The frantic Christmas shopping season has begun in earnest, and judging by the number of internet searches for “Christmas Gift Ideas for Vegans/Vegetarians” which are landing on last year’s Gift Guide here on The Veg Space, it seemed about time to give you some more ideas for the perfect presents for foodie friends and family.
There’s nothing lovelier than a homemade gift, and edible presents are the best of the lot. I made a few jars of red onion marmalade many years ago, and one particular recipient has dropped very un-subtle hints every year since, wondering when the next batch might be appearing…. so here it is, along with a recipe for you to make your own.
Christmas is a time of year when vegans can face pitying looks for not being able to ‘join in’ with so many traditional foods of the season. But with just the smallest of tweaks, much festive fayre can easily be made vegan, and this traditional rich, moist fruit cake is a perfect example.
I’ve split this post into two parts, as they will need attending to a few weeks apart. First, make the cake using the recipe below, (and don’t be put off by the long cooking time – this is one of the easiest fruit cakes I’ve made, and the ‘hands on’ time is actually fairly minimal), Then, after feeding the cake with your choice of tipple over the course of a few weeks, part 2 will show you how to marzipan and ice the cake, just in time for the Christmas festivities.
There’s something about combining the deep, earthy flavour of dried porcini mushrooms with a festive splash of sherry that works really well. My Porcini & Sherry Soup recipe was super-popular, so here I’ve used the same idea to turn a quick, everyday mushroom risotto into something extra-special.
Whilst I get exceedingly fed up with mushroom risotto being the only veggie option on the menu at 93% of pubs and restaurants in the UK, (I exaggerate, but you get my point!), there is something incredibly good about a luscious homemade risotto made with really good mushrooms, and served the minute the rice has cooked through.
Brrrr… we’ve put the heating on this week and my winter coat has surfaced from the back of the wardrobe. The clocks have gone back, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like autumn. But instead of craving root vegetable soups and wintery suppers, I’ve been trying to hang on to the last glimpses of summer, (well British Summertime at least), by cooking summer holiday food – the sort of dishes you might enjoy with a cold glass of wine on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the sea.
Here’s a quick and easy recipe based on the traditional Greek ‘Gigantes Plaki’, (literally ‘giant baked beans’), a meze dish of giant white runner beans in a rich tomato sauce. Continue reading “Recipe: Quick & Easy Tomato and Herb Gigantes Beans”
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Mulled wine is too good to save just for Christmas, and Bonfire Night, when you’re waiting around in the cold for the fireworks to start, is surely the perfect night to make your first batch of the year. The lovely thing about starting early with mulled wine is that there are still (just!) a few blackberries around, so my recipe below starts with a blackberry and apple syrup infused with cinnamon, cloves and vanilla, to which you add a bottle of red wine and gently heat it through for a wonderful warming tipple.
Those clever people at my favourite Swedish flat-packed furniture chain are so good at knowing just what you will fancy after a few stressful hours measuring up wardrobes and working out how much you can actually fit in (or balance on) your car. Last year they got huge kudos for launching vegan ‘meatballs’ onto their menu, and jolly nice they are too.
Since first trying them I’ve been trying to make my own at home, and this chickpea-based version is definitely my favourite: moist, packed with vegetables and slathered in a mustardy sauce. Perfect served with some oven chips or rice.
I’ve lamented in previous posts that lasagne can be a bit of a faff to make, and whilst it is one of my top five all-time-favourite meals, I can’t always muster up the energy to make it. But now and again I have a burst of enthusiasm and make a batch of individual lasagne for the freezer, ready to pop in the oven when I haven’t got the time or inclination to cook.
Here’s a recipe for just that sort of lasagne – this Roasted Squash & Creamy Pesto Lasagne freezes really well, and is a fun cooking project for a rainy Saturday afternoon, making you 8 individual dinners for cold winter nights to come. Layers of sweet roasted butternut squash, a creamy (and vegan) pesto béchamel, and roasted cherry tomatoes pack this with flavour between the sheets, and a breadcrumb and pine nut topping give it a lovely crunchy top without the need for cheese.
Hands up if you’ve been blackberrying recently? We’ve found a top-secret spot with the biggest, juiciest berries you can imagine, and have been picking, baking, smoothie-making and freezing them for a few weeks now.
Inspired by week 1 of the Great British Bake Off, (I know, I”m a bit slow off the mark on this one), here are some tart and juicy Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes, served with a swirl of lemon buttercream and topped with blackberries. (Oh, and they’re vegan too, not that you would guess from tasting them!).