Tag Archives: Food

Christmas, Our way.

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Christmas is over for another year, we are packing away the decorations and the wrapping aper and boxes have successfully been shoved in the recycling bin. Now that it is all over, I just thought I’d share a bit about our day.
It was set to be a fairly quiet Christmas in our house. For the first time ever, my husband and I were the most senior members of the family present, with just our children and and my daughter’s partner joining us for the day. Basically, it was just the people who live in our house and who are with us for almost every meal! This seemed like a fairly boring prospect to me – not that I don’t like eating with these people, just that we do it every day. I couldn’t imagine how we could make it ‘special’, and I was finding it very hard to get enthused.
I had bought a heap of seafood at our local farmer’s market and was trying to think of something cool to do with it, when the idea of making a paella jumped into my head. Closely followed by dreams of a Spanish feast with an assortment of Tapas dishes!
I was feeling a little more enthusiastic about the whole deal with this break away from tradition. The only problem was that when you don’t have a lot of people getting together it can end up being a huge workload for one person to try and make a special meal and I wasn’t looking forward to that.
It was about then that I had my second great idea (even if I do say so myself!). I asked each of the children if they could contribute a Spanish tapas dish to the meal. They needed to do some research on the internet and find a suitable dish to cook, organise the ingredients, and prepare the meal.
This task was approached with great enthusiasm by them all. It only took my youngest about 5 minutes to decide on his recipe, and fortunately for me it was a nice easy one (ie. not too messy!) – marinated mushrooms.
Axel with mushrooms
Next in line was my oldest son with a huge bowl of garlic prawns, complete with crusty bread to soak up the oily garlic sauce.
Jayden 1
Jayden 2
My middle son continued in the seafood theme making fried calamari with a garlic aoli dipping sauce.
Zac cooking
calamari
And finally my daughter and her partner made Spanish meatballs.
Cooking meatballs
They also decided to make a gingerbread house, which wasn’t exactly in keeping with the Spanish theme, but was yummy and fun and a reminder of the gingerbread houses we used to make every year when the children were younger.
Gingerbread house making
gingerbread house
I added to the tapas with crumbed green olives, chorizo and capsicum tarts, and chorizo in apple cider.
My tapas on table
The tapas made a delicious, long, all day lunch. We all took turns in the kitchen and just added our dishes to the table when they were ready. We even had little bell, so when a new dish was on the table the cook could ring the bell to let everyone know.
As you tend to do on Christmas day, for some reason I thought we would need more food!
We had the grand finale, a big seafood paella, and platter of slow cooked lamb shanks at about 9 o’clock that night, followed by Churros con Chocolate for dessert. These were actually a bit of a disaster, especially compared to the ones my beautiful Spanish friend sometimes makes for us, but everyone was too full by then to care anyway.
Paella
(This is not my usual Christmas look lol. We had been for a swim in the afternoon, so I have swimming pool hair and a sarong!)
I have to admit, I did miss having the huge crowd of family around that we used to have, but it was great fun to try something different from the traditional Christmas feast. The best thing was having all the kids involved, cooking together, and making some great Christmas memories.
I hope yours was great too. Sharee x

Here are some of the recipes we used…

Chargrilled Capsicum and Chorizo Tartletts

Fried Green Spanish Olives

Fried Chorizo with Apple Cider

Spanish Paella

Churros con Chocoate

Post Christmas cooking

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Yum, Christmas food is soooo good, especially those leftovers that seem to last until New Years. I still have a slab of Christmas cake and a slab of fudge in the freezer that I have managed not to eat, but I am saving these for my big son who was overseas for Christmas this year. Other than that, all the Christmas food is gone. I know this is a good thing. I have started exercising more seriously again this week, and I need to get back to eating healthy.
I just find it really hard to go ‘cold turkey’ on the sweet food after Christmas. I am already craving just one more fruit mince tart lol. So, today I decided to make some Dried fruit truffles. They are a bit healthier than the fudge and fruit mince tarts. I stared with a recipe but didn’t have half the ingredients, so a new recipe was born! Here it is.

Sharee’s Post Christmas Fruit Truffles

1 cup seeded chopped dates
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts pieces
3 heaped tablespoons light cream cheese
3 tablespoons liqueur (I used Amaretto because I had some left over from Christmas but you could use any liqueur
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

I put all of these ingredients in a bowl and processed them together using my stick blender but you could use a food processor if you have one. Stop processing as soon as the cream cheese and fruit is all smooshed together. It’s good if it still has a few bigger bits in it.
My mix was still pretty sticky, so I crushed up all the left over sweet biscuits I could find in the house. This was about

1/2 packet of sweet biscuits, crushed

Stir these into the fruit mix.
Use your hands to roll into balls with about 1 teaspoon of mix in each ball (this gets pretty messy as the mixture is still quite sticky).
Roll balls in

Almond meal (I had some Almond Meal left over from Christmas, but if you don’t have any you could use coconut or cocoa)

Store truffles in a container in the freezer and eat straight from the freezer when you need a post Christmas sugar hit.
Enjoy!

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Speaking of Almond meal, I must show you a photo of the macaroons that my daughter made for Christmas.

Salted caramel macaroons

She makes the best macaroons ever. We weren’t sure how they would go in Queensland’s more humid weather, but I think they turned out even better.
She learned how to make them from this great little book.

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These ones were salted caramel flavour – yum. To do this she made vanilla flavoured macaroons onto which she sprinkled a little bit of rock salt. Then after they had cooled she filled them with Nestle ‘Top’n’fill’ caramel which worked great.

Here is another healthy treat that we have been enjoying today.

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Did you know about this? I didn’t, but my Mother in Law introduced us to Watermelon with ginger. You just chop up some watermelon into a bowl, sprinkle it with about 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and wait 5 minutes for the ginger to soak in before eating. It is really yummy – you should try it. I bought a whole watermelon this week so I think I will make some watermelon sorbet tomorrow.
I hope you are eating yummy things too.
All the best,
Sharee

It’s a Cordes kind of Christmas, part 2

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“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, of all the trees most lovely”. We were in a bit of a dilemma when it came to getting a Christmas tree this year. As you will know if you have read my earlier post, in the past we have always had a real Christmas tree that we cut down from the forest. This was easy when we lived in Mt Gambier which is surrounded by pine forests, but now that we are living in the city it is of course not possible, so what to do about a Christmas tree? Going out and buying a fake Christmas tree was just out of the question for me I’m afraid. We looked for places to buy cut Christmas trees in Brisbane and although we found a couple of places they were both a long way on the other side of Brisbane, and the trees were $70 each!
What we decided to do was to head down to Bunnings garden department and see what we could find. Bunnings had a couple of large Pine trees in pots, but these were $145 and looked like they would need to be planted out in the garden soon. We spent a long time wandering around the garden centre, picking out any bush we could find with a Christmas tree shape, looking for plants with branches suitable for hanging decorations and picking out the tallest things we could find. We considered topiary shaped bushes, lilly pillies, all the conifers, and even mango and macadamia trees. In the end we settled on a nice little Daintree Rainforest pine for $12. They had a big one of these pines there and it looked really nice with it’s very fine needles, so hopefully we will have ours for a few years and it will grow up to look great too. At the moment it is a cute little baby one.

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This left us with the small problem of what to do with the Christmas lights and decorations because obviously we wouldn’t fit much on the tree. Walking around the garden section of Bunnings I suddenly had a brainwave. We raced around the corner of the shelves and found the trellis and other climbing plant supports, and that is were we found an awesome ‘cane obelisk’ for only $24 – perfect! Here it is in all it’s decorated glory. We made little hooks out of wire to hang the decorations on. I just love it, so glad we didn’t just rush out and buy a fake Christmas tree.

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Ok, that’s the tree sorted out, next thing is the Christmas food.
One of my most favourite parts of Christmas is sitting back in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and leafing through all of my recipe books picking out yummy things to make for Christmas. Here are some of my favourite books this year.

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My lovely mother in law Ros has given me one of these books for Christmas every year for the last few years and I have my fingers crossed that she will do the same this year because I just love them.
As I go through my books I make a list of all the things I would like to make, usually many pages long.

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We have talked about starting a tradition that we heard of somewhere, the ‘Twelve Desserts of Christmas’, because I always have way too many dessert dishes on my foody wish list. Bianca suggested that I need to write them all on little slips of paper and draw them out of a hat to decide which ones to make lol.
I’m loving taste.com.au because I’ve made a recipe book just for my Christmas recipes, so I can have them all in one place.
For the final Christmas menu I wanted to do something a bit different because it’s our first Christmas in Queensland and also our first Christmas without lots of family around, so here is our final menu…
Sweet treats – Baileys and Macadamia Fudge, Adults only Rocky Road, and Christmas Cake Pops
Breakfast – fresh fruit and Assorted Danishes from the market
Drink – Summer Iced Tea
Starters – huge prawns and moreton bay bugs cooked on the Barbecue
Lunch – Chicken and pork Terrine with cranberries and pistachios, American style Spare ribs, grilled vegetables with almond and wasabi dressing, beans with pancetta crumb and Mango, avocado and macadamia salad.
Desserts – Raspberry and white chocolate mousse, Almond Parfait
Dinner – Christmas ploughman’s with leftovers.

As if that isn’t enough, Bianca is going to make us some of her wonderful macaroons, hopefully salted caramel flavour – she is a bit of a macaroon expert. Mum has also bought one of her amazing traditional Christmas puds that she makes and I am really looking forward to that. We decided to have pork spare ribs this year instead of the traditional roast because that is something we love but never have because they’re a bit too fatty for everyday fare. Yum, yum, I’m looking forward to that.
The kids had a great time last night making the Christmas cake pops.

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They were a bit fiddly, but fun for the kids. The recipe is here.
Also, as my Christmas gift to you, I am going to share my absolutely favourite, super yummy, super easy fudge recipe. I make this with macadamias instead of pistachios. Sometimes it is a little soft, so I usually keep it in the freezer and serve/eat it while it is really cold – I have some in the freezer now, but it seems to be mysteriously disappearing so I think I will make another lot today. Here it is – enjoy!
Wishing you all the happiest of Christmases.
All the best,
Sharee

Manly Farmers’ Market

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This weekend I had my first experience of a Brisbane Market and it sure was a treat. The market we went to was the Jan Powers Farmers’ Market at Manly.
Jan Powers Farmers’ Markets are held at different venues throughout Brisbane, but on the third Saturday of every month the stall holders set up their produce in the parkland right on the beautiful Manly foreshore which is only a 5 minute drive from our house.

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We found a carpark only one street away and walked down the hill towards the market. On entering the market the first stall we came to was an old man selling buckets of lovely cold pressed honey. Beyond this we found a stall raising money for the Fred Hollows foundation where we made our first purchase of some fresh beans and corn, and each of the boys scored a hot corn on the cob that they agreed was the best corn ever.

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Everything you could ask for was at the market, fruit and vegetables, meat, eggs, yoghurt, coffee, spices, and of course lots of treats.

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Fruit and Veg stall

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Beautiful fresh Turkish Pide

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Fresh Pasta

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Humungous Lamingtons

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Amazing Ginger Beer

The best macaroons ever from an authentic French macaroon chef. I had the weekly special which was fruit mince flavour and had a golden sheen, it was superb.

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What I quickly realised is that I need a super good, and quite large market trolley. Any suggestions of where I could get one would be much appreciated. I also learnt that you need to wait until closer to the end of the market to get bargain price fruit and vegetables, but I was pretty happy as my fruit and veg was cheaper all up than what I would usually spend at the green grocers. We left the market with two boxes of vegetables, meat, fresh smoked salmon, berry yoghurt, cherries, cheese, bacon, fresh pasta and the cheapest free range eggs I have ever seen. We will certainly eat well this week, and I will be tempted to make the trip to New Farm to experience it all over again next Saturday. Yum!