Firstly, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope the festive period has been full of good food and good company.. allowing you some time for plenty rubbish Xmas TV, and well, if you have been good a surprise visit from Santa too;-)
My Christmas has been a rather extended one, starting early in December with my second job, working at the gym and at their Christmas shows, followed by work outings and plenty of yummy food.
It has also been about spending time with friends and family, exploring new eateries and revisiting some favourites - For me, the best way to spend the festive season. I even took a quick trip to Borough Market for some food inspiration and visited a few Christmas markets too, including Kingston and Southbank.
When I have actually been at home and well, not wrapping presents, shovelling snow or of course working, I have been doing one thing.. Cooking and baking! Now is that a surprise?
I was unsure what to make this Christmas, I like to do a different vegetarian meal every year, looking through recipes trying to find inspiration. I knew a few flavours I wanted to incorporate but not a dish to combine them.
I opted for filo parcels.. I love pastry and knew I could create something festive. Chestnut, mushroom and cauliflower rice was the filling. Carrington Food products also featured, their new Extreme Harissa paste mixed in with the filling, I would say leaving a subtle after taste but I suppose it was more of a chilli kick xD
The chilli did not stop there. I roasted carrots and parsnips in olive oil, honey and warming spices. Chilli powder, paprika and Carrington's Chilli Rub and Extreme Harissa paste. The honey and other flavours balanced out the heat, so it was a subtle warmth on the tongue rather than a burn at the back of the throat.
Alongside the filo parcels and roasted veg I did another first for me, brussel sprouts. Early this year I tried a roasted sprout dish, of course with plenty of spice, and actually for the first time ever I found them palatable. Therefore decided to shred them, roast them in Carrington's Chilli Oil and again coat them in spices which included paprika, chilli powder and cumin.
...And well, Christmas isn't Christmas without leftovers so I made enough to last. Leftovers for Boxing day has to be done! Alongside my meal was the stuffing and yorkies- another must for Xmas. I may even try something different with my left over yorkies this year .. an idea from my friend Becky, cold yorkies with cream and jam? Has anyone tried this before?
Now the second most important thing about Christmas, Pudding! No not Christmas pudding, but something alternative. This year dessert was spread out, the week leading up to Christmas was some festive ginger spiced biscuits.. energy food for all that hard work to come. But the big day however had to feature chocolate, not a yule log this year but a dark chocolate and pear tart with a twist. (At Tatton Park Winter Foodies Festival, I stumbled upon Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur. So this provided the much needed alcoholic reference to the dessert, the flavour is just like an After Eight Mint!)
The pastry of course was gluten free, crumbly and pure perfection. The filling a smooth, rich dark chocolate smothering roasted pears, is your mouth watering yet? Or do you need a photo? ;-)
The alternative for those who didn't want the traditional Christmas pudding or chocolate food heaven, was homemade mince pies (Made by Jason) or my meringue, topped with brandy butter and a ginger biscuit crumb. Each I can confirm yummy and satisfying. Not all of my recipes were made Vegan as the haul of eggs from the chickens were piling up, however they could easily be made Vegan if needed. :-)
Overall Christmas at Leewood's was a foodies delight, catering for all GF, Vegetarian and Vegan options.. and of course meat for the majority of the household!
Other festive delights I picked up leading up to Christmas were brought to the table. The Great British Cheese Company's selection of cheeses and the new Vegan Almond Milk Bailey's, now doesn't that sound like the perfect Christmas?
Or wait, were you wishing for a white Christmas? Well the weather did not disappoint us here. Boxing day the snow fell, 2 inches of fluffy stuff covered the ground, just like the previous week.. thankfully not the foot of snow seen then- although it would have made a pretty picture!
Versus Mid December:
What did you all get for Christmas? I brought myself an early gift.. a slow cooker, perfect for all my food prep and batch cooking. Alongside this I was gifted baking equipment, plates and an awesome Gilmore Girls mug to enjoy my coffee properly! Food gifts included my favourite Lindt and Green and Blacks chocolate, liqueur chocolates and a retro food hamper full of candy and soda. I also received more of my favourite hot chocolate from Whittard and Hotel Chocolat. Just enough to keep me going for now.
I hope you all got everything you asked for, maybe equipment or cookbooks to inspire you to be creative in the new year?
Well, for now I wish you all a fab New Year, 2017 has been great for me. Food events and opportunities have allowed me to keep entertaining you all, and there is a lot more to be excited about in 2018.
Check back in January were I also will be reviewing Brindisa, I am lucky enough to be sampling the Vegan Calçotada menu and cannot wait! ;-)
Now it's time for me to go and enjoy a mince pie and leftovers.. Ciao!