I’m just going to launch straight into a post and we’re all going to agree not to bring up the fact that I’ve been MIA for about 6 weeks…
Christmas this year was back at my parents, along with my sister and her other half and one grandma too (oh and also 2 dogs and 2 cats also in attendance). It was a bit of a squeeze but it was really nice to spend a few days with family and just relax a little. My family are not particularly high maintenance people so Christmas is usually a relaxing experience at their house, which seems to shock other people who make it a big deal!
With 4 vegans and 3 omnis, we decided that we would cook a big vegan roast with stuffing, gravy and all the trimmings. Someone insisted on cooking meat things too but I didn’t have to prepare it or touch it at all so that’s good. The roast went down really well and we barely had enough for sandwiches on boxing day!
I can’t say that it was a particularly budget Christmas, as we had managed to save up a fair bit for food and spent about £25 a person for 3-4 days worth of vegan food. It was a good mix of homemade things like the roast and easy ready-made things like V-Bites pigs in blankets, as well as loads of snacks and junk food for the other days too. I even got to have my favourite cereal for breakfast! Food is such a culturally important part of the Christmas season and it’s surprising just how little you have to sacrifice to have a great vegan Christmas.
I’ll get onto the roast recipe in a mo’, but I just wanted to list a few of the presents we made this year to keep gift-giving in budget (we did warn everyone we weren’t spending much money. To their credit, no-one has openly complained yet!). As I started working my new job about 3 weeks before Christmas, it was a bit stressful trying to get everything done as we had previously assumed I would be at home to do them. If you plan on doing homemade presents, make sure you allow enough time! If you want me to go into more detail or post a recipe for any of these, let me know.
- Plum vodka
- Sloe gin
- Rosemary oil and chilli oil set
- Vanilla coffee syrup
- Hedgerow jam
- Hug in a mug (hot chocolate mix, sweets, gloves, mug)
- Rosehip syrup
- Pint of socks (black and white socks in a pint glass to look like a foamy beer)
- Vegan ‘Celebrations’ tin
Chestnut and Mushroom Loaf en Croûte
- Jus-rol puff pastry (two sheets)
- 2 packs pureed chestnuts
- 2 packs whole cooked chestnuts (or equivalent freshly boiled and peeled)
- 1 large onion
- 100-200g mushroom to preference (I hate mushrooms)
- 3 slices of stale bread grated into breadcrumbs
- Garlic or garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- a little mixed spice OR smoked paprika
- (OPTIONAL) handful of toasted hazelnuts or similar, crushed
- 1 jar cranberry sauce (or homemade equivalent)
We just ‘wing it’ with this recipe so all ingredients and instructions are pretty loose. You want to end up with a chestnut pate that holds it’s shape well and isn’t too liquid as it could leak out of the pasty when cooking.
- Fry the chopped onion and garlic to taste, until golden.
- Add the mushrooms and fry on a low heat for about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pureed chestnut
- Squash/bash the whole chestnuts into pieces and add to the mix.
- Add breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. If the mix is too liquid, add more breadcrumbs.
- Stir through the seasoning and any optional extras and adjust taste to preference.
- Place one sheet of pastry on a lined baking tray and coat in cranberry sauce.
- Add the chestnut and mushroom mix, shaping into a fat sausage down the middle, with about 1 and a half inches of space around the edges. Cover with the remainder of the cranberry sauce.
- Place the second sheet of pastry on top, pressing down the edges to create a seal. Using a touch of unsweetened soya milk here ensures a good seal but isn’t necessary.
- Add steam holes by stabbing a knife into the top. You could also carve a fancy design if you like. Liv did some holly and a smiley face because why not?
- Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving.
- Preheat oven to 200 Celsius.
- Use a little soya milk on the outside of the pastry in place of an egg-wash to give it a nice finish.
- Place into the oven and cook for around 30-40 minutes or until piping hot throughout. If the crust is getting too dark, cover with foil to stop it burning and check regularly.
- Serve with oodles of gravy!