Lots of people have asked me to blog about this year’s Christmas dinner. I intended this year’s Christmas feast to be a celebration of vegan food, with imaginative and delicious differences in each dish.But you know what happens, by half three you have had four gins and a couple of ports plus some dodgy homemade Atholl Brose created from whisky, oat water, maple syrup and oat cream, you can’t even remember if you have bought brussel sprouts.
I love cooking Christmas dinner and, fortunately for me as I spend Christmas cooking in a half-stupor, I do most of the prep the day before so I only need a bit of hubris in order to shove a few things in the oven and everyone knows hubris comes from a lot of laughs and the bottom of a bottle.
So, this year I decided to change things just for the hell of it. My nut loaf had added protein in the form of puy lentils and it was full of mushrooms and celery, roasted almonds, chestnuts and cashews and, for the fun of it, I put in a layer of cranberry sauce as stuffing in the middle, just to see what might happen. It worked really well, a sweet stuffing in a firm, savoury loaf. Oh, and then there was the Armagnac. A few glugs of Armagnac. In the nut loaf I mean. What else?
So, the parboiled Maris Pipers had a good squashing to make them crispy and they were roasted in a little oil and rosemary, with a good seasoning and finished with a glug of lemon juice. They were perfect: fluffy inside with a thick crispy coating. I roasted carrots and parsnips with shallots and a huge pile of jerusalem artichokes, and added some lemon thyme ten minutes before they were ready.
I love brussel sprouts, so I prepared and parboiled loads. They were finished off for 20 minutes in the oven with a couple of large glugs of vodka, some vegan bacon and black pepper. This is the best way to eat sprouts – even sprout haters don’t recognise the succulent nutty green veg. Vodka sprouts with vegan bacon is a lovely dish.
I usually make mushroom roux gravy but this year I roasted carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms and leeks and then simmered them a little, extracting juices and flavour and I made a gravy with marsala and roux and strained the end product (Roux is plain flour and vegan butter – coconut oil, rapeseed oil, oat milk, salt and liquid lecithin). You can always add a little marmite which colours and flavours the gravy. It’s very rich and delicious.
I like the usual red cabbage, apple sauce, broccoli, roast cauliflower accompaniments, but this year I also cooked some celeriac in olive oil, then added a good dash of lemon thyme, lemon juice and a bit of seasoning and finished it off with a little added water, cooked with the lid on for 15 minutes and it’s a really delicate and delicious tasting veg.
I also made some nice yorkshire puddingy ‘popovers’ with oat milk and added a bit of gram flour to the plain flour to see if the texture would be improved. Again, crispy outside and fluffy inside, and awesome with gravy.
The meal came together really quickly and, due to my imbibing gin beforehand, I was the most happy and unstressed cook. We have no neighbours, which is just as well as the eating part of Christmas dinner – which wasn’t ready until well after half past four due to earlier imbibing of gin and too much laughing and falling about – was accompanied by bovine orgiastic groans of delight as everyone filled their plates too full, munched away for well over half an hour and drank Blanquette de Limoux. (I hate the phrase ‘wash it down’ when referring to wine and food. The wine isn’t to swill the food away or lubricate it’s downward passage, it just balances flavours and tastes great.)
I made a cheesecake with avocados and limes but it’s still in the freezer. No-one had space left for anything after the dinner although far too many roasties and popovers were consumed with the nut loaf.
My plan was to make crispy patties with the leftovers the next day, fried in a bit of flour and panko bread crumbs. Alas, nothing remained. Not even a small morsel of nut loaf for Colin Feral, a lick of gravy for Pushkin or a pawful of popover for Majick the cat.
By next week, I might be able to eat again.
I am not sure I agree with the sentiments of singer, Roy Wood, though. If it were Christmas every day, I think I’d be incapable of movement. Once a year is enough.