This recipe was handed down through my family, from my great-grandmother to my mother and when I moved to Ireland from Germany, I brought it with me – every year in the weeks before Christmas, this is one of my favourite things to bake. It just so happens to be vegan, too! A gently spiced, moist, sumptuous treat that’s amazing with a bit of (vegan) butter and a cup of tea.
500g peeled and grated apple
6 dried apricots, chopped
70g almonds, chopped
1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
a pinch of salt
40ml rum (or fruit juice)
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Mix the apple and sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow it to sit in the fridge overnight or for an hour or so at room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the apple and sugar mixture (which should now be very wet) and mix to evenly combine the ingredients into a thick, spoonable batter.
Spread the batter into the lined loaf tin and bake the cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or so until it is risen and set. It should still be moist but when you insert a skewer it should come out mostly dry with a few damp crumbs.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin then remove and slice it thickly. This cake stays fresh for a week in the fridge if tightly wrapped.
Who has leftover Christmas vegetables to use up? We always tend to have leftover braised red cabbage and roasted parsnips, carrots and sprouts. What about you? What are your most common festive leftovers? And what are you favourite ways to use them up? This year we are making a very quick and easy cous cous salad with our leftovers. The sweet and warm spices in the braised red cabbage go perfectly with cous cous. We eat this as a simple lunch topped with salty olives or feta. But it is also nice as a side to a jammy tomato, onion and chickpea stew. This recipe is very flexible, so please take the amounts and ingredients suggested below as a rough guide and just use up what you have. If you have any uncooked cabbage or carrots around still, try shredding and adding them raw for extra crunch and much needed freshness. Share your best leftover ideas in the comments.
Ingredients (serves 4 or 8 as sides)
1 mug (250ml volume) cous cous
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 mug (250ml) hot liquid (try the juice of a clementine topped up with just-boiled water from the kettle)
a handful of almonds (or any nuts or seeds), chopped
leftover braised red cabbage, roasted carrots, parsnips and sprouts
optional feta, olives or chickpeas to serve
In a heatproof bowl, stir the cous cous with the bouillon powder. Then pour in the hot water and clementine juice, give it another quick stir and place a plate over the bowl to let the cous cous soak up all the liquid.
Meanwhile chop the nuts and gather your festive leftovers.
Fluff up the cous cous with a fork then stir through the vegetables and nuts. Enjoy as it is or serve with feta, olives or chickpeas for extra oomph!
These are so delicious and are very simple to make with only 4 ingredients. They are crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy inside. They make a lovely, festive, edible gift and are a great way to use up that half bag of desiccated coconut we all have lurking in the back of our kitchen cupboards. Enjoy and Merry Christmas everyone!
A slice of lemon
50ml aquafaba (the liquid in a tin of chickpeas)
150g desiccated coconut
Turn your oven on to 100C and line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Wipe a clean mixing bowl with the lemon slice. This helps the aquafaba form stiff peaks.
Pour in the aquafaba and start whisking with an electric whisk. Once the mixture is foamy, start incorporating the sugar as you whisk, a tablespoon at a time. Then whisk hard for around 8 minutes or until you get stiff, glossy peaks.
Fold in the desiccated coconut, spoon out into balls on the baking sheet and bake for an hour or until they are just set in the bottom. An easy way to tell if they are done is if they slide on the paper or can be easily picked up, that means they are no longer sticky underneath.
To me, the perfect potatoes for a roast dinner, especially for a Christmas roast, are soft and fluffy inside with a gorgeous crunchy, golden exterior. Do you agree? They must be perfectly seasoned (this mainly happens when you par boil in salty water) and finished with a delicious garlic and herb sprinkle which ignites all the senses. For Christmas potatoes, I add the zest of an orange too! I wish you could smell these potatoes through the screen, they are so incredible. I can never make enough of them, they are always the first thing to go. Here’s how.
Peel and cut your potatoes into even sized pieces. Place them in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Once the outsides are tender but the insides still under-cooked, drain them through a large colander. Now shake the colander, carefully tossing the potatoes to rough up the outsides and make them look fluffy like the next image.
2. Get a large oven tray that will comfortably fit all the potatoes and fill the bottom of it with a couple of millimeters of neutral vegetable oil. Place this tray of oil into a hot oven set to 200C. Once it has heated up, carefully place the potatoes into the hot oil and use tongs to turn them all over so that they are completely coated with the hot oil. Now get them in back into the oven for an hour. Every twenty minutes, take them out and turn them over so that they can get golden brown and crispy all over.
3. While they are cooking, finely chop a few sprigs of rosemary, zest an organic orange (you don’t want the zest of a sprayed and waxed orange, make sure it is one of our organic ones) and finely grate or crush a clove of garlic. Then, when the potatoes are done to your liking, sprinkle over this fragrant mixture, the kitchen will suddenly smell even more amazing, add some flakey sea salt and enjoy!
This homemade gravy powder is so handy to have on standby in your kitchen cupboard. It will bring bags of flavour to your festive feast and can also be used to thicken up and flavour stews and pies. To make this powder into gravy, we like to use a nutty browned butter and rich red wine base. Read on below to see how it comes together.
6 tbsp corn starch (or potato starch or tapioca)
3 tbsp crumbled dried mushrooms
6 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 tbsp garlic or onion powder/granules
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
Simply measure the ingredients into a strong blender and process until they come together into a fine powder. Then store in a clean, dry, labelled jar.
Ingredients to Make Gravy:
1 tbsp butter
100ml red wine (white wine works well too)
3 tbsp gravy powder (above)
salt to taste if needed
Add a tbsp of butter to a hot pan (we use Naturli vegan butter which browns beautifully) and cook for a couple of minutes on a high heat until it foams then starts to brown. (Browning the butter creates a complex, nutty flavour and the butter also gives the gravy a shiny and silky texture.)
Next add 100ml of red wine and boil for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol and reduce slightly.
Meanwhile whisk 3 tbsp of the gravy powder with 300ml of milk (we use delicious, creamy oat milk). When the red wine has reduced, add the milk mixture to the pot, then whisk and simmer until the gravy is thickened. If you’d like a looser gravy, add a splash more milk or water.
Taste and season if needed with a pinch of salt. Serve hot and enjoy!
Looking for a quick and simple, yet utterly delicious, centerpiece for your veggie/vegan guests this Christmas? This glazed tofu is the answer. It is gorgeously caramelised on the outside and beautifully tender inside. Firm tofu is a wholesome, healthy and satisfying protein, but definitely a blank canvas that needs a good marinade to shine. This sweet glaze is spiked with mustard and garlic and is honestly, so moreish. Enjoy!
Ingredients (serves 2-4 depending on sides and appetite)
400g extra firm tofu (2 of our blocks)
4 tsp smoked paprika
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 heaped tsp garlic granules
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
a splash of just-boiled water
salt to taste
Place your blocks of tofu into a small, lined roasting dish. Sprinkle the first sides with 2 tsp of smoked paprika and 2 tbsp of soy sauce. Turn the blocks over.
Score the tops of the blocks of tofu in shallow, diagonal cuts. Then sprinkle these top sides with the remaining smoked paprika and soy sauce. Pop the dish in a hot oven to roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the glaze by whisking together the sugar, mustard, garlic granules, salt and hot water into a smooth sauce.
Remove the tofu from the oven and brush liberally with the glaze. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so until dark brown, sticky and delicious! You can check on the tofu every 5 minutes and baste with any glaze that has pooled around the bottom of the dish. Enjoy alongside all your usual Christmas roast trimmings.
Make your favourite bar of chocolate that bit more special by melting it into puddles and adding festive toppings. We love adding green pistachios and red pomegranate seeds to ours for fresh bursts of flavour and Christmassy colour. But be aware that if you are using fresh pomegranate seeds, these chocolates will need to be stored in the fridge and eaten within 3 days, so only make as much as you’ll need. These are a great (minimal effort but maximum wow factor) treat to bring to a Christmas gathering to be enjoyed with a glass of mulled wine.
Did you know that most chocolate has quite problematic origins? Cocoa production is rife with child and slave labour, as well as environmental issues with land clearing and overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic, ethically sourced chocolate is of course more expensive, but I think we can all agree that it is totally worth spending a few more cents to help make the world a fairer place. Playing with your chocolate like this and adding nuts, seeds, fruit etc can also make it go further. Check out our chocolate selection here.
Your favourite chocolate
pomegranate seeds (or use freeze-dried fruit for longer lasting puddles)
sea salt flakes
pistachio nuts, chopped
or any toppings you prefer
Line a tray with a sheet of baking parchment and make space in your fridge or in a cool, dry place in your house. Prepare your chosen toppings.
Gently melt the chocolate. The best method is in a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water.
Spoon the chocolate out onto the parchment and use the back of the spoon to create little puddles.
While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle over the toppings. Set in a cool place until solid then enjoy! If you are using fresh pomegranate seeds, store the chocolates in a container in the fridge and eat within 3 days. Dried fruit and nuts will last a lot longer.
Looking for some fantastic festive nibbles for your next seasonal soirée? These smashed and roasted potatoes and sprouts are incredible! Taking the time to squash, dress and roast your boiled/steamed veg is really worth it. This process creates gorgeous craggy edges which turn into crispy deliciousness in the oven! Perfect with a nutty romesco dipping sauce or any dip you fancy. Enjoy!
For the potatoes and sprouts:
1 kg potatoes, steamed/boiled until fork-tender
500g brussels sprouts, steamed/boiled until tender
5 tbsp oil (I used golden rapeseed oil)
the zest of an orange
4 crushed cloves of garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp fine salt
For the romesco dipping sauce:
100g almonds, roasted
2 roasted and skinned red peppers (from a jar is perfect)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 tbsp vinegar (apple cider, red wine or sherry vinegars all work well here)
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C and prepare the vegetables. (Boil or steam the potatoes and sprouts until they are fork soft, roast the almonds in the oven for 5 minutes, roast the peppers or use pre-roasted from a jar, prepare the dressing ingredients…)
Spread the sprouts and potatoes onto a large, lined baking tray and squash them gently with the base of a glass.
Mix the dressing ingredients and drizzle/brush over it all over the squished vegetables. Then place the tray in the oven to bake until golden and crispy (around 30 minutes).
Meanwhile blend the romesco dipping sauce ingredients together until smooth. Serve the crisped up vegetables on a large platter with the sauce in a ramekin – fab festive finger food! Any left over sauce makes a great pasta or pizza sauce or can be frozen to use another time.
This creamy, comforting, warm winter side dish will make you cosy from the inside out. It’s special enough for the Christmas table, but once you try it, you’ll be making it to go alongside all your winter roasts. Deep, dark, earthy mushrooms mingle perfectly with sweet parsnips and rich cream. The nutmeg, garlic and bay leaves infuse beautifully into the sauce making your whole house smell amazing!
250g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
1 tbsp oil
600g potatoes, thinly sliced
600g parsnips, thinly sliced
1 tbsp dried mushrooms (soaked in 400ml boiling water)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
400ml cream (oat cream works well)
salt & pepper to taste
Turn your oven on to 200C and prepare all your ingredients. Boil a kettle and cover a tbsp of dried mushrooms with 400ml of just-boiled water. Find a large, oven and hob safe pot with a lid (or use a large soup pot on the stove and decant to an oven dish to bake).
Sauté the sliced fresh mushrooms for 5 minutes with the oil, garlic and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Once soft add the potatoes and parsnips to the pan.
Pour the mushroom stock (including all the now rehydrated mushrooms) over the vegetables. Add the bay leaves & nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. Carefully stir to combine the ingredients, then level out with the back of the spoon.
Pour over the cream then pop the lid onto the pot and simmer for around 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are just soft. Remove the lid, use the back of the spoon to push all the veg under the liquid. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
Place the dish in the oven for 20-30 minutes to brown and reduce into a gorgeous gratin. Allow the dish to sit out and set for 5 minutes before serving in generous scoops. Enjoy!
This is a really delicious and hearty veggie main for your festive feast, made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. A great option if you need an alternative to a nut roast, this beetloaf is nut free, can easily be gluten free if you use gluten free oats, and is full of healthy fibre and protein from beans, chickpeas and oats. Make is Christmassy as I’ve done here with a cranberry sauce glaze, or use it for another occasion and switch the cranberry sauce for barbecue sauce, apple chutney or a mustard and maple glaze. Make it your own with your favourite herbs and spices. Happy Christmas!
400g cooked beetroot
1 tin of chickpeas plus the liquid in the tin
2 tins black beans, drained
1 tbsp each: smoked paprika, sage, rosemary and thyme
2 tbsp tomato purée or ketchup
2 diced onions and 4 diced garlic cloves cooked in olive oil
150-200g porridge oats
salt and pepper to taste
cranberry sauce to glaze (around 6 tbsp)
Pre-heat your oven to 200C and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a food processor, blend the beetroot, chickpeas and their liquid, herbs and spices, seasoning and half the black beans into a thick purée.
Add the onion/garlic mix, 150g of oats and remaining black beans and pulse together to retain some texture.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed and add more oats if a little wet.
Scrape into the lined loaf tin, cover with cranberry sauce (or any glaze you prefer eg barbecue sauce, mustard and maple…) and bake for around an hour or until cooked through.
Serve in slices with all the trimmings. Gravy, roast potatoes, greens…