A Very Vegan Christmas to You!!

James and I usually celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with a big dinner of vegan tourtiere, roasted potatoes, mushroom gravy, freshly baked baguettes, and coleslaw. We always spend the day cooking and then eventually tuck into our feast around nine or ten in the evening, after which, we open our gifts to each other. Christmas day is spent eating leftovers, taking a long hike through the woods with the pups, and drinking champagne on the deck in front of the outdoor wood stove.

This year, however, we’re deviating from our plan slightly. We’re breaking with our regular tourtiere tradition and trying a new menu. Now, barring dessert, all of the items on the menu are vegan, but not all are WFPB (“whole-food, plant-based”: a designation meaning no oil and no processed food, in addition to being plant-based):

Christmas Eve Menu

Spicy Beet, Leek, and Walnut Salad

Freshly Baked Baguettes

Beetroot and Acorn Squash Wellington with Kale Pesto

Thrice-Reduced Madeira Sauce

Spice-Stuffed Potato Cakes

Red Cabbage, Ginger, and Turmeric Root Sauerkraut

Vegan Sausage Apple Stuffing

Chocolate Guinness Cake Bailey’s Irish Cream

Lots of Ice Cold Champagne

Okay, that dessert may not be strictly vegan, but, hey, it’s Christmas Eve!!!

All the recipes are in the links!

Spicy Beet, Leek, and Walnut Salad

This colourful salad is perfect for Christmas dinner–it’s a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-British chef, food writer, and restauranteur.

Freshly Baked Baguettes

Still harping on my bread as you can see…and, of COURSE, we made a couple of baguettes for the meal!

Beetroot and Acorn Squash Wellington with Kale Pesto

This is a recipe from the BBC Good Food website that James discovered and decided to attempt. His Portobello Wellingtons take two days of preparation (and the recipe is eight pages in the cookbook!), so this recipe seemed like a nice compromise! The man needs to leave lots of time to wrap my gifts after all!

Thrice-Reduced Madeira Sauce

Oh good lord….James gave me the title of this gravy recipe and when I actually located the recipe, I realized that my dear Nineteenth-Century Man added “thrice-reduced” to the title himself.  You have to admire a man who still answers the phone as though the contraption is an assault on all things civil, but “thrice“? Oh, Jamie-boy, you are adorable!

Back to the sauce: this gravy is so amazingly delicious that guests to Sideways Cottage beg James to make it to top anything and everything. It’s a sauce that’s truly worth the effort it takes…and, believe me, it takes effort: James started it yesterday morning!

Spice-Stuffed Potato Cakes

This is an another Ottolenghi recipe, which I’m making for the first time. This one is from his Plenty More cookbook.  Many of Ottolenghi’s recipes are vegetarian, and a few are even vegan, as is this potato cake recipe, which can be found in the above link. Thank goodness I have a kitchen scale because, like all British recipes, this one lists ingredients by weight. I also had to take a leap and guess that “coriander” in the recipe means fresh cilantro, not dried coriander!

I had two oopsies with this recipe: first, my mint froze, so I ended up harvesting only about one-third as much as I needed. The second error is that I misread “1 kg.” as “1 lb.” of potatoes, and didn’t notice until I wondered why I had so much filling left over, and then read that the recipe produced 20 cakes…and I had only 10.

And speaking of Ottolenghi, James often makes Ottolenghi’s Apple and Olive Oil Cake and it is seriously the best goddamn cake you will ever taste in your life!

Red Cabbage, Ginger, and Turmeric Root Sauerkraut

This is the sauerkraut I started at the beginning of December, and it is perfectly tangy and delicious now on December 23rd. And it’s the PERFECT colour for a festive winter feast!

Vegan Sausage Apple Stuffing

I’ve made the vegan sausage apple stuffing before and it is THE bomb-diggity, but I can’t include the recipe here since it’s from a paid meal plan to which I subscribe. As an aside, I love these Clean Food, Dirty Girl meal plans: each week, subscribers receive a grocery list, a set of batching instructions so most evening meals during the week involve just a little preparation, and recipes for five evening meals. I rarely do the whole batching shebang, but when I do, everything always tastes wonderful. Plus, it’s pretty great to have a fridge full of meals for the week!

Back to the stuffing: it’s an easy, yet time-consuming recipe because you first make (and bake) the vegan sausage, then saute the vegetables/fruit, combine the two with a bunch of other ingredients, and bake again. The result is worth the effort, however! The stuffing is best made a day or two in advance, so the flavours have a chance to meld.

Did I mention how delicious this stuffing is? Let’s just say that it involves lots of apples and dates and dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and tofu and….you name it, it’s in there!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream

Yet another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi! This one is from his book of desserts entitled Sweet (the same cookbook that contains the amazing Apple and Olive Oil Cake!). The only recipe on the menu that’s not vegan, but, what the hell: it’s for our Christmas Feast!

Oh, and then there’s the champagne….

To be honest, on Christmas Eve, I’m usually well into the champers by late afternoon and we’re both slugging it back as we cook. As I’ve no doubt mentioned, however, I decided to have a booze-free year to ring in the first year of my sixties…

….and I’ve touched nary a vodka martini since August 13th, the day before my sixtieth birthday. The reason for my very virtuous abstinence is the realization that I was eating all this healthy plant-based food, but not losing weight because I was likely imbibing hundreds of booze calories a day from my beloved vodka martinis and various glasses of wine…and perhaps a little bubbly from time to time. So here is the alcohol-free champers my darling boy acquired for me for this evening. Of course, HE’s drinking the real thing. Oh, and I have no desire to drink bubbly apple juice all day, so this baby won’t be cracked until dinner time!

And here is our amazing, delicious Christmas Eve feast!

And here it is all plated up…first without the madeira sauce and then with it!

And from Sideways Cottage to y’all out there in Internetland…Merry Christmas!!

Oh, and full disclosure: that picture at the top of Sideways Cottage in the snow was from last February.

And while my taste in Christmas music these days tends toward Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” and The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York,” I do retain a bit of a Catholic-school fondness for the occasional old school dirge-like hym, so here’s an upbeat version of “Away in the Manger” by the a cappella group, Pentatonix:


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