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Paleo Christmas Pudding

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Happy New Year!!!
I hope you all had a good Holiday season and that 2014 is treating you well so far.
I had a lovely Christmas, staying in a house in the country and cooking Christmas lunch in an aga – a very different experience indeed! I have to say, the slow-roasted turkey that my sister and I created (15 hours in the aga) was amazing! Tender and delicious!

Anyway, I know that I’m a bit late with this post (I should really have posted this before Christmas, but you know how busy a time it is). Now you have it well in advance for next year!

Before I went grain-free, I always loved the flavour of Christmas pudding, but I must say I found it terribly stodgy and ridiculously filling/bloating (maybe that was partly to do with the fact that it always came at the end of Christmas lunch during which I had stuffed my face!). This Christmas pudding however has all the delicious, boozy, fruity, spicy flavour of a traditional Christmas pud, but a lighter texture. I can honestly say, I much prefer this version to the original and I have even converted a few people who never used to like Christmas pud! If you don’t like a lot of booze, you can certainly lessen the quantities (or omit it altogether).

Paleo Christmas Pudding (makes 1 medium and 1 small pudding)

Ingredients:
7 dates
200g prunes
100g raisins
100g sultanas
1/3 cup dark rum
1/3 cup brandy (plus extra for igniting the pudding before serving)
1 large carrot, grated
1 apple, finely chopped
5 eggs, beaten
150g grass-fed butter (or ghee), frozen and grated
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of half an orange
1 tsp vanilla
150g ground almonds
2 tbsp coconut flour
3 & 1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Put the raisins and sultanas in a bowl, cover with the booze and leave to soak for a few hours or overnight.
Place the prunes and dates in a jug, cover with boiling water and microwave for a minute or two until the water is boiling and the fruit is soft. Drain off the water.
Purée the prunes and dates in a food processor and leave to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, puréed prunes and dates, spices, vanilla, zest, orange juice, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add in the flours.
Next stir in the grated carrot and chopped apple, along with the boozy dried fruit (including the booze!)
Finally, grate the frozen butter and add into the mixture.
Grease your pudding basins and set up your steamer(s) or slow cooker.
Steam (or slow cook) your puddings for around 4-6 hours.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate for up to a week and a half until Christmas Day, or when needed.
Before serving, steam the pudding for a couple of hours.
Turn out onto a plate and decorate with holly if you like.
Pour a tablespoon or two of brandy into a metal ladle and heat over a burner until warm.
Ignite the brandy and pour flaming liquid over the pudding. Keep spooning it up and pouring it over the pudding to keep the flames going while you wow your guests or family! Be careful not to burn yourself or set fire to your house in the process!
Serve with homemade brandy butter, brandy cream or regular heavy cream (if you are Primal), or whipped coconut cream for a truly decadent but delicious Holiday treat!

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Quick and easy weeknight meal

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During the week I’m all about quick and easy meals, however I’m not willing to compromise on taste. This roast duck was not only delicious, but very quick and easy. Get the cabbage cooking first if you like your duck still pink inside and your cabbage soft. If you prefer your cabbage to still have a little crunch, get the duck in the oven first. This dish, to me, epitomises winter comfort food. The spices in the cabbage remind me of Christmas!

Roast Duck Breast with Braised Red Cabbage (serves 2)
Ingredients:

For the duck:
2 duck breasts
1 tbsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Rub half of the 5-spice powder over the bottom of the duck breasts and season with salt. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Make diagonal criss-cross cuts about 2cms apart on the skin. Only go as deep as the meat, don’t actually cut through the meat. This will help to release the fat and helps the skin go crispy. Rub the remaining spice powder over the skin side of the duck breasts, pressing it into the diagonal cuts.
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven.
Cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked.

For the cabbage:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
2/3 of a large red cabbage
A generous knob of butter
1/8 tsp allspice
4 juniper berries, roughly chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp water.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
Then add the cabbage and apple. Stir well to coat with the butter.
Add the spice, juniper, vinegars and water,then season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on and let the cabbage cook in the steam from the juices over a medium heat. This can be left to simmer on a low heat for up to an hour if you want the cabbage really tender, however make sure it does not boil dry or burn.
Serve with the duck breasts. Don’t you dare not eat the delicious crispy duck skin!