If you have been following Bunny Kitchen for a while, you probably know that I am crazy about Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year, in my favourite season and I love to pull out all the stops and go way OTT with gifts and homemade marathons.
This year Christmas lunch was spent at a restaurant, Rock and Rose in Richmond with family. This was a nice change to the usual stresses of cooking and since I hadn’t spent Christmas day with my siblings for a few years, it was nice to be together and not have to stress in the kitchen.
Rock and Rose is not a vegetarian restaurant by any means, but after a string of emails and a phone call with a manager about my vegan dietary requirements, I felt more than content that I would be in good hands and was assured that the chef ‘loved the challenge’. I had spotted the Quinoa, Pomegranate & Grilled Halloumi salad with Roast Sweet Potato, Seeds, Nuts & Citrus Dressing on the standard menu and so I asked for a vegan version of the salad, I was offered a ‘wok special’ for my main and a fruit salad for my dessert with sorbet and I was assured it would be ‘funky and festive’. I was happy with the sound of that and boasted about how excited I was to receive these surprise meals. I mean, I had paid £75 for three courses, surely it would be special?
Unfortunately, beyond the starter, a vegan version of an a la carte menu item, the rest was more than a little disappointing. The main was a simple stir fry of plain vegetables seasoned with soy and sprinkled with a few seeds served with plain boiled rice. It was boring, bland, so far removed from a festive meal and the worst part? The asparagus tasted hauntingly buttery. Not forgetting my ‘funky festive’ fruit salad and sorbet which arrived, plain chopped fruit in a glass, with a slice of orange to decorate on top, oh and no sorbet. The only thing that made this dessert differ from a can of fruit salad in syrup was the odd piece of chopped fig supposed to wow me.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, I sat sipping water as the rest of the table enjoyed milky coffees, mince pies and bucks fizz. Really, for £75 and a fruit salad, you couldn’t have got some soya milk in for your vegan guest? As every one else came away tummies bursting with roast potatoes, my biggest tummy concern was the heartburn I had suffered for the past three hours. The non-stop acidic meals did not much to aid this and I asked for some bread to ease some of the acid attack only to find I had been charged for it on the bill.
So, I spent Boxing Day nursing my UTI, cold and exhaustion and looked forward to a proper vegan festive dinner when I felt up to the challenge. It was so worth the wait and the best bit? The leftovers, of course! The highlight of my Christmas dinner was the most incredible vegan Yorkshire puddings, as close to the ‘real’ things as they come.
Too late for Christmas 2014, I know, but for the Christmases to come, any other celebration or just because, here are some of the hamper treats I made this year along with the chocolate favourites made along with the Myprotein Coconut Oil giveaway, which is still open, by the way. Not forgetting some of the classics; panettone, Biscotti, stollen and mince whirls.
Cookie Chocolate Bars
- 450g/1 lb dark vegan chocolate
- Approx. 100-150g vegan cookies (I used 1 packet of orange biscuits)
- Line a 2lb loaf pan with non stick parchment paper with some overhang for easy removal of the bars.
- Gently melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth and glossy. Roughly crumble the cookies into the pan, you want chunky pieces, rubble and dust.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the cookies and leave to cool slightly before placing in the fridge to set then slicing into chunky bars.
Salted Maple Nut Bark
- 75g salted peanuts
- 75g unpeeeled almonds
- 300g dark vegan chocolate
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- A pinch of sea salt
- Add the nuts and maple syrup to a frying pan over a medium heat and toast, tossing the pan to coat the nuts until golden.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth and glossy. Pour onto a sheet of non stick parchment on a tray and roughly spread it approximately 5mm thick.
- Scatter the maple nuts over and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Leave to set then crack into random shards.
- Rock or sea salt
- Bottled or fresh pomegranate juice
- Take a plate with a slight curve and pour a thin layer of juice on the plate.
- Scatter over salt to soak it up then dry in a low oven or in an airing cupboard until completely dry. This would be great with other juice such as orange or raspberry.
Traditionally shortbread is made with 1 part sugar to 2 parts fat to 3 parts flour. This recipe however uses 4 parts flour for an easier to handle dough that can simple be rolled into a sausage shape and sliced, making for easier preparation and a sturdier cookie to wrap up and transport. The corn or rice flour ensures a melt in the mouth, light and crumbly cookie still.
- 100g dairy free margarine
- 50g unrefined granulated sugar
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp pure extract
- 150g plain flour
- 50g corn or rice flour
- 2tbsp unrefined granulated sugar
- Using a stand mixer or food processor, cream together the margarine, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, then add the flours and mix just until it clumps together.
- Use your hands to bring the dough together then roll it into a 7inch sausage, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190’C/375’F and line a baking sheet with non stick parchment.
- Cut the dough into 15 slices and then lay them on the baking tray. Sprinkle with the 2 tbsp sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Chocolate Gingerbread Granola
This fabulous Chocolate Gingerbread Granola from An Unrefined Vegan is to die for and makes an amazing gift.