7 News Nibbles from this week’s Food News

No surprise that this week, with December just around the corner, it’s all about Christmas and how to do it without breaking into a sweat. There’s a post Christmas makeover, pre-Christmas festivities to enjoy, some goodies to drool over, a top new app from an icon of cooking, a picnic hamper to order, and a heads up for an Australia Day event you won’t want to miss.

Brent Farell

Makeover for Brent's

Long-time Toowong institution Brent's Restaurant will serve it's last modern French inspired meal on December 24 and close to re emerge as 85 Miskin Street, a more contemporary and slightly earthier, edgier diner.

Say goodbye to this look at Brent's

Formal dining with entree, main and dessert will be gone, replaced with an more guest determined menu which will travel around the globe for inspiration.

Owner Brent Farell says he will be capturing changing seasons on the plate, drawing from his garden at the rear for herbs, flowers, produce and honey from his native stingless bees.

Watch for the doors to open in late January, 2014.

Christmas lunch in a box

Cheat’s Xmas lunch

This year I am going out for Christmas lunch but if I wasn’t, I would seriously be considering this easy ‘cheat’s’ solution.

Online recipe and grocery delivery service HelloFresh is coming to the rescue with a Gourmet Christmas Box delivered directly to your door. It’s got all the gourmet ingredients and accompanying recipes you need to create a foolproof festive feast for the family, from entree to dessert, in less than two hours. (Maybe a bit longer if you are sipping champagne at the same time).

The menu includes chilli, lime and garlic barbecued prawns plus orange and brown sugar glazed ham, complemented with three delicious salads - cranberry and pistachio cous cous, grilled greens with almonds and pomegranate and smashed tarragon and chilli potato salad. Dessert is a traditional pudding with brandy butter and mince tarts, finished perfectly with fresh young cherries. There is also the option of a gourmet cheese board.

The Christmas Box is available for delivery between December 20 to 23 depending on location, with last orders by December 16.

Perfect for blue sky days

Anyone for a picnic?

The weather has been so beautiful lately the idea of grabbing a picnic and heading into the great outdoors is a no-brainer.

Two Brisbane picnic-lovers, Annabelle Chan and Amanda Love, have decided to celebrate their love of picnicking by establishing The Picnic Society specialising in a range of hampers filled with handmade and gourmet items all made with locally sourced ingredients.

Each picnic is specially personalised, freshly made on the day and includes all the necessary crockery, cutlery, glassware and custom napery packed into a market bag which can be kept for future picnics. Check their website for the menus which include Caramelised Onion and Moroccan Lamb with Spiced Yoghurt Dressing or silky Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Honey Crumble. Expect to pay between $120 and $140 for a basket for two people.

Cook’s Companion App

Drumroll… Stephanie Alexander has released a secret project she has been working on all year - a digital version of her classic book, The Cook's Companion. Stephanie’s kitchen bible is now revised and re-arranged into an app with convenient bundles such as Meat, Seafood and Pantry, with six more sections featuring 2,000 recipes, many with a food-on-plate photo. There’s also several how-to videos. Available for smartphones now with an iPad version coming soon. Find it at the App Store or Google Play.

Bite Australia Day

Everyone loves a barbie on Australia Day and this year you’ll be able to enjoy one of the biggest, the inaugural Great Australian Bites multicultural Australian BBQ from 5pm on Friday 24 January in South Bank’s cultural forecourt. You’ll be lining up for canapes from around the globe and finishing with two new signature Australia Day flavours developed by the favourite of ice cream lovers everywhere, LICK! Ice Cream.

Tickets are available until Sunday 19 January 2014 at www.australiaday.org.au/qld

Free fun and festivities

Have yourself a merry pre-Christmas at the inaugural Upper Latrobe Christmas Community Day in Paddington on December on December 7 from 11am to 5pm. It’s a day free entertainment, prizes, face painting, a vintage and current fashion show, carollers, fundraising and gift giving for the Smith Family with Christmas trees for donating gifts to children, gold coin donation gift wrapping, Christmas entertainment and free chocolate tasting.

This week I’m liking – White Christmas, Rocky Road and Christmas Cake

When it comes to traditional Christmas treats such as White Christmas, Rocky Road and Christmas Cake, it's an obvious choice to go to someone who has been making it for years, 76 years to be precise. Even though they've obviously perfected their recipes, the chefs at the Shingle Inn love a challenge and have come up with their first gluten free Christmas cakes and puddings which they say, and I have to agree, taste every bit as good as the traditional range. The range includes White Christmas, Fruit Mince Tarts and Rocky Road.

Be warned - the White Christmas is more than a mouthful of sweet goodness. I think cutting this one into thirds would do most people. The Rocky Road I was happy to cut in halves.

Here's how to cut your Christmas cake into those nice neat slices -

  1. Use a very sharp, finely serrated knife
  2. Heat the knife in hot water before cutting
  3. Cut with a sawing action
  4. Clean and reheat the knife after cutting each slice

Less than a month to Christmas now - time to get organised folks!

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post - just sharing food love.