CHRISTMAS PUDDING REHEATED SERVED WITH VANILLA CUSTARD

This Christmas Pudding will now become a Christmas tradition - it turned out beautifully.  Rich, moist, packed full of flavor and served with a homemade Vanilla custard, it was the perfect dessert after turkey dinner.
RECAP:  To store the Christmas Pudding:
While the Christmas Pudding was made in November it was then wrapped very well in plastic wrap, then in 2 layers of tin foil then was placed into a plastic bag where it was stored in our very cold garage for the month.
To reheat the pudding:
Place the container (still wrapped in plastic and foil) into a 7 quart crock pot and fill with boiling water to reach 3/4 the way up the sides of the container.  Heat on high for 1 hour.  At that point, I turned off the crock pot, but left it still inside to stay warm to serve after dinner.
Carefully remove the pudding from the hot crock pot.  Allow to cool about 10  minutes, then unwrap.  Carefully use a knife down the sides of the pudding pot and invert onto a plate.  Brush lightly with more of the honey liqueur or brandy and serve with this lovely vanilla custard - we use lactose free dairy.
Vanilla English Custard:
1 1/4 cups cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 generous tsp. organic vanilla
5 medium egg yolks or 4 very large egg yolks
4  Tblsp. organic coconut sugar
Pour cream and the milk into a sauce pan.  Add half of the sugar and vanilla then mix well.  In a separate bowl whisk the yolks and remaining sugar until pale yellow.  Heat the milk/cream on medium low heat, stirring, until it comes to a light boil then remove from the heat.    Add a ladle full of the milk/cream slowly to the eggs whisking the whole time.  Keep adding a ladle full of the milk/cream until all is well combined making sure to whisk non stop so there are no curdles in the mixture.
Pour the mixture back into the pot and return the pot to the stove on medium heat.  Constantly stir with a wooden spoon.  After several minutes the eggs will now be cooked and the custard should coat the back of your spoon.  Remove from the heat and pour into a serving boat/cup.  Can be served hot or cold and will keep 5-6 days refrigerated.

It seems Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake is something you either love..... or not.  I have not had Christmas Pudding or Cake in many many many years, and I absolutely love them both.
(the above picture is not mine - I won't be able to unveil my picture until Dec.24th so will keep everyone posted on the success of this endeavor)  In the meantime - here is how this Christmas Pudding was created. (I am 99% positive it will be a winner. The batter had just the right consistency you know?)
Before beginning this post I must give a huge thank you to a few people.  This recipe was inspired by a Gluten Free Christmas Pudding recipe from Jamie Oliver's site - so many many thanks for creating a gluten free version of this wonderful Christmas Pudding.  Secondly, a huge thank you to Mairead of the blog Irish American Mom.  I took many tips from her recipe and in particular on how to steam the pudding using a crock pot.  Ingenious yes?  Please check out Mairead's recipe - an excellent tutorial and post.
Then I found the answer here on how to store your Christmas pudding.  I wanted to store it in the same container as I will be reheating it on Christmas Eve to serve with Vanilla Custard.  As mentioned previously, I will show pictures of the end result on Dec. 24th - soooo excited!
In terms of this gluten free recipe, I did make a number of changes, as well as changing the method so will do a recap here. Plus the original recipe is in grams.  While I do have a scale, the grams are somewhat difficult to read/measure - so this recipe is converted into cups.  I used a 1.5 liter aluminum Christmas Pudding baking pan, and Mairead uses glass mixing bowls which work very well too.
It is a bit late in the year to make a Christmas Pudding - but oh well, it should be fine anyways.  (I made mine on Nov. 28/16) I have read you can actually make Christmas Pudding a few days before Christmas, but doing it earlier of course will enrich the flavors.
Next:  typically Christmas pudding is made with Brandy.  It just so happened, my dtr. & I attended a Christmas Craft show, where we found this:
The Wayward Order has created this spiced honey liqueur  made locally in Courtney B.C.  Wow what flavor.  It has such a touching write up on the bottle it is worth sharing here:
WE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY AGAINST THE GRAIN
THE WAYWARD ORDER
KRUPNIK - SPICED HONEY LIQUEUR
On the back of the bottle it says:  "Our Wayward Krupnik is a deeply aromatic blend of spices, citrus and wild B.C. honey delicately blended with our hand-crafted honey spirit to create a superbly rich and soul-warming liqueur.  Let the opulent tradition of this drink seep into your bones.  Krupnik is 100% natural."
"CRAFTED BY HAND IN RIDICULOUSLY SMALL BATCHES".   You gotta love it!  By the way, it tastes wonderful - and with the subtle flavors of spice and citrus it is perfect for Christmas Pudding. Plus, it is completely GLUTEN FREE!
Apparently Krupnik has just recently been released, so they did not have large batches available.  Next year I will definitely be getting some more.
Recipe:
2/3 cup currants
3/4 cup sour cherries - from canned in a jar (I roughly chopped the cherries and used the extra juice from chopping them)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/3 cup chopped dates
Juice and zest from 1 lime
Juice and zest from 1/2 a large orange
1/3 cup mixed peel
5 Tblsp. Earl Grey tea - cooled
1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 1/2 Tblsp. Krupnik or Brandy
3/4 cup Coconut sugar
1/2 a large apple - grated
1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1/3 cup Almond flour
Just slightly under 3/4 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (I used Udi's bread to make the breadcrumbs)
1 tsp. gluten free baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
pinch of salt
2 large organic eggs plus 1 large egg yoke
1 tsp. vanilla
24 hours ahead of time: in a large glass bowl combine the first 13 ingredients, including any juice from chopping the cherries.  Mix well, cover and let sit 24 hours.
The next day (to measure how much water you will need in your crock pot) put your Christmas Pudding baking pan into a large crock pot (mine is a 7 quart) and fill the crock pot with hot hot water to measure 3/4 up the sides of your  pan.  Remove the pan and set the crock pot on high to bring to a boil.  Mine took a good hour plus to reach to temperature.
Grease your baking pan with butter and cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the top of your pan.  Lightly grease the parchment with butter.
Next: add the chopped walnuts and grated apple to the fruit - mixing well.  In a separate bowl, whisk the almond flour, baking powder and breadcrumbs and set aside.
In another bowl beat the butter and sugar - it will be lumpy.  In a smaller bowl beat the eggs well, with a hand mixer then add to the butter/sugar mixture with the vanilla.  Beat well with the hand mixer.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture stirring well with a wooden spoon, then add in the fruit and all the liquid again mixing well.  Pour into your prepared Christmas Pudding baking pan and top with the buttered parchment paper.
Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, then wrap the pan in tin foil twice to completely wrap and secure the baking pan.  Tie well with kitchen string leaving a bow at the top for easy, careful removal after steaming.
I followed Mairead's instructions for steaming the pudding in a 7 quart crock pot:  1 hr. on high, and then 6 hr.'s on low.  Check half way through cooking time and if necessary top up the crock pot with more boiling water.
Here is a picture of the cooled Christmas Pudding still in the container:  (whooo hooo this is so gonna be good!)  At this point, once completely cooled, resize a lightly buttered piece of parchment paper to fit over the pudding.  Top with the lid, then wrap tightly twice in plastic wrap, then re-wrap twice in tin foil.  Store in a cool dry space. In the next post I will give information on reheating the pudding.
Stay tuned...for updates of the unveiling of my very first Gluten Free Christmas Pudding with Vanilla Custard - hopefully on Dec. 24/16.  Many thanks again to Jamie Oliver's site, to Mairead of the blog, Irish American Mom, and to the Wayward Order...this could not have been done without you.  🙂

Nothing says spring like fresh, beautiful rhubarb.  (well that and fresh asparagus)  I love the gorgeous pink color....in fact when chopping the rhubarb it turned my cutting board pink!
While strawberries are not in season until June, I did use organic halved frozen strawberries in this dish.
There could also not be an easier dessert to make.  This recipe will easily feed 4 for a good 2 days.
6 cups chopped fresh organic rhubarb
3/4 cup water
1 cup organic cane sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tsp. vanilla
1 rounded Tblsp. cornstarch, and water to lightly thicken
1 rounded cup of frozen strawberries (mine were halved, then cut into quarters)
2 gluten free ginger snap cookies (we used Mary's Organic) chopped small - for a garnish
whipped cream (we use lactose free)
To a large pot, add the water, rhubarb, ginger and sugar.  Bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer cooking about 20 minutes.  Stir frequently, until the rhubarb is no longer chunky.
Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.  Make a cornstarch slurry and slowly add to thicken. (the rhubarb will also set in the fridge)  Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla and strawberries stirring well.
Transfer to a large bowl, and refrigerate until cold.
Serve the rhubarb/strawberry compote in a clear round wine glass, or dessert cup alternating with the whipped cream.  Top with the chopped ginger snap cookies.  Enjoy!  🙂

Merry Christmas everyone, and all the best for 2016.  Wow, that sure came up fast - where does the time go?
Mercy!  This was one decadent chocolate fudge cake.  It is rich, with full on chocolate flavor, a nice touch of cranberry, dense and ultra moist.  A very special occasion festive cake.
What is really nice about this cake is it is super easy to put together, and can be made the day before.  I used this recipe here as a guideline, and changed up the method- it easily converted to gluten free - always a bonus in this household.
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup of organic coconut palm sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup Gluten Free flour:  to a 1/4 cup measuring cup add 1  1/2 Tblsp. sorghum flour, then top it up with tapioca starch. (brown rice flour instead of sorghum flour should work as well)
1/2 tsp. Gluten Free baking powder
Glaze:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8 inch round cake pan with tin foil.  Coat the foil with cooking spray, and lightly dust with sweet rice flour.
In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, and 2/3 cup chocolate chips stirring until smooth.
Stir in the cranberry sauce and sugar mixing well.  Whisk the eggs  in a separate bowl.  Add in the vanilla, flour, baking powder, and the eggs mixing until a smooth batter forms. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.  At the hour mark, insert a toothpick into the center - it is set if it comes out clean.  If not it may need another 5 minutes or so.
Cool in the pan for 30 minutes then refrigerate one hour or until cold.
For the glaze, melt the cream and chocolate chips on low heat, stirring until smooth.  Add in the cranberry sauce - whisk well.  Turn the cake onto a flat plate and pour the glaze over the top, spreading slightly with a spoon so it runs over the edge.  Chill 1 hour or until glaze is firm.  Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whip cream.  Pure wickedness...enjoy!  🙂

If you love the flavors of gingerbread, this is a cake for you!
I found a most gorgeous picture of this Gingerbread Cake with Sticky Toffee Date Sauce in a local grocery store flyer, which then said to check out their recipe website....here is the original.
I have made this cake twice now.  The texture is luscious, moist and dense.  The first time I used Organic Coconut Palm Sugar - which is my main source of sugar when baking.  However, I did find that it gave too strong a flavor particularly with the cooking molasses called for in this recipe.  A light organic sugar, will give this recipe a much better flavor.
When converting cakes to gluten free, I am a wee bit on the skeptical side as cakes have always been my biggest challenge in terms of gluten free baking.  We loved the texture of this cake, which says it all when it comes to baking a gluten free cake.   This would also make a great dessert for Christmas.
DATE PASTE:  (I made this the day before - quick and easy)
1/2 of a 500 gram pkg of pitted dates, chopped
boiling water to cover
Place chopped dates into a 4 cup glass measuring cup.  Add boiling water to cover.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Strain the water into a bowl, then add the dates to a food processor. (I used the small bowl attachment to my food processor).  Add 5 Tblsp. of the date water to the dates and process until smooth - scrape down the sides and continue to pulse until you have a nice paste.

Refrigerate until needed.  This will make more than you need for the Sticky Toffee Date Sauce, I froze the rest until the next time I make this recipe.
GLUTEN FREE GINGERBREAD CAKE:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch spring from pan, and cut out a round piece of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan.
1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 cup White Rice Flour
3/4 cup Cornstarch
2 Tblsp. Sorghum Flour
1 rounded tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. each:  cinnamon, cloves, ginger
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup butter - room temperature
2 large eggs
3/4 cup cooking molasses
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
Place the sugar and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat well on medium high until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Beat in the eggs and molasses, again scraping down the sides until well incorporated.
Pour the boiling water into a glass measuring cup, mix in the baking soda until dissolved.  Keep the stand mixer on medium, and very slowly dribble into the sugar egg mixture.  Then using a big spoon add in the dry ingredients a spoonful at a time.  Scrape down the sides as necessary, and mix until a smooth batter forms.
Pour batter into cake pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes or until the cake is set and springs back when gently touched in the center.  Once out of the oven, if the cake has cracks like this - no worries, you will end up turning it upside down onto a plate before serving.  Trust me, this cake is luscious, moist and dense...an amazing combination!

Place the baked cake onto a wire rack to cool.  Once at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
STICKY TOFFEE DATE SAUCE:
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
3 Tblsp. date paste
1 tsp. pure vanilla (I use organic Mexican Vanilla)
Add everything to a pot on medium to medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat but keep on a good simmer until it slightly thickens - about 4 minutes.
Cut the cake into wedges, and serve with the Sticky Toffee Date Sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

I have never made a double crusted pie before... ahem-mm, as you can see from the photo below, I am no pie master, plus, I cheated!  Normally I always use the never fail Dream Pastry from Bette Hagman's book:  Bette Hagman Cooks Fast and Healthy.   However, this time I tried Glutino boxed Perfect Pie Crust - we were all pleasantly surprised at how good it is.  No paid advertisement here...just wanted to share something that is new to our household as it is worth sharing for those of you that might like to give this pie crust a try.
For the Pie Crust:  the recipe calls for 1 box of Glutino Pie Crust, 3/4 cup cold butter plus 2 Tblsp butter, 2 eggs, 4 tsp. vinegar, with added water if necessary.  It rolled out quite easily, and when in a pinch for time - this was the way to go!  The inspiration for this recipe can be found here.  Each recipe I have ever tried from Canadian Living or adapted to Gluten Free has never failed - they are always a success.
7 cups chopped/peeled tart apples (I used organic transparent and a few green apples)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
3 tblsp. sweet rice four
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tblsp. water
2  9 inch gluten free pie crusts
organic cane sugar - for sprinkling on top of the pie
Roll out your pie crust to line a 9 inch pie plate.  Combine the apples, lime juice and toss in a bowl.  In another bowl, combine the coconut sugar, sweet rice flour and cinnamon, whisking well.  Pour over the apples and toss to coat well, then pour into your pie crust.  Paint the edges of the pie crust lightly with water.  Roll out the 2nd pie crust and place on top of the apples loosely, then pinching the edges.  Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tblsp. water, and brush over the pie crust.  Make a few cross slits in the pie crust with a sharp knife, then lightly sprinkle with the organic cane sugar.
Place your oven rack on the lower 1/3 bottom of the oven.  Preheat to 400 degrees.  Bake the pie at this temperature for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 40 minutes, until golden and the apples are softened.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Lovely served slightly warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

I know....I know.  All of my cakes with white frosting look the same don't they?  But this, .... this is Orange Chiffon Cake.  Yes, Gluten Free Orange Chiffon Cake. This is a cake that has always been a family favorite for us.  Once I went gluten free many years ago, I thought that would be the end to Orange Chiffon Cake.  Well, life has just gotten better for us in these neck of the woods, and hopefully for all of you gluten free'ers too!
With my son's recent birthday, I decided to scour the internet for a recipe which I have found here.  There was a great round of applause at our dinner table this night believe you me.
I made a few changes to the recipe:  instead of water I used fresh squeezed orange juice with the zest from one orange.  We do not use white sugar in this household, so I substituted it with organic coconut sugar, and therefor changed the method.  I also omitted the cream of tartar and reduced the salt, plus I accidentally reduced the baking powder and it came out great.  This is one fabulous cake!  Many thanks to Elizabeth Barbone for her inspiring recipe.
(By the way...I have a number of new fabulous gluten free recipes to test...we are entering our high, busy season now, so it may take me awhile...but promise they will be coming!)
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 1/4 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking powder (I used 1 rounded tsp. of baking powder)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
7 large organic eggs, separated
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of one large orange
1/2 cup of grape seed oil
2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.  In another large mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla whisking very well until incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking well - the batter should be thick and smooth.
In another large bowl, whip the egg whites with a hand beater until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the egg whites 1/4 amount at a time.  Fold gently until fully combined.
Spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan spreading out evenly.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is golden and springs back to the touch.
I placed the cake pan upside down onto a wine bottle to allow to cool for 1 hr 15 minutes, then take a knife to run along the outside edges of the pan and the tube to remove onto a platter.
Orange Frosting:
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup of butter
3 1/2 Tblsp. thawed orange juice from concentrate
4 Tblsp. milk (I used rice/quinoa blend)
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl, and mix with a hand mixer until soft and smooth.  Ice the cake once cooled.
As you can see this cake was 1/2 devoured after dinner - so moist and flavorful.  (the golden brown color of the cake comes from the Organic Coconut Sugar and orange juice)
Orange Chiffon cake is back in our lives.....yayyyy!

I have heard from many a backpacker/hiker that our stunning West Coast Trail is not for the faint of heart, however, it is also considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.  It is a hiking trail with miles of rugged beaches and forests, that many people have done more than once in their lifetime.  If you would like more information on this amazing West Coast experience you can check here.  Check out the West Coast Trail Gallery...the pictures are fabulous!
The original recipe for West Coast Trail Cookies came from a newspaper article I had read.  It has taken me months to finally get down to converting it to Gluten Free.  They are a cookie I have never tried before, so I was not really sure what to expect.  My Dtr. has tried the original version....she assures me these are most worthy to be classified as a Gluten Free West Coast Trail Cookie.  They are a hearty, dense, flavorful cookie that would make a great breakfast cookie, as well as giving you a good boost of energy for those many miles of hiking.
Dry ingredients:
2 cups Organic Quinoa Flakes
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch
2/3 cup Sorghum Flour
just under 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 rounded tsp. dried Ginger
2 tblsp. ground Flax meal
pinch of salt
Wet ingredients:
1 cup of butter
2 large organic eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup organic coconut sugar
Fruit/nuts/seeds:
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone pad or parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy.  Add in the sugar and continue to beat until incorporated.  Then add in the eggs and vanilla - beat for another 3-4 minutes until well combined, then set aside.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, mixing well.  In a smaller bowl combine the fruit, nuts and seeds.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet - mixing well.  This is a very thick, sticky batter - keep mixing with a wooden spoon until combined.  Then add in the fruit, nuts, and seeds, mixing until incorporated.
Keep a bowl of water on hand to dip your fingers in to keep your hands moist so the batter will not stick to your hands.  Roll the dough to a good 1 inch size, and then press down with a fork to flatten to 1/2 inch disk.

Bake 18-20 minutes - this will make about 40 cookies.  Great for a good hike, or for a mid afternoon snack, or a good start to your day...enjoy!

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