The Yak can cook

The Yak made a special request that I blog his special Boxing Day potato fry up. I decided to honour this request, despite the fact that he was wearing a child’s Nerf gun in a holster and he had shot foam bullets at me whenever I entered the kitchen.

The Yak Speaks

I’ve always found potatoes to be the elixir of life, us pale skinny English boys love them.

Family tradition dictates that the Yak (me) makes a big fry up for Boxing Day dinner. There are always plenty of leftover potatoes from the Christmas evening dinner feast, as we cook enough to attempt to feed a small army. These leftover spuds are the base for this fry up.

Slicing the potatoes, put them into a well oiled pan and fry for 15 or so minutes, turning them over once they are golden brown. Use the leftover butter that’s set at the bottom of the bowl where the leftover potatoes were sitting and put it on top of the potatoes for extra buttery goodness.

As there’s so many (family and potatoes) I usually have two frypans going at once. Potatoes that are fried to perfection are placed in an ovenproof dish and kept warm in the oven until all the potatoes are fried. Whilst the fried potato treasure is keeping hot in the oven, fry as many eggs as you possibly can.

Thanks Mr Yak for sharing your culinary glory. We leave you with a few images from our Christmas and Boxing Day festivities.

Happy New Year.

Gluten free rumpled plum pudding and a scary Christmas tin

The tins sat nestled amidst a cacophony of ancient kitchenware in an inner west secondhand shop. The search for some vintage tins had been going for months. These, in my opinion, fitted the criteria. A bit worse for wear and a tad unusual. One had tiny Christmas bells adorning the sides with an image of a child in a blue head scarf on the lid. A small concern lurked in the far reaches of my brainbox and I said to the proprietor ‘Do you think the girl child on this tin is a little bit, well, scary looking?’

He agreed, but also stated that he didn’t mind vintage objects that had images of creepy children on them. I concurred, purchased the tin and proudly raced back to the car. When I showed the tin to the Yak and lads, they screamed in horror and ran crying in t’other direction.

Here it is. The jury is out. (Actually, the jury has voted and decided this is the kind of tin that should probably be in a horror movie….)

On to the cooking bit.

The Yak, being of the English variety, loves a spot of plum pudding. So a gluten free version was required. When a mere youngling, this Cheergerm loathed fruitcake and plum pudding type desserts. As an older cheery person, I have discovered that I quite enjoy a small piece of these fruity offerings. The key to success has been in only utilising fruits that I actually like and leaving out the dreaded dried peel, shudder. It is also important when choosing the alcohol to macerate the fruit in, that you use booze you like the taste of. In this case, I went for a luscious liqueur Muscat. On Christmas day, this dessert will be accompanying Sister No 2’s light, fruity Chrissy pudding ice-cream delight. The best of both worlds.

My plum pudding tin was looking slightly worse for wear so I had to line it with baking paper. This gave my finished product the slightly rumpled ‘I been sleeping too heavily on my pillow crease lines’ look. For quality control purposes, I took my trusty apple corer and snarfled a sample. It was bloody delicious. The smell of macerated fruit was intoxicating. It is moist, rich, not too sweet and you don’t miss the gluten at all. The pudding itself is now resting in stately grandeur. All tucked in, preparing itself for Christmas day scoffing.

The Cheergerm, the rumpled pudding and the little girl on the creepy tin wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.


4 cups of dried fruit in total, this is what I used:
1 cup dried figs, chopped finely
3/4 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sultannas
3/4 cup currants
3/4 cup raisins, roughly chopped (if large, mine weren’t so I left them)
1/2 cup of the booze of your choice, I used a liqueur Muscat
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbl orange zest
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups gluten free breadcrumbs
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Combine all of the fruits, alcohol, orange zest and orange juice in a medium sized bowl. Cover and stand overnight.
Grease and line a 6 cup pudding basin or tin. Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in the dried fruit mixture, breadcrumbs, almond meal, gluten free self-raising flour and spices. At this point, every member in our family had a stir of the bowl and made a Christmas wish. If you really want to be traditional, it is here that you would place a silver coin in the mixture. I am not sure I would want icky money in my food, so we chose to leave that bit out.
Spoon the mixture in to the prepared pudding tin and cover with greased baking paper and foil. Tie around the rim of the basin with kitchen string, securing tightly.
Stand the pudding on a trivet (or saucer in my case) and place in a deep saucepan or stockpot. Fill with enough water to come halfway up the sides.
Cover and cook for 5 hours over a medium heat, topping up with water as needed.
Serve immediately or if you are making your pudding ahead, cool down completely before wrapping well and storing in the refrigerator until needed.
Pudding can be reheated by returning to basin, covering and steaming again for approximately 1 hour. It can also be microwaved for about 12-15 minutes.
Flame the pudding and serve with custard. (Flaming means to pour brandy over the top of the pudding and setting alight. Let the most sober person in the room perform this ritual and try not to burn your house down.)

A slight Cheergerm adaptation of a Coles online recipe


Christmas advent calendars and cranberry chocolate pistachio shortbread

It has become apparent to me recently why ‘child friendly Advent calendars’ were invented. It was to assist parent conversations with time conscious, anxious seven year olds. In a Christmas nutshell; it was to avoid the parent in question, doing their nut and rocking in a corner with their thumb tucked safely in their mouth.

Kid 2, in his hyper awareness of the universe and it’s going ons, likes to know exactly what we are doing and when, what time it is, how many days until…..I mean it folks. He wants to know the answer to these questions, more than once a day.

Kid 2, to me, for the zillionth third time: ‘Mum, how many more days until Christmas?’
Me: (Imagine a sweet mummy voice here full of patience and infinite love.) ‘I don’t know darling, go and count the days on the Advent calendar.’

It is because of this calendar that, when faced with a constant barrage of Christmas time questions, I can present a patient, non-yelling like a deranged banshee parental face. This mummy can now rest safely at night, knowing that the authorities will not be knocking on the door anytime soon.

I blathered on about what shortbread means to me last year. In short, Christmas is shortbread and shortbread is Christmas. Up to today, this Cheergerm has baked good old fashioned shortbread, gluten free shortbread and chocolate ginger shortbread. (Hmm, I see a pattern.) Now I present to you a very grown up chocolate, pistachio and cranberry shortbread.

The buttery goodness of this biscuit mixed with tart berries, rich dark chocolate and a nutty crunch, is a festive delight and a wonderful Christmas edible gift. To top it off, this recipe can easily be made gluten free or not. The flour is a straight swap, just make sure you use a good quality gluten free flour blend.

It’s not so bad being a grown up if you get to eat biscuits such as these. Even if you do get asked the time and date more than one very human being ever should be.


250g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cups of gluten free plain flour or regular plain flour (I use a good quality gluten free flour such as White Wings.)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup lightly toasted pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually (I used a mixer), beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Add the pistachios, cranberries and chocolate and knead lightly to bring together to a dough. (I do this in the bowl.) Knead a little longer for a regular version.
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork. This mixture was a bugger to cut due to the chocolate and nuts, so the colder the better. Some shortbread may go out of shape but just form it back into a similar shape using your hands.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured. (Regular shortbread will be quicker to bake, probably only 15-20 minutes.)
Cool down on wire racks.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.

Cooking Notes: When adding the flour to the mixture, I pop a teatowel over the mixer to stop the flour ‘floofling’ (an exact culinary term) all over the joint.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a Margaret Fulton recipe from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

Old school shortbread:

Gluten free shortbread

Chocolate, ginger and spelt shortbread

Another bloody gluten free chocolate cake

Me: Hey, Kid 1, do you want to come and watch Deep Purple play Smoke on the Water?
Kid 1: What does that even mean?
Me: You know, the very first riff you ever learnt on your guitar? It’s a video of the band playing the actual song.

Total silence from Kid 1. He didn’t even give me the courtesy of an answer.

It’s official folks.

I am old.

Speaking of age, WordPress kindly informed me the other day that this blog had turned one. My, it seems like only yesterday that I gave birth. How time flies when you are having fun.

To celebrate, here is the gluten-free chocolate cake baked for the Yak’s birthday a few weeks ago. Whilst stealing someone else’s birthday cake could be seen as a cruel injustice, I am really only stealing the idea of a birthday cake. First things first. To the man who actually ate this cake, Happy Birthday Mr Yak; you totally fabulous, dry witted, old before your time in a totally ironic way, Northern English bloke.

Secondly, Happy Birthday to this blog. It’s been a big ball of fun and I wish I could send all of you a piece of this light, fluffy chocolate cake action. As that is impossible, I will send you the idea of this old school chockie cake. The buttermilk gives the crumb a lovely moistness and as it’s not too rich, people usually come back for seconds. (Or thirds, hey, back off…leave some for me.) A dear friend has been making this cake for a few years and she changed it to a gluten free version when the Yak become a Coeliac.

Thanks for reading folks and enjoy your cake.


1 1/2 cups gf plain flour (220g)
2 tbl almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsps bicarb soda
1 cup caster sugar, raw or regular
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 2 tsp vanilla essence or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
1 cup buttermilk
185g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 160C and line a 22cm non stick springform pan or grease a non-stick bundt tin.
Sift flour, almond meal, cocoa, bi-carb soda, sugar and vanilla bean powder in a large bowl or a mixer bowl.
Add 1/2 the buttermilk and cooled butter and beat at a medium speed until combined.
Gradually add the rest of the buttermik, egg and the rest of the butter (and vanilla essence if you are using a liquid form).
Beat on medium to high speed for around 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. Don’t overbeat!
Cook for 50 minutes to one hour. Test with a skewer. Leave in in for 5 minutes then turn out and cool complete on a cooling rack.
Dust with icing sugar. We ate it with strawberries and creme fraiche.

A recipe from a great friend and I have no idea where she originally got it from