Book review: Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer


I was pleased as punch when I got myself a copy of Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer.

The book is divided into sections and includes crabbing at Port Parham, Pre-Christmas Drinks, Carols Buffet, Christmas Eve Supper, Christmas Day Lunch, Boxing Day Leftoverss and then New Year’s Eve Lunch and Dinner as well as Food for the Beach House.


The book is illustrated by full pages of colour photography for most of the recipes.

Some of the recipes contain unusual ingredients such as burrata, vino cotto, and verjuice which you can find at a good deli or online at Maggie Beer.


The only drawback to the book is most of the recipes serve 8 people, which is ideal if you have a big family, but not so good for the every day. But these are really recipes for special occasions so it is appropriate.

I cooked the warm brioche and ice-cream sandwiches and since it was my first time at brioche, I was comforted by Maggie’s reassuring instructions that the mixture would be moist. They were delicious.


Be tempted by seasonal recipes such as pickled fig-glazed leg of ham, pavlova with lady finger banana and passion fruit topping, and Christmas pudding with cumquat brandy butter. For Christmas day lunch choose between roost goose with marmalade and cumquat stuffing and goose fat roasted potatoes, roast turkey with prune and orange stuffing and Cumberland sauce, or roast pork loin with verjuice and grapes.

Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer is a beautiful book you’ll want to cherish for special occasions with family.

Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer – available on

Beef stew with beer and dumplings (Dutch)

Dutch beer stew

Cooked for the Dutch entry of the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.

500g gravy or stewing beef, cubed
½ cup flour
3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup of beef stock
330ml dark beer (German Hefeweizen Dunkel would be perfect)

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp organic butter
2/3 cup milk

Red cabbage and apple
We used ‘The Dutch Company’ from a jar

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Cover the beef chunks in flour, then brown in oil in a Dutch oven. Remove and set aside.
  3. Brown the onion and garlic in the same oil. Add the brown sugar, half the wine vinegar, thyme, pepper, bay leaf and chopped parsley.
  4. Pour the stock over the stew and then add the beer.
  5. Cover and bake for 2 hours at 160°C
  6. While the stew is baking, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Mix the butter in (melt first), and then stir in the milk. The batter should be a little dry but fluffy.
  7. Take the stew out of the oven and drop the dumpling batter by the tablespoon into the stew.
  8. Put the stew back in to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Serve with warmed up red cabbage and apple.

Serves 2-3.


Taste test: New beer tasting

We discovered a perfect way to fill in a lazy rainy Sunday (a rare event in Brisbane these days!) Brisbane News  featured an article called “Brew-haha” on some of the newer beers on the market. Tony Harper and friends taste tested their way through some 60 beers – I bet there were many volunteers! He whittled it down and recommended a list of top 10.  Matt was particular keen to give them all a go, especially since he has been brewing his own beer. I have to admit I’m not such a beer drinker, but what the heck!

We visited a few local liquor stores to get all of the ones on the list, and somehow along the way we gathered a few extras to try. However, we had lots of trouble getting Emerson’s Pilsner. The article had created such a demand for Tony’s number one that it seems as if the whole of Brisbane was sold out of this hot bottled kiwi!

Our list turned out completely different – which just goes to show it’s a personal preference thing.

Beer tasting

Score (Matt – Emma)

1. Hoegaarden (4-4)
2. Cascade Premium (3-4)
3. Knappstein (4-2) fruity South Australian
4. Mountain Goat Pale Ale (3-3) – golden, floral honey aromas from Melbourne
5. Weihenstephaner Hafe Weizenbier (3.5-2.5)
6. Weihenstephaner Pilsner (3-3)
7. Grand Ridge (3.5-2.5) mild citrus, would appeal to wine drinkers from Victoria
8. Chimay (3-2.5) dark, distinct
9. Roger’s Beer (2.5-3)
10. Red Oak (2.5-2.5) – Sydney hints of bananas and cloves
11. Emerson’s Pale Ale (2.5-1) soapy
12. Mildura Stormy Ale (2-1) orangery bitter kick
13. Duvel (2-1) very bubbly; like champagne

Not shown:
Fuller’s London Pride – always a winner
Emerson’s Pilsner – missing in action

Matt, of course, wants to know – if we can get a full list of the 60 beers tested (but please don’t encourage him). When does the wine tasting start?