My first vegan Christmas

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This December has flown by faster than any I can remember. I don’t know if it’s because life has become so fast paced or if it’s because I’m growing older and wanting it to all just slow down a bit! Whatever it is, I’m not quite ready for Christmas yet but I’m getting there, thanks to QVC.

Having embarked upon my journey into veganism in mid-January of this year, this will be my first fully vegan Christmas. For anyone else interested in veganism for whatever reason, maybe environmental, because of family members, for the animals or for health reasons, have a search for ‘Veganuary’ online. Many people give it a go to shed a few pounds in January so, again, worth a little look! Weight loss has nothing to do with this blog though. It’s all about Christmas indulgence, vegan style!

You may remember ‘Kitchen Jo’ from a recent blog I posted? She is our on-air kitchen manager and is an absolute goddess of gastronomy! We often mention her on-air in our kitchen shows. Jo and I have always enjoyed working together. We share a love of food for starters, pardon the pun. Jo is no vegan but she has become interested in vegan cookery following on from our conversations about veganism. I love cooking, too, and have often asked for Jo’s advice on culinary matters as she is the font of all knowledge.

We recently attended a food fair together and, despite Jo being a committed carnivore, she was open to trying some of the vegan foods on offer. She was very sceptical prior to this but was won over by some of the vegan cheeses and is a big fan of Rubies in the Rubble which we sell on QVC. They do delicious sauces, chutney and mayonnaises which are all vegan.

As this is my first vegan Christmas I’ve been getting creative with ideas for the Huntley Festive Feastage. I just needed Jo to help me with some cookery tips. Well, she not only provided some valuable pointers but she also threw in some of her own fabulous ideas, too, such as ‘Choctails’ and an awesome lemon cheesecake. On top of that she invited me into the QVC kitchen to experiment with the recipes we developed together. We had a lot of fun tasting, in addition to cooking the yummiest creations.

So, I thought I’d share what we are having at Chez Huntley this year in case you fancy cooking some up for yourself or have vegans you need to cater for this year. Jo and I wanted to create recipes which were relatively easy rather than some of the more complicated ones around which have endless obscure, hard-to-find ingredients or require far too much time.

Here are the recipes we came up with…

Party Food:

  • Cheese twists
  • Mushroom and red onion chutney rolls

Christmas Day:

To start:

  • Orange and pomegranate salad with toasted pecan topping

The main event:

  • Festive Chestnut Wellington

For dessert:

  • Zesty lemon cheesecake
  • Vegan cheeseboard with chutney selection

After-dinner tipple:

  • Choctails

 

I remember my mum making cheese straws around Christmastime. I used to love them, especially when they were still warm and fresh from the oven. Now I’m dairy free I have discovered a great many vegan cheese alternatives. I’m not going to lie, some are like tucking into plastic but others, ooooh, others are just so good I can’t get enough. Not necessarily healthy but a gorgeous Christmas treat, nonetheless, and a perfect accompaniment to a wee Chrimbletide tipple.

So, I tasked Jo with finding a way to make easy, quick, cheese twists and she came up with these. They were the easiest thing in the world to make and super quick.

Cheese twists:

  • 1 sheet vegan puff pastry
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 50g parmesan alternative
  • 100g cheddar alternative

Firstly, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Next, spread out 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a chopping board. We used Jus Roll as its vegan-friendly and readily available from most supermarkets. Then brush all over the surface with a little water to dampen. In a bowl mix paprikacayenne pepperparmesan and cheddar, we used Violife cheddar and parmesan alternatives for taste and texture. Stir to combine.

Sprinkle the cheese and spice mix over the damp puff pastry evenly and press slightly to ensure it sticks. Carefully fold the pastry in half, long edge to long edge, and using a rolling pin, roll the pastry firmly but gently to help create a crease along the folded part. Using a sharp knife cut the folded pastry into 1 inch thick strips. Place some parchment paper onto a baking sheet and pick up the first slice of cheese filled pastry and twist 2 or 3 times and lay on to the tray, pressing the ends into the tray slightly.

Place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before devouring with gusto!

Mushroom and red onion chutney rolls:

For the chutney:

  • 3 red onions
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 clove garlic

For the rolls:

  • 1 sheet vegan puff pastry
  • 6 vegan sausages
  • Splash oat milk/milk alternative

Next, the ‘sausage roll’ alternatives. Again, fairly simple to do. For the chutney finely slice the red onions and place into a saucepan with brown sugar,  balsamic vinegar, a finely chopped red chilli and a finely chopped clove of garlic. Place on the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a medium heat and allow to simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally until the onions have sautéed down and have become sticky. Allow to cool before moving onto the next step.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Spread a sheet of puff pastry on to a floured chopping board and, using a rolling pin, roll slightly to even out the sheet. Place two vegan sausages of your choice (we used Shroomdogs, they have a good, dense, texture) about 3 inches from the end of the short edge and place a line of onion chutney along one side of the sausages. Dampen the puff pastry with a little water and fold the pastry over the sausages, wrapping them and the chutney in puff pastry. Press the edges together firmly and trim the pressed edge. Cut each sausage in to 3 mini rolls or cut the strip in half for a larger one.

Repeat the process with 4 more sausages and place all the sausage rolls onto a lined baking tray. Brush with a little oat milk, or any alternative of your choosing, and place in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving with the rest of the red onion chutney.

Onto the starter. Nice and easy plus it created a beautifully vibrant display of colours on your Christmas table.

Orange and pomegranate salad with toasted pecan topping:

For the glaze:

  • 75ml balsamic vinegar
  • 75g fresh raspberries

For the salad:

  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 100g charred pecans
  • 200g your choice lettuce leaves – I used rocket, spinach and lambs lettuce
  • Segments from 3 oranges

For the glaze, place the balsamic vinegar in to a small sauce pan with the raspberries and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly and crush the raspberries to allow the juices to infuse the vinegar and fast simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain into a small bowl and allow to cool before using.

For the salad, toss all the ingredients into a large bowl and drizzle with the cooled glaze, toss to combine and serve.

Now to give it some welly… or Wellington.

Festive Chestnut Wellington 

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 200g butternut squash
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 1 courgette
  • 180g chestnuts
  • 1 leek
  • 150g spinach
  • 400g meat-free mince (we used the Meatless Farm Co)
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 springs of thyme
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet of Puff Pastry (we used Jus Roll)
  • Splash oat milk/milk alternative

Preheat the oven to 200C. Using a food processor with a grating attachment, grate the onion and garlic. Decant into a clean bowl and grate the butternut squash, mushrooms, courgette and chestnuts. Change the attachment to slice and slice the leek as finely as possible.

In a saucepan, heat the rapeseed oil and add the grated onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften the onions and cook off the garlic. Add the remaining grated and sliced vegetables, herbs and spices and stir to combine and allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the spinach, stirring to combine and allowing the spinach to wilt into the vegetable mix. Once the vegetables are soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool, this will also help any excess water to drain from the vegetables.

In a second frying pan, add the meat-free mince and cook until golden brown and broken down and mince-like. Remove from the heat. Add the softened vegetables (making sure to drain the excess water from the vegetables) to the mince and stir to combine. Add the orange zest at this point.

Spread a sheet of puff pastry on to a sheet of parchment paper and using a rolling pin, roll to flatten the sheet out. Place the mince and vegetable mix in the middle of the sheet creating a sausage shape as you go. Roll one edge of the pasty up over the sausage and brush the other edge with a little water and bring up and over the filling to create a seam. Lift the edge of the parchment paper closest to you and roll the Wellington so the seam is on the underside.

Place the Wellington, along with the parchment, onto a baking tray. Brush with a little oat milk (or your choice of alternative) and sprinkle with a little extra paprika and some sesame seeds. Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Mmmm, cheesecake time!

Zesty lemon cheesecake:

For the base:

  • 120g of your choice of vegan friendly biscuits, crushed
  • 40g dairy free spread, melted

For the filling:

  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 sachet of Vege-Gel (vegan friendly)
  • 340g vegan soft cheese
  • 125g single soya cream alternative
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the base mix the melted spread and crushed biscuits together until combined. Spoon in to the base of a silicone tin and flatten tightly making sure that it is firmly compacted then chill for 15 minutes.

For the filling add the vegan soft cheese and the cream alternative to a bowl, whip to combine until smooth, set aside. Add the lemon juice and the sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil to allow the sugar to dissolve. At this point follow the instructions on the back of the Vege-Gel pack, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding it to the soft cheese bowl making sure to mix quickly to avoid lumps forming. Stir through the lemon zest. Pour the mix onto the chilled base and place back into the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Remove from the silicone tin and serve.

 

Vegan cheeseboard with chutney selection:

For those preferring a savoury after-dinner indulgence, simply purchase some great vegan cheeses and serve with chutneys of your choice. I chose a cranberry, Wensleydale style cheese and a soft cream cheese which I topped with fresh cracked black pepper.

Time for a well deserved dessert-style tipple with your guests!

Choctails:

  • 500g sugar
  • 500ml boiled water
  • 200g good quality grated dark vegan chocolate
  • 250ml vodka
  • 75ml orange liquer
  • 300ml hazelnut liqueur

Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a saucepan and allow to simmer for a few minutes, making sure that all the sugar has dissolved. Split the syrup equally into 2 bowls and add the grated dark vegan chocolate to each bowl and whisk until completely melted and smooth, we used Hotel Chocolat.

In one bowl add the vodka and orange liquer and to the second bowl add the hazelnut liqueur, stir to combine. Allow to cool completely and serve into chilled martini glasses.


What’s really great about this choctail is its versatility. You could try using it as a sauce to drizzle over other desserts. My recommendation? After all your hard work just pour a large glass for yourself and do some armchair delegation with regards to the washing up etc!

Maybe you know your way around the kitchen pretty well but how about finding your way from A to B on the roads? Well, for me, my Sally Satnav has become an invaluable driving companion and I wouldn’t be without her. We have a brilliant Today’s Special Value offer coming up on the 24th with a superb saving. Certainly one to look out for.

The Garmin DriveSmart comes with free lifetime map updates for UK, Ireland and Europe. What’s also really special is that this deal includes lifetime safety camera updates and has real time services such as live parking and weather, bluetooth calling, smart notifications and voice activated navigation capabilities.

If you hate getting stuck in traffic, let’s face it, who doesn’t, then you can outsmart traffic jams with time-saving alternate routes or by avoiding them altogether. Then, with live information, spend less time looking for a parking space. Get live on-street parking information, up-to-date weather forecasts and more, on your Garmin DriveSmart. As you near your destination, take the stress out of parking by viewing pricing and availability trends for on-street public parking. The Smartphone Link app also enables LiveTrack2, which lets drivers share their location so friends can track your whereabouts whether you are running errands around town or taking a long road trip. Clever stuff, eh?

I found, when I trialled it for a few days, that it really helped me to become more aware of certain things like sharp curves or reduced speed areas so as to feel a bit safer on the road. Maybe someone you know could do with these helpful features to give them (and you) a bit more peace of mind when they’re out and about.

If you don’t have a Satnav this one is a super little dynamo of a gadget by a world class company who are one of the leaders in navigation and at a cracking little price. Not to mention the fabulous 30 day money back guarantee so you can put it to the test, yourself!

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you decide to try some of these recipes out or even share your own below!

Love Catherine xx

13 Comments

  1. Suzanne Wiseman December 19, 2018 at 11:15 am -  Reply

    Thank you so very much for sharing your yummy recipes Catherine. I’m not celebrating Christmas this year as my brother got told this week he has secondary cancer stage 4 liver 🙁
    But I would like to wish you and your family a happy Christmas and New year. I would also like to say thank you from the animals for choosing a cruelty free lifestyle. Much love xxx

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

      Dear Suzanne,

      I am so sorry to read your message. Apologies for the delayed response, also. I really appreciate your taking the time to write in and my thoughts are with you and your family.

      Warmest hugs,

      Catherine x

  2. Susan December 19, 2018 at 5:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Catherine,
    I can’t believe how long your blog is! That must have taken a while! I’m sure vegans will be very interested though. Can I ask what made you go vegan? Hope you have a lovely Christmas and your shoulder continues to improve x

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 4:47 pm -  Reply

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your message. The shoulder is pretty much perfect now, thanks for remembering.

      As for the choice to become vegan, I had been vegetarian for a year once and then I went back to eating animal products. I had, in the past, steered away from watching documentaries which I was worried would upset me. When I tried veganuary last year I decided to actually be a little braver and do a bit more investigation through watching films. Some I couldn’t even get through but my mind was already made up by then so there was no point watching further. One in particular was called ‘Land of hope and glory’. It’s not just the animals though, it’s the impact on our environment and health which also spurred me on.

      It’s been great and I think I’m the only person I know who didn’t put weight on over Christmas! Maybe that had something to do with it, I don’t know.

      I hope you had a great Christmas and new year!

      Lots of love,

      Catherine x

  3. Angel December 20, 2018 at 2:58 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for the recipes my son has been vegan for a number of years and im always on the look out for good tried and tested vegan recipes, they look great and im definately going to try some of them. Wishing you a merry christmas and all the best for the new year x

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm -  Reply

      Hello Angel,

      What a lovely name! Nice to hear from you and great to hear what a supportive mum you are cooking lovely vegan treats!

      Love to you and yours,

      Catherine x

  4. Jules December 21, 2018 at 3:56 pm -  Reply

    Wishing you, your family and cats a very Happy ‘Vegan’ Christmas and all the very best for the new year. I too am vegan and the pictures of the amazing vegan dishes that you created look delicious – enjoy 🙂

    Love Jules x

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 5:08 pm -  Reply

      Hi Jules!

      Thanks so much for your post. Lovely to hear from you. Oooh it was gorgeous. We stuffed ourselves silly!

      I hope you had a good Christmas, too, and a happy new year.

      Love Catherine x

  5. Pat ramsell December 21, 2018 at 11:57 pm -  Reply

    I have been thinking about trying a vegan diet for some time but do admit that the recipes I found put me off. they seemed to need too much effort to source ingredients. I will try some of yours, they have what I call normal ingredients. Thank you and merry Christmas . I also like the cheeseboard with the pull out cheese knives can you tell me where I can buy one

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 5:13 pm -  Reply

      Hi Pat,

      Great to hear these recipes are more easy to tackle. I’ll be posting more in the near future. In the meantime, the vegan society and veganuary are good online resources for information.

      The cheeseboard was a gift years ago and I have no idea where it came from, I’m afraid. If you do a google search for cheeseboard with pull out knives maybe it’ll come up.

      I hope you are having a lovely start to 2019.

      Love Catherine x

  6. Beverly December 26, 2018 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    Great to hear your vegan, I’m 3/4 of the way there. We had Jamie Oliver vegan gravy with our lentil & cashew loaf – it is a real winner so flavourful

    • Catherine Huntley January 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm -  Reply

      Hi Beverly,

      So good to hear from you and well done so far! Your dinner sounds gorgeous! I’m having a sensible salad as I type this but that’s made my mouth water!

      Here’s wishing you a very happy 2019.

      Love Catherine x

  7. Sara January 10, 2019 at 6:47 pm -  Reply

    I’ve been a QVC customer for over 11 years and vegan for nearly 5 years. It’s so good to see someone flying the vegan flag at my favourite shopping place! (Coincidentally, my favourite presenter). It’s so encouraging to see you talking about your vegan journey ☺️ It can be quite a challenge, not the cutting out animal products, but the opposition you invariably face from others. So I really respect that you’re sharing this. 💕
    🐮🐷🐰🐥🐟

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