Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Pudding!

There has always been a pudding on the table at our Aussie Christmas gatherings. It's just not Christmas without one! The dried fruit soaking for a day (or perhaps many days because there were other things to do) is a sign that Christmas is coming, eventually. Because this kind of pudding is made a good month or so ahead. And once it is cooked, now and then open the covering a little and inhale the spicy fruity goodness.

American friends, this is not what you think of as a pudding. To translate it, you could call it a steamed fruit cake (one that you want to keep, not re-gift) that is served hot, with ice-cream, perhaps a brandy sauce, or all of the above. If you want to go all the way, set the thing on fire with brandy! You think I'm joking.

The traditional method of making a pudding involves boiling the pudding inside a floured cloth. However there's a risk that the water will get through and all you have is a soggy mess. This is the 'modern' method, circa 1970's.

This is the kind of pudding that inspires songs, so I will bring you the figgy pudding, right now...

Christmas Pudding (for USA ingredient availability)

1&1/2 lb  (750g) mixed dried fruit. i.e. mostly raisins, golden raisins, figs would work, and a handful of cranberries, candied ginger is a great addition. Whatever sounds good to you.

6 tablespoons rum or brandy

8oz (250g) butter, room temperature

Extra butter for greasing, about 2 tablespoons worth.

8oz (250g) brown sugar or coconut sugar

grated rind of 2 oranges and 2 lemons

10 drops total, orange and lemon essential oil, optional. (EDIBLE QUALITY ONLY, e.g. Young Living brand.)

4 eggs, room temperature

2oz (60g) slivered almonds

1 cup plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (AUS bicarb soda)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each; nutmeg, ginger, cloves (Or, 'pumpkin spice' is kind of the same thing)

4oz (125g) soft breadcrumbs (i.e. a slice or two torn up and whizzed to crumbs in a food processor. One of those little combo immersion blender / mini food processors will do the job. And many other jobs! Get one.)

Cooking vessels are important in mixing up your pud. You need a large crock pot. Also a pudding bowl, one that is dome shaped and will fit inside the crock pot. Or, I have seen pudding made in mason jars, but be sure to cook the puddings with the LID OFF and covered as described below. I don't want you to have an explosion on your hands.

STAGE ONE - soak the fruit

Roughly chop all the dried fruit, smallish. Mix through your rum or brandy, cover and leave to infuse overnight. If you don't get to it until days later, nothing bad will happen.

STAGE TWO - mix the pudding.

Get your butter and eggs to room temperature. Put the eggs in a bowl of hot water. Ideally, leave the butter out for 30min, or warm it for just a moment. Don't melt it!

Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices. Stir in the breadcrumbs and set this aside.

Add the slivered almonds to your tipsy dried fruit mix.

Melt some extra butter and generously grease your pudding bowl. Cut a circle of parchment paper and place at the bottom of your bowl, greased both sides.

Beat the butter, sugar and citrus rind until creamy, by hand or with and electric mixer.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add half the fruit & nut mix and half the flour mix. Stir well.

Add the remaining flour and fruit. Stir again.

Scrape your mixture into the greased and lined pudding bowl.

Cut another circle of greaseproof paper to cover the top of your pudding.

My circa 1970's recipe says to cover the pudding again with a pudding cloth, scalded and floured, tied with a string. My other job is in fashion, so I do have fabric lying around. If you don't, I'd say foil would work just as well.

OK, your pudding is mixed!

STAGE 3 - cook the pud.

Place your pudding bowl into the croc pot and then pour water into the croc pot to reach half way up the side of your bowl. Cook for six hours on low temp. Remove when cool to touch.

STAGE 4 - waiting waiting...

Your pudding is best made about a month before.

STAGE 5 - serving

To serve the pud in all it's Anglo glory, you can warm it in the crock pot (up to 2 hours!) tip it out onto a plate. Warm a little brandy in a saucepan, set a match to it and pour the flaming brandy over the pudding. Or, I may post a non-flaming brandy sauce later.

If you don't want to warm the whole thing (because there's probably a good 20 servings in there) you can cut out as much as you need, wrap it in foil and warm in a steamer.

You'll want some ice-cream or cream with this, because it's mega-rich $$$

No need to rush. Your pudding will keep well for many months.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas spice granola

A generously spiced granola mix for Christmas, full of healthy goodness.

Dry mix;
4 cups rolled oats, preferably organic. That also goes for all the following ingredients as well.
1 cup of coconut flakes
1 cup approx., mixed nut and seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts…)

Wet mix;
1/3 cup of coconut oil
½ cup of honey. I don’t bother with raw honey here, seeing as it will be cooked anyway
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
¼ cup of cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 -2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground
½ teaspoon of sea salt

After cooking;
1 cup approx, mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries…)

1. Preheat oven to 315F convection (if you don’t have convection oven, 325F regular oven) In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut & nuts. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine oil, honey, & cocoa powder and spices. Bring to a gentle boil & remove immediately from heat. Stir in vanilla.

3. Drizzle syrup over oat mixture; mix well.

4. Bake 12min, stir, 12min again. Depending on your oven, it may take a little more or less time. Granola is done when it’s fairly dry.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Mix in dried fruit.

* Best made in dry weather! Rainy weather may give you damp granola.


NYC fabric sourcing


Friday, August 21, 2015

Almond cookies / bikkies

I made these recently and my sister in law said they were 'the best cookies she'd ever eaten!' So I thought I'd better share the recipe. It's a health-ified version of the Peanut Butter Crinkles my Mum used to make when I was a kid, from an Australian Womens Weekly cook book. I used almond butter this time, but you can try any other nut butter. I have tried to make the measurements trans-continent friendly! It's not a recipe that requires precise measurements, so USA or Australian cup measure is fine.  I prefer to use nut butters that are purely ground nuts, but shh! This time I actually made these to use up the almond butter with sugar and salt added that would not have been great in other things. You can also try them with a handful of choc chips thrown in, peanut butter and chocolate - a very USA combo!  Or, use tahini as the nut butter and roll the tops in sesame seeds before baking. Call them cookies or bikkies, depending on which side of the Pacific Ocean you are.


125g butter at room temperature (USA 4.4 oz or 2 small sticks)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt (not necessary if your butter and/or nut butter are already salted. Adds a nice sweet/salty flavour)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup almond butter
1& 1/4 cups wholemeal flour /whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (USA baking soda)
1/3 cup chopped almonds


1. preheat oven to 180C or 350F and prepare tray

2.  cream together the butter, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla. stir in almond butter.

3. sift flour, salt and soda into the mixture and stir to combine. add chopped almonds and stir again.

4. shape tablespoonfuls of dough into a slightly flattened cookie shape. press twice with a fork for a crinkle top.

5. bake 15min and cool on the tray.

Comments? Please add comments! But be nice, nasty comments will be deleted.

Friday, July 17, 2015

You got to know your chilli!

Traveling between Australia and Texas USA, the word 'chilli' with various spellings, can be a little confusing.

CHILLI (or chili)
In Australia, a chilli is the little red fruit that burns your tongue. Most commonly you can buy birds eye chilli, red or green.  In Texas you can order a whole bowl of Chili as a meal, because it's short for Chili Con Carne, usually just called Chili.

In the USA the hot little red fruit is called a Chilli Pepper and a plethora of varieties are available. habanero, poblano and most commonly, the jalapeno, if you are brave, eat jalapenos whole and stuffed. I'm still building up my chilli pepper tolerance for this one. And of course, an American 'pepper' without the chilli is what an Aussie would call a capsicum. In Australia, if you are talking about Chilli Peppers, you mean the band.

Chile on a USA menu, means a salsa made from green chilli peppers. I recommend it on your burger. In Australia, Chile is the South American country where I assume, they eat a lot of chilli peppers.

If you'd like to try a little Mexican flavour, click here for an Aussie Chilli Con Carne recipe.
A Gourmet Traveler recipe, not my own. But I've tried it and can say it's good.

Comments? Please add comments! But be nice, nasty comments will be deleted. 


Do you speak Aussie?

Just for fun, a couple of blokes explaining how to speak Aussie.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lost in translation

Here's my translation guide on West Texan English, for Australians. 

Y'all - Plural you, a contraction of 'you all', widely accepted and to be used at every possible opportunity, and you may hear 'all y'all' which would in Australian English be 'all of youse'. 'Who all' is an interesting variation which makes the word 'who' plural.  Eg. Who all was there?

Itty Bitty - A small object.

Fixer-upper - A house that requires 'fixing up'. Also known in Australia as a renovator's dream.

Fixin' - This word has a number of applications not heard in Australia;
1) planning to. Eg. We are fixin' to go to the store.
2) side dishes. Eg. Turkey with fixins.
3) ingredients. Eg. Salad fixins.
4) making something with above mentioned fixins. Eg fixin' supper.

Pocket book - Can be used to describe a woman's handbag. Or a pocket sized book-wallet hybrid. This was a new one to me, and a little confusing!

Hunky dory - Everything will be alright. Or, Bob's your uncle. I do have an Australian Aunt who says hunky dory, but thought I'd include this one just for fun.

Do-hicky - Thingamy-bob.

We watched Crocodile Dundee recently and were reminded why it's a classic. I can relate to our friend Mick Dundee here. Enjoy the clip! And please share any fun Southern or Texan words I've missed.

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