This Christmas holiday period, my favourite beach spot Kutti Beach is where I’ll be holding a family beach-themed picnic. The soiree will take the shape of a moveable feast with pistachio stuffed mushrooms followed by apple cider vinegar and smoked paprika pulled pork sliders with apple kaleslaw and homemade Christmas fruit cake. Finger food at it’s finest, guaranteed to bring a whole lot of merriment amongst the sandcastles!
To avoid the culinary festive pitfalls that accompany many Christmas Day celebrations, I look to organization as my main game plan and this is where meal planning comes into it’s own. For me it’s all about note pads, to-do-lists and pre-preparation so that the day runs as smoothly as possible with minimal input effort and big impact dishes.
To get the ‘baubles’ rolling, I plan to make as much as I can the day before, so for the first course, I’ll whip up the mushroom stuffing pre-Christmas day and then marinade the mushrooms on the morning of, ready to bake at the last minute.
Stuffed mushrooms are the perfect bite sized entree that won’t fill you up too much but will provide a delicious combination of nuttiness and flavor plus they have the movability factor down pat. These little ‘shrooms’ can be easily transported if there isn’t “mushroom” in the car once the family, presents and beach gear has been bundled in.
- 16 button mushrooms or 8 large Swiss brown, washed and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 40g chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 200g finely chopped pistachios
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Place mushrooms in a large bowl and steep briefly in hot water
- Pat dry with paper towel. (This helps mushrooms soak up marinade)
- Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl
- Add mushrooms to marinade mix, ensuring each mushroom is well coated, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Meanwhile, mix stuffing ingredients together in a bowl
- Remove mushrooms from fridge and transfer to a baking tray, cap side up
- Divide stuffing mixture among mushroom caps
- Transfer to oven and cook for 20 minutes
Slow Cooked ACV & Smoked Paprika Pork with Apple Kaleslaw
Wherever you’re spending Christmas day this year, whether it’s a cool or warm climate no one can deny that feeling you get from eating a slow-cooked main meal. Bursting with Ayurvedic spices, my apple cider vinegar and smoked paprika pulled pork recipe would have to be one of my favourite versatile climate-change meals.
“Think of slow cooked meals as dishes that allow you to create an even better flavour with time, so you can make it a day ahead and then enjoy the robust flavours the next day”.
Pre-planning and pre-making is a cost effective and time saving way to transform and re-purpose ingredients and meals throughout the week. You can read more about my ‘continuum cooking’ and repurposing philosophy in my brand new e Book The Renewable Table.
Make this dish the day before and when choosing your pork for the sliders, look for natural pasture-fed varieties.
As a Christmas lunch recipe, this hands-on pork dish will keep every family member satisfied with it’s multitude of spices that add sack loads of flavour – think peppercorns, fennel seeds, and smoked paprika. The slight tartness of the apple cider vinegar (ACV) perfectly compliments the spiciness and the juiciness of the tender pork. During the slow-cooking process, these ingredients combine to produce even greater flavours and aromas. Wedge it between a slider bun or a couple of pieces of gluten free or sour dough bread.
These Christmas day leftovers will be easily stored in the fridge or freezer to be reheated for a filling lunch or dinner during the week, when the last thing you feel like doing is spending scared holiday hours hanging by a hob.
To prepare ahead for the apple kaleslaw (a healthier alternative to the preservative laden creamy coleslaw), chop the raw vegetables such as cabbage capsicum and carrot a day earlier and whizz up the dressing storing both in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Then on the day and all you need to do is chop the apples and dress. Convenience at its best!
Slow Cooked ACV & Smoked Paprika Pork with Apple Kaleslaw
- 1 x large free-range pork shoulder off the bone
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 250ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1 dried chili or 2 tsp. dried chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp. rice malt syrup
- Apple kaleslaw to serve (recipe below) and/or sliced avocado
- Preheat oven to 220°
- Remove skin from pork by running a knife underneath and set aside rind for crackling
- In a mortar and pestle pound dry rub ingredients apart from rice malt syrup to release flavours
- Place dry rub ingredients together in a bowl add rice malt syrup and combine
- Sprinkle pork with salt and then add olive oil and place in flameproof casserole dish and over high heat on stove brown off both sides
- Remove from heat and let cool then work dry rub into the pork ensuring you are pushing it into all the creases
- Drain excess fat from pan and pour apple cider vinegar over the top
- Place pan in oven for 20 mins then reduce heat to 140° and roast for 4 hours until tender and can pull apart easily
- Top up with apple cider vinegar periodically if needed
- Remove from oven and using two forks pull pork apart to shred it
- Place on a tray to use and serve as a slider or sandwiches with the kaleslaw and some avocado (I used gluten free bread in the photo above)
- Left over pork can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for 4 days
Apple Kaleslaw with Creamy Dressing
- 4 cups thinly sliced Tuscan kale
- 2 apples (red or green), sliced into very thin wedges
- 1⁄2 cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 red capsicum, seeds and membrane removed, thinly sliced
- 1 small carrot, grated
- Parsley, or micro herbs, to serve
Creamy Sesame Dressing
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 1⁄2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1⁄4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
- 2 tbsp. sugar-free mustard
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor with a generous splash of filtered water and blend until smooth
- Place the slaw ingredients in a bowl, stir through the dressing and serve
Supercharged Christmas Fruit Cake
I hope you’ll enjoy my foolproof fruitcake recipe, which can be made at anytime simply and easily with a minimum of festive fuss. It’s a handy one to have at home in case a friend drops in or you can leave it in its baking paper and wrap it up in a pretty bow to take to your Christmas party. You have my personal guarantee that everyone will be very impressed!
This cake is one of those flexible feasts for stress free festive entertaining. You can add in whatever dried or dehydrated fruit you have in your cupboard or try it with a combination of fruits depending upon your tastes, guaranteeing you a different experience each time you make it.
The fruit adds an element of natural sweetness so there’s no need to add any refined sugars, or sugar substitutes. I bought my dried fruit individually at my local supermarket as many of the mixed fruit varieties had added preservatives and additives as well as sugar. I used dates, prunes, cranberries, raisins, sultanas and currants and a few of my own dried apricots and blueberries. I also added Omega 3 rich walnuts to impart a delicious crunch as you bite into the cake. The richly dark and intense flavour means you’ll only need a small slither to be fully satisfied.
Mixing is the fun part of the recipe. I used my hands to get all of the ingredients conveniently jam-packed into the tin. You can be as creative as you like with the cake tin too, I baked mine in the shape of a heart because Christmas is about celebrating the love we share for one another.
My Supercharged Christmas fruitcake will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month.
I hope you enjoy this moveable Christmas feast. Let me know what you are planning to make for Christmas in the comments box below 🙂
Makes one cake
- 200 g almond meal
- 50 g walnuts chopped
- 650 g mixed dried fruit of your choice, such as currants, cranberries, blueberries, raisins, figs, apricot, sultanas, cherries, dates
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. allspice
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. gluten free baking powder
- ½ tsp. bicarb of soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla powder or extract
- Pinch Celtic Sea Salt
- 1 TBS lemon zest grated
- 3 TBS lemon juice
- 4 TBS coconut milk
- 3 TBS walnut oil (or almond or light olive oil)
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds for decorating
- Preheat your oven to 160 C and line an 18cm cake tin with baking paper
- In a mixing bowl combine almond meal, chopped walnuts, dried fruit, spices, baking powder, bicarb of soda, vanilla, sea salt and lemon zest
- In a separate bowl place lemon juice, coconut milk, oil and eggs and whisk together
- Add the dry ingredients to wet and fold through with a wooden spoon
- Spoon the mixture into prepared tin then press the mixture down into the tin using your hands so that it is compact and tightly packed
- Bake for 1 hour on the middle shelf of the oven
- Open oven and placed blanched almonds on top and return to oven for 30 mins
- Check cake with a skewer and remove the cake from the oven when the skewer comes out clean
- Let cool and then carefully remove from tin
- Store in sealed container in fridge
I hope you have a wonderful festive season and a very Merry Christmas.