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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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Moroccan Beef Stew

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I’m back! Did you miss me?
I know it’s been forever since I last posted, but with good reason…I’ve spent the last 3 months working on cruise ships performing and teaching belly dance. It was a fantastic experience! I met some amazing people and saw some amazing places and generally had a great time. It was weird though to rely on someone else cooking for me every meal every day! It was pretty straightforward sticking to a Paleo/Primal diet (although you never really know if there are some nasty hidden ingredients), but on the whole I did well and I lost weight too! I think I’m probably the first person in history to lose weight on a cruise ship! It’s quite terrifying to watch how much and what people eat when allowed free reign of the buffet!

I was at a friend’s house for dinner the other night. He made the most delicious lamb and prune stew with – kind of Moroccan spiced. I had some beef in my fridge and decided I would try to recreate it at home the next day so that Mr (not entirely) Grain Free could try it (he wasn’t with me on Friday night).
The result was delicious, although I think the flavour of lamb suits the spices better, so I would urge you to make it with diced lamb leg if you can get it. If you’re not a lamb fan, do not worry, it is still delicious with beef.

Moroccan Beef/Lamb Stew (serves 3-4)

500g stewing steak/ leg of lamb, cubed
1 cup prunes (pitted)
1 red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp red chilli, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
Sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C
Put all ingredients except the coriander leaves in a large lidded casserole dish – no need to brown the onions or meat first (honestly it makes no difference and just makes extra work).
Give it a good stir so that the liquid and spices coat everything.
Cook in the oven for around an hour and a half. Check after an hour to make sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked away. You can always add a little more chicken stock if it is already looking a bit dry.
Just before serving, stir in the chopped coriander leaves.
I served my stew with cauliflower ‘cous cous’ (made the same way as cauliflower ‘rice’)

Asian Slaw

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It’s been a long time since I last posted, I know and I apologise! Life has just been getting in the way recently, plus with the weather being warmer (finally!) and things being busy, I haven’t been doing so much cooking. I’ve been chowing down on a lot of salads. I based this one on something I had in Cambodia, but I have to (rather arrogantly) say that my version was even better than the original. This makes quite a large amount which would be perfect as a take along dish for a barbecue.

Asian Slaw (serves 10)

3/4 of a pointed cabbage, finely shredded
3 carrots, grated
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tsp black onion (nigella) seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
For the Dressing
1 tsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp coconut aminos
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mix the vegetables and seeds in a large bowl
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing
Pour over the veggies and toss well.
Voilà – enjoy with some Asian spare ribs or some other kind of delicious marinated meat!