This is it; the two week countdown to Christmas has begun! It’s time to celebrate and see lots of friends. But that can mean a huge amount of stress on the cooks in the house. Here at Relish we are constantly being asked for ideas and help. Everything from Veggie and Vegan treats to interesting or a bit different side dishes, gluten free options and much more. So whether you want to jazz up those sides or go meat free here are a few of our ideas to help you get a few more veggies into the forthcoming days, and more importantly how to save yourself a bit of time and help take the stress out of creating the perfect big feast.
Potato Blinis – easy to make last minute but also happy to sit in the fridge for a day or two if your entertaining solo or just don’t want the hassle on the night. These work just as well if they’re large or small and if you don’t fancy Smoked Salmon how about salted cucumber and confit egg yolks (much easier than it sounds).
Twice Baked Soufflés – have got me out of a sticky jam on more than one occasion. Make them when you have 30 mins spare, cook them once then chill and freeze. Can be cooked from frozen in next to no time if am unexpected caller pops round. Just remember to check the cheeses that your using – not all cheese is veggie friendly. A good jar of chutney from your store cupboard and some fresh rocket leaves or a few slices of apple and some crushed walnuts is all you need to go along side,
Pasta – no not pesto pasta that the kids plough through! Home made Ravioli. You need to have a pasta machine for rolling the dough nice and thin but if like me you’ve yet to get the blades for cutting the ribbons of Tagliatelle its still easy to create the slightly more rustic (wonky!) look. or have a go at Ravioli all you need is a pastry cutter. I use the same one for mince pies and scones. Fresh Pasta freezes really well and can be cooked straight from frozen so if like me your prone to over filling your little parcels this might be the trick that you need to stop them failing apart in the water. Now usually I go for plain pasta with a stuffing of Cod, Prawns, basil and ricotta. But how about stuffing with butternut squash and chestnuts or even making beetroot pasta (simply add roasted beetroot puree to the dry ingredients) and stuff with grated courgettes and cream cheese.
Pumpkin Pie – just the mention of these two words used to have me running for the hills until I read Bryn Williams books and now its one of my most favourites. Make an interesting pastry – substitute a bit of wholemeal flour, add a handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds. And then jazz up the filling – try adding marmalade to the roast pumpkin when you mash or puree it – or a little orange juice if that’s a step too far! Cook off a couple of handfuls of cranberries again in orange juice add a slug of your finest balsamic vinegar then scatter over the top of pie before you bake it, adds colour and texture and I love the sharpness of the cranberries against the sweet vegetable filling.
Salads – We love salads here and believe that there’s rarely a meal that isn’t improved by adding some bright fresh raw ingredients to the side. So why not make them good enough to stand alone. Roasted Golden Beetroot with some crumbled Stilton and a handful of capers, sitting on a bunch of watercress with a little honey and mustard dressing looks a million dollars, tastes just as good and takes nano seconds to plate up. Or how about some sautéed fennel and chicory with a sharp dressing of chillies, ginger and rosemary; a perfect first course before a heavy main. And Ottolenghi does the most amazing raw Brussel Sprout Salad that you’ve just got to eat to believe!
But what about the main event. I’m a bit like a kid in a candy shop at this point – I just don’t know what to choose – they all look amazing and I Like them all. So after lots of thought, plenty of testers and a few willing guinea pigs these are the top three dishes that we will be cooking this year. All will be available from the deli counter from Sturday but do get in touch if you want us to put some aside for you.
Roast Lentil Loaf
Parsnip, Cranberry & Chestnut Loaf