The Economical Vegan


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A Very Vegan Christmas

Well, it’s that time of year again, and even though in previous years I have gone into vast detail about how to make a good vegan Christmas meal, this year, I thought I’d focus on Christmas for the solitary vegan. Most of my recipes tend to be for at least 3-4 people. So today I am focusing on the solitary vegan. There are a lot of us about, living in families of non-vegans, living alone, working with non-vegans….. and it can be hard, this time of year, to get a properly festive meal. Most standard restaurants and hotels really don’t get the idea that vegans like it festive too!

So here are some recipes on a smaller scale, to liven up your Vegan Christmas.

First, the centrepiece of the Christmas Dinner:

MACADEMIA NUT AND CRANBERRY ROAST

Yes, people say, its the boring old nut roast. Well, there is nothing boring about this. I recommend either encasing this in a little ready-made shortcrust pastry or baking in deep muffin tins to make handy small portions. There is enough here for 2 portions, one for dinner, one to have with leftovers.

100g macademia nuts

50 g dried cranberries

50g mixed seeds.

100g fresh breadcrumbs

50 g vegetable suet

2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon powder

1 tablespoon vegan red wine.

2 tablespoons wholemeal flour

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped or minced

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Coconut oil

Chopped fresh herbs

HOW TO DO IT

First, finely chop the nuts, cranberries and seeds in your whizzy chopper, or put the nuts and seeds in a plastic bag, wrap in a tea towel, and beat them with a rolling pin!

Put the nuts, seeds and cranberries in a small pan, add the stock and enough water to just cover by about an inch, and the wine. Slowly heat and then simmer for about 15 minutes, then leave to cool.

In a frying pan, melt a little coconut oil, and add the garlic, onions and mushrooms. Sweat these down until they reduce to a soft, brown, delicious-smelling pulp. Leave to cool.

Check how much liquid is left in the nut mix bowl. The nuts and seeds and cranberries will have soaked up the liquid but if there is more than about a tablespoon of stock, drain some off, and keep it to use in your Christmas gravy.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix well, checking the texture. Add more flour if necessary but not too much, you don’t want it to be too heavy.

Turn into greased muffin tins, dividing it equally between the sections (you might fill 2 or as many as four, depending on your tins) (OR line the muffin tins with some shortcrust pastry first, pop on a pastry lid) and bake in a medium oven for about 30-4o minutes, or until the top is brown and crispy and the roasts come away from the sides of the tin. I use silicone muffin tins, it’s easier.

This will give you a delicious, moist and very, very tasty nut roast, festive and delicious and a good centrepiece for your dinner.

EASY PEASY VEGGIE GRAVY

Okay, this is a cheat. I really love making super-duper gravy at Christmas, which takes two days, the recipe for which is elsewhere in this blog. But we are not all gifted with the resources, time or space in the kitchen to do this. So here is the cheating way of doing it.

Finely chop onions, celery, carrots and parsnip. Sautee in a pan with a little coconut oil, over a medium heat, until all the veggies start to caramelise. At this point, finely chop some herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary) and toss them into the mix. Add a pint of water, and simmer for 20 mins, then strain through a sieve, retaining the liquid. Put the liquid into a saucepan, and add a teaspoon of English mustard, half a teaspoon of yeast extract, and bring to the boil, adding a tablespoon of vegan red wine or two tablespoons of vegan beer. Add instant vegan gravy granules until you reach the required consistency and taste. Taste it! Adjust the seasoning if necessary. This is an awesome veggie gravy with plenty of flavour but which takes a fraction of the time.

I served this gravy to a table full of non-vegans and they didn’t realise they were having the veggie gravy!!!

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY TART

The worst part of Christmas for vegans is the lack of dessert. Again, unless you go to a vegan restaurant, you just get offered fruit salad. Not very festive. But we are not all pastry chefs AND again, time can be an issue. So I wanted to give you a quick, festive pudding that will make the non-vegans jealous.

Line a small tart tin with ready-prepared vegan shortcrust pastry, and blind bake in the oven.

Soak dried cranberries in mulled wine in a saucepan, simmering for about 20 minutes. Drain the cranberries and keep the liquid.

Melt a bar of vegan chocolate in a bain marie (a bowl over a pan of boiling water) and mix in coconut oil, stirring well, and smooth almond butter (about 2 tablespoons), along with a tablespoon of fine wholemeal breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons golden syrup. At the last minute, add the cranberries.

Pour into the cooled, baked pastry case and set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve with some vanilla vegan icecream.

An alternative filling would be to melt the chocolate, add the cranberries, and two tablespoons of ‘mincemeat’ (mince pie filling) along with the nut butter.

Yum.

QUICK CANAPES

It’s party season, apparently. And that means party food. Again, vegans are likely to end up with a few nuts and some salt and vinegar crisps, so here are a couple of things to liven up your festive spread.

Blinis

Make a batter of gram flour, self raising flour, extra baking powder, and soya milk with a little salt, and, using a little coconut oil, fry in a non stick pan in small circles to make little blini-style pancakes. Use these with different toppings, such as some vegan cream cheese topped with pickled chillis, peppers or sundried tomatoes, or with olives.

Mini crispy cases

Using small patty pans (like muffin pans, but the smallest you can find), grease with a little coconut oil. Take some standard sliced bread, roll flat and cut with a pastry cutter into appropriately sized circles. Press into the pans, and brush the insides with melted coconut oil. Bake until crispy and brown. Just before serving, fill with different fillings, such as finely chopped garlic mushrooms, olive tapenade and chopped tomatoes, spiced scrambled tofu, or grated chocolate and dried cranberries. Or anything else you can think of.

HAVE A GREAT FESTIVE SEASON.