Yet again we really suffered by having to endure a vegan Christmas. Other people gorged on turkey while we sat around eating plain tofu and salad. Er, no, not really. We enjoy our traditional dinner on Christmas Eve, leaving us Christmas Day to go to to the pub and out for a curry. After 14 years this is now our tradition and it makes perfect sense to us.
On Christmas Eve we like to have a nice light starter so that we can gorge ourselves on the main event. This year we tried the Urban Vegan spinach and fennel, which has a nice seasonal feel with dried cranberries, and an unusual dressing made from avocado and sesame oil. I’d have preferred a slightly tangier dressing with a squeeze more lime juice but it was extremely tasty and we’ll have it again.
The main course is pictured above, before I smothered it in madeira sauce. The centrepiece is the seitan en croute from 500 Vegan Recipes. I tested it for the book and I knew it would be perfect for Christmas. I spent ages cutting out an sticking on pastry holly shapes and berries for the top and forgot to photograph it! With the seitan, we had roast potatoes, bread sauce, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, creamy cauliflower and green beans. I roasted the potatoes the English way, in loads of oil and regular basting so that they were really crisp and melting in the middle. I think bread sauce must be very English too as I’ve neve seen it on US sites or in books, but even though it’s really meant to go with turkey I’ve never known a Christmas meal without it. This is like the recipe I use with vegan replacements, of course. I used this recipe for the Yorkshire puddings this year and really liked it. Of course it’s not exactly like its eggy counterpart but with a smear of English mustard it is well worth trying (and worth noting that they reheat very nicely in a hot oven too, which I suspect the eggy version would not do!)
Stuffing is a strange one. I used to use packet sage and onion mixes which were accidentally vegan. For the last few years I’ve been making up recipes myself, but this year I made a US style stuffing, which is apparently called dressing unless it’s actually stuffed into something…. I made the one from Joanna’s new zine but added some celery and switched round the proportions of herbs so it’d be a bit more sage like and therefore more like my stuffings of old. I really liked it but it felt more like a side dish – it’s a lot lighter than the stuffings I’m used to, which tend to be sausage based. I think I would have it again because I’d know what to expect more! The cauliflower was from 1,000 Vegan Recipes and was steamed and then blended with soya milk and flavourings and baked. It was light, tasty and souffle like. The green beans were based on the green beans almondine from 500 Vegan Recipes because I thought the bacon bits would be a nod to the traditional salty sausages wrapped in bacon. Finally, the madeira sauce from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. This was a real departure for me because Christmas dinner = English bisto style gravy, but I wanted something more refined and homemade this year. I had trouble getting it as thick as I wanted, but I suspect that’s because it’s meant to be thinner than I like. Anyway, it tasted great – nice and rich. I’d tone down the sweetness a touch with some lemon next time, I think.
So that was our at home Christmas dinner, which we both really enjoyed and ate far too much of. Coming next, more vegan suffering at the Indian restaurant….