The shops are full of vegan festive products now, including Vegan Advent Calendars. Long gone are the days when we excitedly told other vegans about the one and only dairy free calendar that you got by ordering online and paying twice what the dairy ones cost… and it always arrived with all the chocolate having fallen out 😀
There are still some that are worthy of a wee mention here though…
Playmobil do a lovely range of toy calendars with great scenes to build up day by day from traditional Nativity to dragons, unicorns, pirates and Santa’s workshop. We loved these when the kids were, well, kids, and frankly wish we still had an excuse to buy them. Look at the Back to the Future one!
This vegan udon noodle soup is spicy and richly flavoured and perfectly paired with plant-based meatballs. We used the Birds Eye ones that are made of pea protein but any would do. Alternatively pan fried tofu pieces work well.
Vegan Udon Noodle Soup Ingredients
three small packs of thick udon noodles, or one per person, straight to wok or dried
a tablespoon of vegetable oil
an onion, chopped into thin strips
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, prepared likewise
a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced or finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 courgette, cut into small strips
a bunch of fresh parsley, minced
a head of broccoli, broken into florets
water as needed
soy sauce to taste
salt if needed
vegan meatballs, prepared according to pack instructions (fry or bake)
In a large saucepan, fry the onion, chillis, ginger and garlic in the oil for a few minutes
add the courgette and udon noodles and fry for a few more minutes
add the broccoli and parsley, stirring to coat in the oil
cover well with water and bring to the boil
once the broccoli and noodles are tender, add the soy sauce.
add salt if needed
plate up and top with the meatballs
‘Vegetarian Christmas’ by Rose Elliot. This title is not exclusively vegan but there is a plethora of vegan delights included and most of the lacto-ovo recipes are easily ‘veganisable’. Our favourite Christmas dinner of Chestnut and Red wine pate en croute is in here along with lots of advice on taking the work out of Christmas catering. This book is full of ideas for lots of special touches which can be prepared early and frozen. Now out of print but the hardcover is available cheaply from Amazon and has lots of lovely photos throughout 🙂 We love this book so much we even wrote a blog post on it!
Kala Namak (black salt, tastes sulfurous like egg) to taste
a little olive oil
a box of fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced (or tinned ones)
a chopped red pepper
one small tin of sweetcorn
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
Grease a baking dish and place it in the oven to heat (frittata will cook more quickly).
Blend the tofu with the turmeric, gram flour and Kaka Namak.
Wash, slice and fry up the mushrooms and pepper in the olive oil.
Add the sweetcorn to the mix and stir until well heated through.
Combine the blended tofu mixture with the mushrooms and vegetables (in the cooking pan if big enough, or straight into the oven heated dish) and bake for at least half an hour or until the frittata/tortilla seems set through.
We served it with chips and salad above, but it is lovely on its own and also cold and sliced the next day.
This is a totally delicious sweet and sour pizza, made spicy by the inclusion of a chilli in the sauce. And it’s all about the sauce. You can put it on any base you like. We used homemade sourdough (see how we do it here) but you could use ready made bases or even pitta breads.
The quantities below made enough for a large, full roasting tin size pizza, serving four.
Sweet and Sour Pizza Sauce Ingredients
a little olive oil
one onion, finely chopped
a few cloves of garlic, really finely chopped or crushed
one small sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
one chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
about a quarter cup of pineapple juice (handy if putting tinned pineapple on pizza, as you can use the juice from the can)
about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
half a tube or a small jar of tomato puree
a few sprigs of parsley, very finely chopped
salt to taste (doesn’t need much)
Toppings of choice: we used tinned pineapple, tinned mushrooms (they don’t dry up on a pizza like fresh) and Asda Free From Grated Mozzarella (Asda have the cheapest free from cheese we’ve seen).
Prepare your base as desired. In our case, we made sourdough bread dough and left it rising in the tin all day!
Fry the onion, garlic, sweet potato and chilli in the oil for a few minutes.
Add the juice, vinegar, parsley and puree
Mix well, adding more juice if too thick.
Season with salt
Spread it over your pizza base and add toppings!
How long you need to bake depends on the base. Our thick homemade one needed half an hour at 200C/400F. Pittas would need much less as they’re already cooked. In fact you could just grill them.
Our vegan toad in the hole turned out soft and light and delicious and filling and tasty. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Partly cook sausages in oven at 200C for about 10 minutes:
Batter made thus: mix 5 tablespoons of self raising flour with 3 tablespoons of gram (chick pea) flour, a pinch of salt and a pinch of bicarb. Beat in enough soya milk to make a creamy pouring batter. This quantity was to cover 12 sausages, adjust as needed. It would be far less ‘spongy’ if you used plain flour, but we like it like this 🙂
Pour over hot sausages:
Then it’s back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until nice and solid:
Serve with gravy, roast potatoes and veg. Yum, yum, yum.
Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen panic, with a love story.
This roasted beetroot cream sauce is earthy and easy, and so delicious and vibrant in colour.
We roasted a bunch of beets the night before when the oven was on for another meal, and then popped them in the fridge until needed. We used beautiful stripey Chioggia beetroot from the garden but any beets will do.
Beetroot Cream Sauce
Pour the beets and roasting oil into a saucepan.
Add: 1 chopped onion, a few cloves of garlic, a small bunch of parsley and a little chopped celery.
Fry up for a few minutes until the veg is softened.
Pop into a blender with a small box of vegan cream and a little salt. We used Oatly.
Stir into pasta of your choice. It worked very well with spaghetti, coating a 500g packet perfectly.
Creating a Forest Garden: Forest gardening is a novel way of growing edible crops – with nature doing most of the work for you. A forest garden is modelled on young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops growing in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, there is little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Buy UK
Active in many countries across the world, Olio is an app that you can download to your phone to share food in your local area. It does have a desktop version too. People share things that they can’t use up in time from their fridge, or cupboard items that they no longer want. Food Waste Heroes (which you can volunteer to be) collect yellow stickered or surplus food from businesses and then share it for free on the app.
This recipe makes a LOT of paprika pumpkin soup (serving at least 6), but the quantity all depends on the size of the pumpkin.
Ingredients: flesh of one culinary pumpkin 3 red peppers 4 carrots water and soya milk to cook up in (does not have to cover veg, will be too runny) handful of cashew nuts seasalt and paprika to taste
Peel and de-seed the pumpkin and chop into chunks. Place in a pan with chopped peppers, carrots and liquids. Bring to boil and simmer until veg is tender. Add salt and paprika – we used about a teaspoon for a big pan but you could go hotter. Blend up with the cashews, check for seasoning and serve with paprika sprinkle.
Fry off some finely chopped onion and garlic and add a selection of roughly chopped – chunky – vegetables. We used: courgettes; red, green and yellow peppers and celery. Mushrooms would be great too.
Add chilli of choice, either finely chopped fresh chillis, dried chilli or a chilli powder mix, or maybe a mixture of these.
Bung in a box of passata or chopped tomatoes and add a little water to the mix.
Bring to boil and turn down to simmer.
Once veg is tender add a tin or two of cooked red kidney beans and salt to taste.
Nice served with rice, a baked potato or quinoa or, if you’re feeling a bit trashy, chips.
Cucumber is a good cooling accompaniment. Other optional additions: a teaspoon of sugar stirred into the sauce really brings out the flavours in a different, sweet, way; a few squares of dark chocolate melted through it turn the dish into a darker, richer mole.
Pictured above is a soya mince based chilli, below a vegetable one.
Don’t eat when you’ve been talked into watching a scary fast moving zombie film that will make you consume the hot chilli far too fast and overheat in a bad way.
And, books again: now is the time to get a copy of Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Christmas for 1 pence or 1 cent. The price will inflate hugely through November and December and it’s a lovely collection of recipes. See our review here or visit Amazon in the UK
The Works is a fantastic sources of discounted books, often selling sets of books for the price you normally pay for one. The Works also has great deals on stationery, toys & games, and art & craft supplies.