THERE are many reasons why we shall be celebrating Christmas with a vegan lunch this year. Vegan cookery is still a test-piece for me; so I went to the Vegetarian Society website for some ideas. My centrepiece will be:
Chestnut and butter-bean Wellington for 4.
1 500g block of puff or shortcrust pastry
For the inner filling:
50g (2 oz) sun-dried tomatoes (oil reserved), drained and chopped
1 onion, chopped
300g (11 oz) cooked chestnuts, mashed
400g (14 oz) tin butter beans, drained and mashed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
50g (2 oz) prunes, chopped
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
100g (4 oz) chopped mixed nuts
Salt and pepper
For the outer filling:
400g (14 oz) mixed mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons soy sauce
200g (7 oz) frozen spinach
1 lemon, juice and ½ zest only
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry to 40cm × 30cm. Cover and refrigerate.
To make the inner filling: heat a little of the sun-dried tomato oil (save some for later) in your largest frying pan, and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the seasoning, and cook for another 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring often. The mixture should be fairly dry and hold together. Season, and cool.
To make the outer filling: use the rest of the tomato oil to fry the mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, spinach, lemon zest and juice. Cook for 10 minutes, or until all of the moisture has evaporated. Cool.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, and transfer the pastry to it. With the long edge facing you, use the back of a table knife to lightly mark the pastry in half horizontally, giving two long rectangles.
Place the inner filling in the top rectangle, leaving a 3cm-border around the edges, and form it into a sausage shape. Pat the mushroom and spinach layer all over the filling to form the outer filling.
Brush the pastry borders with a little water. Fold the lower half of the pastry over to enclose the fillings, and press all around to seal, then crimp the ends with a fork. Brush with soya milk, and bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes
600ml (1 pt) vegetable stock
2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
3 tablespoon vegan red wine
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Gently fry the onion in the oil in a large deep pan for 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, garlic, celery, and tomatoes, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, cranberry sauce, wine, and herbs, season and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée until smooth.
Fruity Trifles for 4
70g cashew nuts
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
4 blood oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 soft prunes
2 tablespoons cacao powder
3 tablespoons date syrup
400g (14 oz) frozen summer fruits, thawed and drained
For the cashew cream, finely chop 20g of the cashews with the mixed spice in a food processor, and set aside. Juice one of the oranges, and pulse half the juice with the remaining nuts and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract until smooth.
For the chocolate sauce, blend 3 prunes, cacao powder, the remaining vanilla, juice of one orange and 2 tablespoons of date syrup until smooth. Save 12 whole summer fruits, and halve the rest. Purée half with the remaining prunes and 1 tablespoon of date syrup. Sieve the seeds from the other half to make a compôte. Peel and segment the remaining two oranges.
Just before serving, put 3 berries in each of 4 serving glasses. Layer the cashew cream, chocolate sauce, orange segments, and fruit purée on top. Finish with chopped nuts and a drizzle of compôte.