“Who doesn’t like sticky date pudding?! It’s one of the top desserts on many menus around the world and a regular recipe in my own kitchen. I’ve been testing a vegan recipe for catering and have realised this is better than the version I used to make. With the addition of banana to replace the eggs you do get and extra flavour in the mix but it compliments the traditional flavours so well. Enjoy!”
“Every year I make Christmas mince pies. Mum’s been doing making them for years but I’m sure mine are better! She will disagree with this. Anyway, this version is very tasty and vegan friendly. Of course, you can make them with a traditional shortcrust pastry but I love the texture of this pastry and it’s really easy to make and work with. This recipe makes enough pastry for about 3 dozen mince pies, so halve it if you don’t need that many. I make the Christmas mince in bulk every year and use it to make Christmas cakes, biscuits and other delicacies. I haven’t given weights for the dried fruit because with this method you can make as much or as little as you like and use a combination of fruits that you like best. I would also suggest you use less expensive cooking port or it can get expensive. Enjoy!”
(Photos by Gary Corbett)
Ingredients for Christmas mince
Method for Christmas mince
Cut up the dried fruit into small pieces or use a food processor.
Place fruit in a large saucepan pour over enough port to saturate the fruit.
Bring the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the port has been incorporated and the fruit has softened. There should be no liquid left in the mixture and the fruit should be glossy and sticky. (When doing 2kg of dried fruit this takes up to 20 minutes) You can always add more port and keep the mixture on the heat if you want cook it for longer.
Let the Christmas mince cool completely in the saucepan then transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate. Because of the high amount of natural sugars the Christmas mince will last for ages!
Ingredients for Vegan shortcrust pastry
190g Nutilex (or non-dairy margarine)
190g icing sugar
400g plain flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
Method for Vegan shortcrust pastry
Put all ingredients in a food processor and combine until it comes into a ball. If you mixture is crumbly add a small amount of cold water. If it’s to soft put some more flour in.
Empty mixture onto some plastic wrap and knead into a disc. (This will make it easier to roll out later)
Wrap disc in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
Method for Christmas mince pies
Roll out the pastry until it’s about 5mm thick.
Cut out circles of pastry to fit your pans. (I have specialty pans that are shallow with a fluted edge that are perfect for these pies)
Press the pastry into the base of each mould so it comes a few centimetres up the side. (Or as deep as you want if you want bigger pies!)
Fill the moulds with the cooled Christmas mince and smooth the top.
Using Christmas cutters make tops for the pies. I use stars, Santas, Christmas trees or baubles for mine. You can also enclose the top completely if you like.
Before you put them in the oven you can use an egg-wash, milk or any vegan milks to paint over the pastry tops. Or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar over them.
Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and starting to brown.
Give to all your family and friends and everyone will love you!
“I recently made a delicious fruit and nut loaf from one of Bill Grainger’s beautiful cookbooks. It was light and fragrant with nice chunky pieces of dried fruit and crunchy nuts. Because it didn’t have a lot of butter or eggs in it I decided to try and convert it to a vegan version. After a few attempts I got the right balance that doesn’t lack any of the flavours or textures of the original. It also works great toasted after a few days and freezes well. Of course I do have it smothered with butter, but you can always find a vegan alternative. Enjoy!”
Place oats and almond milk in a bowl and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
Combine the flour, spices, sugar and salt and mix together.
Add the oats and milk, dried fruit, almonds, maple syrup, banana and lemon juice and rind and mix together.
Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and smooth the top.
Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top.
Bake in a 180 celcius oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes then remove from the tin. Slather with butter and enjoy.
Hello, my name is Craig.
Craig Allister Young is a cellist, orchestrator, arranger, singer and song-writer who works with the QLD Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane.
Over the past 20 years he has orchestrated music for most of the major orchestras in Australia, composed music for the Sydney 2000 Olympics,
toured a cabaret ensemble around QLD and for the past three years has been a musical director and cellist for the QLD ballet. His passion for cooking
saw him embark on his latest adventure as a top 24 contestant in the hugely popular TV sensation Australian Masterchef 2011. It is from this that the idea of
"Musical Menus" materialised as a way of combining his love for music with his passion for creating imaginative culinary dishes. Bon Appetite!