbanspoon

Bamboo Basket ~ South Brisbane

30 Sep Pork Wontons with Spicy Garlic Vinegar Sauce

Timbob, Mr Moo and I had a great evening last week wandering around South Bank and checking out the Brisbane Festival scene. However, one of the highlights for me was dropping into Bamboo Basket back on Grey Street.

As we arrived, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘it’s beautiful!’. And it truly is. The decor in the restaurant has been well sourced. From the chandeliers, to the stone wall trimmings, to the eclectic Asian theming of plates that arrived at the table.

Bamboo Basket Bar

Bamboo Basket Interior         Bamboo Basket kitchen pass

The place was busy when we got there but from the look of enjoyment on diners faces, we were happy to wait. The service was reasonably fast and attentive (maybe just a little chaotic and unorganised at times).

The food was AMAZING! I must warn you that I am coming from an ‘obsessed with dumplings’ point of view. We ordered only from the dim sim menu: the Steamed Pork Dumplings with Soup filling; Chicken & Chinese Vegetable Water Dumplings; Beef Pan Cakes, Shredded Duck flat bread, and Steamed Pork Wontons with Spicy Garlic Vinegar Sauce. Did we over order? Yes, yes we did. BUT, it was worth it to try a good range. My favourites were the soup filled dumpling and the duck flat bread.

Beef Pan CakesPork Wontons with Spicy Garlic Vinegar SauceShredded Duck Flat BreadChicken & Chinese Vegetable Water Dumplings

I can’t wait to get back here with a group in one of the private alcoves at the back of the restaurant. So many menu items yet to try. The drinks menu was adequate featuring sparkling, white, red, beers, spirits and non-alcoholic choices. Nice spot for a small celebration, family dinner, or a pleasant night for two.

Food: 5        Drink: 3.5        Service: 3.5       Ambience: 4.5

Bamboo Basket

Shop 1003 – 1004
199 Grey Street
South Brisbane QLD 4101

07 3844 0088

Mon to Sun 11am till 10pm

Bamboo Basket on Urbanspoon

Piaf ~ South Brisbane

24 Sep

Recently, on a cool Brisbane evening, my party and I visited a lovely little cafe bistro in the dining precinct behind South Bank. The bistro’s name, Piaf.

For those who are unfamiliar with Piaf, it prides itself on its affordable and tasty French inspired cuisine.

As we arrived, we were welcomed with warm smiles and offered drinks promptly. The waitress that attended to us was also very accommodating to our little Mr. Moo, offering advice on menu items that may suit little peoples taste buds.

We ordered a selection of entrees and mains. The Beef Carpaccio was soft, delicate on the palate, and broke apart when trying to select portions from the plate. The Sea Scallop Tartare was delicious and accompanied by preserved lemon gel and confit watermelon. One of the diners ordered the twice baked cheese soufflé that apparently was very good, so good in fact that we weren’t even allowed a taste (order envy!).

  

The mains (and one entree) we ordered were: the Calvados Pork Belly with turnip fondant, pear puree, rhubarb & jus; the Rabbit & Pork Rillette with pear Chutney, golden raisins & toasted baguette; and the very popular Victorian Lamb Rump with roasted cauliflower, pumpkin puree & chermoula. All dishes were lovely, some elements a little underwhelming, but otherwise delish.

  

  

We also ordered the Pear, apple & rhubarb crumble with candied fig ice cream. Nice enough, but the most exciting part was the candied fig sitting atop of the ice cream. The wine list isn’t very big and all selections are from France only, but the quality does make up for the quantity and assortment.

Food: 4        Drink: 4        Service: 4       Ambience: 4

Piaf|Cafe|Bar|Bistro

5/182 Grey Street
Southbank QLD 4101

07 3846 5026

7 days a week – 7am till late

Piaf on Urbanspoon

BRISBANE FESTIVAL ~ September 8th – 29th 2012

21 Sep Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden

This year’s Brisbane Festival is on until the 29th September, where it ends with the big bang of Sunsuper Riverfire!

If you are in the vicinity of the Brisbane River, you’d be a fool to miss this spectacular event! For those on a tight budget, there are plenty of free activities and sights to marvel at across South Bank.

Every night from 7pm, sit back, relax, and enjoy the Santos GLNG City of Lights laser and special effects show from the Santos GLNG Lounge in the cultural forecourt at South Bank. Later on, wander over to the Wunder Bar, at QPAC’s Cascade Court, for a drink or two and some cool tunes.

Santos GLNG City of Lights  Santos GLNG City of Lights

Make your way back to the Cultural Forecourt to take in the beautiful arrangement of the Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden, and if you have the stamina, make your way into The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent’s Garden Bar to take in the Festival vibe.

Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden  Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden

Over the other side of South Bank (Sidon Street end, River Quay), the Golden Casket Light Sphere is a sight to see with its arrangement of mirrors and feature lights.

Golden Casket Light Sphere  Golden Casket Light Sphere

Tonight (Friday 21st September), make your way to the Roma Street Parklands for an evening of Symphony Under the Stars performed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and friends. Featuring some well known classical pieces by the likes of Verdi, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Dvorak, Bizet Rossini and more.

So drive, walk, City Cat, train, bus, ride, or taxi your way to the Brisbane CBD and river for all this and more. Everything above is free so there is no excuse for missing out on this amazing event, (excluding transportation and food & beverages). You have until next weekend, so get out there and celebrate your city now!

Cookiebex

Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant & Catering~ Moorooka

11 Sep Bytes of Brisbane Dinner Club

Over the past year I have had some followers ask me if they can get themselves an invite when Timbob and I venture out for dinner around Brisbane. So I went ahead and created the Bytes of Brisbane Dinner Club, where members can dine together once or twice a month at nominated restaurants across Brisbane and its surrounds. With a mixture of peoples opinions and tastes, I hope to create a review that offers more than just my personal view.

Mu'ooz

I hosted the very first Bytes of Brisbane Dinner Club the other week at Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant. You may be asking yourself, ‘What is Eritrean Cuisine?’ And in turn I will say to you, ‘It is Awesome!’, if I may be so bold.

Eritrean cuisine, funnily enough, comes from Eritrea. A small country on the African continent situated between Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Red Sea. Eritrean cuisine resembles its neighbours, Ethiopia and nearby Somalia, and also includes interpretations of classic Italian dishes due to its colonisation by Italy in the late 1800’s.

Mu’ooz is tucked away downstairs in the Ranchhod Arcade on Beaudesert Road, Moorooka. The Director, Saba, is one of the many behind the Mu’ooz enterprise that was set up in 2003 by the Eritrean Women and Family Support Network. Its aim:

‘To create training and work experience opportunities for refugee women from Eritrea and surrounding African countries. As well as providing an opportunity for paid employment for refugee women and their families, the restaurant improves cross-cultural understanding and assist with breaking down barriers in the local community.’

Once inside, the warmth of the decor was ever present. We were greeted by the manager, Denise and our waitress for the evening, Adram.

Our Wonderful Hosts ~ Adram & Denise

Throughout the evening, we were well looked after. One of the diners joining us was pregnant and requested some carrot to crunch on during the meal and they were more than happy to oblige. We went ahead and ordered a share platter ($22pp and dish selections increase with number of diners). Our platter came with Enjera (sponge like flat bread, great for sopping up tasty goodness), Brusn (red lentils stewed with mild Eritrean spices), Shiro (finely grounded chickpeas and spices served with stuffed chillies), Qulwa (tender lamb sauteed in tasame with onion, garlic, rosemary and green chillies), and Beef Zighni (traditional spicy curry flavoured with berbere, onion, tomato, garlic and tasame). All of these dishes were delicious and surprisingly filling. I was particularly taken by the Lamb dish.

Share Platter

‘Interesting food, brilliant staff!’ ~ Mel, Teacher

Eritrean Coffee Ceremony

Roasted BeansJebena

‘Great food and lovely atmosphere. Really good dishes to share. Loved the coffee.’ ~ Liam, Noodle Lover

Dinner was finished up nicely with a traditional Eritrean Coffee Ceremony performed by our waitress Adram. We had the best seat in the house for this one. The ceremony is held in front of a beautifully hollowed out clay stone wall filled with decor originating from Eritrea in design. Firstly, the green coffee beans are roasted in a pot over an open flame. Once roasted, we were given a chance to each take in the aromatic smoke. The coffee beans were then taken and ground, boiled and served in a traditional piece of pottery called a Jebena. The coffee was strong (which I don’t mind), and had a great depth of flavour. Highly recommended.

I have to say, I think this place is just great and this was definitely the vibe I got off the group as we left the establishment.

‘Great for sharing, and completely unlike anything I’ve had before. Very recommendable..’ ~ Tim, Mayor of Awesomeville

Bytes of Brisbane Dinner Club

Food: 4.5        Drink: 4 (cool drink range lacking however BYO and coffee ceremony are of note)        Service: 5       Ambience: 4.5

Ranchhod Arcade (Downstairs)
197-201 Beaudesert Road
Moorooka QLD 4105

07 3255 8992

Tuesday to Saturday 12 – 3pm and 6 – 9pm
Bookings of over 10 Available Monday and Sunday by request

Mu'ooz Eritrean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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