Category Archives: Christmas

Roasted beetroot & broccolini salad (GF, paleo option)


Just in case you were begin to think that all I’ve been cooking lately is rocky road and sweet treats, here’s a savoury side salad perfect for any time of year but especially good for Christmas because of the colours! Great either warm or cold.  For a paleo or dairy free option, just omit the fetta, simple!  The beetroot tasted AMAZING roasted in coconut oil but you could also use macadamia oil.

  • 1-2 large beetroot, peeled and cut into segments
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pistachios
  • fetta to sprinkle (optional)
  1.  Toss the peeled and segmented beetroot in oil, spread on an oven tray covered in baking paper and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Roast in the oven at 190C/375F for about 40 mins until tender and starting to be a little bit crispy around the edges.  You may need to toss or turn once.
  3. If serving warm, wait until the beetroot is cooked then simmer the broccolini in water on the stove for a few mins until starting to soften but don’t overcook or it will lose it’s green-ness. If serving cold, you can pre-cook the broccolini just make sure you really cool it down quickly after cooking.
  4. Drain broccolini and rinse under cool water.
  5. To serve spread the broccolini on the platter, top with beetroot and sprinkle with fetta and pistachios.

Here it is without the fetta, ie the paleo/DF option:

roasted beetroot and broccolini salad

it’s beginning to a look a lot like Christmas

Hi Everyone,

It’s unavoidable now that Halloween is over… Christmas is just around the corner.  I’m looking forward to sharing some favourite recipes over the next couple of months and hearing about what you all are cooking for Christmas!

I really want to thank you all for your support this year with ‘whatannabelcooks’  – whether you were one of the 28 women that attended one of my paleo cooking classes (we raised just over $800 for, ‘liked’ one of my recipes on Facebook or Instagram, opened the email you receive with each blog post or just generally support and encourage me, I really do appreciate it.  It’s been a big year on a number of fronts, so thank you.

I am experimenting with selling what has become my ‘famous’ (in my own lunchbox I know!) Christmas Rocky Road.  It falls deadset within the ‘treat’ category and is not paleo (although IS gluten free) but is a well deserved decadent splurge for the Christmas season.  Unfortunately they can’t be shipped so only available to my Brisbane peeps.

I’ve had to order a carton of ring tins so feel free to pass around to a few friends if you think they might be keen.  Orders will need to be in ASAP and preferably by end of November and available for collection anytime from next week until 18 December.  There are a variety of sizes so could make great teacher gifts/neighbour gifts and the large ones would look fabulous as the centre piece for your Christmas party or dessert table on Christmas Day.

If you want an order form, please send me an email to and I’ll send you one.

Happy cooking,

Annabel x


rocky road buckini ball (gluten/grain/nut free)


I’ve already revealed my rocky road secret   but for this year’s twist – buckinis. If you’ve been reading my posts recently you will have noticed these little things have come up a fair bit  as I have been trying to avoid nuts and seeds but love to have ‘crunch’ in my food.  Buckini’s are apparently technically a fruit and come from the buckwheat family.  They are gluten free too.

So to make a completely gluten free, nut free rocky road without compromising on crunch or taste I have employed my new friend, buckinis instead of my usual slivered almonds.

Continue reading rocky road buckini ball (gluten/grain/nut free)

Pistachio and pomegranate labne


This is a great dip to serve with drinks and looks festive with its green and red, so is perfect for Christmas. I made this from the latest Donna Hay magazine.

You do need to start this recipe the day before.

500 g Greek yoghurt
2-3 Tbsp roasted chopped pistachios
2-3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
3 marjoram sprigs lightly fried in olive oil
Crackers/veggies to serve

To make the labne you scoop the yoghurt onto a clean muslin cloth (or new rinsed chux will do). Pull up the corners to form a ball and tie a rubber band on the top. Suspend the bag over a jug by threading a wooden spoon through the rubber band and resting it across the mouth of the jug. Leave overnight.

Unwrap the labne and spread it on a dish, sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients and with a little salt. Serve with crackers and/or veggie sticks.


gingerbread house

gingerbreadhouseThe gingerbread house is a relatively new introduction into our family Christmas tradition.  The kids love to decorate and eat it, so I’m happy for it to stay!  The first year we made one was about 3 years ago and was one of the ready made kits  – it ‘worked’ but tasted awful so the next year I came across the box of cutters and as I already had a fantastic gingerbread recipe from my friend Juliet I have just done this one the last few years.  This year’s one is made from spelt flour as one of my kids is better with that than wheat flour.  This recipe is certainly not GF, but it’s a spectacular Christmas treat and makes a sensational centrepiece for any Christmas meal or party.

Continue reading gingerbread house

annabel’s rocky road… the secret revealed

rocky road logsI’m not one for secrets, but if I was, this would be the one I would keep! My rocky road is, I think, the best rocky road, and I honestly don’t say that about a lot of my things, as I know many others do far better other ‘things’. I think it’s the best because it’s about lashing out on the quality ingredients and keeping it simple.  I love the crunch of toasting the nuts and coconut.

I will post separately the recipe with a twist (nut free/gluten free).

Here is the secret revealed….

Continue reading annabel’s rocky road… the secret revealed

christmas nougat – step by step guide

I think I have decided that I like nougat even better than rocky road at Christmas!  Perhaps it’s the extra effort and skill involved and the anticipation of what ‘kind’ of nougat it’s going to turn out to be… runny (fail), sticky, perfect, crisp?  Living in Queensland it’s usually hot and humid in December which is far from ideal nougat making weather.  We had a ‘dry’ day on Monday so I thought it might be a good day to make a batch.  It did turn out on the ‘sticky’ side, but still a winner.

The recipe comes from (basic almond nougat).  I have copied and pasted their recipe and added in my own photos and  tips along the way.

If possible, nougat making it as some stages a 2 person endeavour.  Enjoy!

  • 4 sheets (about 15.5 x 23.5cm each) edible rice paper
  • 200g blanched almonds (or nuts, dired fruit, chocolate of your choice)
  • 560g (2 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 1 500g jar glucose syrup (from corn)
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line an 18 x 28cm slab pan with non-stick baking paper or greased foil, allowing it to overhang the sides. Lay 2 sheets of rice paper side by side on a clean work surface. Use the base of the pan as a guide to cut an 18 x 28cm rectangle. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of rice paper. Place 2 sheets of the rice paper in the base of the lined pan. Spread the almonds evenly over a baking tray and toast in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes or until light golden. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Chop and set aside.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Use a wet spoon to spoon the glucose syrup into the pan. (To soften glucose in the microwave, see microwave tip.) The glucose prevents crystallisation and helps to ensure the nougat has the correct texture. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, brushing down the sides of the pan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in warm water, until the sugar dissolves (this will take about 10 minutes). Fill the sink with 10cm of cold water. Place the egg whites in a large, clean, dry heatproof bowl. Place a sugar (candy) thermometer in the pan. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil, uncovered, without stirring. When the syrup reaches about 120°C, use the whisk attachment on an electric stand beater to whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form. It is important to use a stand mixer because, unlike a hand-held electric beater, it has a motor powerful enough to beat the nougat mixture.
  3. When the sugar syrup reaches 140°C, immediately remove the pan from heat and place the base of the pan in the sink of cold water for 5 seconds, or until the bubbles subside. This stops the syrup temperature increasing. The temperature of the syrup determines the texture of the nougat. When the syrup is cooked to 140°C, a chewy nougat results; if the syrup is cooked to 150°C, a harder nougat results. With the beater on medium speed, slowly pour hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Don’t pour the syrup down side of the bowl or onto the whisk as it may set before being incorporated into egg whites.
  4. Once all the syrup is incorporated, whisk for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy. Use a wooden spoon to mix the almonds and vanilla essence into egg white mixture until well combined. It is important to work quickly or the nougat will begin to set. Also make sure the nuts and vanilla essence are at room temperature – if they are cold, the mixture will set too rapidly, making it difficult to transfer to the pan.
  5. Quickly pour the nougat evenly into the lined pan using a spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl. Use the spatula or the back of a spoon dipped in hot water to spread the nougat evenly into the pan and smooth the surface. Place the remaining rice paper or piece of greased foil over the top of the nougat and press down gently. Set aside in a cool, dry place for 6 hours or until set.
  6. Lift the nougat from the pan and place on a cutting board. Remove baking paper or foil (if using rice paper, don’t remove it, as it is edible). Use a serrated knife in a sawing motion to cut the nougat crossways into 3cm-wide pieces and then cut each piece into about 4cm lengths. Place nougat in a clean, dry airtight container, separating layers with non-stick baking paper. Keep in a cool, dry place for 1-2 weeks or in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. If storing nougat in the fridge, bring to room temperature before serving.