Martina McBride ~ When You Are Old
Nickelback ~ Deep
The Chiffons ~ One Fine Day
Sinatra ~ Tea For Two
Stevie Ray Vaughan ~ Life Without You
Jamie Callum ~ Catch The Sun
Skin ~ Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Mr Buble ~ At This Moment
The Union ~ What Doesn't Kill You
Shakira ~ Gypsy
Fun Lovin' Criminals ~ Loco
Janiva Magness ~ Once In A While
Jack Johnson ~ Flake
Natalie Cole ~ Paper Moon
Every year before Christmas ML and I host a dinner party for our closest friends. It's not a riotous hangover inducing party...just a simple dinner shared with friends that we consider family. We eat, exchange pressies and catch up with each other....there maybe a game or two in between courses. There is always festive decorations and festive music in the background. This year I decorated the table with the Scandinavian red and white theme. Once all our friends arrive we lock the door and spend a lovely evening together...we look forward to it immensely. Then we all go off to celebrate our festive holidays as we all wish...but for one night we are all together. And the swell of emotion from the collective friendships is hard to ignore....you take care of friendships like this and never take them for granted. I've lost count of how many years we have hosted these nights now but I am very happy for the day I decided to offer this tradition to our friends...very happy indeed. OK, ok, ok...enough of the sappy stuff...Ahem!
Keeping to a budget is often tricky for occasions like these but I do like to rise to the challenge. Usually I like to offer a starter, main course (including three different options to cater for all attending), desserts also catering for all as with the main course and then finishing off with coffee and vegan mint chocolates. This year I needed to streamline and I also needed a menu that would accommodate my need to be seated for the making of all the courses. (Long story, doctors orders etc etc..anyway) After many runs through my cook books and online recipe facilities I sat exhausted and at a loss. I then decided that this year needed to be completely different from the past dinner parties and so then sat down with a clean sheet of paper and put my thoughts down on it.
I decided to forgo the starter course and start with a main course that would only need the one dish that would suit everyone. And once I had made that decision I quickly found the perfect recipe...individual festive pies. Now I can take very small amounts of gluten and I know my friend Stripe can too and we decided to take the chance on them. I was drawn in by the appearance of them and when I started to read through the ingredients I was sold. There was only one ingredient that troubled me and that was the mushrooms but they are so finely chopped they melt into the other filling ingredients so I decided to risk it. I veganised them by swapping out egg wash for almond milk, butter for Pure Vegan butter, dairy cream for soya cream and finally dairy milk for some more almond milk. I also doubled the recipe to make enough pies for all invited guests plus one for the freezer for a treat on another day.
Ordinarily I would never make gluten pastry, much less a pastry made with veggie suet but as it was a High Days and Holidays treat I decided to make it as suggested. Making the ninth pie was an informed choice so that I would make the pie shells thinner than suggested and it worked beautifully. The pies were simple to make but I confess the moulding of the pastry into the ramekins and folding over of the overlap was the patient work of ML's hands. I was busy sat rolling out pastry and cutting out pretty stars! Ahem! Although the photo below really is quite deceptive as the pastry looks quite thick...it wasn't! The reaction of our good pal Bev was quite lovely as she walked into the kitchen as we were assembling the part baked pies. She was very taken with them and as I brought them into the awaiting friends to make their selections...well..my tray of pies disappeared in seconds. The pastry shell was indulgent but quite light for such a rich pasty, the filling was creamy but still held varying textures from the contents and the taste...well...wow...it was fabulous. Wholesome, creamy, brimming with christmas flavours and scents...we all devoured them. I served them with roasted parsnips, festive red cabbage, steamed Brussels sprouts, carrots and green beans. And would I make them again? Yes! I have jotted down plans of trying them with a gluten-free pastry very soon to have a stash of them in my freezer for other High Days and Holidays occasions.
The other courses I hear you ask! Well I made a decision to make a light dessert course...using shot glasses and a decadent dark chocolate truffle recipe I had recently found. So I made a vegan white chocolate dip with berry skewers, a raspberry jelly with fresh raspberries floating in it and a Raw Creamy (Cashew) Lemon and Raspberry Vegan Cheesecake using a medjool date and almond base. To finish this course three very small squares of vegan dark truffles were waiting at the end. And it was a hit with everyone...it was packed with flavours and extremely light on the tummy. Gratuitous dessert photo can be found below...
The final course was a table spread with a multitude of savoury crackers and biscuits, a fruit tray of fresh red and green grapes and clementines, a selection of dairy cheeses for my non-vegan friends (nervous twitch!) and for myself and my lovely pal Dev...a small vegan cheese board. I bought in a Blue, Garlic & Herb and Cranberry vegan cheeses but also made a Walnut & Cranberry Vegan Cheese Ball to add to the plate. And that is how we finished our meal...playing a game whilst nibbling on the crackers, cheeses and fruits. We were very full but very happy...
|Individual Festive Pies|
Individual Festive Pies Made 9 x 250ml ramekin sized pies
(Adapted from Good Food Magazine)
400g leeks, thinly sliced
50g vegan butter (I used Pure ~ Sunflower)
200g mushrooms, finely chopped
8 pinches of ground Mace
8 pinches of fresh thyme leaves, plus 9 tiny sprigs to decorate
200g potatoes, grated
200g cooked Puy lentils
200g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped
16 tbsp vegan cream (I used Alpro Fresh Soya Cream)
8 tbsp fresh cranberries, plus 4o to decorate
almond milk to glaze
4 tsp redcurrant jelly/jam
For the pastry:
400g plain flour or gluten-free alternative
200g vegetable suet
16 tbsp almond milk
In a large skillet gently melt the vegan butter and then saute the leeks until completely softened. Meanwhile blend the mushrooms in a food processor until very finely chopped and add them to your cooked leeks. Turn up the heat a little and cook until the mushrooms are shedding water and remove the liquid. Add your grated potato and cook for a further 3 minutes and then add the chestnuts, puy lentils and cream. Cook for 4 minutes more and then remove from the heat. Chop down the 16 tbsps of fresh cranberries and add them to the skillet, stirring well to evenly distribute.
To make the pastry, put the flour and the suet into a food processor with 2 tsps low-sodium salt. Blitz together until you can't see any big veggie suet lumps. Then keep the processor pulsing as you add the milk 1 tbsp at a time until the pastry comes together.
Roll out a quarter of the pastry on a floured surface and then using one of the ramekins cut out 9 lids. From the centre of each lid cut out a star shape. Set the lids and stars to one side and cover with cling film.
Cut 9 strips of baking parchment and using a little vegan butter stick them into the ramekins, so the ends of the strips stick outside each of side to help you remove the pies when baked. Gather the lid scraps with the remaining pastry and bring together. And divide into 9 equal pieces. Roll out each piece to a £1 coin thickness and use to line each dish leaving an overhang. Divide the filling between the ramekins. Top each pie with the lids, roll down each overhang to meet the lid. Use fork prongs to seal the edges. The pies can now be covered and chilled for up to 24 hours before baking.
To bake: Pre-heat the oven to 200'C/400'F/GM 6. Brush each pie with a little almond milk and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Remove the pies from the oven and gently edge around the top of the pies with a sharp knife. Then line a fresh baking sheet with parchment and lift the pies out of the dishes (BE PATIENT!) and place them on the new baking sheet. Take the pastry stars our from under the cover of cling and brush each one with almond milk and then place a small sprig of thyme onto each one. Place the pastry stars onto the baking parchment. Mix the 40 whole cranberries with the redcurrant jelly/jam and then divide it out between the star cutouts on the pies. Make sure to keep them within the cut out. Place the baking sheet back into the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the pie tops and stars are crisp and golden. Top each pie with a star and serve...
And now for the desserts....Raspberry Shot Desserts.
|Raspberry Shot Desserts with Dark Chocolate Truffles hiding out at the back...light and delicious|
Thanks for stopping by and I hope your weekend was a great one and your week starts well?
I would also like to thank our friend Ann, my lovely sister and her little ones for all their help in making the food, making sure I stayed sat down as much as they could (I am not the most co-operative of patients..Ahem!)...you guys rock!
NB: This is not my creation as I simply adapted it from a vegetarian recipe from Good Food Mag. I thank them for sharing such a great festive treat. ~R~