A Very Veggie Pre-Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinners are the best. Is that why they’re the last major meal we have in the year? It ticks all the boxes. It brings together people and fantastic culinary creations!

I’ve moved into a tiny attic flat in an old B&B styled home with two friends. We don’t have a dining room but a dining-hall instead. Basically, we have a hall way with an art table to eat off. We also have an ensuite kitchen…But we love our tiny flat nonetheless.

So I decided to throw a mini pre-Christmas dinner party for my nearest and dearest university friends. Having become a vegetarian in March, I’m new to cooking veggie food and get a bit nervous trying out new recipes for friends. But this time, I cooked my hardest and produced such a mass of yummy veggie food (all Christmasy too)!

All 5 of us being students, I had to shop within a budget of no more than £10. I failed at this mission because I spent about double that but it was worth it.

Unfortunately though, I was too busy preparing the food then serving it to actually take a photo of how all of the food I cooked looked before served. Next time I cook, I’ll make sure and snap some photos to share with you and also make sure they aren’t low res. camera phone shots!

The Menu

Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut loaf
(recipe here)


I stuck to the recipe as strictly as possible but didn’t realise how expensive nuts and cranberries are! I used a jar of cranberry sauce with a finely chopped apple instead of ‘real’ cranberries. I also cooked some chopped mushrooms with the onion to bulk the loaf out a bit.
It turned out to taste delicious although I’d recommend part-roasting the parsnips before putting them at the base of the loaf. Everyone (all 4 meat-eaters) loved the loaf and I’ll definitely be making this again, hopefully for my family at Christmas…if they’ll let me.

Red Cabbage, Apple, Pear cider and Walnut Salad
(take on the recipe found here)
I used pear cider instead of cider vinegar but only about 2 tablespoons. I think I was a bit heavy-handed with the cider but it went really well with the nut roast. I used half of a medium red cabbage and it still made a bit too much. I’ve got practically a whole bowl full in the fridge but I was still really pleased with it.

Ultimate Roast Potatoes
(recipe also from BBC)
Wouldn’t have been a proper dinner without these beautifully fluffy bad-boys. 

I skipped out on the flour because we didn’t have any and didn’t salt them because other dishes had enough saltiness! They were lovely though and there wasn’t one to spare!

Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese
(I used my grandmother’s recipe but I found a fellow blogger‘s recipe which is virtually the same)

My Mac and Cheese before it was put into the oven

Ingredients:

1 lb box of Muellers (or any other brand) elbow macaroni
1/2 stick of margarine/ butter
1 lb grated cheddar (yellow) cheese
1 1/2 cups herbs (diced onions, sweet peppers & celery)
3 beaten eggs
1/3 cup Tabasco sauce
salt
2 – 3 cups of evaporated milk

Directions:

Boil pasta until cooked and tender (approx 15 min). Drain pasta. Add margarine, diced herbs, grated cheese, beaten eggs, Tabasco sauce, evaporated milk and salt to taste. Mix by hand ensuring all of the ingredients are all blended together.

Pour in a greased Pyrex dish or pan. Sprinkle/dust with paprika. Set oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until golden.

Notes: If you want to make it a little spicy, add some chopped scotch bonnet pepper (in the Bahamas we call it goat pepper).
You can also add extra grated cheese on top if you want it cheesier. We also use margarine/butter to grease the pan.

Serves 6 – 8 persons. This is a calorie loaded dish.

 I was so proud of how my macaroni and cheese turned out, and it’s a shame I didn’t photograph it when it was just out of the oven! Having never tried it before, all of my guests (flat mates too!) loved the dish. And typically Bahamian, left overs were handed out! My family always use my grandmother’s recipe and I’ve grown up on it. Hers is the best and I’ll have to share it with you all someday. I’ll definitely be making it again!
 
Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash and Parsnip Mash
I knew I’d have some spare parsnips after making the nut roast so I bought 2 sweet potatoes and a butternut squash to make this mash. I don’t have a photograph so you’ll have to just use your imagination!
I peeled and boiled the 2 sweet potatoes along with the chopped and skinned squash for about 15 minutes. I boiled about 2 parsnips in a separate pot for about half the time. I chopped one clove of garlic and added it to a frying pan with a bit of butter and rosemary for about 2 minutes on a low heat. Adding just the butter and not the pieces of garlic to the sweet potatoes, squash and parsnips doesn’t overpower the mash.
I then added 2 tablespoons of butter, pepper to taste and 1/4 cup of milk to the pot of root veggies. Mash this all together. Then I used the zest of a small orange as a finishing touch. It turned out fantastically!
 
I served all of this with some fresh veg from the local grocers and some cheap yet effective Asda gravy!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Desert was made by my dear friend Matt…he bought due to my suggestion, instant strawberry flavoured jello topped with strawberry delight. I have always hated jello but thought it was an easy desert that I’d seen in an Oh Comely magazine issue. I politely ate a tiny serving to then be told “Oh no..that wasn’t vegetarian Jello was it?” and I never knew what jelly was made from…I found out to my horror!
 
It was a lovely time though and I look forward to doing it again in the next year when we’re all back from the holidays. To great friends and great food (except the jello)!
Happy Sharing!
 
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